Instruments of Russian influence in Belarus (part 1 )

05.05.2020 Off By Polyanska
Instruments of Russian influence in Belarus (part 1 )

Be afraid of false knowledge. All the evil comes from it. 

L.N. Tolstoy

 

And the knowledge of many Belarusians about the socio-political life in Belarus and beyond is formed under the active and growing influence of Russia. 

Moreover, it has an impact on all spheres of society and the state. Over economy, first of all, since trade turnover between Belarus and Russia is about 50%, besides, the economy of Belarus has 100% dependence on Russian gas and 90% dependence on Russian oil (so far).

Since a concentrated expression of the economy, as defined by Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, is politics, then the internal and external policies of Belarus, political views and beliefs of its citizens are formed under Russian influence, under the pressure of instruments of Russian influence.

What instruments of Russian influence are operating in Belarus and affecting its citizens?

News channels

The use of news channels as a tool for influencing citizens of other countries was justified in 2013 by Valery Gerasimov, Russian Chief of Staff, who publicly stated that information could be an integral part of the new hybrid war. Since, according to Clausewitz, war is a continuation of politics with the involvement of other means, the Russian new hybrid war is a continuation of the Russian policy of using propaganda channels as a weapon.

These channels are various Russian and pro-Russian information and pseudo-information resources. For example, Russia Today is a television company broadcasting in more than 100 countries in many languages. Or Sputnik radio company and the news agency of the same name, which include websites, mobile applications, online broadcasts, radio broadcasts, and press centers. Sputnik delivers information in more than 30 languages, with over 16 million subscribers worldwide. In this regard, it is not surprising that the society of many countries in Eastern and Central Europe, as well as other countries whose economics and politics are not directly dependent on Russia, is also a subject of Russian information influence.

However, in some countries, this influence is getting rid of, and not always with bans, taking away the licenses, constructing a network of “jammers” or firewalls, but solely by educating their population. For example, in 2015, the President of Finland stated that his country was exposed to information aggression by Russia. Subsequently, Finns engaged over 100 professionals in various government agencies to develop and implement a national media literacy program. As a result of this program, Sputnik was forced to cease operations in Finland.

Ukraine has been the target of large-scale propaganda and misinformation attacks from Russian information resources for more than five years. Therefore radical measures have been taken, and about 90 Russian TV channels, more than 18 websites, Russian social networks (“Odnoklassniki”, “Vkontakte»), as well as Internet resources such as Yandex and Mail.ru have been banned. However, Russia keeps its influence in some Ukrainian media.

Russian media, especially television and Internet resources, are the main information tools for active and growing Russian influence in Belarus. Thus, Russian television channels occupy about 60% of the Belarusian news space, with 2/3 of Belarusians trusting them. Naturally, they are not only housewives and the elderly but also servicemen, employees of government, military units.

By the way, in Russia, where 85% of the population watches television, the level of trust in major news channels has been gradually decreasing since 2015. For example, Pervyj Kanal (Channel One) – 38%, Russia 1 – 33%, Russia 24 – 41%. NTV is 23%. At the same time, the level of trust to Internet resources and social networks is growing by 3-4% per year, which reached 42% in 2019.

The main sources of information for the majority of Belarusians who have Internet access, in addition to Russian television channels, are also Russian Internet resources. This is largely facilitated by news aggregators, the so-called Google recommendation services Yandex, Mail.ru, Opera, etc. that form news content for users. As a result, a Belarusian user, opening Chrome, Yandex or Opera browser on their phone or computer, receives a list of Belarusian news, mostly made by Russian media, with a large part of various fake news discrediting not only Belarusianauthorities but also Belarusians, and the Belarusian culture.

The most active websites in this information aggression against Belarus and Belarusians are eadaily.com, regnum.ru, imhoclub.by, politring.com, 4esnok.by, sonar2050.org, friends-friends.rf, sputnik.bybelvpo.comvesti24.by, iarex.ru, rosbelsoyuz.su, vitrusdom.ru, soglasie.by, imperiyanews.ru, ross-bel.ru.

In addition to these websites that produce their content or broadcast info, containing misinformation and propaganda narratives of other Russian propaganda resources, about Belarus and Belarusians, there are many others, including riafan.ru, politnavigator.net, oko-planet.su, news –front.info, ukraina.ru, materik.ru, topwar.ru, ruskline.ru, cont.ws, fondsk.ru, rusvesna.su, rubaltic.ru which dilute their misinformation and anti-Belarusian propaganda by plagiarizing Belarusian Internet resources, exhibiting other people’s material without any references or attribution.

 

Some anti-Belarusian propaganda resources are covered-up as Belarusian regional or public ones, such as teleskop-by.org, dranik.org, inspect.by, sozh.info, vitbich.org, berestje-news.org, grodnodaily.net, mogilew (.by, .net, .org, .com), subprovie-info.com, and more. At these websites, reposts of ordinary news or publications from other websites are diluted with copyrighted content with overt and vicious anti-Belarusian propaganda, as well as a platform for professional propagandists of the “Russian world” among Belarusian citizens maintained by the Russian state its structures.

 

Interestingly, some of these “lovers” of Russia for money in the recent past were activists of anti-Russian structures that dreamed of the construction of the “Baltic Reich”, which they saw as a neo-pagan theocracy, and represented themselves in their fantasies solely in the role of supreme priests.

 

All of these sites are closely linked to the Russian Foundation of Prigogine RIAFAN “Narodnajadiplomatija”, organizations like “Rus’ molodaja” and CIS-EMO, which is for independent election observation in various countries, was a cover for “observers” at the 2014 referendum in Crimea, in elections in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria.

 

Leonid Spatkay special for  International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda

Source: Belarus Security Blog