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July 13 – July 19, 2020
Security issues

Authorities have engaged the army in the pre-election politics

The situation got worse
Authorities have engaged the army in the pre-election politics

Facing a crisis of confidence among some Belarusians, President Lukashenka aims to rely on the authority of other public institutions.

This year, mid-ranking military leaders are actively engaging in the pre-election propaganda promoting the incumbent president. State news agency BelTA regularly refers to military officials for comments about Lukashenka’s achievements, about the strength of national defense under his leadership, and approval of the state military policy. That said, BelTA only reports about the incumbent president, totally disregarding his opponents.

On July 16th, 2020, Lukashenka visited the 103rd Vitebsk Airborne Brigade and used the opportunity to praise the army. For example, he stated that civil servants needed to level up to the military and proposed to introduce military service experience as a requirement for presidential candidates in Belarus to be enshrined in the constitution.

Lukashenka’s pro-army rhetoric is not supported with equivalent public funding: the army usually receives leftovers. Military spending in Belarus is lower than in the neighboring states in both, absolute and relative terms.

 

Year

National defense expenditure in Belarus, USD, mln

Percent of Belarus’ GDB, %

2011

586.456

0.88

2012

603.177

0.92

2013

702.663

0.93

2014

717.738

0.91

2015

581.029

1.03

2016

523.109

1.1

2017

521.962

0.95

2018

661.219

1.1

2019

636.714

1.01

 

Traditionally, the Belarusian army is among the three most authoritative state institutions, having trust ratings higher than Lukashenka’s. Facing low popular ratings, the Belarusian president artificially promotes the issue of external threats to Belarus’ independence and attempts to “win over” the support from popular rating leaders. In this regard, the Orthodox Church may also face pressure to enlist its public and unequivocal support for the incumbent president in the presidential race.

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