What is happening with Belarusian propaganda? In a country where there has been no clear expression of ideology for years, and no talk of tendencies towards propaganda, everything has changed in recent months.
Take the Ryanair incident as a starting point when Belarus was faced with international isolation and active action against the Lukashenko regime. During this period, Russian counter-propaganda came to their aid, becoming the voice for the defence and guardianship of Belarus.
Lukashenko had to counter not only Western attacks, but also initiate preventive communicative attacks. These actions clearly showed the instructive role of their sister state.
“Belarus will suspend its participation in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership initiative and end its cooperation in preventing illegal migration. Belarus “cannot fulfill its obligations under this agreement in the context of sanctions and restrictions imposed by the European Union,” notified the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.
At the same time, the President of Belarus continued to talk about his version of the case of activist Raman Pratasevitš and Western World’s accusations.
After that, Minsk then went to specific topics. As the West touched on human rights and freedom of speech, Lukashenko decided to use the same narrative as a counterattack. For example, at the end of June, the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs prepared a human rights report entitled “The most colorful human rights violations in certain known countries of the world“. The last such report was published in 2013.
Estonia was also mentioned in the report. It states, “The number of non-citizens in Estonia is still large and makes up 5.3% of the total population. Systematic discrimination against the population continues due to insufficient proficiency in the Estonian language, which leads to a high level of unemployment and poverty among non-Estonian speaking residents. ”
The report also mentions the arrest of Sergei Seredenko and the calling of Sergei Tschaulin for interrogation on 9 May. Unexpectedly, the report also includes the issue of Orthodoxy, about which the report states that the recognition of the Russian Orthodox Church operating under the Moscow Patriarchate as a threat by the Estonian Security Police Board endangers religious freedom.
It seems that Lukashenko received expertise for propaganda tricks in addition to half a billion dollars in aid from the Kremlin. All of the above-mentioned topics, which Belarus suddenly began to use in the international information space, are very similar to Russian propaganda narratives, namely accusing the West of ambiguity, human rights violations, oppression of Orthodoxy and restrictions on religious freedom, and discrimination against non-citizens.
In the last month, the introduction of illegal immigrants from Iran and their deportation to Lithuania has been added to this list, due to which an emergency was declared in Lithuania on 3 July.
This “trick” was not invented by Belarus either, but was used by Russia already in 2015 against Finland. Päivi Nerg, the former undersecretary of the Finnish Ministry of the Interior, has written in her book that this was an extraordinary situation, because since 1944, Finland’s eastern border had been completely peaceful. “Now, however, the issue of migration had also become a foreign policy issue. Several experts have warned that Russia is deliberately sending third-country migrants to the Finnish (and Norwegian) border to send a message to European nations who have established sanctions. ”