State vs. Independent Polling

Chronology of the State repressions against independent public opinion polling

After various public accusations, limitations and pressures Belarusian authorities decided to introduce a new, more serious mechanism of control over independent polling (above all over electoral polling) and dissemination of its results: 

  1. June 2013
    The Parliament passed a new amendment to the Administrative Offences Code 9.28 “Illegal public opinion polling” saying that “pooling without official accreditation leads to fines up to $ 1500, and another one, within a year after the fine, up to $ 3000”



  2. September-October 2006
    Facing a new authorities’ attempt to introduce the Law on Regulation of Public Opinion Polling the IISEPS organized national and international campaign stressing that “passing of this Law in fact put under a total state control not only public opinion polling, i.e. independent pollsters, and publishing their results, i.e. independent journalists, but the very public opinion”. Various publications arguing against this Law were published in independent media and sent to the Parliament


  3. August 2006
    The Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus on the suit of the Ministry of Justice on the articles 302-309 of the Civil Procedure Code shut down the Belarusian Think Tanks Association that united all independent polling structures of the country



  4. November 2005
    The government introduced a new Resolution for polling stated that “Commission for Polling conducts accreditation of legal entities pretended for polling, as well as makes assessments of observing principles of objectivity and reliability of polling and publishing their results in mass media”



  5. 2002-2004
    Leading state-run newspapers published articles aimed to discredit independent public opinion polling in Belarus



  6. September 2002
    IISEPS issued a special statement stressing that “this decision in fact could do harm to the state and society not less than social conflicts or natural disasters. As soon as these mechanisms are implemented (in the electoral, civil, and criminal codes), the Commission will start working even though most Belarusians disagree with these proposed mechanisms"


  7. August 2002
    The government introduced a new Resolution for polling created a special Commission for Polling that will be in charge for “ordering all activities connected to polling and publishing their results”



  8. June 2002
    BTT issued another statement stressing that with this step, "the authorities are not only violating the citizens' constitutional right to unbiased information; they are eager to take total control (at the expense of the citizens themselves) of an independent source of information and analysis that provides Belarusians and the international community with information on the actual state of affairs in the country. Moreover, authorities seem to treat public opinion based on objective information and professional analysis not as a support of, but as a threat to their activities"


  9. May 2002
    Facing obstacles in adoption the Law on Regulation of Public Opinion Polling authorities decided to bypass the Parliament and introduced their control over polling through the Council of Ministers’ special Resolution Nr. 707, saying that "In order to regulate sociological polling on a republic referendum, a presidential election of the Republic of Belarus, an election of deputies to the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, or polling on the social and political situation in the country, and in order to increase scientific reliability and objective appraisal of the polling results, as well as to ensure their publication, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus decrees … the establishment of an Opinion Poll Commission at the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus". An association carrying out public opinion polling on the social and political situation in the country, or on referenda or elections in the country, is to send to the Commission written notice and commitment to observe the legislation and the procedures of sociological studies, of processing, and of the analysis of sociological information during polling. The commitment should also contain information about the association carrying out the opinion poll and its client, sources of financing of the opinion poll, and the time and conditions of its implementation. Information requirements are determined by the Commission. If the opinion poll data is to be published, the association that carried out the opinion poll is to present additional information to the Commission on the polling topics, methods of information gathering, criteria for respondent selection, the full list of questions posed with the number of respondents on each unanswered question, copies of the information quality assurance protocols if quality assurance was carried out, and also to publish poll-related materials



  10. April-May 2002
    Opposition faction in the Belarusian Parliament “Republic” supported independent polling and blocked passing of the Law on Regulation of Public Opinion Polling


  11. March 2002
    Authorities worked out a special Draft Law on Regulation of Public Opinion Polling with the aim of introducing its controls over polling



  12. February 2002
    Belarusian Think Tanks Association (BTT) issued a special statement arguing against government control over polling, and similar statement by the US government



  13. January 2002
    Leading research organizations of the country including Belarusian State University, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Belarusian Association of Sociologists, received a letter from the President’s Administration notifying of Belarusian authorities’ intention to introduce "licensing" social research.