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December 10 – December 16, 2018
The ruling elite

The president has focused on reaching out to new audiences; law enforcers have stepped up repression

The situation got worse
The president has focused on reaching out to new audiences; law enforcers have stepped up repression

The president is attempting to keep up with the mainstream and alter his image accordingly to appeal to new social groups. Law enforcers further harassed independent journalists and some opposition activists.

The Belarusian leadership appears to step up its appeal among new social groups so as it lacks resources to retain social protection levels. For instance, President Lukashenka said that he was reading some telegram channels, watching Rain [Dozhd] TV channel and surfing the Internet.

In addition, further to his recent critical statements about Russia’s approaches to integration, President  Lukashenka is attempting to consolidate supporters of Belarusian independence. Apparently, he is thereby responding to changes in public opinion after 27 years of sovereign statehood. Furthermore, the Belarusian leadership has revised the attitude towards its opponents who are unlikely to support open escalation in the case relations with the Kremlin become tense.

Law enforcers have enhanced pressure on independent journalists. For example, BelSAT journalists are standing a trial in Minsk for illegal production of media products, some have been fined. Repressions against activists protesting in Kurapaty continued and former political prisoner Dmitry Polienko was fined for refusing to attend preventive lectures held by the police.

The authorities are likely to further advance their information policy factoring in the growing role of the Internet and social media.

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