During the quarter that has elapsed since the last IISEPS survey, geopolitical preferences of Belarusians did not change significantly.
However, a slight decrease in respondents’ disposition to integration with Russia should be noted. Nevertheless some quite noticeable changes occurred over a longer period of time (see Tables 1-2).



The change of the share of “Euro-Belarusians” during the quarter didn’t exceed the non-sampling error. The share of “Belo-Russians” in the formulation of the question of Table 2 is record low for the whole time of observations, but at the same time it has not deviated very much from the figures of June poll.
The answers to the question of a dichotomous choice between Russia and the EU show that some weakening of the pro-Russian intentions has nevertheless happened during the past quarter (Table 3).


The share of those who opt for integration with Russia in the responses to this question also proved to be record low for the time of observations. The plausible hypothesis is that the attitude of Belarusians to Russia was influenced by the “potash scandal” and its presentation by the state media. The scandal happened just at the time of the survey. Although the Belarusian officialdom did not accused Russian authorities of Uralkali “crimes” directly, the atmosphere of the conflict, the speeches of some Russian officials in defense of Uralkali and its general director Vladimir Baumgertner, who was arrested in Minsk, somewhat lowered the degree of the desire to integrate with Russia.
However, the question formulation matters as well. As it was shown above, the decrease was not significant when the question was formulated as in Table 2. Also in comparison with June 2012 the estimations of the practical integration form, within the framework of which Belarus and Russia cooperate since the beginning of 2012, practically didn’t change (Table 4).


The balance of estimations of the future Eurasian Union is approximately the same as well: the relative majority supports it, approximately the same amount of respondents are indifferent to the new integration association (Table 5).


However on a wider time interval changes are noticeable nevertheless. Table 3 question by default represents a choice between the Russian Federation and the EU as two mutually exclusive alternatives. Some time ago the IISEPS polls asked a question about geopolitical choice, which had a variant of answer explicitly mentioning integration both with the East and with the West. In September, 2013 this question was repeated (Table 6).


The dynamics is quite revealing. In the second half of the noughties two trends were apparent: the decrease of the share of adherents of “bilateral” integration and the increase of the share of opponents of integration both with the Russian Federation and with the EU. At the same time there was a gradual decline of the share of supporters of integration with Russia only. Reiteration of the question 5 years later showed that all three trends (and respectively an increase of the share of “Euro-Belarusians”) clearly went upwards.
IISEPS polls in the beginning of noghties showed the famous paradoxical attitude of Belarusians to Russia – the supporters of integration with the Russian Federation evaluated the Russian standard of living compared with the Belarusian one not higher than the “Euro-Belarusians” but at the same or even at the lower rate (see Table 9 in Yu. Drakakhrust “Where does Belarus end?”, “Neprikosnovenniy Zapas” 2006, № 3 (47) and Tables 2 and 3 in Yu. Drakakhrust “From Russia with love. Paradoxes Belarusian Westernism”, “Belarusian News”, April 18, 2004). This in particular leads to a conclusion about the importance of ideological and cultural components in the motivation of the choice in favor of Russia: this choice is not so much in favor of the rich, but in favor of the neighborhood.
10 years later the paradox is gone, rationalization of the geopolitical choice is evident (Table 7).
Table 7. Connection between geopolitical choice and wellbeing evaluation in the RF and the RB, %
Variant of answer
Voting on a referendum on the future of Belarus
“If you had to choose between integration with Russia and joining the European Union, what choice would you make?”
For integration with the RF
For joining the EU
For both
Against both
Integration with the RF
Joining the EU
How do you think, where do people live better today: in Belarus or in Russia?
In Belarus
In Russia
How do you think, did Belarus or Russia achieve a better progress in building of a democratic state and a civil society?
The nature of connection has become more logical: the adherents of integration with Russia are inclined to highly appreciate the Russian standard of living and democracy in comparison with the Belarusian one (thus the desire for integration can be explained by the desire to join this higher level); the supporters of Belarus joining the EU tend to evaluate the Russian and Belarusian manner of life equally (probably equally bad). Cultural proximity to the Russians and to Russia has not disappeared, but it affects the geopolitical choice less, paradoxical inversion is no longer present.
The variant of answer “integration with the Russian Federation”, which is used in the IISEPS polls for many years allows various interpretations. Apparently, respondents also understand it differently. However, there is a formulation that does not allow different interpretations – Belarus becoming a part of Russia. It is worth reminding that 11 years ago, in August 2002, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested this.
How Belarusians estimated the probability of such a scenario then and now? Table 8 shows it.


* In this poll there were only variants “Join Russia” and “Remain an independent state”
In March 2003, every third respondent considered it highly probable that today, in 2013, Belarus will be a part of Russia. Perhaps such a high share of this response is due precisely to the fact that at the time of the poll public opinion has not forgotten Putin’s proposal of 2002. This share decreased considerably (by a factor of three) by 2005 and remained approximately at the same level. In other words, the radical joining option is considered only by few people. There is a noteworthy twofold increase compared with 2003 of number of those who believe that the independence of Belarus over the years will increase. Indirectly, it testifies the accustoming of the population to independence. Table 9 shows that its value increases as well.


Certainly, in comparison with an ideal, independence in the public consciousness remains quite unsteady; only about a half of respondents in 2013, 22 years after the country gained its independence, estimate negatively the outlook of the loss of this independence. At the same time the dynamics is evident – a share of those, who evaluate this possible loss positively, decreased by half in 10 years.