The Interior Ministry has concerns about its reputation
The leadership of the Belarusian police is concerned about public confidence levels towards the Interior Ministry. Its attempt to improve the situation is a move in the right direction, however amid the overall situation in the country, any tangible result is unlikely.
On November 14th, 2017, the first meeting of the reshaped public council under the auspices of the Interior Ministry was held. The council’s new members include heads of the main state media and Pavel Yakubovich, the editor-in-chief of SB Belarus Today newspaper was elected as the council’s chair. In his opening speech after the election, he focused on the need to improve the police’s image in the eyes of the population and noted the role of the media in shaping the negative attitude towards the ministry.
The latest available data from an independent poll of 2014 shows that public confidence in the Interior Ministry fluctuates around 35%. In recent years, the police have been involved in several controversies. For the first time, "riots" of police officers against their direct supervisors have been disclosed to public (in Krichev and Borisov). Hence, at best, the agency's ratings have not changed. For comparison, people’s confidence in the law enforcement agencies in the neighbouring post-Soviet states is much higher: in Lithuania - 78%, in Ukraine - 56%, in Estonia - 84%. Simultaneously, Belarusians feel insecure about their rights and believe that laws are inefficient.
Poor confidence levels of the population to power structures pose a threat to the stability in any state. The largest security agency of Belarus, the Interior Ministry, is the basis for the domestic security system, however, it lacks the necessary public support, which makes the country vulnerable. Restoring confidence in the police, beyond propaganda efforts, requires the transformation of the agency from the inside, towards greater openness and accountability to Belarusian society. However, these tasks are outside the powers of the public council, and the Ministry itself. Hence, the Belarusian law-enforcement officers can only dream about the level of public support, which is enjoyed by their colleagues in the neighbouring states.