January 30 – February 5, 2023
The ruling elite

Pension rules tighten as persecution of the 2020 demonstrators continues

The situation got worse

The regime tightens control over the welfare system, redistributing funds away from higher-income groups and those perceived as disloyal. Purges of 2020 demonstrators from state companies and the regions continue.

Reform of the pension system reduces benefits with an increase in the eligibility age and length of service and encourages citizens to make independent provisions for old age. Meanwhile, the regime improves pension guarantees for security forces and military personnel.

Tax officials surcharged about 7,000 people, whose expenses significantly exceeded profits. The authorities have raised taxes significantly on tutors, wedding organisers, builders, hairdressers, and beauticians.

The government continues to take a positive view of the socio-economic situation due to low  (about 3.6%) and stability in the currency and financial markets, despite falling GDP.

Standards of living and consumption are partially supported by lending, with state support for banks approaching a record BYN 17 billion. The authorities managed to increase wages in some areas (partly due to savings from layoffs) and increase payments in the public sector (most likely by printing money).

The business environment for IT companies continues to deteriorate, forcing closures and layoffs due to sanctions and ideological pressure from the state. The founder of one of the companies of the Hi-Tech Park left Belarus, leaving USD 120,000 in salaries unpaid.

The Ministry of Education strengthens its ideological and patriotic education campaign to militarise the education system. Officials coerce schoolchildren into writing letters to soldiers as part of the “My letter to a soldier” campaign.

State-sector industrialists are counting on an increase in subsidies as part of import substitution. State officials continue to regulate the economy and interfere in the activities of state-owned enterprises, such as instructing Motovela to use 80-90% locally sourced components.

The Ministry of Justice has begun to re-register political parties, which will likely lead to the liquidation of the remaining pro-democracy organisations on the eve of the elections to the National Congress, Parliament, and local councils. After the mass purge of civil society with the liquidation of NGOs and then independent trade unions, the political parties (United Civic Party, Belarusian People’s Front, Belarusian Social Democratic Assembly, Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada), Conservative Christian Party of the Belarusian People’s Front, “Fair World”) were the last organisations remaining within which activists could legally operate.

The siloviki are conducting a thorough purge of disloyal personnel within state-owned enterprises, dismissing personnel at the Baranavičy branch of “Atlant” enterprise who demonstrated against the violence of security forces in 2020. The “list of extremists” continues to grow, approaching 2400 thousand people. Demonstrators and critics of the Lukashenka regime receive long terms of imprisonment and financial penalties. Regime security forces continue with mass arrests in the regions such as the recent raid in Fanipal.

The government continues to manually regulate pricing following Lukashenka’s scandalous directive to ban price increases.

The ruling class continues purging dissidents and repressing opponents.

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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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