The opposition in Belarus and the international organizations cooperating with them are fighting an uphill battle for a more democratic and less authoritarian political system. The main tool of this cooperation is party aid, meaning project-based assistance efforts whose primary objective is party strengthening or reform. However, the obstacles blocking the road for these projects are many. Each having their own sources, of which the by far most commonly mentioned being repression from the regime.
In this thesis I investigate how the international project-implementing organizations active in Belarus view the obstacles blocking the road towards project success. The findings give rare insight into project information that normally stay behind the closed doors of secrecy, and therefore also an equally rare opportunity to gain grounded knowledge of the mechanisms involved when party aid projects in Belarus are challenged. I adopt a contextualist approach to research in order to develop an understanding of the mechanisms behind the obstacles as these appear when the findings are put into their academic context. When seen in context, the mechanisms support the common perception that repression is likely to be the main source of obstacles for the projects. However, as the identified mechanisms share similar traits with mechanisms revealed in other research on party aid and aid projects in general, there are likely to be additional sources influencing projects in Belarus. Based on these insights, I argue that interested scholars and party aid actors in Belarus should not accept repression as the only explanation for various obstacles on the road towards project success. I therefore conclude that, if the project obstacles are to be overcome, these actors must work strategically to counter not only the “obvious” repression, but also the hidden threats that lie beneath the obstacles.