IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),
N 1 (59), 2011




About complete confidence
Great harm of great good
Either a conspiracy or a peaceful action
Have you joined the “majority”?
From everyone according to his ability, to everyone according to his loyalty
“The minority” still hopes and believes
Have you signed your child up as a business owner?
The country where one does not want to live
Who needs this empire?
The European breakthrough
Natives and foreigners
Egyptian mirror

Some results of the opinion poll conducted in March 2011


Vitali Tsygankov, observer of the Belarusian service of Radio Liberty
“Reality is quite another story”


Prof. Boris Firsov, Ph.D., Honorary Rector of the European University in St.-Petersburg (Russia)
“Oleg Manaev. Establishment of a civil society in independent Belarus. Sociological experiments: 2006-2010”


Dear readers!


We offer to your attention the next issue of the “IISEPS News” analytical bulletin presenting the materials which reflect the most important findings of the IISEPS studies in the first quarter of 2011. During this period economic, domestic- and foreign policy consequences of the presidential elections of December 19 were at the center of the IISEPS attention.
Before the Belarusians had time to rejoice at 500-dollar salaries and at other economic achievements timed to the December presidential elections, as a new crisis that could not be put down to the world financial shock began to loom ahead. The way electors feel economically today differs noticeably from how they felt after the elections of 2006. Thus, answering the question: “How has your financial standing changed for the last three months?” 17.2% of respondents said “it has improved”, and 26.9% – “it has become worse” (in June, 2006 the ratio was inverse: 23.4% vs. 11.1%; it should be mentioned that at that time the mean monthly per capita income made up about $ 140, and now – $ 220). When answering the question: “How is the socio-economic situation going to change in Belarus within the next few years?” 29.2% of respondents said “it is going to improve” and 23% – “it is going to become worse” (in June, 2006 there were 46% vs. 11%). Worsening of the way people feel economically inevitably influenced many other indicators connected with it. For instance, the level of trust in the foreign currency jumped: if after the elections of 2006 46.2% trusted US dollars, and 27.6% – Belarusian rubles, then in March, 2011 the ratio became 56.4% vs. 22.7% (let us emphasize that the March opinion poll had been held before the “currency fever” seized the Belarusians). If after the elections of 2006 56.9% of respondents considered that “the situation in Belarus was developing in general in the right direction” and only 31% – “in the wrong direction”, then today 45.3% and 49%, respectively.
Worsening of the way people feel economically gives rise (although not so quickly) to a decrease in trust in the authorities. Although the March opinion poll confirmed that over a half of electors who had participated in voting had voted for A. Lukashenko at the presidential elections, his rating has decreased from 53% to 42.9% for three months after the elections, i.e. by 10.1%. If in June, 2006 in three months after the presidential elections on March 19, 2006 60.8% of respondents trusted him and 30.6% did not, then today the ratio makes up 47.9% vs. 42%. If at that time 55.9% considered that A. Lukashenko’s victory had united the Belarusian society still more and 27.1% that it, on the contrary, had split it even more, today the ratio makes up 40.9% vs. 38.7%. However, distrust in the authorities, the feeling of its injustice is still too far from the “boiling point”. Thus, answering the question: “In his New Year’s greetings A. Lukashenko admitted for the first time that “there existed a majority and a minority of the Belarusian society”. What part of the society do you attribute yourself to?” 23.7% attributed themselves to the minority, and 60.9% – to the majority. Evaluating the mass action which took place in Minsk in Independence Square on December 19 on the night after the elections, 48% agreed that it had been an attempt of a coup d’etat, and 36.1% believed it to be a peaceful protest action. Only 19.6% think that events similar to the ones in Egypt can be repeated in Belarus, and 68.7% do not agree with it.
However, the most sensational changes occurred in the geopolitical orientations of the Belarusians: the “eastern-western” (Russia-the European Union) choice, in comparison with the situation after the elections of 2006, became almost opposite. At that time answering the question: “If you had to choose between integration with Russia and joining the European Union, what choice would you make?”, 56.5% preferred integration with Russia, and 29.2% – joining the European Union. Today the ratio constitutes 31.5% vs. 50.5%. In this case, too, it is untimely, to say the least of it, to draw a conclusion about the decisive victory of the European/western choice. Almost two thirds of respondents agree that if Russia raises gas prices for Belarus up to the European level, Belarusian economy will collapse. Only a third considers Belarus to be a self-sufficient country and believes that its economy will survive even if the gas prices are increased up to the European level. In the opinion of almost a half of respondents Belarus should remain in the CIS, almost 40% believe it should remain in the Union state of Belarus and Russia and in the Customs union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, almost a third – in the CSTO.
As usual, for those of our readers who are interested in our figures more than in assessments, we offer an opportunity to analyze on their own the researches results in the form of direct calculation in the frame of the main socio-demographic groups.
Our “Open Forum” is given this time to the noted Belarusian journalist and analyst Vitaly Tsygankov who shares with the readers of the “IISEPS News” his thoughts about the “retrospection and perspective” of the socio-political process in the context of the presidential elections of December 19.
In the “Bookshelf” rubric the renowned Russian scientist, founder and Honorary Rector of the European University in St. Petersburg, Professor Boris Firsov presents to the readers of the bulletin a new book by Professor Oleg Manaev “Establishment of a civil society in independent Belarus. Sociological experiments: 2006-2010” which continues the tradition of the two previous books (experiments 1991-2000 and 2001-2005) and sums up the results of almost twenty-years’ scientific and research activity of the IISEPS.
All comments and feedbacks are as usual welcome!