Alekh Manayev: a growing sense of injustice in Belarus

Mr. Manayev, a Belorussian sociologist presented the results of the public opinion survey conducted by an independent institute NISEPI in mid-May. In his opinion, in the context of growing social discontent, the opposition should focus on slogans promoting social justice in order to attract new supporters.

According to the survey, Belorussians painfully experience the current economic problems. More than 50% responded that their income is “just barely enough to buy food”, and 75% is not able to afford clothing and shoes, while 97% does not have enough resources to buy home appliances, such as refrigerator or a washing machine.

Belorussians are also skeptical towards trials of the dissidents who participated in opposition’s December demonstration. According to the poll 28% of Belorussians think that people who were sentenced in recent trials are innocent. 24,7% claims that they are guilty, but their sentences were too long and unjust.

Mr. Manayev expressed his surprise with the level of distrust towards the official version of the bomb attack in Minsk metro. More than half of the respondents does not believe in the government’s explanations. Less than one third said they trust the authorities investigation into the explosion. What is more, every fourth person thinks that the explosion in metro station was very useful for the government.

Despite deteriorating life conditions and decline in society’s trust towards authorities, only 8 percent expressed willingness to participate in anti-government actions. Mr. Manayev thinks that people already feel irritated, but more radical attitudes are necessary for a social revolt. What is more, social discontent does not have to be automatically directed against Lukashenka, but rather against other representatives of the authorities, such as the government, local council, company manager, etc. Manayev thinks that the ruling class is very well aware of the dwindling support and they monitor carefully situation, ready to react. But the growing distrust towards the regime does not translate into backing the Belorussian opposition. – In 2002 Lukashenka’s ratings shrank to 26%, which was not accompanied by increasing support for the opposition. I think that potential social unrest will be connected with opposition’s work in a minimal degree. – Manayev told Belsat. In his opinion the opposition should connect both social and economic slogans – showing that authorities is acting unjustly in both fields.


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