IISEPS News, N 2 (28), 2003



Strengthening Role of Independent Social Research and Experts’ Networks in Belarus:
Results of the public opinion polls
Materials of the scientific seminar “Development Information-Oriented Society in Belarus”

Open Forum:
Mikhail Marinich: “Not to Lose Opportunity…”

Svetlana Naumova, Ph. D., International Institute of Political Studies
“Political Parties of Belarus – Essential Part of Civil Society”
Konstantin Skuratovich, Ph. D., “Belorussky Rynok” weekly
“Sociological Encyclopedia”, “Sociology: Encyclopedia”


Dear readers!


The next issue of the analytical bulletin “IISEPS News” offers to your attention materials reflecting the most interesting results of the Institute’s studies in the second quarter of 2003.
We continue publishing the processed results of the nation opinion poll conducted in March-April and the opinion poll among the elite conducted in May. The signs of an exhaustive crisis in Belarus are turning more evident. At the background of socio-economic aggravation in the society there’s a concern over the political situation. Thus, two thirds of the Belarusians are nowadays discontented with the democratization process and human rights observance and over 70% express their concern over the political climate in the country. At the same time, the Belarusians are turning more objective in their estimation of the governing bodies’ activity: over 70% know that the government and the governors are appointed by the president. Therefore, shifting responsibility to another person – the method that only recently worked well – is no more effective: president’s accusation that the “government has picked the pockets of citizens without putting anything into them” was supported by 31.9% respondents only and 52% are convinced that the president is himself to blame as “the government follows his directions.”
An essential characteristic of the Belarusian socium is presently a progressive approximation of the public opinion and elite’s opinion. Attitude of the electorate is more and more easily predicted by the elite’s attitude. Several years ago elite’s negative attitude towards the current political course barely presented the attitude of the most citizens (this is why the authorities ignored it easily) but at present their interrelation is getting more obvious. Thus, 90% of the polled representatives of the elite believe that “another candidate should take the presidential post” (and only 1% says “A. Lukashenko should be elected again”) while among the electorate such correlation now makes 64.1% vs 23.2%.
Due to fundamental changes in the public conscience the issue of socio-political forces able to implement the alternative variant of country’s development is getting more and more crucial. In the previous issue of the bulletin we made special emphasis to the perspectives of the Deputies group Republic and in the present issue we more closely analyze the potential of the Belarusian entrepreneurs – both in their own environment and in the society.
Another important and perspective group of the Belarusian socium that until now dropped out of sight of politicians, analysts and journalists is the Belarusian Internet community. The special seminar “Development of the information society in Belarus” held recently by the IISEPS in Brest was all devoted to the comprehensive analysis of the virtual Belarus. Dynamics of the Internet development in this country cannot but impress: for the past six years the bandwidth of external Internet has increased almost 200-fold (and reached 50 Mb/sec) and the number of users – 4.5-fold (and exceeded one million of regular users)! Leading experts of the IISEPS, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Brest Universities and the very Internet community came to the conclusion that the development of virtual Belarus surpasses the development of the real Belarus and that a major hurdle for the development of the information society is the state monopoly for external channels ensuring superprofits and political control. This is the attitude of the state towards the development of the information society which the seminar participants faced themselves: the Brest authorities not just refused to participate in it but banned its holding (See Appendix).
This time our “Open Forum” is given to a famous and respected politician knowing well peculiarities of both the nomenclature and the opposition of Belarus – President of the Public Association “Business Initiative” Mikhail Marinich. The questions our guest raises – What to do? How to use effectively the growing potential for changes? – and the answers he gives will undoubtedly appeal to the bulletin readers.
There are three new books on our “Bookshelf” and their very presence speaks about the growing political and intellectual potential of this country. The book by political scientist A. Feduta, politician O. Bogutsky and journalist V. Martinovich handles the peculiarities of the Party system formation in Belarus. Two other editions are simply unique – these are two “Sociological Encyclopedias” concurrently published (one – in a state-run printing house and under the editorship of A. Danilov, another – in a private printing house and under the editorship of A. Gritsanov). Sociology is turning a more important factor of not only scientific but also public and political development in Belarus. This is why we have also published the material dedicated to the 80-th anniversary of the founder of modern Belarusian sociology Prof. G. Davidiuk and join to the plentiful congratulations!
We hope that the current issue of our bulletin would be interesting and helpful to you and your colleagues. We are awaiting your comments and requests!