IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),
N 2 (56), 2010




Belarus: no changes on the “Youth front”?
Distinctive features of Belarusian identity

Life has become better but no merrier
Commercial patriotism
The inverted pyramid
Pushed for turning up
The abyss with stable parameters
Does my militia save me?
Do “he truth-tellers” have listeners?
Gender character of electoral preferences
Social “portrait” of Belarusians: gender aspect
What is the attitude of Belarusians to sexual minorities?
The Kyrgyz ghost over Belarus
Russian minimum
V. Putin and D. Medvedev – idols of “Euro-Belarusians”
Bilingual cultural asset
Political geography of Belarus

Some results of the opinion poll conducted in June




Andrey Sokolov, Ph. D.
“100 Faces of Unemploymen”


Dear readers!


In the current issue of the Analytic Bulletin “IISEPS News” you will find materials summarizing the most interesting results of the Institute’s activity in the second quarter of 2010.
The economic crisis continues to be the main concern of the majority of Belarusians. Following health problems (in the recent years invariably heading the list of national fears), people are above all afraid of poverty (almost 46%) and redundancy (almost a third of respondents), which are direct consequences of the crisis. However, the intensity of these feelings is gradually subsiding: while in March the number of respondents who believed that their financial position had worsened for the last three months, was more than three times higher than the number of those, whose position had improved, in June, this ratio was less than 1.5, though the monthly income per family member had increased only by $ 15. The number of “pessimists” apprehending the deepening of the crisis and accumulation of the associated problems has slightly decreased, conversely, the “optimists” who think that the country has already started to get out of the crisis have increased in number. The general assessment of the state of affairs in the country remains at the same “conservative optimistic” level: half of the respondents think that things go in the right direction, while a third of respondents believe that things go wrong.
The attitude of Belarusians to the authorities remains ambivalent. On the one hand, the institutes on top of the authority pyramid (the President, Army, Government) have today a positive trust rating, i.e. the number of people who trust these institutions exceeds the number of those not trusting them. On the other hand, the institutions the majority of population have to deal with in their everyday life – local executive bodies, militia, etc. – have a negative rating. It is no wonder that half of the respondents feel rather not protected or definitely do not feel protected against probable arbitrary actions of the authorities, militia, traffic police, taxation bodies, courts, and other government bodies. It is difficult to say, when and in which way the dissatisfaction with the “lower authority levels” will spread to the top levels, but judging by the attitude of Belarusians to the recent events in Kyrgyzstan, the popular uprising against corrupted power does find support among them.
The ambivalent attitude to the authorities showed as well during the April elections to the local Councils. On the one hand, 64.6% of respondents took part in the elections, among them 27% voted in advance, above 50% voted for the candidate, supporter of A. Lukashenko, while only 6.7% of them acknowledged that somebody had forced them to vote for a concrete candidate. Though these figures differ considerably from Central Election Committee data, they, in general, show quite a loyal attitude of population to that election campaign. On the other hand, more than 30% of voters said that not all of the candidates had had equitable positions during the elections, approximately the same percentage of voters pointed out that the authorities in their district had supported a distinct candidate, about a quarter of respondents said that the candidate they had voted for was not elected deputy, about 20% do not trust the official results of the elections, and 35% even do not know those results. The stated figures discredit many official statements and prove that today’s most popular slogan “The State For The People” is still remote from the truth for many Belarusians.
Economic uncertainty and political ambivalence can’t but put in question “the major achievement” of the existing order in Belarus, that is “stability”. The positive confirmation for this is the fact that 62% of respondents believe that Belarus needs changes (only 25.4% are of the opposite opinion). However, the President A. Lukashenko’s opponents should not be rather beforehand in their conclusion about the approaching collapse of the regime. First, among the advocates of changes there are advocates of the present line, who see these changes as further improving of the existing policy. Second, only 46.8% actually wish such changes would take place. Third, 62.5% of respondents suppose profound changes in the domestic and foreign policy of Belarus are unlikely or totally impossible (30.4% think the changes quite possible). The main reason for this controversy in the attitude to changes lies not in the fearfulness or total apathy of the Belarusian community (a popular belief in the “democratic world”), but rather in the ambiguity of the ways of implementation of these changes and their results – life after Lukashenko. Thus, 22.4% of the respondents believe that after A. Lukashenko’s resignation life in Belarus will become better, 25.2% think it will become worse, and 34.8% suppose life will be the same. If almost three of four Belarusians still do not see in the promised “new life” actual changes to the better, so why “straining”: “half a loaf is better than no bread”.
The traditional geopolitical set of questions did not bring any sensations: choosing between EU and the Russian Federation the balance is almost in the same position. However, the spring events in Kyrgyzstan have given some surprises. Thus, only 23.2% of the respondents agreed with A. Lukashenko that it had been an anticonstitutional coup, while 47.2% considered it a popular uprising against corrupted power. Moreover, assessing the President’s decision to give asylum in Belarus to the ousted Kyrgyz president K. Bakiev, only 17.9% supposed it was right, 24.1% considered it wrong since K. Bakiev had been ousted as a result of a reasonable popular uprising, another 40.6% called it wrong because whoever had been right in Kyrgyzstan, it was no business of Belarus to intermeddle in their local political conflicts. Apparently, the feelings about these events and reaction to them on part of the President and the majority of the population, mildly speaking, dissent. Meanwhile, the hopes of some oppositionists for a similar scenario of the change of power even more discord with the opinion of the Belarusian majority: only 9.1% of the respondents supposed that the change of power in Belarus would happen in the same way as it happened in Kyrgyzstan in April of the current year.
As usual, for those readers who are interested in our figures more than in assessments, we offer an opportunity to analyze the results of our surveys on their own by way of counting forward separately for each major socio-demographic group.
Regular readers of our Bulletin should remember the headline “State vs. Independent Research”, under which five years ago we published the repression documents against IISEPS. Today, we have to renew this subject: “Open Forum” will disclose to the readers the evidence of the new wave of persecution of prof. O. Manaev, the founder of the Institute. One can’t but notice, that these “waves” surprisingly coincide with the major political campaigns, and first of all, the presidential election.
On the “Bookshelf” our readers will find a presentation of the collected volume “100 Faces of Unemployment” recently published by the civil campaign “Speak the Truth!” In his review A. Sokolov, Ph.D., points out that “this is one hundred truthful stories of real people who have for one reason or another lost their job and are now trying to find work but in vain. It stands to reason that the book’s authors had no problem finding personages, as there are not symbolic 100 of them, but many and many thousands”.