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April 18 – April 24, 2022
The ruling elite

Escalation of repression but forced concessions for business

The situation got worse
Escalation of repression but forced concessions for business

Regime leaders are directing security forces to increase repression in the face of growing social discontent due to economic turmoil and falling living standards. The government declares its readiness to support small and medium-sized businesses facing difficulties arising from sanctions and import restrictions.

The leadership instructs the National Bank and the government to support the public sector of the economy. Despite this, GDP fell by 0.4% in the first quarter.

In addition, to stave off redundancies while containing costs, the authorities cut the salaries of employees in some state-owned companies, aggravating the socio-political situation. Consequently, warehouse stocks are increasing, exceeding BYN 6.7 billion for the year to date.

The National Bank has stabilised foreign exchange and financial markets, but, probably due to pressure from the political leadership, support for the public sector will increase, thus accelerating inflation.

The government calls on entrepreneurs to work on import substitution. Economic authorities are becoming more amenable to working with the business community as the situation deteriorates.

The government is accumulating reserves in anticipation of a downturn in the economy due to the sanctions. The state budget for the first quarter recorded a surplus.

Security forces are expanding the range of workers subject to anti-corruption investigations. Thirty corruption cases have been initiated in Minsk against transport controllers since January 2021.

Seizures from retail chains and coercion to reduce prices continue as the government attempts to compensate for declining living standards at the expense of private businesses.

Despite the personnel problems in health care, the security forces continue with mass arrests of traumatologists. Doctors have been one of the groups most critical of Lukashenka’s policies since the start of the pandemic and the political crisis.

The purge of the leadership of independent trade unions, which have so continued to operate legally, continues. Registered political parties are one of the last remaining groups left to eliminate.

The pressure on the legal community continues. Lukashenka once again stressed the need to strengthen control over lawyers. About fifty lawyers have already been deprived of their licenses, mainly for political reasons.

After defeating civil society organisations, the Lukashenka regime expects to replace them with ideologically government-aligned NGOs monitored by the security forces.

The Lukashenka regime continues with repression as the socio-economic situation in the country deteriorates and security forces dismantle the remaining vestiges of civil society.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of leading Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries to the most topical and relevant issues, including on behind the scenes processes ongoing in Belarus, in Russian and English.
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