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Death of Navalny | Resurrection of Stalin | ‘Election Sovereignty’


Media IQ, the independent team of media researchers, continues to monitor the information space in Belarus for trends, disinformation and propaganda. In February 2024, our experts highlighted several key events and trends in the media:

  • The death of Alexey Navalny;
  • Elections in Belarus;
  • The discussion of the national philosophy of Belarus.

Downplaying Navalny’s Death 

The death of the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny  in the Arctic penal colony on February 16, has been extensively covered by international media. In Belarus however, its significance was either downplayed or reported with nonchalance, the Media IQ team discovered.

As of February 19, only one state-governed television channel ‘Belarus 1’ aired a news package on Alexey Navalny, referring to him as the ‘Sacral Sacrifice.’ Other outlets reported on the death in passing.

A number of Belarusian propagandists turned to their personal social media, commenting that Navalny’s death was ‘just life’, or promoting a conspiracy theory. The notorious Grigory Azarenok from STV channel,  for example,  implied — without evidence —  that Navalny was assassinated  by western operatives, quoted Media IQ the article by RFE/RL.

In contrast, Belarusian independent media have covered Navalny’s death, and used it as an opportunity to discuss the fate of the many Belarusian political prisoners (over 1400 Belarusians are currently in prison on political charges), Media IQ further noted.

Stalin, Virgin Mary and Lukashenka as cornerstones of Belarusian Philosophy. 

Just two days before Navalny’s death, propagandist Grigory Azarenok discussed Belarusian national philosophy on his show ‘Azarenok. Straight Ahead’ on the YouTube channel Information military regiment. Azarenok’s guest on the show was the Belarusian political scientist Petr Petrovsky. The premise for the discussion was Alexander Lukashenko’s recent criticism of higher education in the country.

The Media IQ team analyzed key messages transmitted during the  92-min stream. Among them:

Message 1: Lukashenko as the source of National Philosophy/Ideology.

The guest of the show, Petr Petrovsky, quoted Alexander Lukashenko’s words from the 2003 Report by President Alexander Lukashenko on Ideology as an example of national philosophy. In the document, Lukashenko denounced liberalism as the root of evil, and described authentic Belarusian values as collectivism, solidarity, and high ideals.

Message 2: Stalin,  Virgin Mary, traditional values and subordination to the state

In the show, Petrovksy characterized Belarusian morality as based on Christianity and sacral bonds. He pointed out that Belarusians had a spiritual relationship with Marxism and Socialism. “One must be a servant to the state,” stated Petrovsky.  “The deep Orthodox people of Belarus! [White Rus]” joined Azarenok. “They [the people] are drawn to deeper meanings, to ideas, to the protection of Mother Mary, to Jesus, to the great leaders like comrade Stalin; they are drawn to our President,” summed up Azarenok the eclectic nature of the Belarusians.

Message 3: The Past is the Future 

The show runner and the guest proposed a plan to boost national philosophy, which included the development of a unified philosophy textbook, revival of the Soviet term ‘enemy of the people;’ persecution of LGBTQIA+ minority and other radical methods.

Having analyzed the show, the Media IQ team concluded that the “Great Stalin” narrative was used by the propagandists to justify the new wave of repressions ahead of the Parliamentary elections. Belarus has moved further along the axis of totalitarianism, concluded the Media IQ experts.

Newspeak: ’Election Sovereignty’

On February 25, Belarus held Elections to the Parliament and local councils of deputies. This was the first campaign after the 2020 Presidential Election, which led to unprecedented mass protests and repressions in the country. This time, Elections went swiftly, without competition, opposition or independent observers, and with heightened control over voters and information space, Media IQ’s research shows.

The Media IQ team closely monitored media space before and during the election campaign. The researchers noted that propaganda emphasized stability, economic development, and social support, attributing any success to the existing regime.

The term ‘electoral sovereignty,’ first coined in February 2023, and used by the Chairman of the Central Election Commission Igor Karpenko during this campaign, gained a lot of traction. The concept  was commonly used by state media to describe the “integral, exclusive right of a sovereign state to hold elections independently, without any interventions.” In reality, the concept was used to justify the opaque nature of the elections, and absence of  comprehensive observation.

Overall, leading up to and during the elections, propaganda perpetuated the image of Belarus as aligned solely with Russia and the CIS countries; while portraying the collective West as hostile. Amidst glorification of the regime, discussions of historical narratives overshadowed electoral issues.

Media IQ  analysts concluded that during this campaign the government did not even pretend to maintain external legitimacy of elections.


Смотрите также

Польша стала пристанищем для многих беларусов, спасающихся от репрессий, и бегущих от войны украинцев. А ещё – главной мишенью для беларусских пропагандистов. Чтобы дискредитировать Польшу, они манипулировали историей и использовали миграционный кризис на границе Беларуси и ЕС.

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