Belarus Disinformation Profile

From ADTAC Disinformation Inventory

Belarus Media Environment

Belarus' media environment is heavily controlled by the government.[1] The 2020 world press freedom index ranked Belarus 153 out of 180.[2] 82% of Belarussian individuals are using the internet according to the World Bank.[3]

21/07/2020: Feminism is a Western Evil

An article published by the outlet claimed that the West, more specifically the EU is looking to cultivate Svetlana Tikhanoskaya, Maria Kalesnikava and Veronika Tsepkalo to challenge President Lukashenko and advance the concept of feminism, which is described as a Western evil. The three female protagonists who arose during last years thwarted Belarusian revolution were seen to diminish male dignity, arguing that if they get into power "the Day of Airborne Forces will be replaced with gay prides" [4].

10/08/2020: The West supports a "bloody post-election Maidan scenario in Belarus"[5]

An article by Sputnik Belarus promoted this narrative and argues that Russian and Belarus have a fraternal connection and discusses the Russian struggle to "withdraw Ukraine from Western influence" to return it back on "the common historical path of the Russian people"[6]. This narrative is consistent with the notions of the Russkiy Mir (The Russian World), which is used as a discursive tool by Russia in geopolitics[7] to label "the Russian diaspora itself, but also an ideological concept of Russian culture and its mission in the world" [8].

12/08/2019: Pro-Kremlin Disinformation in Belarus

This piece by EUvsDisinfo shines light on how pro-Kremlin disinformation in Belarus is reliant upon a heavily coordinated network of regional websites, using the trojan horse tactic to disseminate false and misleading information. These websites sought to promote the idea of Russian and Belarus as "one" [9]. The research paper which formed the basis of this report notes that the one of the fake news outlets in question has "at least an indirect connection to Russia’s Embassy in Belarus thanks to their membership on the Coordinating Council of the Leaders of the Belarusian Public Associations of Russian Compatriots (KSORS)" [10].

Russian interference in the 2020 Belarusian Presidential Election

Russian state media coverage:

A RIA Novosti article, published on the final day of the election on the 9th August 2020, cited ECOOM, the Expertise Centre of the Flemish government, as having conducted an electoral survey. The article stated that 78.9% of the survey's respondents, supported Alexander Lukashenko [11].  ECOOM were said to have conducted the survey on the "state run" Telegram channel 'ONT', which as of 08/03/21 has 72 members[12] and the RIA Novosti article has 1426 views[13].

In the previous month, July, Ecoom released a statement which stated the company "does NOT conduct electoral surveys in Belarus" and are a victim of "fake news" [14]

The West wants to provoke a Maidan in Belarus

The video is from the Russian show Vremya Pokazhet (Time Will Tell), on Perviy Kanal (Channel 1), which is Russia's most watched TV channel [15]. It accuses the West of inciting riots to topple Lukashenko and drive Belarus away from Russia [16]. A recent poll by the Levada Centre showed that 39% of participants took a negative attitude to those who came protested the Belarusian Presidential election result in 2020[17]. This poll also showed that 39% of people thought "foreign provocation" was the catalyst in the mass protests [18]. TV is the main source of news in Russia according to the most recent 2019 Levada Centre report on the Russian Media Landscape [19].