President Lukashenka is counting on the support of security forces and women
Belarusian Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich, who also chairs the supervisory board of the Dynamo-Minsk hockey club, has joined the Board of Directors of the Continental Hockey League. Power authorities remain the main pillar of President Lukashenka, who redistributes state aid among security officials in exchange for their loyalty. In addition, the president pays great attention to large families, counting on the loyalty of women. It is worth noting that according to opinion polls held by independent research centres, the incumbent president is traditionally more popular among women than among men; moreover, Lukashenka’s initiative group is composed of 83% women. During the election campaign, these two social groups are likely to receive additional support from the government in order to ensure the desired outcome of the elections.
Following crackdown and arrests of participants in the spring protests, the authorities resumed arrests as punishment for participating in street protests in addition to fines, which for some time were the only punishment for political activity. On September 22nd, 2017, the riot police detained the Belarusian National Congress leader Nikolai Statkevich, the opposition politician was placed in detention centre on Akrestin street. On the same day, after serving seven days of arrest, another BNC leader, Vladimir Neklyaev, was released. He was sentenced for organising a street protest on September 8th against the West-2017 exercises. Other participants in the protest have been fined too. The authorities are likely to continue to use fines and arrests against political activists to punish for their protest activity.