Rumors and expectations: regional overview
Based on circulating rumors and expectations the mood in the society can be assessed as wait-and-see bordering depressive. The population is set to adapt to long-term crisis without hope for its end in the near future.
The most popular topics discussed in private are: the growth of food prices, reduced variety of foodstuffs and as a consequence, diet changes. People also talk about growing prices on goods and services and, above all, on drugs, as well as the lack of drugs manufactured abroad. Generics made in Belarus and sold in pharmacies often do not match the quality of the imported drugs.
Negative expectations dominate among the population: people expect prices and USD exchange rate to go up, lay-offs, etc. People hope for compensations however understand that further decline in their living standards cannot be prevented. Regardless of the fact that the majority of the population blames the leadership of the country for the economic crisis, their frustration does not translate into resentment. The general impression is that the society perceives the ongoing crisis as the collapse of a collective project and the policies of the authorities as appropriate and meeting the social needs however unsuccessful. People do not believe a different project would be successful, while perceive the bankruptcy of the current one as a natural disaster, independent of human will.
To conclude, the period of stability seems to be over: the population does not expect positive changes in the near future and has no expectations either from the authorities, or from the opposition.
Due to the sharp decline of income in households and the trend towards impoverishment, rural residents start saving up on foodstuffs, for instance, buy meat bone sets instead of meat, etc. First of all, it concerns retirees and state employees.
Also there is a sharp polarization of political sentiment in the region. Regardless of the declining standards of living, a part of the population continues supporting Lukashenko, saying that “If it were not the President, a war would have started a long time ago”. Another part of the population blames the President for the crisis. Nevertheless, it is yet too early to speak about increasing revolutionary sentiments. Dissatisfaction does not spread beyond kitchen talks.
Regardless of the declining standards of living, a part of the population continues supporting Lukashenko, saying that “If it were not the President, a war would have started a long time ago”.
Another broadly discussed issue concerns the outflow of workers from factories and construction sites. Rumours that workers leave their jobs and travel to work in Russia are spreading also at enterprises forming a company town. The shortage of workers and qualified builders in the regions is indirectly confirmed by the official statistics. For instance, about 500 workers from China were brought to Krichev region to build a cement plant and, they say, their number will only increase in the region.
As well, there are reports about the lack of staff in the police department of the Mogilev region. Firstly it concerns the lack of low-ranking police officers, for instance, of district police officers, etc. This trend is observed in Klimovichi region and in other regions bordering with Russia. The irony of the situation is that Mogilev Police College supplies graduates for the Mogilev region.