Antifake / Factcheck

08 April

Fact-checking: Belarus is Reducing Defense Spending and Funding Social Sphere More

The Weekly Top Fake team analyzed the transformation of Belarus' budget.

Belarus is cutting military spending and, instead, raising clinic and hospital construction, political scientist Andrei Lazutkin said. The Weekly Top Fake team fact-checked his claim. 

Social care for people, poles preparing for war, and spending the budget on the social sphere — these topics were covered by the head of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, in his public address during his attendance at the Grodno region on April 2, 2023. In the course of the visit, he ordered the construction of a new clinical hospital to be accelerated: in two years instead of the planned 50 months.

“We are now also digging deep, like them [the Poles — ed.], very close to the border. Only our goals are completely different. They are digging trenches, trenches against tanks, etc., increasing the budget for strike weapons. But here, the social sphere is provided with two-thirds of the region’s budget,” Lukashenko claimed.

Moreover, the topic of Poland increasing military spending — while Belarus allegedly reduces them — has been developed in Belarusian propaganda media. Here is what a media person, Andrei Lazutkin, in particular, said in the TV ONT program “Objectively” on April 3:

“This is part of the general information campaign currently underwaying in Europe. It's all about ammunition. In the first stage, they supplied everything they had there, but now they need to purchase new supplies from the U.S. Public opinion is shaped according to this. After the recent “Ramstein” [meeting of the contact group for the defense of Ukraine – ed.], which took place a month ago, a task arose — the opinion must be formed through regular intimidation by war. And most likely, they will lead people to accept the idea of increasing military spending. Belarus is reducing them, showing: we are building clinics and hospitals here.”

In fact, in 2023, the republican budget of Belarus included 2.7 billion rubles for national defense. This is 7.5% of the budget expenditures. In 2024, this share increased to 3.5 billion, i.e. 8% of the budget spending.

The Weekly Top Fake team analyzed the transformation of Belarus' consolidated budget  (both Republican and local) on the social sphere and defense in recent years. Thus, social sector spending amounted to 44.4% of the 2020 budget, and in 2024 — less, i.e. 42.3%. In 2020, 3.2% of budget spending went to defense, in 2024 — 4.9%. This is growth.

As for hospitals, Sergei Klishevich, a member of the Belarus Parliament, claims that they are not built it at all in Poland and the Baltic countries.

“Have you seen many hospitals opening today in the Baltics, in Poland? There aren't. While our head of state travels and solves these specific problems,” the deputy said in the program “Azarenok. Napryamuyu” on April 2, 2024.

Headlines in Polish and Lithuanian media suggest otherwise. For example, at the end of March 2024, Polish President Andrzej Duda visited the new building of the Małopolska The Rehabilitation Center in Radziszów, which opened a month earlier. Then, the authorities of Kaunas, Lithuania, plan to build a new infectious diseases center by 2025.

Let's compare the healthcare budgets of three neighboring countries. In Belarus, they plan to spend $3.5 billion in 2024. In Poland — $47 billion, i.e. 13 times more than in Belarus.

Lithuania, which is three times smaller than Belarus, will spend even a little more on healthcare than Belarus — €3.8 billion (more than $4 billion).

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