Secret negotiations and Soros. State-run TV has a new conspiracy theory for the protests

Monitoring of State TV Narratives in Belarus. (23/11/2020 – 29/11/2020)

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The purpose of this monitoring is to study how the Belarusian state conveys its ideological narrative. The most important mechanism for conveying its narrative is the evening broadcast. Then the informational function of media is complemented, and sometimes replaced by, the broadcasting of official ideological messages. We monitor the outputs of the Agency of the Television News (ATN), which prepares the news broadcasts for the Belarus-1 channel (“Panorama” and Sunday’s “Main Airtime”), the channel ONT (“Our News”, “Saturday’s Edition” and “Contours”), and the channel STV (“24 Hour News” and “The Week”).

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Lukashenka and the state-run channels offered a new explanation for events in the country. The «Seven Stages of Belomaidan» scheme got replaced by geopolitical aggression against Belarus. After Lukashenka’s statements about intercepting secret talks, state-run TV switched to the countries he mentioned. The presenters declared that the materials were sensational and regarded the lack of interest in them as proof of guilt.

Key narratives can be found in APPENDIX 1

Against the background of narratives of chaos, crisis, protests, dissatisfaction with the quarantine and the difficult epidemiological situation abroad, state-run TV promoted the image of a strong capable Belarusian government. Even emergencies, such as the food poisoning of children in one of Minsk schools, got ideological wrapping.

Substitution of the burning topics with a more convenient one, sometimes with the opposite message, was used as an information response technique.

State-run TV tried to shift the focus from the specific circumstances of the death of Roman Bondarenko to speculations about the «sacrifice», «a jig on the bones», the reaction of the blogosphere and the family, as well as the issue of Bondarenko’s intoxication.

The basis of anti-protest stories on weekdays was the summary of incidents, detentions, initiations of cases and court decisions.

Sunday and Monday are characterized by reports of «senseless and fading protest.» Igor Marzalyuk’s monologues on STV supplemented the usual inventory of conflict-inciting programs. This week Marzalyuk called for the creation of an index of banned books.

The limited reformism in the stories of the state-run TV was manifested in the announcement of the new Constitution and changes in the road tax. A possible reduction in maternity leave was also discussed.

Pluralism did not go beyond some variation of opinions on local issues (road tax).

The author of the weekly reports is Maxim Stefanovich, the editor and coordinator of the project is Artyom Shraibman.

To see the full version of the report in Russian click here.

APPENDIX 1 KEY NARRATIVES

UNDERMINING THE PROTESTS

  • “After all, behind the hypocritical struggle, supposedly, for democracy lies a true desire to turn the country into a raw material appendage of Europe and to wage war. This opinion was shared by Ivo Hristov, a Bulgarian MP in an interview for our channel.»
  • “The actions of the radicalized are sometimes hard to take calmly. They cross all the boundaries of what is human. While previously chats were used to discuss how to disrupt transportation or make explosives, now they literally target the one thing sacred — the family. The radicalized ones are calling to get to the police officers through their children. For example, by killing or kidnapping babies.»
  • “The tragic story of the death of Roman Bondarenko has grown into a huge speculation. There was a lot of emotion. This is understandable. For the family, this is an irreparable loss. But, unfortunately, some decided to exploit someone’s grief for their own selfish, mean purposes.»
  • “Those arrested are from 26 to 38 years old. According to the police, they were involved in guerilla activities. Their apartment had devices for blocking railways, means of communication, weapon and ammunition replicas.»
  • “The fading Sunday marches have moved mainly to the residential districts, much to the annoyance of the local dwellers.”
  • “An arsonist is on trial in Minsk — inspired by extremist Telegram channels, he decided to use fire to deal with a police officer and his family.”
  • “Our opponents do not disdain anything. And the most important thing is to destroy those images, the past and the present ones, that represent everything that our people have always been proud of. For example, for them the Nazi occupation and the actions of the Belarusian nationalists in the service of the Nazis are a chance to create a new Belarus.»
  • “In Minsk, a man was beaten because of wearing state symbol. On a city bus, one passenger attacked another just because of the jacket featuring the Belarusian flag.”
  • “The police officers who arrived at the scene of the fire in the premises of the homeowners’ association found a painfully familiar picture — a den. The recent detentions of the administrators of telegram channels suggest a clear pattern — the more run-down the premises are, the more likely the owner is an administrator of a radical Internet-based group.
  • “One thing an MD certainly has no right to do is breaching medical confidentiality. But what is even more serious is the fact of forgery of the official documents. In the case of Roman Bondarenko’s death, there was an attempt to misinform about the alcohol content in the blood of the deceased.»

PREPAREDNESS FOR COVID-19 SECOND WAVE

  • «So why, being in the same situation re COVID, the situation in Ukraine and Belarus, and in Europe as a whole, is so different?»
  • “Up to 2 thousand calls are processed daily by the metropolitan ambulance station. In one 12-hour shift, a paramedic can have up to 15 visits. They cater to patients with general diseases, seasonal ones and the coronavirus. All sanitary requirements are being observed.»
  • “Even during the first wave of the pandemic, Belarus did not follow the herd, but chose its own strategy. And today the whole world is convinced that the choice was correct.»
  • “Every day there are new reports of the COVID incidence rates. Unfortunately, the numbers are growing in Belarus as well. It is important to understand this and not neglect the basic measures of protection — wearing a mask, maintaining a social distance of one and a half meters, washing your hands more often. This is the way to ease the burden on the healthcare professionals — they have it hard these days.»

ANTI-WESTERN NARRATIVES

  • “Everything that is happening now in Belarus has been repeatedly tested in other countries, as is carbon-copied. Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and the list goes on. Same script, different county name.»
  • «George Soros is the puppeteer of world politics and the main sponsor of the color revolutions.»
  • “Today’s meeting provided the biggest revelations of the week. Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Moldova and the Baltic countries are caught red-handed while waging foreign aggression against the Belarusian statehood.»
  • “There was no vocal reaction from the mentioned countries. In this case, people say this silence speaks volumes.»
  • “But today during a meeting with the doctors of the sixth hospital, a real information bomb went off. We were shown who, through whom and how they invaded the internal politics of Belarus. And why the neighbors designed this entire Belomaidan and why these steps were a test blow on Russia.»
  • “Others were startled, because the intelligence documents clearly say: the West will keep trying to undermine Russia. And Belarus is the test-bed for the techniques and methods for overthrowing the government.»
  • “To get both the Belarusian sales market and privatize the Belarusian enterprises for a pittance under the premise of a bright European future, and then shut them down, thus killing the competition.”
  • “It is all about money. And the money will not reach Belarus. Because there, in Europe, they only love money. And they don’t give up what they love.»
  • “Numerous violations were registered during the second round of voting in local elections in Ukraine. 11 criminal cases were initiated.”

CONTROLLED DIALOGUE

  • “Preparations for the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly continue in Belarus. A special working group has already started processing and generalizing more than 8 thousand proposals from the general public.»
  • “What the state will be like after the national dialogue, how it will modernize the system of power and civil society — it is up to the citizens of Belarus to decide.”
  • “Representatives of government agencies, business, scholars and analysts took part in large-scale discussions. Discussions were also conducted at dialogue platforms throughout the country. Special emphasis was on enhancing the role of business activity and improving the investment climate.»

COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA

  • “Allegedly, the visit was ill-meaning and Sergei Lavrov was coming bearing some ultimatums. Then there was the broken record of the surrender of sovereignty. A kind of politically destructive template, or a copy-paste, if you will.»
  • “Russia’s support for the sovereignty and independence of Belarus has many politicians in the West tied up in knots. There are repeated attempts to drive a wedge into the union-state relations.»
  • “Issues of trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia, strengthening of interaction in the format of the Union State and events in the international arena. Contrary to speculation around the agenda of the meeting, these topics became the main talking points during the conversation between Alyaksandr Lukashenka and the Russian Foreign Minister.»
  • “As Alyaksandr Lukashenka once said, these are the moments you understand who is your friend and who is your enemy. It is Russia that is now the main pillar and support of the independent Belarus.”

ALL STAKES OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND WEAPON EMPLOYMENT

  • “Up-to-datedness, mobility, combat readiness — the three pillars of the Belarusian armed forces.”
  • “Our police performed brilliantly, and the best gift for the metropolitan riot police yesterday was a complete and unconditional clean-up of Minsk in shortest time possible. Out congratulations.»
  • “Nobody will come out in numbers to show the demented ones that the normal people are greater in numbers. They will simply call the police — and the bawlers will be taken away and locked up. To everyone’s liking, no less.»
  • “As Viktor Khrenin said, the situation in the army is now controlled and manageable. Troops are ready to carry out missions as intended. Despite all the difficulties, the training measures for the Armed Forces were 100% completed.”
  • “I hope everyone understands perfectly. I repeat: had the Belarusian security officials really had any questions to those who departed  no one would have cross the border. Not by plane, not on foot, not by car, not in the trunk of the Polish ambassador’s vehicle. Period.»

PATERNALISM, DIRIGISME

  • “The company during this difficult year, when there’s global recession due to the pandemic and lockdowns, performs as expected, keeps building and commissioning the facilities, creating the infrastructure, also finishing the International Financial Center, which means new jobs and the center of attraction for investment.”
  • “Bear in mind, that the situation in the school was immediately taken under high-level control.”
  • “Belarusians are used to feeling protected. These guarantees are given by the state, including through a well-built system of power. Maybe that is why Belarus annoys some people so strongly and so persistent is the desire to destroy the country from the outside.”
  • “Thus, a resident of Volkovysk, a mother of three, asked for the accelerated construction of housing for large families — the situation will be taken under personal control.”
  • “In fact, Belarus today remains the last social state in Europe. Even Sweden is moving away from social principles today.»
  • “And now — the second fake about Lukashenka’s regime being about to fall.”
  • «I am convinced that the state is becoming the only force capable of looking into the future on behalf of the whole society, and therefore building a picture of the past.»

PERSONALISM

  • “Needless to say — Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been to China 12 times. Trade turnover over the past year is record-high $ 4.5 billion. Minsk and Beijing are negotiating a new level of cooperation.”
  • “Alyaksandr Lukashenka is convinced that he knows in whose pockets the money of the European grants will end up. And what is more important — saving lives during the COVID or saving the opposition’s reputation — is a rhetorical question. At the same time, Minsk declares itself a reliable partner in relation to each of the seven countries that sent ambassadors. Alyaksandr Lukashenka will talk to them all — both officially and not so much.»
  • “Earlier, the Hungarian Workers’ Party expressed solidarity with Belarus in the struggle for independence and condemned foreign attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of our country. They are confident that because of the leadership of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belarus did not allow itself to be sold to foreign capital and can withstand the threats of the US and the EU.»
  • “Alyaksandr Lukashenka visited the 6th clinical hospital in Minsk today to make sure that there are enough forces and means to counter the invisible threat. Even the «red zone» did not stop the president. It seems that having survived the coronavirus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka understands what the patients need — sometimes a kind word is a powerful remedy.»
  • “Alyaksandr Lukashenka, following his principles of frankness and honesty, delivered on the promise. Today we got all the details of what he promised to share a week ago.»
  • “The team of the President of Belarus won the second match of the 14 national amateur hockey competitions for the prizes of the President’s Sports Club”.

PRO-GOVERNMENT ACTIVISM

  • «There is a proposal to set up a National center for patriotic education of the youth on the basis of the Youth Patriotic Center in the Brest Fortress.»
  • “The main thing is not to make political appeals, but to win in a fair fight in the arenas. And all sorts of unsportsmanlike interference do nothing for the strength of the athletes and the positive emotions of the fans.»
  • “The register of prohibited books, websites, TV channels, blogs with anti-Belarusian content, containing insinuations about our state, people, its history, inciting ethnic and religious discord, posing a threat to the territorial integrity of our country”.
  • “For thousands of Belarusians this autumn it has become a good tradition to end a week on the road. The rallies around the state symbols bring together all those not indifferent to what is happening in the country.»
Хорошо
Смешно
Грустно
Злюсь
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