State television in Belarus fully adheres to the Russian media agenda. Among accusations against Kyiv are reports of covert development of a nuclear bomb and banned biological weapons.
Referendum against the backdrop of war
The first week of the Russian-Ukrainian war took place at the same time as the constitutional referendum in Belarus. State television channels continued to give the referendum significant airtime while broadcasting about the «holiday atmosphere,» despite the urgency of the situation and the loss of any interest by most of Belarusian society in it against the backdrop of such tragic global events.
At the same time, in carefully avoiding the word «war» and replacing it with the wording «special military operation» or «conflict/situation in Ukraine,» state television followed Russian media’s approach. For example, in a report on ONT, the bombing of the center of Kharkiv was called «another provocation by Nazi fighters.»
Among other things, mass demonstrations around the world against the war and in support of Ukraine are not mentioned in news reports. At the same time, the station Belarus 1 showed footage from the «anti-NATO rally in New York,» at which people called for «stopping local nationalists and fascists.»
Broadcasts by Belarus 1 on the main day of the referendum on February 27 were more devoted to criticism of the U.S. and Ukraine than to a discussion of constitutional changes as such. One Russian commentator accused the U.S. of global aggressive actions:
«America does not want sovereign states and the peoples that form them in the world they are seeking to rule… And they are very afraid that the will of the people will form the foundation for Belarusian statehood for many years.»
Former Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev, in an interview on the topic of the referendum in Belarus, said that pensioners who did not speak Ukrainian were not permitted to visit clinics or buy bread:
«President Putin said very clearly that they left them no other choice. Imagine how millions of people feel when they suddenly become people belonging to some other nationality, how people, including the elderly, who cannot go to the clinic feel if they do not know the language that is declared the national language… and cannot buy themselves a loaf of bread because they cannot address the cashier in this or that store in Russian…? This is the suffering of millions of people.»
One participant in STV’s special «referendum» broadcast was the deputy Oleg Gaidukevich, who accused the Ukrainian leadership of hypocrisy, anti-Belarusian activity, and involvement in an assassination attempt on him:
«We don’t need these performances with the squeezing out of tears. We cry more now for Ukrainian children, for Ukrainian women, and for the way an ambulance was shot up in Kyiv just now… We behave decently even after you imposed illegal sanctions, after you sponsored terrorism and extremism, after all the weapons that were illegally brought here, including those intended to kill me a year ago.»
Lukashenko’s version of the defense of Gomel
Lukashenko’s speech on the main day of the referendum (February 27) to media workers was almost completely taken up with Ukraine. According to him, at five o’clock in the morning on February 24, without a direct command from Lukashenko, Russian troops attacked Ukraine since there were «three or four [Ukrainian] missile battalions prepared to launch missiles» 10-15 kilometers from the Belarusian border. A missile attack on Russian troops in Belarus, Lukashenka said, could be delivered within 3-4 minutes.
At a meeting with members of the Security Council on March 1, Lukashenko said that Ukrainian missile units near Belarus were discovered on the evening of February 23, and called the Russian strike preemptive: «If they hadn’t done this, these missiles would have flown to Gomel and Mozyr.»
At the same time, state television channels broadcasted Lukashenko’s repeated statements that Belarusian troops were not in Ukraine. Once during the procedures for approving the results of the March 4 referendum, in addressing the numerous officials present, he made a rather unexpected remark on this subject:
«The Belarusian army did not take any part in the special operation and does not intend to take any part in it… But I speak forcefully about this, hopefully for the last time. Sometimes I am even somewhat offended that every day I have to repeat and convince people: «No, we are like this, and we will continue to be clean and unblemished. No, we will not go anywhere, we will defend our land.» If you don’t hear what I’m saying, it’s time for you to elect a new president.»
«They saved hundreds of thousands of lives»
Belarus 1 claims that Russia is exactly one day ahead of NATO and Ukraine’s military actions:
«Now it is obvious to everyone that if the military special operation in Ukraine had not begun, literally the next day an attack from NATO would have begun with the hands of the Banderites and neo-Nazis. The Russian soldiers made it in time. This means that they saved hundreds of thousands of lives.»
In the same report, Ukrainian authorities were recommended to be like those «in the 1940s and even later – to stand next to Russian soldiers so that not a single Banderite fighter remains on this earth.»
At the same time, it is argued that Ukraine’s aggressive actions were still planned later, and not for the next day. ONT showed a statement by Russia that, through its actions, Russian forces «preempted and disrupted a large-scale offensive by strike groups of Ukrainian troops on the L/DPR, which is not controlled by Kyiv, in March of this year.» What remains unclear is the extent to which «the leadership of the U.S. and NATO allies» were involved in the preparation of such plans, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said.
State television also ascribes to Ukraine a role totally dependent on an aggressive West: «Deceptions, false promises, financing of nationalists, the unregulated importing of weapons – all of this was done by the West, especially the U.S., with one simple goal in mind: to create a direct threat to Moscow… To be a pawn in this game, that is, the weakest figure, is tantamount to suicide on the political map of the modern world.»
New accusations: a nuclear bomb and biological weapons
The level of accusations against Ukraine in the Belarusian state media is increasing, if not every day, then at least every week. If in the first days of hostilities, state television broadcast general accusations against Kyiv of aggressive plans, then during the second week of hostilities the accusations became more sophisticated, with television channels still not providing any factual confirmation.
«There have been reports that the Russian side found traces of military development at the Chernobyl station. Currently, it seems out that we are talking about the creation of a nuclear or so-called «dirty bomb,» Belarus 1 reported on March 6.
On March 9, ONT, citing Russian media, stated that 16 American biological laboratories were conducting dangerous developments in large Ukrainian cities: «They were engaged in various projects, including, according to experts, eugenics, or human selection.»
«Washington fears that the substances created may fall into the hands of Russian forces, which would become direct evidence of Ukraine and the U.S.’s violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons,» said the television channel, accusing Ukraine and the U.S. of developing prohibited weapons.
Материал доступен на русском языке: Гостелеканалы Беларуси увеличивают градус обвинений Украины и США