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January 31 – February 6, 2022
The ruling elite

Public sector purges continue. Loyalists will ensure a required referendum turnout

The situation got worse
Public sector purges continue. Loyalists will ensure a required referendum turnout

The authorities tighten control over election commissions and plan to ensure public order by supplementing police officers with vigilantes. Election organisers are exercising great caution; however, in a climate of violence and fear, it is doubtful that significant numbers of independent observers will be nominated.

For political reasons, the Central Election Commission (CEC) will invite observers from the CIS and the SCO (but not from the OSCE) to observe the constitutional referendum.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has decided not to open polling stations abroad, depriving around half a million expatriates of a vote. This decision also provides an opportunity for election commissions within the country to manipulate voter lists.

In their January review, analysts from the Eurasian Development Bank estimate Belarusian GDP growth at one per cent, partly due to politically motivated mass layoffs.

Security forces continue their policy of repression. In Stolbtsy, a verdict was reached involving protest graffiti on straw bales. A Hrodna resident was put to an open prison for participating in protests, while his wife was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.

Security forces continue to target internet users. A resident of Navahrudak district was jailed for three years for online comments.

Security forces are also rounding up relatives of well-known politicians. Pavel Latushka’s cousin was detained in Minsk, and a criminal case was opened against his daughter.

Despite a rise in the incidence of COVID-19, the authorities refuse to introduce additional restrictive measures. Political dismissals of doctors and public sector workers do not stop. Belarusian enterprises laid off 72.5k more people than they hired.

The authorities continue to seize private businesses. Mahiliou tax authorities raided shops selling cheap clothes and shoes.

The state budget deficit in 2021 was noticeably less than forecast, inspiring government economic confidence.

The authorities will ensure the mass turnout of public sector loyalists in early voting and on election day.

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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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