VOT TAK! Belsat launches information portal in Russian

The information portal VOT TAK (THAT WAY) is a new project of our television aimed at Russian and Russian-speaking audience which launches on May 1. From now on “Inform and explain” – because this is how the portal’s motto sounds – is even better in this language.

That’s the way!

VOT TAK is the name of a daily Russian-language news service, which viewers of Belsat have been watching since mid-2017. Like the whole Belsat, it is available via Astra 4A satellite covering the European part of the former USSR, as well as on the Internet – on the TV channel’s website and on YouTube.

The most popular video – a special issue about the fire in Kemerovo in Siberia, which occurred at the end of March 2018 – was watched by a record number of YouTube users – over eight million. Currently, 215,000 people are subscribed to the VOT TAK channel on this platform.

All this explains why Belsat TV, the independent Belarusian television, now opens up even wider to the audience of not only Belarus, but also that of Russia and the whole territory of the former USSR.

“Over time, while working on the creation of Belsat, we saw clearly that the problem in Belarus is not only (and maybe not primarily) Lukashenka’s propaganda, but also the Kremlin’s propaganda, which penetrates absolutely everywhere in the post-Soviet information space and becomes one of the most dangerous and insidious instruments of political dominance and subordination,” says Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy, Director of Belsat. “We have come to the conclusion that our unique tool, which is Belsat, and our unique experience should also be used in this area. We also noticed that, despite the language differences, our channel is watched in Ukraine and Russia. Thus, a logical continuation of these actions was first Russian-language television program VOT TAK, dedicated to events in the former Soviet Union, and its further expansion into the portal with the same name.

In Russian and without censorship

Therefore, from the beginning of May it will be possible to watch video materials, read analytical texts and comments on the situation in the post-Soviet space at vot-tak.tv. The new Belsat portal is a response to the needs of Russian-speaking Internet users who do not trust the Kremlin-dependent media dominating in their countries.

“The YouTube channel VOT TAK is most often visited by viewers from the Commonwealth of Independent States — it is watched by Russians, Ukrainians, Kirghiz, Kazakhs, Chechens, Armenians … We also have profiles in social networks — on Facebook alone our video content for the Russian-speaking audience already has millions of views. We expect that with the launch of the new portal, people will not only watch us, but also read us,” says Volha Shved, Head of the Section for Interactive Media Development.

And according to Aleksy Dzikawicki, Deputy Director of the Belsat TV channel, the creation of the Russian-language information portal, on the one hand, is the next stage of the development of the Belsat TV channel, and on the other — a natural consequence of its current activities.

We inform and explain

“At present, there is practically no such single independent and transnational portal where the reader could find information about what is happening in the countries of the former USSR. We want to create such an opportunity for the Russian-speaking viewer — with a special emphasis on information from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine,” said Aleksy Dzikawicki.

He stresses that this is real, as Belsat already has a network of correspondents in these countries. Authors, writing about Kazakhstan or the Baltic States, are also involved:

“The motto of the portal is “We inform and explain”. So we will try not to limit ourselves to brief notes, but to show the processes and describe the context of the event more broadly,” he adds. “We will also publish the opinions of famous Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian publicists cooperating with us and, of course, our own video materials”.

For international audience

The new portal is a great undertaking, both in terms of the vast territory from which information gathered by correspondents will come and in terms of the special requirements that the journalists who fill the site have.

“Working in such an international team is not only a very interesting professional experience, but also a real challenge,” Lola Buryeva, editor of vot-tak.tv, says.

In her opinion, the most important task is to maintain balance and objectivity in topics concerning different countries. Despite the fact that the team of journalists is multinational, the editor-in-chief puts them in difficult conditions. The same thing that Aleksy Dzikawicki talked about earlier: it should not be obvious from the selection of materials whether a Belarusian, Ukrainian or Russian person is on website duty at the moment.

“Residents of the post-Soviet space are people of different nationalities. This is a challenge for us: to write for citizens of different countries so that they would be interested in reading the news not only about themselves, but also about their neighbors, and the whole world, to interest the reader and make them choose our site,” said the editor of the portal.

The authors of the portal start to inform about the main events of the region and the world, as well as to explain their importance, today. That’s the way we do it.