IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),
N 4 (42), 2006




October-November – 2006
In anticipation of election
What do belarusians expect from the opposition?
All’s fine, my fair lady!
Who believe in independent statehood of Belarus?
Love to Russia, how much is it?
What is the belarusian nation?
Whose are you, guys?
Mother tongue
Margins of populism
What is the potential of Russia Belarus friendship?
Paradox of those not thinking and indifferent
A. Milinkevich’s rating is falling down
Results of the opinion poll conducted in October-November of 2006

Round table “The role of the state and business in strengthening pro-“wider Europe” attitudes in Belarus”

November-December – 2006
Opinion triangles
Pragmatism of a statesman
Revolt of conformists
Blurring of the blank spot
Into Europe, without NATO
Results of the opinion poll among leaders and experts conducted in December of 2006

Round table “Future of Belarus inside and outside “wider-Europe”


Prof. Oleg Manaev answering to Arche’s questions
How far are we from Europe?


Leonid Zlotnikov, Ph.D.
Leonid Zaiko, Yaroslav Romanchuk. “Business in Belarus: The First Circle”.
Konstantin Skuratovich. “Fears and Hopes of Belarus”.


Dear readers!


We offer to your attention the next issue of the bulletin presenting the materials which reflect the most impor-tant findings of the IISEPS studies in the fourth quarter of 2006. As we already mentioned, The “IISEPS News” has become a Lithuanian mass media (periodical): the appropriate ISBN’s (different for printed and electronic version of the Russian and English issues) are given on the first page. On the one hand, this means that activity of the Institute is moving more and more outside Belarus due to constant pressure from the Belarusian authori-ties. On the other hand, legal status of a Lithuanian media will let the Belarusian mass media and all the citizens distribute our data and analytics without a fear of being jeopardized by the repressive legislation of their.
Socio-political and socio-economic processes in Belarus were influenced in this period by two very important factors: agonizing suspense of price rise for Russian gas and oil as well as the the Local election (regional, city, and village) set for January 14, 2007. For well-known reasons (“not to agitate the people”) neither of the events was covered on the front pages of the state-run press or in the prime time on TV but the authorities prepared ac-tively for both. Thus, the Electoral Code was revised for the first time over many years (the local election is now carried in one round) and governmental delegations spent nearly all of their time in “consultations and negotia-tions” in Moscow.
According to the opinion polls, the Belarusians became more concerned about their state in view of coming rise in Russian gas prices. Although this concern is mainly connected with particular economic interests, it starts affecting people’s attitude to integration with Russia in general. The issue of national identification is getting more and more topical for millions of people. However, the problem is that this process is growing under the influence of negative factors (like building of the image of enemy already in the East) rather than positive (like revival of the Belarusian language, culture, history, etc.) which can bring to further self-isolation and degradation of the country rather than to its national revival and renovation.
Such prospect is getting more real since the position of the Belarusian authorities may get stronger and not weaker. High level of local election attendance readiness among Belarusians – despite almost complete neglect on the official agenda and criticism by the opposition (the majority again spoke about boycotting the election) – is pointing out to this. Thus, according to the latest opinion poll, expected attendance of the January election was 70% approximately and the official results showed almost the same figure. In addition, most part of voters going to the election planned to vote for the candidates supporting the current power.
However, it is still early to talk about dawning of the long-awaited “age of stability”: only 21% of respondents said that their economic state improved over the past few months and only 42.5% of the polled expect improve-ment of socio-economic situation in the country in the coming years. Growing gas and oil conflict between Minsk and Moscow may become the key reason of socio-economic destabilization for millions of Belarusians. The Be-larusian elite are those who understand this best of all. Thus, according to November public opinion poll, 58.8% of respondents assume that gas price increase will bring to “aggravation of the situation in my family and in the country in general” (34.9% – to serious aggravation, and 23.9% – to certain aggravation) and 36% hope that “the government will find a way out and prevent aggravation of situation for my family and the country in general”. According to the December opinion poll among the elite, only 7% of the polled rely on the country’s government and 91% show concern and anxiety.
Many of the problems relating to the influence of these and other factors on geopolitical self-identification of Belarus were discussed by Prof. O. Manaev’s group at the fourth round-table discussion held in early October in Mogilev and at the fifth round-table discussion held in mid-November in Grodno (the first was held in Decem-ber’05 in Brest, the second – in May’06 in Vitebsk and the third – in July’06 in Gomel). The most important re-sults of these discussions are given in this issue.
As usual, we present sociological data, i.e. the so-called count-up tables, in the light of basic socio-demographic characteristics as well as the trends of change in Belarusian public opinion to those of our readers who prefer pure figures to analytics and look for independent analysis.
Geopolitical prospects of Belarus have again become the subject of our “Open Forum”. This time it offers in-terview of IISEPS founder Prof. O. Manaev to the ARCHE journal which for some reasons wasn’t published in the journal.
On the “Bookshelf”, a noted Belarusian economist L. Zlotnikov presents a new book by independent experts L. Zaiko and Y. Romanchuk “Business in Belarus: The First Circle” as well as the book by independent journalist and analyst K. Skuratovich “Fears and Hopes of Belarus” close to the first one in the spirit and the subject-matter. We believe that both books will give the reading public rich food for thought and discussion.
We hope that you will find these materials interesting and helpful for you and your colleagues. All comments and requests are as usual welcome!