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Belarus to study public opinion on Lithuania’s comments about BelNPP

Sociologists will study the opinion of Belarusians on the comments made by the Lithuanian authorities in relation to the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Ostrovets, Yelena Martishchenkova, researcher at the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences, said during an online conference hosted by BelTA on 1 March.

“We plan to conduct another two polls in May 2017 and 2018. If needed, additional instruments (questionnaires) will be developed for each of them, taking into account the changes in the energy sector and the general social and economic situation in the country,” Yelena Martishchenkova said.

In 2017 the poll will be held to study respondents’ awareness of the state control over the construction ofthe Belarusian nuclear power plant and to learn the public opinion on the statements made by the Lithuanian authorities against the BelNPP project. It is expected that the respondents’ answers will help draw up a fuller picture of the public attitude in these matters.“We believe opinion surveys are necessary once the nuclear power plant goes online. They will show the changes in the Belarusian energy industry after the nuclear power plant makes part of the country’s fuel and power sector. The operation of the plant, its safety and other matters will be touched upon as well,” Yelena Martishchenkova added.

Deputy Director of the Nuclear Energy Department of the Energy Ministry Lilia Dulinets said that one of the commitments the country undertakes once it decides on its nuclear power program is to preserve the trust of its people and the international community.

“This trust can be won through open and timely interaction with all the stakeholders and, first of all, the population on every aspect of the nuclear power program. Today the world’s best practices are used to carry out this work. Opinion surveys on Belarus’ nuclear power program and the public attitude towards the construction of the nuclear power plant help improve the methods of organizing this work, reveal the targeted audience, and determine the issues of public concern. The monitoring will be continued,” she added.
The 2016 questionnaire included the following question “In your opinion, will the Belarusian nuclear power plant promote the creation of new jobs in other sectors?”. The poll showed that residents of Grodno Oblast (answers “yes” and “rather yes” made up 75.8%), including Ostrovets District (89.8%), have the biggest hopes on new jobs thanks to the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The residents of Vitebsk Oblast and Minsk were less affirmative than in other regions (45.9% and 55.2% respectively as against 60.9% on average). In Vitebsk Oblast 33.8% of respondents found it difficult to answer, while in Grodno Oblast there were only 5.3% of such respondents, including 3.4% in Ostrovets District.