Research institute stops opinion polling after public vilification

Research institute stops opinion polling after public vilification

Expression

In early August, several state-run TV stations aired a “special report” accusing the Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS) of falsifying its public opinion polling and transgressing Belorussian law by conducting surveys and publishing their results without government approval. The IISEPS' manager was detained and pressed to publicly “unmask” the institute's polling, as dozens of interviewers were threatened with criminal charges. After more than two decades of 'fighting for free thought', on 9 August IISEPS founder Oleg Manaev announced that the institute would stop all research activities in Belarus. According to the philosopher and methodologist Uladzimir Matskevich,

destruction of IISEPS is the last stage of destruction of the Belarusian sociology, which has been lasting for the past 15 years. 

Indeed, while some political opposition is tolerated because it does not represent any real threat to the regime, 

truthful information, scientific analysis, assessments, and monitorings do. Thus, the regime [...] cannot afford itself the existence of independent expert centers or sociological centers.