Unlike the whole population, elite is much more reserved towards Russia. Less than one fourth of pollees said a union of two states is the best variant of bilateral relations, and less than 3% spoke in favor of unification into one state (see Table 1). Differences in approaches of representatives of state and non-state structures are obvious – the latter view Russia as a common neighbor (though employees of the public sector must have more fears towards a close integration as a potential threat for their status). However, the matter is how it is possible to enlist voters’ trust having such views, because voters mainly think in a different way.

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “Which variant of Belarus-Russia relations do you consider the best?”, %

The treaty on creation of a union state was signed two years ago, since then lawyers have been arguing over its legal status. Perhaps, the promised Constitutional Pact, drafts of which from time to time appear in press, would make the situation clearer. So far Belarusian public opinion leaders has been treating the idea of Union State with caution – almost three fourths of respondents believe that a Union State with both Russia and Belarus retaining sovereignty is basically impossible (see Table 2). And representatives of non-state structures, as it always the case regarding integration, sound rather skeptical.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you think a union state of Belarus and Russia is possible with both countries keeping their sovereignty, as stated by A. Lukashenko and V. Putin?”, %

His integration initiatives, A. Lukashenko has always accompanied with statements about inalienability of Belarus’ sovereignty. He has repeatedly claimed that a complete unification of the two countries is possible only if he is offered the first position in the new state. After V. Putin was elected the president of Russia, and considering his popularity both in Russia and Belarus, such possibility seems unlikely. Thus, today A. Lukashenko’s power instinct in a strange way serves as an additional guarantee of Belarus’ independence. Nonetheless, half of pollees do not believe his statements regarding protection of Belarusian sovereignty are sincere (see Table 3). Here we may note than representatives of non-state structures show much more distrust in this respect.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you think A. Lukashenko would really stand up for Belarus’ sovereignty as he claims?”, %

Differences between social-economic models of Belarus and Russia and between their foreign courses are evident. In all appearances, so far there have been no signs A. Lukashenko is going to correct his policy in line with changes taking place in the Kremlin. This cannot but cause a certain ambiguity in relations between the two countries, which de-jure are in a Union, and de-facto have economies based on different principles. Not surprisingly, two thirds of respondents feel coolness in relations between Russia and Belarus (see Table 4). It is noteworthy that this time there is an insignificant difference in approaches of representatives from state and non-state structures.

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question: “Have you felt any coolness in Belarus-Russia relations recently?”, %

Table 5 is a vivid example of the fact that elite does not support A. Lukashenko’s anti-western foreign course. Almost 80% of pollees (regardless of structures they represent) claimed their support for V. Putin’s actions aimed at establishing closer relations with the West (6% think in the opposite). No matter how authorities are trying, elite remains elite – its representatives want to go abroad and feel themselves people from a normal state, who are respected, whose opinion is reckoned with, rather than a country with doubtful reputation. No matter what nomenclature thinks of the West, it wants to make friends with it with all subsequent consequences.

Table  5. Distribution of answers to the question: “What is your attitude towards V. Putin’s recent steps to establish closer relations between Russia and the West?”, %

Table  6. Distribution of answers to the question: “How, do you think, such steps would affect Russia-Belarus relations?”, %

Judging by the answers received (see Table 7), at present, according to leaders and experts, Belarus faces three the most important tasks. They are: reforming economy, retaining state sovereignty and society democratization (in fact, employees of the private sector placed “retaining sovereignty” first). That means that ten years after gaining independence Belarus is still at an initial stage of creating an independent state, still faces problems that have not lost their actuality.