The Regime attempts to destroy independent media but is not ready to put its right to power to the test
The security forces have dealt another blow to independent media and further weakened prospects for inward investment by shutting down and filing criminal charges against TUT. BY. The authorities consider implementing constitutional reform via Parliament without a referendum and postponement of local elections.
The security forces are attempting a complete purge of information sources, this time by moving against TUT.BY, the most influential media organisation in the country, with an audience of more than 3.3 million (63% of Belarusian Internet users). The authorities raided their premises, conducted searches, detained management and journalists, and blocked their internet portal and several other outlets associated with the company. The justification for this was stated to be criminal tax evasion, thereby undermining the economic integrity of the country’s largest media business, with likely negative consequences for GDP.
The authorities continue to reduce the scope for operating independent media in Belarus and aim to seize control of media businesses. Such actions both undermine the information environment in the country and reduce investment attractiveness.
It is doubtful that such measures will increase the influence of state-controlled outlets on the media agenda. Belarusian media broadcasting from abroad will largely compensate, causing anti-regime coverage to increase in relative terms, while Russian media are also likely to strengthen their influence in Belarus.
The repressive agenda of the authorities aims to reduce the potential of Civil Society to mobilise the population, strengthen self-censorship and inspire apathy in Society. Overall, this is part of the preparations for the constitutional changes that may occur as early as 2021.
Parliamentarians are considering the option of amending the constitution without holding a referendum, introducing a single day of voting and rescheduling local elections to be combined with parliamentary elections in autumn 2023.
The authorities continue to have confidence in the current economic model and resist any moves towards liberalisation. The Ministry of Finance will not impose a moratorium on the requirement for electronic identification labelling of goods for private entrepreneurs. BelStat reports a 2.9% increase in household income in January-March 2021.
At the same time, the authorities plan to redistribute pension guarantees, increasing the responsibility of businesses and individual employees to provide security in old age.
In summary, the Belarusian leadership may limit itself to amending those sections of the constitution that do not require a referendum and postpone political campaigns until future dates when they anticipate protest initiatives will have been comprehensively crushed.
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Situation in Belarus