Support for union with Russia shrinking, sociologist says

Protest in Minsk / Euroradio​
Protest in Minsk / Euroradio​

The number of supporters of the union with Russia in Belarus decreased by 11.6 percentage points from September to November, the survey conducted by the Belarusian Analytical Workshop (BAW) in early November suggests. In an interview with the Russian Kommersant, the head of the BAW, Doctor of Sociology, Andrei Vardamatski, told more about the survey.

The sociological survey by BAW was conducted on November 5-8 by making calls to random respondents using the Random Digital Dialing system. As many as 1,008 people took part in it. They were asked to answer the following question: "In your opinion, in which union of states would it be better for the people of Belarus to live - in the European Union or in the union with Russia?"

The previous BAW survey was held in September 2020. Then 51.6% of respondents were in favor of the union with Russia. In November, there were 40% of them. Thus, the decrease was 11.6 percentage points.

But the pro-European vector has become more prominent increasing from 26.7% in September to 33% in November (a difference of 6.3 percentage points).

According to Vardamatski, the changes go beyond the statistical error, which in this sample is 3.2%. In his opinion, there is a convergence of two positions in the Belarusian society -- pro-Russian and pro-European ones. “There is a return to the traditional bivectorism, which was observed in Belarus before the EU enlargement in 2004. After that, there was a rise in pro-Russian sentiment, and Russia was in the 60% corridor for a long time regarding the question asked in our survey,” the sociologist notes.

The scientist adds that the Belarusian protests, which began in August, have not yet ended. Moreover, the question of geopolitics did not arise in them. “When asked why people took to the streets, respondents named a variety of reasons: the government's reaction to the coronavirus, violence, election fraud. Moreover, violence was the main reason. But no one said that they went out because they wanted to be closer to the EU and further away from Russia or vice versa," says Vardamatski.

By the way, almost all foreign journalists and politicians noted that there are no flags of either Russia or the EU at the Belarusian rallies.

Now, according to the scientist, a geopolitical factor may appear in the protests. And in the future, this may cause tensions in relations with Russia.

The sociologist explains the changes in geopolitical preferences by the fact that the Belarusian society only recently began to understand Moscow's steps in support of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.