“IN THE COUNTRY WITH LUKASHENKA, YOU WANT TO BE A WOMAN”.
Main directions of the Belarusian propaganda and Russian propaganda targeting Belarus, in the First Quarter of 2024 

“IN THE COUNTRY WITH LUKASHENKA, YOU WANT TO BE A WOMAN”. <br> Main directions of the Belarusian propaganda and Russian propaganda targeting Belarus, in the First Quarter of 2024
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PREFACE

Words highlighted in our review belong to the journalist of Minskaya Prauda Yauhen Pustavoy. In his article dedicated to the International Women’s Day on March 8, he writes about the wonderful conditions created in Belarus for the development of family and motherhood, and how Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who likes to call himself the “women’s president”, takes care of women. Belarusian propagandists used this holiday not to talk about the need to fight for women’s rights, but to raise the rating of the “president”.

Soviet holidays — March 8, Victory Day on May 9, October Revolution Day on November 7 and others — have been preserved in Belarus (and in Russia) since the Soviet era in an almost unchanged form. This happened because, by and large, no new ones have been invented, but the old ones fully meet the ideological needs of the regime, the main of which is unification around the leader.

The romanticization of the Soviet era is one of the pillars of Lukashenka’s ideology. The regime considers the Soviet past as the only “anchor” around which the public majority can unite. The reasons for this, most likely, lie in the personality of Lukashenka himself. As  journalist Ihar Kuley said, «Lukashenka is not a Belarusian, not a Russian, but a Soviet person, he likes to remind of the “good life” in the USSR and use typical Soviet propaganda clichés.» 

If we move away from the holidays, then the first months of 2024 were extremely full of events, to which Belarusian propaganda could not help but respond. First, the regimes in Russia and Belarus have gone through an important test – “elections”, parliamentary and local in Belarus (February) and presidential – in Russia (March). During this crucial period, the controlled media were fully mobilized to fight against any alternative forces (there could be no question of independent candidates) and to rally the population of the two countries around their “leaders”.

During the third year of the war in Ukraine, the latter dealt several painful blows to Russia in January-March, and the propaganda of both authoritarian regimes worked hard to minimize the reputational damage caused by these strikes. First, Ukraine began to hit Russian oil refineries and military facilities effectively and heavily – both inside the country and in the occupied territories. But the most significant event of these three months was the record in terms of duration and intensity raid of armed formations consisting of Russian citizens fighting on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the territory of Russia. Judging by the fact that the information leaked even to Russian federal TV channels, and the Russian “president” himself was forced to react to them, the blow was painful. Belarusian propaganda also could not avoid this topic.

At the same time, it is worth noting that the degree of saturation of the air of Belarusian channels with Ukrainian content is decreasing from month to month. It is becoming more and more difficult for propaganda to explain to the population why this war has been going on for so long, why it is needed, and most importantly – why Belarus needs to support Russia and become an accomplice to its war crimes. No matter how hard the propagandists tried, they failed to make an enemy out of Ukraine. In general, Ukraine is an “enemy” of Belarus only on the orders of the Kremlin.

The same cannot be said, for example, about Belarusian political emigrants – representatives of democratic forces forced to leave the country due to mass repressions. Almost four years have passed since the brutal suppression of peaceful protests in 2020, but the “fugitives”, as propaganda calls them, remain the main object of hatred of the pro-government media.  Every protest, even smallest one, is suppressed in Belarus, independent media is destroyed, almost a thousand and a half of protest participants, civil activists and journalists continue to be imprisoned, but at the same time an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the high international rostrum of the UN claims that there are “no political prisoners” in Belarus.

In second place in the hierarchy of hatred of Belarusian propaganda is the “collective West”, primarily the countries of the eastern frontier – Poland and Lithuania. Threats continue to be made against the West, now backed up by “nuclear bravado”. However, for all the aggressive rhetoric towards Europe and America, Belarusian officials and propagandists do not forget to leave the “door open”. They continue to hint at their readiness to return to “business as usual” as soon as they “forget about mutual grievances.”

This report is not an exhaustive, detailed overview of all the meanings, storylines, and nuances of Belarusian propaganda in the period under review. Every day, tons of poison, hatred and dirt continue to be poured from the TV screens and from the pages of the state press of Belarus – on Ukraine, Western countries or on Belarusian defenders of democracy. The monitoring of iSANS does not aim to cover the entire volume of statements and comments of propagandists in all details during the period under review. The task of this study is to analyze and show the main directions and lines of propaganda in the first quarter of 2024.

Note: in the above quotes, the author’s spelling, punctuation, and style are preserved.

According to the Human Rights Center «Viasna», as of May 10, 1374 people recognized as political prisoners in Belarus.

The entire OVERVIEW can be read or downloaded at this link.

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29.05.2024