The most important results of the public opinion poll in March 2016


(were interviewed 1.508 persons aged 18 and over, margin of error doesn’t exceed 0.03)

1. In the first quarter of 2016 financial well-being of Belarusians became significantly worse, approaching the figures of crisis year 2011:


  • only 5.5% of respondents believe that their financial standing improved, 33.4% say that it remained the same, and 59.6% find that it became worse (in December the shares were 10.5%, 45.9%, 42.4% accordingly). Average income per family member (including salaries, pensions, social benefits and other incomes) over the past month decreased from $195 in December down to $147 in March (in June 2015 the figure was at $240, i.e. over 9 months Belarusians’ incomes decreased by almost 40%). Over 61% of respondents say that they “can hardly make both ends meet and have not enough money even to buy food”/”have enough money for food, but buying clothes is a real problem” (in September 2014 this share amounted to 33.3%). The number of those who consider that Belarusian economy is in crisis jumped from 66.9% in September up to 87.8% in March (in crisis year 2001 this share amounted to 87.6%); only 4.4% disagreed with this. Evaluating “the progress of Belarusian economy model” only 26.2% agree that “this progress is explained by internal factors; Russian aid is an important but not decisive factor”; 31.2 of respondents think that “without the help of Russia there would be no progress in the Belarusian economy”; and 37.1% say that “there is no progress in the Belarusian economy” (a year ago the ratio was 3.4% vs. 35.4% vs. 27%). 28.5% of respondents believe that “these hardships are temporary; we survived worse in the past”; 40.5% think that “these hardships will be with us for a long time, it’s time to tighten our belts”; and 24% of respondents see “a collapse of Belarusian economy”;

  • the level of trust to the national currency has significantly dropped: today only 20.6% of Belarusian trust it, while 52.7% prefer U.S. dollars (in June 2006 the ratio was 28% vs. 46%). Accordingly, the fear of another devaluation of Belarusian ruble in the next few months has increased: 48.3% consider it to be a real threat, 33.7% consider it possible, but unlikely, and only 9.6% hope that it won’t happen (in September 2013 these figures were 32.3%, 39.7%, 20.5% accordingly). Millions of Belarusians expect future with a growing anxiety: only 12.7% of respondents believe that socio-economic situation in the country will improve in the next few years; 34.3% think that it won’t change, and 42.9% of respondents expect a worsening of the situation (2 years ago these shares amounted to было 24%, 45%, 26.1% accordingly). 40.8% of respondents would like their children to run their private business, while 41.1% wouldn’t (5 years ago the ratio was 53.8% vs. 33.8%). There is nothing surprising in the fact that according to 39.1% of respondents “young people cannot succeed in Belarus today”; however, 47.7% of respondents share the opposite opinion (in March 2006 the ratio was 30.7% vs. 61.6%). 41.5% of respondents would like to move to another country for permanent residence if they had such a possibility (33.5% in June 2006).


2. Belarusians’ attitude to state institutions became significantly worse as well:


  • the number of respondents who don’t trust the main state institutions today is bigger than the number of those who trust them. According to 48.3% of respondents, government is to blame for the current crisis in Belarus (in September 2015 the share amounted to 40.5%); 47% of respondents blame the President (34.1%), 22.7% – the Parliament (14%). Almost all political forces in Belarus begin to get prepared for parliamentary elections, but only 16.9% of respondents believe that “the Parliament works proactively and passes legislations important for Belarus”; 31.6% of respondents think that “its activity is reduced to servicing the political course of President A. Lukashenko”; 22.7% consider that “its deputies are mainly occupied with solving their own problems”. Almost each fourth respondent has no idea what the Parliament does. Only 17.6% of respondents hope that Belarusian powers are going to help to overcome the crisis in the country, 11.1% hope on the Western countries, 26.1% – on Russia, and 36.5% of respondents believe that “no one is going help us, we can only rely on ourselves”. President A. Lukashenko recently said: “People who import to Belarus raggery of all kinds, even good quality ones, you should understand: all that we imported is equal to how we kill our economy, out light industry. All the more so without certificates. Like this we legislate bandits, criminals! We catch some of them, but let others do it”. Only one third of respondents agreed with this, while 55.2% disagreed. Only 7.2% of respondents assessed significant growth of tariffs on communal services as “fair decision: people should pay for communal services as much as they cost”; 20.8 of respondents believe that “it’s a difficult but needed decision: it’s demanded by the International Monetary Fund, and Belarus needs its help”; almost 67% of respondents see it as “an unfair decision: most people have no money to pay for these tariffs”. Recent decision of Minsk and Gomel powers to cancel the limitation on alcohol sales during the night time, taken after A. Lukashenko demanded to increase the volumes of Belarusian alcohol sales, was supported by 36.5% of respondents and was disliked by 53.7%. 34.9% of respondents agreed with the statement of the Vice Premier N. Kochanova, who said that “Belarusian doctors are paid accordingly to the way they work”; 56.1% disagreed with it. The conflict between the power and Belarusian self-employed entrepreneurs didn’t pass unnoticed in society. Cessation of their work affected well-being of millions of Belarusians: almost 55% of respondents said that they “bought goods from them, because they were more expensive in other places”. That is why only 16.2% of respondents share the powers’ position in this conflict, and 15.9% of respondents are indifferent towards this conflict. 19.3% of respondents don’t understand the reasons for it, and 45% support the position of entrepreneurs;

  • dissatisfaction with activities of Belarusian powers is not related to socio-economic sphere only. Thus, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, only 18.9% of respondents are completely satisfied with the way Belarusian powers solve the issues related to its consequences. Over 70% of respondents are dissatisfied or satisfied only partly. Sometimes dissatisfaction turns into bitterness: almost 24% of respondents said that representatives of powers insulted them during the last three years. For example, only 22.5% of respondents said that “militia coped with their duties (enforcement of public order, advocacy of rights and interests of citizens) rather well”; 47.7% – “acceptably”, 24.1% – “badly”. In particular, answering the question “Have you (or people you know) ever endured illegal actions from the side of militia?”, 16.4% of respondents complained about lack of professionalism, 12.2% – “ungrounded arrest”, 10.6% – “reluctance to react to complaints, refusal to accept statements”, 5.9% – “gratuitous violence”, 2.7% – “money extortion”. This equals to 1.148.000, 854.000, 742.000, 413.000 и 189.000 grown up citizens accordingly. According to 34% of respondents, “it is almost impossible to obtain fair and just solutions in the conditions of existing Belarusian judicial system”. There is nothing surprising in the fact that Belarusians’ opinion about the way the state of things in our country develops becomes worse right on front of our eyes: in March 2014 40.2% and 46.2% of respondents considered the direction right and wrong accordingly, today this ratio equals to 23.5% vs. 58.5% (in crisis year 2011 it was 17% vs. 68.5%).


3. The desire for changes became significantly stronger amid this background:


  • in March 2006 53.4% of respondents said that maintaining of the current situation was more important for them, and 37.8% would have preferred changing of the current situation; in June 2014 the ratio was 38.3% vs. 52.1%; today only 24.7% of respondents advocate maintaining of the situation, while 67.3% support changes (in crisis year 2011 the ratio was 18% vs. 70.1%). In March 2006 57.5% of respondents were sure that significant improvement of life in Belarus was possible under the current leadership of the country and their policy, while 30.4% of respondents believed it to be impossible; today the ratio is 43.6% vs. 43.4%. It looks like the desire of changes begins to propagate on the higher authority as well. Thus, in September 2014 53.5% of respondents trusted President A. Lukashenko, while 33.3% distrusted him; in September 2015 the ratio was 47% и 37.1%; today 41.7% trust him and 47.4% don’t. Back in September 45.7% of respondents were ready to vote for him; in December the figure was 33.3%; today it dropped down to 27.3%. (Let us remind you that lowest electoral ratings of the President were registered in March 2002 – 26.4% and in September 2011 – 20.5%);

  • at the same time, protest potential remains quite low. Thus, 18% of Belarusians consider themselves in opposition to the current power (in June 2011 during the crisis this figure amounted to 25.8%). 18.2% of respondents answered positively the question “If there are protests against the worsening of financial standing in your city (region), are you ready to take part in them?” (22.9% in March 2014). Rating of oppositional parties reached a record low: 11.3% (20% in December 2002, 18.8% in March 2015). If another presidential election was held tomorrow, 6.9% of respondents would vote for T. Korotkevich (9.9% in December 2015; 15.7% of voters voted for her during the elections in October). 2.9% of respondents would vote for N. Statkevich; the shares of votes for every other oppositional politician are below 1%. Suggestion of a group of oppositional leaders to carry out the Congress of Democratic Forces in May 2016 to “consolidate democratic forces and decide on further actions” didn’t cause much enthusiasm in society: 21.8% of respondents support this suggestion, 54.2% don’t, and 18.9% are indifferent towards it. These results are completed by the self-estimation of protest potential of society: only 22.6% of respondents believe that public opinion affects political and socio-economic decisions in the country, while almost 70% disagree with it (in September 2013 the ratio was 41.5% vs. 47.5%).


4. The pendulum of foreign-policy orientations of Belarusians once again swung in favor of Europe:


  • on a hypothetic referendum on joining the European Union 23.4% of respondents would vote “for” and 53.9% would vote “against” (in December the ratio was 19.8% vs. 56.1%). Almost every second Belarusian would like to work in any country of the EU if there was such a possibility. On a referendum about integration of Belarus and Russia 24.8% of respondents would vote “for” and 52.4% of respondents would vote “against” (in December it was 29.7% vs. 51.5%). In the answers to the “either… or”-question in December 53.5% of respondents were for integration with Russia and 25.1% for joining the EU, today the ratio is 48% vs. 31.2%. It is possible that these results were affected by the recent thaw in the relations between the EU and Belarus, in particular, the cancellation of sanctions against Belarus. Thus, according to 39.3% of respondents, “the EU made the right decision; they should respect the choice of Belarusian people and cooperate with the power which enjoys people’ support”. 18.1% of respondents think that “the EU made the right decision, because no matter what the power in Belarus is, the most important is to weaken the dependency of Belarus on Russia”. 17.7% believe that “the EU abandoned their own principles playing ball with Belarusian power”. 10.5% say that “the EU made the wrong decision, because they try to split Belarus and Russia”. At the same time, as we’ve noted it multiple times, these changes should not be overestimated. Majority of Belarusians are still characterized by a deep cultural and psychological proximity to Russia rather than Europe. Thus, 73.9% of respondents consider themselves closer to Russians, while only 25.8% of respondents – to Europeans (in December 2010 the ratio was 69.9% vs. 29.6%). 65.8% of respondents believe that “Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians are three branches of the same people”, while 28.6% think that “these are different nations” (10 years ago the ratio was almost the same). Only 26.2% of respondents agree with the suggestion to replace Russian Literature in schools with World Literature, while 60% disagree. The idea of the “Russian world”, which V. Putin used to justify the annexation of Crimea, is regarded positively by 30.9% of Belarusians, 52.7% are indifferent and 10.3% are negative about it (in December the ratio was 32.3%, 44.8%, 15.1%). If there was a referendum on whether Belarus should join NATO, 55.8% of respondents would vote against and only 13.3% would vote for (10 years ago the ratio was 46.2% vs. 14.4%);

  • the conflict between Ukraine and Russia remains in the focus of attention of Belarusian society. From the one hand, as we’ve noted it multiple times, majority of Belarusians agree with the Russian interpretation of the conflict. Thus, 57.8% of respondents evaluate the annexation of Crimea by Russia as “a restitution of Russian lands and reestablishment of historical justice”, while the share of those who think that it was “an imperialistic usurpation and occupation” amounts to 27.1% (a year ago the ratio was 57.4% vs. 26.5%). 43.7% of respondents agree that there is a war between Russia and Ukraine; 75% of respondents believe that there is a civil war in Ukraine. Over 51% of respondents think that non-observance of Minsk agreements on reconciliation of the conflict in Donbass is caused by Ukrainian powers; 23.6% blame the West for it; 20.8% blame Russia; and 17.9% blame the powers of Donetsk/Lugansk People’s Republics. Recently Russian Prime Minister D. Medvedev said that Russia and the West “returned to the times of the cold war”. 44.6% of respondents blame the West for it, 12.8% blame Russia, 30.4% blame both sides. On the other hand, Belarusians are more and more anxious about the growing tension between Russia and the West, and many of them would like to distance themselves from this process. Thus, 45.4% of respondents are worried that “as Belarus is the closest ally of Russia, the confrontation between Russia and the West will inevitably affect Belarus”. 30.4% of respondents are not worried about it, and 17.5% remain indifferent. Military operation in Syria, started by Russia in the end of September, is considered as “struggle against terrorism that threatens the world” by 43.6% of respondents; 30.7% of respondents believe that “Russia is confronting the world domination of the West”, and 25.9% think that “once again Russia pokes her nose into other people’s business demonstrating imperial ambitions” (in December the ratio was 48.7% vs. 29.9% vs. 20.2%). Assessing the tense relations between Russia and Turkey, only 16.3% of respondents expressed opinion that Belarus “should support Russia, denounce Turkey and introduce the same sanctions as Russia”; 22.8% of respondents believe that “Belarus should support Russia and denounce Turkey, but do not introduce any sanctions”; majority of respondents (53.8%) say that “Belarus should not take any side in the conflict”. Only 22% of respondents are positive about the idea of a Russian military airbase in Belarus, while 28.8% of respondents are indifferent about it and 42.9% are negative (in September these figures were 27%, 31.2% and 33.9%).