The current Polish authorities love historical anniversaries – Mike Pompeo arrived in Warsaw on August 15, which was the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw. It is clear that there was a plan to use the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw in order to underline the alleged Russian threat. However, none of the current events or statements of the Russian politicians confirms this “threat”. The Polish authorities use the politicised narrative of the year of 1920 to trigger the feeling of a threat from the East. This step is necessary in order to reach a very concrete goal: further militarisation of Poland and the increase of the number of US troops deployed in this country.
As the last country in Europe, the Belarusians want to taste the liberal capitalism hoping that they will not face the fate of the Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians or the Poles, who have moved to the West trying to make money for a living working at various “low-level” jobs.
The Belarusians are tired of President Lukashenka, so they have a right to taste the West, have a right to be unemployed or homeless. They do not want to pay symbolic costs for municipal services, cheap and qualitative medication, free education and social security. It is a freedom of choice.
This message distorts the presentation of the socio-economic situation in Belarus and the EU – Belarus is presented as a highly developed Communist-style welfare state, while EU countries face challenges such as unemployment and homelessness. The statements that Belarusians “pay symbolic costs for municipal services”, “have cheap medicine”, “free education” and “social security” do not have anything in common with the real socio-economic situation in the country.
One of the main reasons for the current protests in Belarus is the dramatic reduction of the level of life of the population, which has been taking place during recent years. At the present moment, Belarus is one of the poorest countries in Europe – it has a lower GDP per capita than any EU member state. Other socio-economic indicators also prove that Belarus has a substantially lower level of life than any other EU member state – life expectancy (74 – one of the lowest in Europe), minimal salary – 124 EUR (lowest in Europe), unemployment benefit – from 9 to 18 euros per month (a “symbolic” payment); average salary – 440 EUR.
In terms of the “symbolic cost of municipal services”, the Belarusian authorities recognise that the population pays 83% of the market price of these services. Today, the population pays market price for all services with the exception of hot water and heating (as for 2020). In terms of “free education”, 54% of the students of the Belarusian universities pay for their studies.