In an interview with the Kremlin-run media company Russia Today, Mikhail Babich, Russian Ambassador to Belarus, gave his opinion on how Russia should respond to Belsat TV’s activity, Belarusization and our country’s dialogue with the West.
According to him, if Belarus opts for a course towards Eurointegration, Russia will ‘respect’ its choice.
“It is the people of Belarus who should make the choice. There should be no pressure and confrontation. No matter how the situation will develop, we should in no way let the relations between nations – not among politicians, but people – weaken or deteriorate. Not a single nation is so close to us as the Belarusians. We should stay alert as any spark can burst into a blaze and destroy what has been established over the centuries. And the nation will decide which route it will take to develop further,” Babich said.
In his opinion, the West is now spending hundreds of millions of dollars on anti-Russian indoctrination in Belarus, mainly with the help of NGOs and of educational programs.
“This results in, among other things, distorting historical facts in order to sow distrust, draw a wedge between Russia and Belarus and separate the territory [of Belarus] from Russia in the ideological, humanitarian and economic sense, so that it could serve then as a staging area for putting pressure on Russia,” Babich stressed.
Asked what way one could stand against Belsat TV, the Russian envoy answered that the both states had enough information resources to do that. However, commenting on the Belarusian People’s Front party’s call to cut off Russian TV channels in Belarus, Babich came up with a proposal to make changes to the current information policy.
“If we do not reboot the information policy, the opposition will have more opportunities. If we focus on forming and creating a new information policy, which will be genuine, informative and professional, the [Belarusian] opposition will stand less chance to limit the Russian television’s scope. We should pay tribute to the Belarusian authorities: the scope is great, the Russian TV is available for the vast majority of the population. But we should change the information policy.”
When the interviewer called Belarusization and celebrating the 2018 Freedom Day in Minsk ‘negative sides of nationalism’, Babic said that there was a very fine line between the soft Belarusization and de-Russification.
“Learning the native language, culture and its traditions is not a right but a duty of any nation that does not want to lose their identity. It would be strange if any restrictions were put in an independent state. The Soviet era was the period of the most active development of the Belarusian language and culture, national education. It was a deliberate national policy. If present-day Belarus is getting this way, there is nothing wrong – it is the right and duty of any state. But of course, such development should take place without any sacrifice of the Russian language. It is very important to find a balance. Belarus is very careful of the Russian language: 80% constantly use it in everyday life, at work and so on. And no one trenches upon it. On the contrary, conditions for its development are being created,” Babich said.
In his view, the ‘Ukrainian scenario’ [allegedly masterminded in the West] is impossible in Belarus.
“The main obstacle is the position of the people of Belarus and the position of the head of Belarus. They have been proving for 25 years that the policy towards the integration with Russia is Belarus’ strategic course. Belarus intends to do everything to strengthen the Union State in the future,” Babich added.