Belarusian authorities lack experience in information and psychological operations
For a long time, special information and psychological operations (IPSOs) have been the weakest link in the Belarusian defence. The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian confrontation has emphasised this weakness.
On August 11th, 2017, the Ukrainian media published reports that President Putin had submitted for ratification to the State Duma the protocol on amendments to the Belarusian-Russian agreement establishing a unified regional air defence system of the two states. The amendments are of unprincipled nature, only clarifying some issues. Russia and Belarus signed the corresponding protocol in November 2016. However, Ukrainian media provided commentaries that Russia took over the Belarusian border control, created mechanisms for further aggressive actions, and expanded the Russian military presence in Belarus. Through social media, such reports have swiftly spread among Ukrainian users.
That said, Belarus ratified the protocol back in March this year and then, this news did not raise any interest, as well as the very fact of signing the protocol in November 2016.
This was not the first time when the authorities of the neighbouring states carried out special information operations against the Belarusian authorities. Earlier, such targeted reports were against the Defence Ministry and the KGB. Each time, the Belarusian security forces demonstrated blatant helplessness and inability to parry information attacks. This is due to both, the lack of professional staff capable of leading a psychological confrontation, and poor understanding of modern IPSOs by the Belarusian security forces’ leadership, which is often confused with political propaganda against opponents of the current government.
As the interstate information-psychological operations are gaining an increasingly important role in the confrontation among major regional players, Belarus faces the choice: either to create an effective IPSO system, or continue to suffer from manipulation attempts from the neighbours. Currently, the Belarusian law enforcement agencies, taking into account the available human resources, are incapable of carrying out effective IPSOs. Moreover, there are no reasons to assume that the situation could improve in future.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.