It is widely known that a part of the Belarusian society feels a strong liking for Russia. Alexander Lukashenko’s negative attitude to influential international organizations and the West at large are also common knowledge. In his recent annual address about the situation in the country, which the president made in the Chamber of Representatives, he criticized a number of international financial and political structures again (including NATO, IMF, the Council of Europe etc.) Some of the Chamber Members went to even greater lengths, asking whether there was any reason for the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group to stay and work in Minsk.

However, the authorities’ attitude to this problem differs a lot from the views of people. The overwhelming majority of Belarusians are sure that the activities of the leading international organizations are important for the country (Table 1). Even the International Monetary Fund, which is perpetually referred to by high-ranking politicians as a symbol of financial speculations and pressurizing countries in transition, was no exception.

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question “Are the activities of each of these organizations important for Belarus?”, %

The authorities’ motifs are clear: they would like to minimize the influence, that international organizations have in the country, because the results of the course pursued by today’s Belarusian leaders look particularly deplorable against international background. Therefore, the authorities try to get rid of those, who have other experience, so that people would not see an alternative. However, we have to admit that in this case old ideological stereotypes and new official propaganda do not work.

Belarusian people demonstrate a sound pragmatism, having a clear understanding of the real goals of international organizations, as well as possibilities, which they offer, and which our country can make use of, if it embarks on a reasonable course of development.
The Belarusian public opinion has one stable but paradoxical feature: our people are ready to merge into a single state with Russia, but they do not wish living standards in Belarus to match those in Russia. The majority of respondents said they would like living standards in this country to match Germany and USA (Table 2).

Table 2. The living standards in Belarus should match those in, %

Germany and USA also occupy first places in the list of countries, where Belarusians want to emigrate (Table 3). Generally, high emigration potential of the population is an important indicator. Almost 35% of respondents said they wanted to move to another country, 4% up from the previous year’s figure. Belarusians are ready to leave the country where there are no traditional things, which make people emigrate (ethnic or religious conflicts, military actions etc.) This is an indicator of the existence of latent social tensions in the country, whatever the authorities say about high stability, which they refer to as one of their major accomplishments.

Table 3. Distribution of answers to the question “Would you like to move to another country for good?”, %

The data in Table 2 have an interesting relation to the data in Table 4.

Table 4. Distribution of answers to the question “Which countries, in your opinion, pose a threat to Belarus?”, %

* Other countries were mentioned as potential enemies by less than 1% of respondents each

Although the regime tries to cultivate an image of Belarus as that of a fortress under siege by enemies, almost half of respondents thinks no one poses a threat to us. Moreover, the number of Belarusians, who do not see any external threats, rose by 10%. However both Soviet and recent ideological brainwash still have their influence on society. Belarusians still see NATO as the biggest threat to the country, although the attitude to the Alliance improved a lot from the previous poll. Perhaps, the influence of the shock from NATO military action in Yugoslavia is not as strong now as it used to be.
It was mentioned before, that NATO’s negative image in public thinking is a solid phenomenon, which cannot be divided into logical parts. Therefore, the threat from the US, a leading country in the Alliance, is seen by 1.5 times fewer Belarusians, than the threat from NATO. The “scores” of European counties (Germany, France and Great Britain) are even more convincing. At the same time, the “brotherly” Russia, with which we are integrating, has the second highest negative score after USA.