The referendum proceeds as loyalists are indoctrinated with the Kremlin agenda
Ahead of the referendum, the electoral intentions of public sector employees are being dictated by coercion from the security forces rather than the standard of living guarantees from the Lukashenka government. Ideologues promote the Kremlin agenda regarding Ukraine and sow division in society to rally loyalists around the figure of Lukashenka.
Ideologues are endeavouring to convince regime loyalists of Belarusian neutrality while simultaneously justifying the Russian invasion of Ukraine. State Media promote the Kremlin agenda with accusations against the Ukrainian leadership and Western capitals. Propaganda is laying the groundwork amongst loyalists for Belarusian participation in the war.
Ideological agitation directed at loyalists regarding the constitutional referendum is intensifying. Karpenko’s Central Election Commission (CEC) announces record official turnout figures for early voting. Large scale mobilisation of state employees, students and public sector workers characterises the first days of voting.
Security forces play an active role in organising and controlling the electoral process. The KGB reported the detention of about 10 people for “threatening” members of election commissions. Security forces detain some independent observers.
Paediatric specialists in kindergartens are required to increase their workload while maintaining the same salaries. The average salary in January fell by almost BYN 200, returning to the level of November 2021.
Sanctions force companies to stop production and reduce staff. Stadler Minsk lays off around 60 people for six months.
The security forces are expanding their repression of the leadership of independent trade unions. Leaders of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers were detained in Minsk.
The state will continue to redistribute resources in favour of the security forces and reduce guarantees to other state employees.
On February 27th, there were queues to the polling stations around the country – in Minsk, Hrodna, Mahiloŭ, Žodzina, Zasłaŭje, and other places. These queues turned into protests. Siloviki reacted to them in a predictable manner – according to Viasna HRC more than 500 people were detained.
On February, 28th the Central Elections Committee announced the ‘results’ of the vote – 82.3% (or 65.15% of those eligible to vote) supported the changes to the Constitution. 12.8% voted against (10.7% of those eligible to vote). The turnout was 78%. In such a manner, the regime considers the referendum to take place.
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Situation in Belarus