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January 9 – January 15, 2023
The ruling elite

Repressive Sovietization of society with asset seizures from businesses and regime opponents

The situation got worse

The regime continues to seize assets and extort funds from disloyal groups, such as the IT sector, and enacts measures against political exiles in an attempt to deter criticism and blunt the sanctions agenda. Security forces are intensifying their campaign to purge moderate regime critics and democracy advocates.

Lukashenka yet again stated his intention to lessen persecution of opponents; however, this is likely aimed at the external audience and disaffected democratic activists tired of the long confrontation with the regime.

Presidential musings do not affect the machinery of repression, as regime authorities continue to deter activism and silence even moderate critics. Security forces detained Andrei Dzmitryeu, a 2020 presidential candidate alleging involvement in “extremist activities”. Pavel Belavus, the founder of “symbal.by”, was charged with “spreading ideas of Belarusian nationalism.”

The authorities continue making arrests, initiating criminal cases and in absentia persecution of Belarusians in exile. Political and economic articles of the criminal code are employed for special proceedings against prominent political exiles, such as against ex-presidential candidate Valery Tsapkala.

The authorities have also obtained a list of IT specialists who donated to independent fundraising platforms such as ByPol and BySol, though, for the moment, the information will be used to facilitate further asset seizures instead of criminal prosecutions. Identified individuals are “invited” to donate to the state sums equal to 10 times the size of donations to independent fundraisers, though this will not preclude further action by the state.

Another prosecution of Yury Chyzh, previously close to Lukashenka, has begun.

Redistribution of retail market share continues in the wake of Lukashenka’s high-profile interventions in price regulation. Some chains, such as “Vitaliur“, are forced to reduce their activities and lease their premises to other companies. Security forces continue to raid shops accused of “inflating prices“.

The influence of National Bank technocrats continues to decrease. In all probability, state-sector industrialists have strengthened their position and are exerting pressure to increase support for state-owned companies. In 2022, inflation in Belarus was double the official forecast.

Increased state control over personal incomes facilitated by a new comprehensive database will be leveraged to shore up the state budget by maximising tax revenues.

Regime functionaries and ideologues will continue to purge the educational and cultural spheres of dissent and strengthen neo-Soviet narratives.

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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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