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April 1 – April 7, 2024
The ruling elite

Lukashenka’s Social Contract-2024: Guarantees for the Security Forces, Whip for Others

The situation got worse
Lukashenka’s Social Contract-2024: Guarantees for the Security Forces, Whip for Others
Карыкатура: Вася Ложкін

The Belarusian leadership is redirecting funds from the disloyal private sector to support the security forces, propaganda, and state companies. The ruling class lacks the resources to increase support for broad population groups through welfare improvement. The regime is gradually reducing state guarantees in the pension sphere, healthcare, and labor relations—and focuses on punishing disloyal groups of society.

Lukashenka is trying to mitigate population dissatisfaction due to another reduction in the state medical package. The politician noted that doctors in the best clinics in Belarus “earn very decent money”. In addition, the politician promised to “regulate” the issue with Belarusians who travel home for medical treatment.

From October 1, contributions to the Social Security Fund become mandatory for the self-employed. It’s worth noting that the traditional increase in pensions is under threat due to a shortage of labor. Despite the gradual reduction of pension obligations to workers, the state is forced to redirect additional funds from the budget to the population’s social protection fund.

The regime continues to reform the pension system—and significantly narrows the guarantees and obligations. By 2025, the experience required to receive a labor pension will increase to 20 years (for comparison, in 2013 it was 5 years). Even earlier—during 2017-2022—the retirement age was raised by 5 years for both men and women.

Certain population groups find themselves in a “pension trap” or suffer inconveniences due to new legislation. Top officials address problematic issues manually. For example, the chairman of the Senate Kachanava conducts receptions with broad media coverage, which boosts the official’s ratings.

The ruling class reduces guarantees in the field of labor law. Lukashenka signed a decree increasing the limit of overtime work in the industry.

The country’s leadership is reducing state guarantees in dosed packages—and stretches the process over time. This allows the population to adapt to changes and prevents protest mobilization. Additionally, the ruling class regularly increases measures to restrict access to state statistics. This allows for the retouching of unpopular measures and their consequences (for example, mortality among pensioners during the COVID pandemic in 2020-2021 or the fall in pension levels). This gives state media ease in supporting the image of a social state and fair redistribution of goods.

It’s worth noting that in the consolidated budget for 2024, the share of social sector expenditures was reduced to 42.2% (compared to 44.7% in 2023). The ruling class prioritizes support for the security forces ahead of the 2025 presidential elections.

Thus, Lukashenka will continue to review social guarantees with attempts to redirect public dissatisfaction to disloyal groups or officials.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.
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