Beginning of a year is the time when sociologists and not only them are sizing up the results of the past year. This is a usual routine work since the time frame when ‘Januaries replace Decembers’ is purely symbolic. It doesn’t matter whether we talk about life of a particular man or about future of a society within state boundaries. This is true, but the period from December of 2006 to January of 2007 in Belarus concurred with the beginning of a mobilization campaign unexpectedly launched by President A. Lukashenko. It is hard to imagine a more favorable moment than traditional New Year congratulation from the head of state. Such numerous and, first of all, friendly audience seldom gathers at one time in front of a TV set. On the New Year night, all are equal in the face of new hopes, no matter whether they are supporters or opponents of authorities, whether they stand for European choice or for integration with Russia. They don’t argue about politics on the New Year night as there are much more interesting topics.

By A. Lukashenko’s assessment, the year that passed “was very tense and very hard”. That was the year when “We had to withstand mass external and internal pressure during the presidential election”. It seems the external pressure should increase sharply in the coming year: “They again threat us with economic sanctions and isolation. The reason is simple. This is our aspiration to sovereignty and independence. Threats of the West don’t surprise us anymore, yet anti-Belarusian moods of some government agencies among our friends really frustrate us. They break earlier agreements and crush our long friendship”.

This way Russia’s politics aimed at market economic relations with Belarus received an official ideo-logical assessment. All that the authorities and the mass media they control concealed from the people during the year 2006 was clearly aired on the New-Year night. “We are to go a tough and thorny path. It won’t be scattered with roses. We should be ready to take hard and extraordinary decisions, because those who wish to get cherries of Belarusian property very cheaply will not give up their attempts to break us economically and politically”.

The accents made on the New-Year night were strengthened considerably in January. To remind, the current opinion poll was conducted in the last decade of January, i.e. at the brink of gas and oil war. The public opinion certainly noticed this war. (See Table 1). It projected its fresh impressions to the entire year. Therefore, it is not surprising that this hot news outshone even the presidential election in March.

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which of the events you think were the most topical in Belarus in 2006?” (no more than three answers are possible)

Variant of answer


Oil and gas war between Russia and Belarus


Presidential election of March 19


Mass actions of protest in Minsk carried by opposition after the presidential election


Rise in wages and pensions


EU decision to deprive Belarus of trade preferences


A. Lukashenko’s statement in Havana at the Summit of non-aligned states


Arrest and conviction for long term of ex-presidential candidate A. Kozulin


Conflict around Vika Moroz


Third All-Belarusian Assembly






If we consider the above date in the light of trust and distrust to President A. Lukashenko (55.4% of respondents trusted and 28.5% distrusted him in January of 2007), the picture will turn a little more compli-cated. Every group of the Belarusian society had its own memorable events in the past year, yet oil and gas war as well as the presidential election took the first lines in all groups. Nevertheless, those distrusting gave greater importance to Russia-Belarus conflict: 72.9% vs. 66.8%. Their opponents gave a mirror like answer on the presidential election: 72.7% vs. 52.7%. The greatest difference in estimates was quite expectedly found in viewpoints on mass protest actions of the opposition (31.5% vs. 11.4%), arrest of A. Kozulin (23.9% vs. 4.5%) and EU decision to deprive Belarus of trade preferences (22.9% vs. 6.9%). Accordingly, those trusting to the president gave more votes to the Third All-Belarusian Assembly (9.6% vs. 1.7%), con-flict around Vika Moroz (9.2% vs. 1.9%) and surely they noted rise in wages and pensions (21.8% vs. 7%).

Proceeding from assessment of events to assessment of the year in general (see Table 2), we shall again see the shadow of oil and gas war. In the opinion of a third of citizens, the year 2006 was harder than the previous one. This is despite constant reports about success of the Belarusian economic model which were especially numerous in the year of presidential election. The number of optimists appeared surprisingly low. It made only a half of the number of pessimists.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question: “What was the year 2006 for Belarus comparing to the previous year, harder or better?”

Variant of answer


The same as the previous one








Transition from assessment of the situation in the country to personal assessment once again shows the old sociological truth: people assess situation in the country to a great extent under the influence of the mass media while they assess their personal welfare based on the surrounding reality. This is why the ratio be-tween the first and the second variant of answer to the question “Was the year 2006 in general good or bad for you personally?” appeared invert: 56.3% vs. 30.3%. This ratio correlates with the official victory statis-tics on the growth of wages and pensions in the country.

In general, most of Belarusians assess their welfare as average. However, there’s a clear tendency to pretend to be poorer than they are: percentage of those who live below average exceeds sevenfold the num-ber of those who stand to the opposite viewpoint. This ratio is even higher among those who distrust to A. Lukashenko.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “How would you assess your welfare?”, %

Variant of answer

All population

Among them:

Trusting to A. Lukashenko (55.4)

Distrusting to A. Lukashenko (28.5)





Below average








Above average




High level of welfare




Table 3 may give an impression that distrust to A. Lukashenko is directly connected with the welfare of Belarusians (there are twice as many of those who place themselves among the poor among distrusting to the president). However, more detailed analysis disproves this conclusion. Thus, as we pass from the group with the minimum monthly per capita income (below 180,000 BYR) to the next group (180-270,000 BYR) the percentage of trusting to the president really grows (from 55.7% to 63.6%). Furthermore, as per capita income grows the number of trusting to the president is going down: 50.2% in the third group (270-540,000 BYR) and 42.6% in the group with the per capita income over 540,000 BYR. This dependence corresponds to the already proved conclusion that the level of trust to A. Lukashenko goes down as the income and con-sequently welfare of citizens goes up.

Summarizing all said above, we should like to note once again that oil and gas conflict that manifested in its full strength in January of 2007 greatly influenced assessment of the events of 2006. It first of all had effect on assessment of the situation in the country.