The census showed a total level of distrust towards state institutions.
“I won’t tell them anything. When census takers come, I will not open the door. I don’t need them to use it against me later,” the journalist of “Your Country’s Tomorrow” heard such conversation between middle-aged men in a trolleybus.
Similar thoughts are expressed by users of forums and social networks. The main fear is that the information provided during the census may be transferred to other state bodies (tax inspectorate, KGB, police) and used against citizens.
How widespread the distrust of the population towards government agencies is - say sociologist Alena Artsiomenka and political observer Aliaksandr Klaskouski.
Belarusians do not trust officials
- I would divide the distrust towards state institutions and concerns about the safety of personal data. With regard to personal data, anxiety comes from the novelty of this topic. On the other hand, it would be worth fearing that personal data would become available to fraudsters rather than internal affairs bodies or the government, and wondering about protection mechanisms,” says sociologist Alena Artsiomenka.
The census is causing increased attention and caution due to the fact that it is carried out quite rarely, said political analyst Aliaksandr Klaskouski.
At the same time, the fears of part of the population confirm the low level of trust to state institutions, which has repeatedly been shown by the results of various surveys.
- Sociologists often operationalize trust as a willingness to appeal in a difficult life situation: according to the results of this study, 82% of Belarusians would contact their family, 39% would call their colleagues and acquaintances, and 27% would contact the police. This is not such a low percentage compared to the local (14%) and central (5%) authorities,” says Alena Artsiomenka.
Aliaksandr Klaskouski explains the low level of trust to state institutions by the general policy of the authorities in relation to the population.
- The state unilaterally cuts its obligations and social guarantees, acts on the principle of “save yourself”. In addition, Belarus is a classic police state, which through its officials (both in uniform and civilian) quite unceremoniously penetrates a citizen’s personal life and does not always adhere to the law,” the expert says.
The social stratification, which sometimes builds up not naturally, but through dishonest mechanisms, communications and corruption, also strengthens discontent and doubts.
- We see the “royal villages”, just after time, they catch high-ranking corrupt officials, while in depressed regions people cannot find work with at least 300-400 rubles salary, - adds Aliaksandr Klaskouski.
The attitude of people to the authorities is not a surprise
At the same time, the country's leadership is aware of the real picture and the low degree of trust to state institutions. Even if the authorities see in the reporting of the census takers what the population thinks about them, this will not be a revelation.
“I don’t think they will be so surprised, sprinkle ashes on their heads and run to apologize to the broad masses,” says Aliaksandr Klaskouski.
The expert believes that it is too early to hope for positive changes, since the system itself is not democratic. And officials feel responsibility not before the people, but before the ruler.
Alena Artsiomenka emphasizes: building trust is a long process in which the predictability of the actions of the authorities, the observance of all the principles of the rule of law, and the attention of institutions to people's opinions are important.
“And we have a law on appeals, and formally the procedures are followed, but the real solution to the issues depends on the will of the officials,” the sociologist notes.