Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Lukashenka in-between repressive corkscrew and Gorbachev's perestroika

IISEPS published the results of the fresh national survey, which caused a flurry of outrage and accusations from the side of the Belarusian opposition representatives. Sociologists shattered the myth of "the successful boycott".

Political analyst Alyaksandr Klaskowski commented in the interview with UDF.BY on the numbers linking them with the situation in the camp of opponents of the regime, and with the prospects of the 2015 presidential election.

"All the bears are cramped in the common den"

- The results of the latest IISEPS survey stunned everyone. Sociologists said that the "elections" had been held and the turnout exceeded 50%.

- I specify that according to the IISEPS data in Minsk the turnout was less than 50%, and in the regional centers and in other major cities it has exceeded this level.

In general, both the authorities and their opponents are quite inaccurate when they use such categories as: the parliamentary "elections" took place, or didn't took place. This is not a presidential election, when votes are counted within the whole country! There were 110 electoral districts. In practice, it could be (most likely, and it was), that in some districts these "elections" were really took place, while in others - they didn't. The issue is in the ratio of these districts.

But all these "little thingies" are not taken into account. Both sides forget the basics of the electoral legislation. Here we have the huge political game played in accordance with the principle "who won?": either people came and voted, showing the support for the "general line" or voters simply ignored the "elections", that is, de facto, they have responded to the opposition slogans.

I think, that in fact there was neither the first nor the second. But it is uncomfortable to interpret the real state of affairs.

- Another sensation the IISEPS has voiced is "the boycott failed". 9.6% of people have deliberately boycotted the vote, the other 24% said they had not participated in the "elections" for other reasons. If this is true, then all the developed configuration of the opposition are ruined. If the boycott has failed, then where did the camp of the boycotters come out, which are centered around the UCP?

- Contingent camps of "boycotters" and "those going till the end" have been formed for reasons that are not directly related to the choice of one or another tactic for the past election campaign . It is rather the contrary - the tactic was chosen for a certain set of players.

It is not conceptual differences that are at the core, but the presence of forces, means and ambitions of leaders. We see that people and structures that tend to the two heavyweights - Nyaklyaeu and Milinkevich - are in the one group, which is more moderate and have more resources. They talk to each other, engage in the dialogue, and show mutual understanding. But in fact, each of them has his own ambitions, which could become a source of hidden contradictions.

On the other hand, we see the figure of the hardened and skillful politician Anatol Lyabedzka. The figure of the young and ambitious Vital Rymasheuski is next to him.

In short, all these bears are cramped in the common den. That is why there is the tug of war, and this rivalry is packed in a box of various conceptual differences.

But there are other tendencies, too. The intensity of mutual accusations decreases, fights in the Internet are calming down, and there is a hope (even symptoms) that behind the scenes the more or less constructive dialogue has begun.

"It is better to look in a mirror than to throw a boulder"

- Why the opposition denies the obvious - "elections" took place?

- "Boycotters" are saving their face: to admit the defeat of their tactics is like political death. "Those going till the end" have also repeated a number of stereotypes (saying that people don't believe in the elections and won't go to vote, and post factum, saying that they didn't go). To reject from the stereotypes means to lose the face. In addition, they were engaged in the elections' observation, and they have to prove that it was not in vain (and this is true).

In general, the attempts to make a good face are understandable. But it is bad that sociologists appeared to be blamed in our case. Traditional accusations sound, starting with the fact that the regime pushes needles under their fingernails forcing them to give such numbers, and ending with the fact that sociology cannot exist in a dictatorship.

This is the big and separate issue. But briefly, IISEPS have professionals who know what the "fear factor" and the "spiral of silence" is. They have learned to bypass these traps effectively. And before you throw stones, you should be at least a little bit familiar with their particulars.

Of course, there are some distortions, but in principle it is quite an adequate mirror. And it's better to see look at oneself in the mirror than to throw a boulder, i.e. to look, to learn lessons, and draw conclusions.

By the way, there is not only the defamation of the IISEPS sociologists, but the other brain centers (such as BISS), too. Stones are being cast at independent media, which do not tend to write what the opposition likes, but to depict the real picture. It is a classical response to the mirror that give "wrong" answers to the question "Am I the sweetest and the most good looking in the whole world?".

This is the sad fact. There are only several adequate mirrors in our Wonderland that help to orientate oneself. The mission of rigid analytic publications is not to haul somebody over the coals, but give impetus so that the opposition will turn on their brains and draw conclusions.

For example, we should already speak about the common strategy for 2015. If the opposition fumble some slogans sooner or later, these slogans may again be false. De facto (analysts see it) the titled opposition will have to think about their self-preservation in 2015.

The trouble is that politicians are hostages of their rhetoric. They cannot pronounce such things in a honest way, and therefore, they will blow into their trumpets. Analysts, unlike politicians, have the luxury to say the real things. One just have to drink the bitter medicine. Medication helps if you want to heal yourself and not to hide diseases inside.

"To promote the strategy of the Square blindly means to throw people onto a breach"

- It seems that the life of the country was let to drift, and the degree of social-political temperature is measured only by the Belarusian leader's rating.

- The degree of socio-political temperature in principle does not depend on the rating of Lukashenko. An eloquent example is the last year.

In September 2011, Lukashenko's rating collapsed to a record low - 20.5%. According to the old theory of the opposition, the government lies under feet - take it. But there is no such luck. People didn't rush out on streets, they came to currency exchange offices under the influence of hyper-inflation and devaluation expectations. When it became clear that there was nothing to buy there, they rushed to supermarkets starting to take out everything there by trolleys.

The expectation that the crisis will lead to the maturation of people's anger, and we will be allegedly brought at the hands of angry revolutionary crowds into the palace on Karl Marx Street, 38, did not materialize. We have to think of other things.

The strategy of the Square have already failed for the the past two presidential campaigns. It is clear that to promote the strategy of the Square blindly means to throw people onto a breach. And if not the Square then what?

The boycott of the 2015 presidential election? For a part of the opposition this strategy could be rational for the reasons of the self-preservation. But then, they will have to admit: we are not the opposition, we are dissidents who don't impact on anything, but retain our moral stance.

- The most favorable period in economic terms is from March to September 2012. Lukashenko's rating have frozen at 29-31 percent. The collapse of the rating is inevitable, when the economic frozen will come?

- Sociologist Alyaksandr Sosnov said very clearly that Lukashenka had no resources to support the rating. There will be some fluctuations, but those dizzying heights of the raring that were established in the golden time of "the people's president" won't be anymore. He tries to enter the same river twice, but the printing of empty money to the 2010 elections have already collapsed the economy once, and now its prospects have deteriorated again, and one the deterioration's reasons is the authorities try to fix salary on the level of $500.

Again, they try to take the same false height regardless of the loss. Dejavu demonstrates the futility of populist policies after the two years have past.

"Come together as a football team"

- The only mention of the opposition, and the only indirect one in the September-October poll is the statement of the failure of the boycott. As Oleg Manaev, the former head of the IISEPS, noted in the interview with Euroradio "people don't hear and have long been ignoring the opposition leaders for many years". Even sociologists don't take the opposition into account, and it turns out that only two major players left on the political field: people are against the regime, or the regime is against people?

- The people of today is not a player, it is the non-political mass, it is the population. It is hard to say yet what the conditions and factors of its politicization will be. Rather, it will be an confluence of factors: the escalation of the economic crisis and strengthening of the political pressure from the East and West, and the most likely it is the forced play of the authorities on the domestic political field, when they will have to unscrew nuts at least a little, and to create at least a veneer of thaw.

Finally, there is such a factor as the clear conceptual and organizational activity of the opposition. This condition is necessary, but not sufficient. This must be emphasized. Often they say: analysts give us victorious strategy, since you are so smart! But today there is no proprietary victorious strategy. You can't buck the system.

We just need to come together as a football team against a stronger opponent. The order beats the class. You go out on the field, and there is no guarantee that you will win. But squeeze your teeth, allocate roles, play well, and perhaps, one breakthrough will bring you the victory. Even if the opponent is stronger. And if a gouging crowd goes on the field, and everyone thinks that he is Ronaldo, than everything is clear before the first hit of the ball.

The consolidation of the opposition, the nomination of the single candidate, the development of programs and strategies are necessary, but they are not sufficient conditions for success. But first of all, it must be done, and then one simply waits for the X-hour. And of course, one should work, work, and work.

Otherwise, when the time comes, there will be totally different people on Karl Marx 38 street. And nobody will rescue the opposition activists from the underground and put forward as the head of the opposition.

"Tries to modernize something make the regime to enter a minefield"

- Millions of Belarusians feel the unsteadiness of economic stabilization: 27.8% of respondents believe that "socio-economic situation in Belarus is to deteriorate within the continuation of few years". Does it mean that while Lukashenko will extricate oneself from the situation Belarusians will tolerate him?

- The official Belarusian leader is fantastically lucky to have such people in Belarus. They can be turned around a finger. Although Lukashenko arrogantly declared last year that he was ashamed of Belarusians who buy boxes of sunflower oil. This is the symptom that the people's president keeps himself away from people and allows to look down upon them.

Here, there is the danger that within the conditions of the growing crisis the official leader may bet on the strengthening of the repressive apparatus, on the caste of law enforcement agencies. Symptoms of popular discontent will be oppressed, and the situation will be monitored by fear.

But Lukashenko understands that it is dangerous to go too far, because even such patient and tolerant people as Belarusians, may still rebel. Therefore, it is likely that he will attempt to upgrade. It is no accident that Lukashenko have already adopted this rhetoric. It seems that he reads some of the theses developed by expert groups within the "European dialogue on the modernization." Although, of course, he generally understands the modernization in a very broad sense - to put new machinery inside shops.

But any, even the smallest efforts make the regime to step on slippery and thin ice, on a minefield. Lukashenko of today is between two traps. The first one is the repressive tailspin that could end as the Romanian version did, and the second one is the modernization through "I do not want", when the situation like Gorbachev's perestroika appears: they would like to tweak the system only a little bit, and as the result, everything went downhill.

And Lukashenka is nowhere to escape from this deadlock.