IISEPS News – ISSN 1822-5535 (Printing), ISSN 1822-5543 (ONLINE),

N 1 (67), 2013




Exhaustion of the bureaucratic and subsidized paradigm
A “portrait” of a Belarusian guest worker
In search of Belarusian society’s modernization potential
The gap between expectations and reality as an irritation factor
Opposition avitaminosis
What power Belarusians need
Is the tsar’s heart the best constitution?
Geopolitical lull
Belarusian heroes: Kalinovsky and others

Some results of the opinion poll conducted in March-2013


The phenomenon of the blogger A. Navalny: between the myth and reality
The peak of V. Putin’s support remained in the past
European parallels and perpendiculars
Ukrainian politicians’ rating polyphony
Gallup vs. IISEPS


Alexander Klaskowsky
“Freedom must ripen in the course of time, as well as we must ripen on time for freedom”


Dear readers!
In another issue of the analytic bulletin “IISEPS News” we offer to your attention materials reflecting the most important results of the Institute research in the first quarter of 2013.
Unsteady stabilization that we had written about describing the “economic feeling” of Belarusians at the turn of the previous year displayed a new negative trend in the first quarter of the current year. Thus the ratio of those whose financial standing has improved for the last three months to those whose financial standing has become worse is changing for the worse. Almost two thirds of respondents consider that Belarusian economy is in a grip of crisis. In spite of the fact that according to the official data the average pay exceeded $ 500 in dollar terms at the end of the year, the population’s real income dropped: if in December an average income (including salaries, pensions, allowances and other extra earnings) per family member made up $ 275, today it is $ 250. At that estimating the danger of a new devaluation of the Belarusian ruble within the next few months a third said it was “a real threat”, about 43% – “it was possible but unlikely”. That is why less than 20% placed confidence in the Belarusian ruble, and over half of respondents – in the American dollar. Furthermore, in spite of the official statistics according to which the unemployment level in the country is lower than 1%, in fact over 36% of respondents had to be unemployed (most of them were not registered with the employment service).
A drop in the “economic felling” intensified the skeptical attitude of Belarusians to the authorities still more. Thus a third of respondents consider that the money directed at modernization of enterprises declared by the head of state in the New Year address “will be spent ineffectively”, and over 28% – that it “will be embezzled” anyway. Only 35.4% believe that “a technological breakthrough, modernization of the economy and a breakthrough on the basis of the latest technology are possible in Belarus within the next 10 years” and over 40% do not agree with it. The majority of respondents pin their hopes for the country’s economic development on attraction of foreign capital and on Belarusian businessmen, not on the president or the government. Almost 44% think that human rights are not upheld or more likely not upheld in Belarus. Today almost a quarter of respondents are concerned about the arbitrary rule most of all, and approximately 15% – about a civil war (for comparison – only 11.5% are concerned about foreign aggression). As it can be seen, the split of society with regard to the authorities is felt by the ordinary public more and more. The unstable economic situation and skeptical attitude towards the authorities inevitably increase readiness of Belarusians for changes: today three thirds consider that “Belarus needs changes” (in May 2011 – 61.1%).
However, one should not overestimate Belarusians’ readiness for changes. If the trust and electoral ratings of the president (43.4% and 33.4%) have been growing slightly for three months then the ratings of opposition bodies and their leaders have on the whole decreased. At that a low level of political mobilization or even readiness for it is not yet the most important obstacle in the way to changes that millions of people declare for. An extremely high level of people’s distrust in one another, and not only in many social institutions, is a much more serious problem. Thus 70% of respondents believe “it is necessary to be very careful in relations with people”, and only 23.1% – that “the majority of people can be trusted”. What political mobilization is possible without an obvious alternative and social consolidation?
Although so far no considerable changes are being observed in foreign policy orientation of Belarusians, the before registered tendencies continue to develop. Thus when facing the necessity of choosing between integration with Russia and entering the European Union at a hypothetical referendum fewer respondents declare for the first option than for the second one. Though Belarus still finds itself in isolation on the part of the West, its citizens go abroad more and more often, and not only as tourists, but also to work. Thus over a million of people have gone to work in the European Union countries for the last several years. These data coincide well with the recently published statistics according to which Belarus ranks first in the world as far as the number of Schengen visas issued per capita is concerned.
As usual, for those readers who are more interested in our figures than in assessments we afford ground for analyzing the research results on their own by means of counting up in terms of the main socio-demographic characteristics.
In our “Open Forum” rubric we offer our readers a selection of data of sociological surveys conducted by our colleagues mainly in the countries contiguous to Belarus furnished with our short comments. We suppose that a comparative analysis of social processes in the international context will allow our readers to understand the results of researching Belarusian society better.
In our “Bookshelf” rubric Belarusian political scientist Alexander Klaskovsky presents to the readers a new book by the writer of political essays Alexander Tomkovich “Life after Prison”.
As usual your feedback and comments are welcome!