Belsat.eu has selected 5 narratives about Belarus, which were recently discussed in the Russian media space.
In a recent interview with Belarus-1, Belarus Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei said that a number of fringe media are disseminating information which shows “a noticeable anti-Belarusian hysteria and outright dislike for Belarus.” These words were said in the context of the latest “bogus stories” in the Russian media space in relation to Belarus. Belsat.eu has analyzed the fake stories against Belarus which most often appeared in the Russian media and the Russian segment of social networks over the past year.
1. The Kremlin is tired of Lukashenka
The main engine of this “story” was the fakes of the Telegram channel “Nezigar”. In the summer, this channel reported that Moscow was counting on the voluntary withdrawal of Lukashenka. Allegedly during the negotiations of Lukashenka and Putin in Sochi (the meeting took place on August 22) the two leaders discussed the guarantees of the security for the Belarusian leader and his family “after the election of a new president.”
At the end of August, the Russian tabloid “Versiya” wrote that Moscow was going to put an end to Lukashenka’s further political career and would not support his re-election in future elections.
In September, Dmitry Drize, political observer of Kommersant FM, joined the development of this idea. The article was called: “Moscow is tired of Lukashenka”.
“Perhaps he was given a tough ultimatum. And, apparently, Russia does not like the format of the power transfer by inheritance — first to the oldest son Viktar, and then to the youngest Kolya,” he wrote.
The topic of possible annexation of Belarus has been increasingly discussed in the Russian media. In July, “EADaily” published an article on the benefits of Belarus joining Russia.
In August, the media “Russian Monitor” wrote that the Kremlin is already preparing the Anschluss of Belarus. The author of the publication, Viktor Larionov, drew attention to the fact that if the Anschluss was presented as the creation of a new state with new constitution, then it would allow Putin to be re-elected to the presidency, despite the presidential limit. Moreover, according to the author, the Kremlin simply does not have alternatives.
“Anschluss of Belarus is inevitable,” Larionov summed up.
“Nezigar” in the last days of August wrote that after the accession of Belarus to Russia a new state would allegedly be called the USSR – the Union of Sovereign Slavic Republics.
The idea of annexation is predominantly promoted either by pro-Kremlin Telegram channels or openly chauvinistic media, but “Kommersant” also wrote about it as a ‘surreal’ option.
The Rosbalt website claimed that the appointment of Mikhail Babich as Russia’s ambassador testifies that Moscow has taken a course towards the absorption of Belarus. According to the publication, “the Kremlin is not done with Ukraine” and is going to do something in this direction,”but this “something” is impossible without Belarus and its various assets.”
Russian liberal publicist Yulia Latynina in the Novaya Gazeta voiced her own version: the next year Putin will decide to achieve the annexation of Belarus through the gas blockade.
3. Stroke of Lukashenka
The most resonant “bogus story” about Belarus was, of course, the state of health of Lukashenka. On the night of July 30, the Russian Telegram channel “Nezigar” reported that Lukashenka had had a stroke. It was because of this that the president’s visit to Homel, which had been actively prepared by the regional center, was allegedly canceled.
Later, the press secretary of the president, Natallia Eismant, officially denied rumors about the disease, calling these reports “complete delirium.” In a couple of days Lukashenka personally made a joke about this spoof story.
4-5. Russophobia and turn to the West
The themes of Russophobia in Belarus and Lukashenka’s betrayal of Kremlin interests first appeared in the Russian media space in 2015. In recent years, almost all of the openly chauvinistic Russian resources have promoted these themes — Regnum, Lenta.ru, EADaily and others. Authors of similar articles on the Regnum website even faced criminal prosecuted because of this.
Sometimes, however, such stories are published by the central media. Last November, NTV dedicated to Belarus the “Meeting Point” program, where it criticized Belarus’ participation in the Eastern Partnership program and improvement of relations with the West, and Lukashenka was called an “alley cat” and “a prostitute “.
However, this was rather an exception. After the celebration of “Freedom Day 2018,” Russia Today even praised the Belarusian authorities for a sensible policy regarding the part of the opposition that “does not want the repetition of the Kyiv Maidan in Minsk”. The festive concert near the Opera House was then considered a positive thing.
Meanwhile chauvinistic resources from time to time return to the theme of “Russophobia” in Belarus.