IISEPS News, N 2 (24), 2002



Strengthening Role of Independent Social Research and Experts’ Networks in Belarus:
Results of a national public opinion poll

Materials of Seminar in Gomel, 7-8 June 2002:
Prof. Dr. Oleg Manaev, IISEPS (Belarus)
Independent Research and Social Development in Belarus: Problems and Prospects
Prof. Dr. Stanislav Bogdankevich, IISEPS (Belarus)
Role of Democratic Forces in Social Development of Belarus: Problems and Prospects
Dr. Piotr Kozarghevsky, CASE (Poland)
Influence of Think Tanks on Policy of Reforms: CASE Experience
Dr. Alyaksandr Sasnow, IISEPS (Belarus)
Independent Research and Social-Labor Relations

Open Forum:
Valery Frolov: “Political Extreme Has Never Brought Positive Results”
(V. Dorokhov, Head of IISEPS Center for Documentation, talked to general V. Frolov, PM, Head of PM group “Republic”)


Dear readers!


The next, 24th issue of the analytical bulletin “IISEPS News” offers to your attention materials reflecting the most interesting results of the institute’s work in the second quarter of 2002.
Within the framework of IISEPS’s new project “Increasing Role of Independent Social Research and Expert Networks in Belarus” launched earlier this year, a national public opinion poll was conducted, which brought about sensational results: for the first time during A. Lukashenko’s rule his rating (which leveled at 45% just six months ago) dropped to 30%. The “landslide” (using one of the president’s favorite words) is explained first of all by social-economic reasons: non-fulfillment of election promises, backpay of wages and pensions, narrowing of life prospects for millions of Belarusians. At the same time, as the survey showed, a whole stratum of rather well-off (“rich” according to Belarusian standards) people appeared, who got used to the existing conditions and support the present course.
Many significant events took place on the foreign policy front. The opposition of Belarus and the West became even more strained (after the forced departure of its leading members, OSCE AMG’s activity is in fact frozen). The “sluggish integration” with Russia after V. Putin’s sensational statement, which he made soon after his meeting with the Belarusian head of state (caused, as many analysts say, by A. Lukashenko’s falling rating and the scandal around the OSCE) faced the most serious challenge in its history. The above events are reflected in public opinion as well, which record new fundamental shifts.
As always, we offer our readers interesting information without comment in the light of major social-demographic groups and trends of the most important indicators of public opinion.
Aside form the survey results, the bulletin contains materials of the scientific-practical seminar “Social Research and Social Development in Belarus,” which took place in the framework of the above mentioned project of IISEPS in Gomel in early June. Although the seminar was of a strictly scientific character (mostly researches and analysts from Minsk, Warsaw and the Gomel region participated in it), local authorities were very frightened and even forced its participants out from a rented conference-hall. As a result, scientific debates continued in … a private bar. Probably, while reading the seminar’s materials, you would feel an unusual “atmosphere” of Gomel’s hospitality. However, we cannot complain of the absence of attention from Belarus’ authorities: there are reasons to assume that A. Lukashenko’s stormy reaction at the April 29 session of the Cabinet of Ministers, as well as an unusual reaction by V. Putin at the “integration processes,” relates to the results of activities of independent Belarusian analysts. The apotheosis of such attention from the Belarusian authorities to think tanks was the Resolution of the Cabinet #707 dated May 31, 2002, taking a total control of public opinion study, and finally of public opinion itself (See Appendixes).
This time our traditional rubric “Open Forum” is given to a non-traditional author – a representative of the unrecognized abroad Belarusian parliament. General Valery Frolov, who headed this spring a new group of deputies “Republic,” revealed outstanding abilities to oppose authorities within the authorities and offers an alternative of his own. How and why “he is living such life,” how he sees development of the public-political process in Belarus – see an interview with V. Dorokhov, a leading employee of IISEPS.
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!