IISEPS News, N 1 (79), 2016

IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),
N 1 (79), 2016




Unhappy beginning of another 5-year period
During the crisis people prefer a living dog to a dead lion
Dollar is not a rival to ruble
We won’t be helped from abroad
Farewell process to illusions has been started
We are not satisfied but we don’t protests
Conflict between authorities and individual entrepreneurs is a blow to poor people
“Young people have all the doors open”
“They are paid according to the way they work”
Cultural gene of death penalty is bred in the bone
Belarus – the EU: a thaw, not a summer
Conflict in Ukraine: a Russian view from Belarusian eyes

Some results of the opinion poll conducted in March-2016


Putin’s rating: March vs. January
Economy takes over
Mainly bad and very bad
Unpopular war
America has two problems: economy and government


Dear readers!

In the latest issue of the analytical bulletin “IISEPS News” we offer to your attention materials reflecting the most interesting results of the Institute researches in the first quarter of 2016.
Our research studies demonstrate that in general financial well-being of Belarusians significantly worsened, getting close to the level of crisis year 2011 according to many indicators. Less than 6% of respondents say that their financial position improved, while 10 times as much of them say that it became worse. Average per capita income (including salaries, pensions, social benefits and other incomes) decreased from $ 195 in December down to $ 147 in March (in June this figure amounted to $ 285, i.e. over 9 months Belarusians’ income decreased by 40%). The level of trust to the national currency has significantly dropped; the fear of another devaluation of Belarusian ruble in the next few months has increased. The number of those who think that Belarusian economy is in crisis increased by 20%, exceeding the value of the crisis year 2011. Over 40% of respondents believe 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”. Millions of Belarusians expect future with a growing anxiety: less than 13% of respondents believe that socio-economic situation in the country will improve in the next few years; almost 43% expect a worsening of the situation.
Belarusians’ attitude to the state power became significantly worse as well. The number of people who don’t trust the main state institutions today is bigger than the number of those who trust them. For the current crisis Belarusians mostly blame the government (48.3%) and the President (47%). Two thirds of respondents see the increase of communal tariffs as “an unfair decision: most people have no money to pay for these tariffs”. Conflict of the power with individual entrepreneurs negatively affected financial 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 power’s position in this conflict, while 45% support individual entrepreneurs. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, over 70% of respondents are dissatisfied or satisfied only partly with the way the power deals with the consequences of the catastrophe. According to 34% of respondents, “it is almost impossible to obtain fair and just solutions in the conditions of existing Belarusian judicial system”. Today only 23.5% of respondents believe that the state of things in our country is developing in the right direction; nearly 60% consider the chosen direction wrong.
Amid this background the desire for changes became significantly stronger. Today less than a quarter of respondents supports maintaining of the current situation, while two thirds advocate changes. In September 2014 53.5% of respondents trusted A. Lukashenko, while 33.3% didn’t; today the ratio is 41.7% vs. 47.7%. Back in September 45.7% of respondents were ready to vote for him, in December this indicator amounted to 33.3%, and today this share equals to 27.3%. At the same time protest potential remains low. Rating of oppositional parties reached a minimum – 11.3% (18.8% in March 2015). If another presidential election was held tomorrow, 6.9% of respondents would vote for T. Korotkevich, 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” is supported by less than 22% of respondents.
The pendulum of foreign-policy orientations of Belarusians once again swung in favor of Europe. 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, almost 40% of respondents believe that “the EU made the right decision; they should respect the choice of Belarusian people and cooperate with the power which enjoys people’s support”. At the same time, these changes should not be over-estimated. Majority of Belarusians are still characterized by a deep cultural and psychological proximity to Russia. Thus, almost three quarters of respondents consider themselves closer to Russians, and only one quarter – to Europeans. 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. Almost 45% of respondents blame the West for “returning to the times of the cold war”, as Russian Prime Minister D. Medvedev put it. Less than 13 % of respondents blames Russia for it. 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, over 45% of respondents are worried that “as Belarus is the closest ally of Russia, the confrontation between Russia and the West will inevitably affect Belarus”. Today only 22% of respondents are positive about the idea of a Russian military airbase in Belarus (in December this share amounted to 27%).
As usual, those readers who are more interested in our figures than in our assessments can analyze the research results on their own. The results are presented as a plain count up according to the main socio-demographic characteristics.
In our “Open Forum” rubric we continue to present the most interesting results of the latest surveys of our colleagues from neighboring countries.
As usual, your feedback and comments are welcome!