Belarusians’ views on the political crisis - April 2021

Results of a public opinion poll conducted between 20 and 30 April 2021.

Other resource Updated 25 January 2022 Published 11 June 2021

Chatham House surveyed a total of 937 respondents between 20 and 30 April 2021. Our survey sample corresponds to the general structure of Belarus’s urban population and is corrected and weighted by gender, age, size of respondents’ town of residence and education level.

Summary

  • After Lukashenka, the most known political figures in Belarus are pro-protest politicians: Tsikhanouskaya, Babaryka, Tsikhanouski, Kalesnikava, Tsapkala and Latushka. Viktar Babaryka is the most popular presidential candidate among Belarusian urban citizens, and Lukashenka comes second to him.
  • State organizations and bodies are still mistrusted by more than half the population, while the army is slightly more popular than other bodies. Independent media, labour unions and human rights organizations are trusted far more than state ones.
  • Russia leads when it comes to positive attitudes to foreign states: one in three Belarusians feel very positive about their neighbour and 79 per cent feel positive in general. 71 per cent Belarusians feel positive about China, which is the next highest indicator. Despite propaganda efforts, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland and EU states in general are still perceived positively by more than 60 per cent of Belarusians, with fewer than 20 per cent feeling negative about them.
  • The position on Russian interference in the Belarusian political crisis is consolidated enough: 58 per cent think that Russia should remain neutral. The rest are almost equally divided between those who think Russia should support the protest movement (19 per cent) and those who think Russia should support Lukashenka (23 per cent).
  • 40 per cent have changed their attitude to the Russian government since it supported Lukashenka in the crisis, and 73 per cent are sure that Russia is his sole support.
  • While 32 per cent of Belarusians see union with Russia as the most appropriate foreign policy, 46 per cent would like to be in a union with both Russia and the EU simultaneously.
  • Almost half the population thinks that Belarusian foreign policy in the event of a pro-protest government coming to power would be oriented toward friendship and cooperation with both Russia and the West, which correlates with how the majority thinks it should be. Although 42 per cent expect foreign policy would lean toward the EU in that situation, which is less acceptable: only 25 per cent think it ‘should’.
  • The proportion of respondents who think Belarus should remain in the Collective Security Treaty Organization is 58 per cent, while 35 per cent would like to see Belarus not belonging to any military bloc and a small share (seven per cent) would prefer Belarus to join NATO.
  • Almost half of the population considers Lukashenka to be the major obstacle for political stability and economic development and is sure he does not care about, and in fact is a threat to, independence.
  • In general, most Belarusians have a consolidated opinion that the authorities should start negotiating with opponents and free all political prisoners.
  • More than half of Belarusians think that Lukashenka must leave immediately or before the end of 2021, while 27 per cent think he should leave when his term ends in 2025. The opinion that Lukashenka should rule for another term beginning in 2025 is marginal – only ten per cent support this.
  • Expectations are not so optimistic though: only 26 per cent believe he will leave office this year. One in three thinks he will leave in 2025; a further 19 per cent say that he will stay on for further terms in office.
  • If Lukashenka doesn’t leave, people expect an increase in emigration and unemployment, the continuation of repression in all areas of life, falling exchange rates and the tightening of dependency on Russia.
  • Opinion on abortions is still consolidated, with only 19 per cent thinking they should be banned in most or all cases. The same applies to Lukashenka’s infamous statement that society in Belarus is not ready to have a female president: only 20 per cent agree with the opinion.
  • 52 per cent don’t think there is a problem of wage inequality between men and women in Belarus, while 37 per cent do see an issue.

Download a presentation of the survey’s main findings