Belarusians Ponder Mass Privatizations

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Almost half of adults in Belarus are opposed to opening the country's many state-owned companies to private enterprises, according to a poll by the Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS). 48.2 per cent of respondents think the majority of the country's large-scale enterprises should remain in the government's hands, while 39.7 per cent would agree with privatizing most of them.

In addition, respondents are almost evenly divided on whether it would be acceptable to use Russian capital to privatize Belarusian companies.

Belarus seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1994, independent candidate Aleksandr Lukashenko won the presidential election, boosted by his popularity after acting as chairman of an anti-corruption parliamentary committee. Lukashenko remains the country's president to this day.

In late 1999, Lukashenko and then Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a bilateral treaty, where the two nations agreed to eventually merge their tax systems and currencies.

In early 2007, Belarus and Russia's relations were strained by a conflict over the price of oil and natural gas. Russia doubled the price of its gas-which Belarus largely depends on-and imposed a high duty on oil exports. Belarus responded by imposing an expensive tax on Russian gas in January. The impasse affected several European countries that depend on Russian oil exports, which are transported through Belarus.

In 2006, Belarus began a process to privatize state-owned companies.

In late June, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) recommended the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to expand its operations in Belarus. The PACE statement read: "A new country strategy for Belarus adopted in December 2006 commits the EBRD to deepening its involvement with the private sector in this country over 2007-2008, focusing on microfinance and small enterprises, and the Bank stands ready to expand its operations beyond the private sector if sufficient progress is made with democratization and market reforms."

Polling Data

At the present moment, the majority of large-scale Belarusian enterprises are state-owned. In your opinion, should they become privatized?

Yes, the majority of them should be privatized


No, the majority of them should remain state-owned


Not sure


In your opinion, is it acceptable or not for Russian capital to be used in privatizing of Belarusian enterprises?





Not sure


Source: Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS)

Methodology: Interviews with 1,021 Belarusian adults, conducted from Jun. 2 to Jun. 12, 2008. No margin of error was provided.