State influence over the media landscape increases; the public sector recovers from sanctions
The regime regains control of the information agenda but creates an echo chamber for the audience of its online communication channels. The state sector of the economy is buttressed by the financial support of state-owned companies against a background of export recovery by certain industries.
Public concern about Lukashenka’s serious health problems is increasing. State propaganda endeavours to appease loyalists and mitigate speculation about the head of state’s health.
Regime influence on media content is increasing due to the destruction of independent media, exemplary persecution of consumers, and a systematic effort to increase the state presence in social networks and Telegram channels. However, according to a study by independent journalists, the audience of state media social networks and Telegram is greatly exaggerated, as is its influence.
State-owned companies have mitigated losses due to sanctions by reorienting exports to Russia, Asian and Latin American countries. A Belarusian cement company increased the shipment of products to Russia by almost 400%, and exports of potash fertilisers are growing.
The National Bank maintains stability in the currency and financial markets, holding annual inflation to 4.7%.
Tension is increasing between various state bodies due to the opposing interests of state networks and private pharmacies. Ministry of the Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade warned the Ministry of Health about the inadmissibility of violation of antimonopoly legislation in relation to small pharmacies.
The authorities cannot arrest the decline of the IT sector caused by the relocation of companies and specialists due to repression and sanctions. However, they aim to stop the emigration of medical personnel with administrative measures to change residency rules with a five-year probationary period and huge fines.
Security forces continue to persecute dissidents and depoliticise society ahead of the 2024 election campaign. Detentions, arrests, and large fines imposed on activists of the 2020 protest movement continue in the regions.
The founder of Symbal.by, Pavel Belavus, was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment. “Extremist” lists are expanding to new Telegram channels and social network groups.
The ruling class will continue to support state-owned companies with financial support to maintain employment.
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Situation in Belarus