Growing inflation is a threat to Aleksander Lukashenka's regime. This conclusion was made by analysts of private American research company Stratfor.
"While there are no shortages of issues faced by Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko as he tries to keep the country afloat, one of the most important financial indicators to watch from a social and political perspective is inflation", Stratfor writes. "Trends like the falling value of the ruble and the rising costs of essential goods such as food and fuel — rather than recent pro-Western protests — will ultimately serve as the true test for Mr Lukashenko’s ability to maintain his grip on power".
Analytic report says that rising costs act as catalysts for social tension — as evidenced by Mr Lukashenko’s latest popularity ratings, which have reached an all-time low of 20 percent according to the Independent Institute of Social-Economic and Political Research. This is a steep decline from the 53 percent seen just after elections, point out the document authors.
The Belarusian ruble lost over a third of its value on October 20 as compared to the beginning of the year. There are many causes to the current economic situation, writes Stratfor, naming an increase in populist spending ahead of past presidential elections, high global energy prices, and a significant decrease in Russian subsidization for key resources like energy.
Economic issues created a shortage of foreign exchange reserves in the country’s Central Bank and triggered "a free fall in the value of the Belarusian ruble", American analysts note.
They think, the greatest impact on public opinion in Belarus has "the country’s ability to stay afloat economically, and Lukashenko’s ability to maintain his populist social and economic model". But recent rising costs and the government’s decreasing ability to provide subsidies to the public without seriously harming the country’s financial position threaten the public opinion more and more, the report says.
"Furthermore, additional Russian financial assistance would not solve the inflation problem; instead, it would prolong Mr Lukashenko’s resistance to structural economic reforms", Stratfor prognoses