Wednesday, April 3, 2024

By More than Two to One, Belarusians Identify as Democrats, But a Majority wants to Maintain Close Ties with Russia, New Study Reports

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 28 – By more than two to one, Belarusians identify as democrats rather than supporters of authoritarianism; but a majority do not view their nation as separate from the triune Slavic people Moscow talks about and want to maintain close relations with Russia while developing more ties with the West, according to a new survey.

            Prepared by the Poland-based Center for New Ideas, the study, based on polls and interviews, asked “what do Belarusians want?” and provided a range of answers that will simultaneous encourage and discourage all sides of the political debate in and about that country ( and

            The study found that 48 percent of Belarusians do not believe that their country needs a strong hand, 53 percent identified as democrats and only 23 percent as authoritarians, but deep interviews found that many are afraid that any weakening of Minsk will lead to disaster for themselves.

            It also found that 55 percent agreed with the idea that “Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians are part of a triune Slavic nation, while only 41 percent agreed with the idea that “Belarusians are a separate nation with their own history and culture. Only 16 percent think that Belarusian language should be the only state language.

            And the study reported that 66 percent of Belarusians want their country to have good relations with both Russia and the West, while 58 percent favored friendship at one and the same time with Moscow and Kyiv, despite the fact that those two capitals are currently at war with one another.

            All this suggests, the authors of the report conclude, that “the average Belarusian would like a more democratic political system and greater development of the private sector of the economy but at the same time that this does not mean that he or she is prepared to support liberal reforms in various spheres of life” or a radical turn away from Russia.

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