The existence of state institutes and the state itself largely depends upon such a seemingly ephemeral concept as trust. Legitimacy, which is currently a subject of heavy discussion in Belarusian society, means no more than the recognition of authorities or, basically, trust in authorities. This report attempts to find out how the attitude toward one state institute, the president, influences all existing state institutions. We are particularly interested if this influence is characteristic of young people.

The respondents were given a list of 23 social institutes and were asked to state if they trust each of them. Table 1 contains the answers to this question of those who trust the president and those who do not trust him, or “contrast” groups. We consider separately contrast group formed by all the pollsters and by young people only. A trust index is used to characterize the pollsters’ attitude toward the listed institutes. The index can vary between -1 and 1. It is a ratio of the sum of positive (+1) and negative (-1) answers of those who, respectively, trust and do not trust the institute in question, to the total number of people in the group.

Table 1. The index of trust in various state institutes by the supporters and opponents of President Lukashenko from the entire sample and the youth group, %

State and public institutes

Entire sample

Young people under 30





State-run mass media





Educational institutions





The army





The church





The government





State-run research centers





The Constitutional Court










The Prosecutor’s office





State-run labor union





The Committee for State security





The board of lawyers





Non-state research centers





Local authorities





The National Assembly





Human rights organizations





The police





Non-state labor unions





The XIII Parliament





Political parties















Non-state mass media





* This column contains trust indexes for state and public institutes among those respondents who trust President A. Lukashenko (this group amounts to 41% of the sample). Among young people the proportion of those who trust President A. Lukashenko is 21.8%
** This column contains trust indexes for state and public institutes for those who do not trust President Lukashenko (28.8%). Among the youth group the proportion of those who do not trust the president is 44.9%

Line 3 of Table 1 contains the proportion of the separately considered groups to the total size of the national and youth samples.

As we can see, the attitude toward the president is a factor that determines the pollsters’ attitude toward all existing state institutions. Those who trust the president, also trust other state institutes, except for the police. At the same time, the supporters of the president do not trust any non-state organizations, except for independent research centers. Characteristically, state-run media enjoy the highest level of trust among the president’s supporters, while non-state media received the lowest trust index among this group of respondents. The president’s supporters even trust the XIII Parliament, which is in opposition to the president, more than independent mass media. This testifies to the fact that the perception of mass media among this group of the pollsters is highly politicized, and, probably, that mass media themselves are politicized. It looks like Lukashenko’s supporters share his idea that his biggest opponents are journalists.

Among the respondents who do not trust the president, the situation is significantly different. However, it’s not absolutely the opposite. Spearman rank correlation between the second and third columns of Table 1 is 0.0415, which is insignificant. However, the differences are substantial. Official institutes received a low and even negative trust index among this group of the respondents. The least trusted among them are the National Assembly, the government and the police. Independent research centers, non-state institutions and independent mass media received the highest trust index among the president’s opponents. Notably, only these three institutes received a positive trust index among the president’s opponents, while for all other institutes the trust index was negative. The president’s opponents trust the state institutes less than all other ones, however, they generally distrust almost all non-state institutes, too.

To characterize a group’s attitude toward a certain institute, we need to consider not only the polarity of the trust index, but also its figure. If the figure is high, the level of trust or distrust to the institute in question is high. Based on this, the president’s supporters have quite a significant figure of trust indexes. For five institutes, the trust index among this group is more than 0.4. At the same time, the figures of negative trust indexes among this group are substantially lower. Only non-state mass media have a trust index lower than -0.3. As for the president’s opponents, the situation is the opposite. Among this group, only the trust index for independent research centers is slightly higher than 0.2. At the same time, the president’s opponents are united in their distrust. For eight institutes the trust index is lower than -0.5. In other words, those who do not trust the president not only distrust almost all other state institutes, but their distrust is very intense.

Back in 1995, A. Lukashenko said that the state should have a stem, from which the branches of power would grow. In 1996, after a constitutional referendum, the division of power in Belarus was eliminated, and the state model really became so as the president had described it. It is natural that people who do not trust “the stem” do not trust “the branches” either. However, as table 1 shows, the distrust spreads beyond the state institutes and is almost total.

Thus, the president’s opponents’ distrust in non-state institutes is higher than that of the president’s supporters. The president’s opponents have less trust in the XIII Parliament and opposition political parties that embody political opposition to A. Lukashenko, as well as private businessmen and banks that embody the market economy, on which the president is cracking down, than A. Lukashenko’s supporters.

These data show how frustrated the president’s opponents are. They attitudes can be called “a great rejection.” They reject almost all social institutes, which means the society itself.

Let’s now consider the attitudes of young people.

Their preferences are close to those of their older colleagues. Spearman rank correlation between columns 2 and 4 in table 1 is 0.925, which is significant if the significance coefficient is higher than 0.05. Young people who trust the president, trust all other state institutes as well and do not trust non-state institutes. However, young supporters of the president trust almost all the institutes from table 1 (20 of 23) in a lesser degree than the entire sample.

In the young “pro-Lukashenko” group, not only the police, but also state labor unions, local authorities and the National Assembly have a negative trust index. The priorities are different, too. Young supporters of A. Lukashenko distrust political parties the most, while their older colleagues distrust independent mass media most of all. This might be explained by the fact that older generations when asked about political parties also remember the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which some older A. Lukashenko’s supporters still like.

Young supporters of A. Lukashenko have a more negative attitude toward such non-state institutes as labor unions, human rights organizations and political parties, than their older colleagues. At the same time, they distrust three most viable non-state institutions, private businessmen, banks and independent mass media, less than the entire group of Lukashenko’s supporters.

As for young opponents of A. Lukashenko, their attitudes are similar to those of the entire “anti-Lukashenko” group. Spearman rank correlation between column 3 and column 5 in Table 1, is 0.953, which is significant when the significance coefficient is higher than 0.05. The preferences of young A. Lukashenko’s opponents are the same as those of the entire group of A. Lukashenko’s opponents: independent research centers, non-state educational institutions and mass media. They distrust the government, the National Assembly and the police more than any other state institute.

At the same time, young A. Lukashenko’s opponents’ distrust in such non-state institutes as the XIII Parliament, political parties and banks is higher than that of young A. Lukashenko’s supporters.

However, young people who distrust the president, are less frustrated than their older colleagues. They trust 15 of 23 institutes, including both non-state and state institutes more than the entire “anti-Lukashenko” group. The situation is different for young supporters of the president who tend to trust all social institutes less than the entire “pro-Lukashenko” group.

In conclusion, we should note that attitudes toward the president is a very important factor that determines trust or distrust in all social institutes. Those who trust the president, tend to trust all other state institutes and distrust non-state institutes. Distrust in the president results in distrust in almost all social institutes, especially state institutes. The preferences of young supporters and opponents of A. Lukashenko are essentially similar to those of the entire population. But young supporters of A. Lukashenko trust the society they live in, less than the entire group of A. Lukashenko’s supporters, while young opponents of the president tend to trust all institutes of the society more than the entire “anti-Lukashenko” group. Thus, preferences of young A. Lukashenko’s supporters and opponents are closer to each other than those of the entire population.