State-run TV wage war against the aggressive West and “fascism rearing its ugly head”

Monitoring of State TV Narratives in Belarus (30/11/2020 – 06/12/2020)

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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

Last week, the dominant narrative was joint fending off the threats within the CSTO and confronting the West in the geopolitical struggle.

To undermine the opponents, the stat-run TV would more often resort to the inputs from bloggers, both pro-government from Belarus and foreign ones.

Considerable attention was paid to stories about the problems of Poland, Ukraine and other countries, both in the coverage of the pandemic and in the context of internal political rift. A number of stories with the opinions of critics of the «consequences of the Maidan» were directly borrowed from Ukrainian channels.

Key narratives can be found in APPENDIX 1

Geopolitical and militaristic narratives were supplemented by discussions about the fight against rewriting history, the inadmissibility of the glorification of Nazism, as well as an information campaign against the white-red-white flag. The former Soviet territory was portrayed as battleground against «fascism rearing its ugly head.»

The dialogue between the authorities and society was again reduced to a paternalistic agenda for addressing individual issues after citizens’ appeal. The «emigrant opposition» was blamed for the possible problems caused by the introduction of economic sanctions.

alls for unity were accompanied by coverage of pro-government actions (car rallies) and the joint letter from athletes in support of the government. Creative approaches included the noteworthy efforts by a pro-government musical band «Galasy ZMesta».

Limited reformism was associated with the government’s program for the next five years, which provides for institutional changes in various areas.

In the overwhelming majority of stories, there was no diversity of opinions, but individual criticism from citizens was still included in the “Contours” weekly summary on ONT.

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, FIGHTING FAKE

  • “All in all, these funds are a shady business. Watching the squabble in chats, who owes whom and how much and where the rest of the money went, one immediately realizes that this is another money laundering project. Or to it simply — a scam. We have already quoted a representative of a similar shady outfit. Today — another confession by the manager Andrey Strizhak.”
  • “The titular opposition with decrepit ideas is capable of crushing the young puppets of the West, still in their puberty. I mean Sannikov, who verbally crushed Tsikhanouskaya.»
  • «Another failed fake of destructive telegram channels was debunked by bloggers.»
  • “The goals and objectives of the Belarusian rebellion are no different from those of Euromaidan. This opinion was expressed to our channel by the Ukrainian expert, MP and a public figure Andrey Lesik. According to him, any velvet revolutions lead to a real socio-economic defeat.»
  • “But the Belarusians themselves are frankly tired of riots in the street and constant fakes on the Internet. Now, perhaps, the main desire is for the country to return to the calm, peaceful life that it had all these years.»
  • “Drugs, weapons and protest symbols. Members of the radical movement were detained harboring such an arsenal near Dzerzhinsk.
  • “Last Sunday passed without much commotion. The senselessly wandering handfuls of protesters showed the real scale of the action, or rather its absence. Walking tours for radical representatives resulted in detentions. For the rest of the minority — in a disappointment. For the red-white-red mob, by the way, it is common to bring children to the eye of the storm, and also to ram the riot police with a stroller.”

PREPAREDNESS TO COVID-19 SECOND WAVE

  • “They would be glad to get their hands on our doctors too, there is a permanent call for the life-saving work in the covid hospitals of a democratic country.”
  • “The situation, as elsewhere in the world, is not easy, but in Belarus it is definitely manageable. Invaluable experience has been gained, there is an understanding of what to do during admission of patients, there is no shortage of the necessary medical equipment, there is enough personal protective equipment and medicines. The President personally checked this on the spot. «
  • “Achieving positive results in the fight against coronavirus is made possible for our doctors are helped both by the conscious attitude of the people themselves — this is the observance of all recommendations — and the real support of state organizations and associations. Several million rubles have been allocated for these purposes through the trade unions alone.”
  • “At the same time, the work of everyone who is at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus, both a novice student and an experienced resuscitator, should be paid according to their merit. The Head of State is also convinced of this. By the way, the salary of doctors who receive a bonus for working with COVID patients is now much higher than the average among state-owned economy employees. «
  • “The Belarusian approach to the fight against coronavirus annoys some, angers the others. Some across the world they envy, some inside the country some do not appreciate it. But there are no hunger lines and shut-down companies. While there are healthy babies, despite the diagnosed COVID in mothers. The President was told about the Vitebsk method.”

FENDING OFF THE THREAT TOGETHER UNDER THE CSTO

  • “Also, the Foreign Ministers exchanged views on the state and prospects of the development of the international and regional situation, assessed its impact on stability in the CSTO area of responsibility. The partners named unfriendly actions on the part of a number of Western countries, as well as attempts to organize color revolutions in some states, including Belarus, one of the main current problems.»
  • “General security and increased efficiency of the CSTO during these difficult times. These are the main topics of the last summit of the leaders of the countries participating in the Organization. Speaking today at a session of the CSTO Collective Security Council, Alyaksandr Lukashenka called on the members of the military-political bloc to unite against pressure and foreign interference.»

ANTI-WEST NARRATIVES

  • “A serious scuffle took place in the Odessa Regional Council — the deputies were unable to hold the first session. Several dozen people got involved in the fight — deputies of the regional council and the Verkhovna Rada, representatives of the municipal assembly. The clashes happened after attempts to unblock the tribune.»
  • “According to the country’s health minister, this will help prepare for the seasonal spike in the incidence of influenza and unload the medical system of Ukraine as much as possible. But, perhaps, the choice of dates for the lockdown is dictated by other reasons. Economist Yuriy Atamanyuk said this on the NewsOne channel.»
  • “The organizers do not even hide their own interests: the territory of Belarus is sees as the so-called sanitary belt and the launch pad for exercising further pressure on Russia.”
  • “Therefore, it is not so much Belarus, as Russia and China. But we are like the Brest Fortress, there is no going further unless you take it.»
  • “There is no doubt that external interference of Poland and Ukraine is evident in the events in Belarus. Wanting to increase their own importance in the European Union, they strictly follow the instructions of their curators. But, being under external influence, they risk becoming a bargaining chip in the hands of the West.»
  • “Their idea is simple — gullible, we lay ourselves down on a cutting board under a Western knife. And a hot dish made from an independent country is sent to the ordering table. But even the infinitely generous Belarusian people should see off the uninvited guests hungry.”
  • “And in the west of France, in Nantes, the protesters killed Emmanuel Macron. Figuratively, of course, by having prepared a guillotine for him. Hundreds of workers of restaurants, cafes, hotels thus expressed their protest against the anti-COVID measures introduced by the French leadership.»

ALL STAKES ON LAW ENFORCEMENT AND WEAPON EMPLOYMENT

  • “The newest Belarusian-made communication equipment arrived in the military unit of Grodno. These are 22 pieces of equipment, including a completely new digital radio relay station «Sosna-2».
  • “The special operation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs near Dzerzhinsk resulted in the seizure of a consignment of drugs and pneumatic weapons. The perpetrators were caught red-handed when they took a one-kilo mephedrone package from their cache.»
  • “A charity event on the International Day of People with Disabilities was organized by cadets and employees of the Mogilev Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”
  • “Law enforcers have increased the number of raid groups. The police, together with the the citizen militia, regularly monitor public safety. The new thing is to check the attics and roofs. In addition, the joint teams visit those on record, low-lives, as well as former convicts.»

PATERNALISM, DIRIGISME

  • “A gift to the residents of Mogilev. The first stage of reconstruction of the rowing base on the bank of the Dnieper Bay is nearing completion. It will become a fitness and recreational center. And not only for athletes, but also for the residents of the young microdistrict.”
  • “After the overhaul, traffic was opened on the section of the R-76 Orsha — Shklov — Mogilev highway. The tarmac has been upgraded, there are new embankments, the shoulders have been strengthened.»
  • “Over the past 4 years, more than 13 billion rubles have been spent on sanatorium-resort treatment and rehabilitation of people with disabilities, as well as on the payment of pensions, benefits for the disabled and support to families raising disabled children.”
  • “About two thousand checks, 80% of inspected drivers had violations. These are the results of the nationwide raid on taxi services.”
  • “In one hundred years of its history, the engineering and technical education of Belarus has gained world fame, no exaggeration. Officially, BNTU is in top-thousand universities of the world. It currently hosts 35 thousand students.”
  • “Improving the investment and business climate, financial recovery of stressed companies, reformatting the pension system are just some of the points of the program. Special attention is paid to helthcare and education.”
  • “In short, the Council of Ministers has already allocated 2 billion rubles in the context of a pandemic to support the companies and the people, and will keep doing so, while also recovering the industrial companies. As for the pensions, the government’s position is to reformat the pension system.»

PERSONALISM

  • “Let’s remember what Alyaksandr Lukashenka spoke about at the end of last week, voicing excerpts from the original reports of the special services. Poland’s unhealthy interest in our country is nothing else than another proof of the nostalgia of the neighboring country for the geo-political setup of 1939.”
  • “Alyaksandr Lukashenka will describe in detail the consequences of the confrontational rhetoric that has taken over the world. But if only thee were mere words. They are provoking an arms race.»
  • “The issue of healing and saving people is the most important. The main thing is to save a person’s life. The President once again focused on this, this time in Vitebsk. Here, the head of state visited the regional maternity hospital, where expectant mothers with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID are getting medical assistance, to personally make sure that the most vulnerable patients receive high-quality medical care.»

PRO-GOVERNMENT ACTIVISM, PATRIOTISM

  • «The principle of the unity of the nation is based on the unconditional recognition that the fate of the country and the people is above and more important than the interests of individuals or social groups.»
  • “More and more representatives of Belarusian sports openly defend their right to perform under the Belarusian flag. Sport should remain outside politics, attempts to put pressure on athletes in case of refusal to express the opinion imposed on them is inappropriate.»
  • “Thousands of cars and the same number of caring people. For many of our compatriots, it has already become a tradition to spend Saturday on the road for the sake of peace and return to the quiet life in the country.»
  • “What is happening in our country does not leave a single Belarusian impartial. Creativity is not silent either. The folk group, which in less than six months removed the clichés of protest music from rock, gave a concert in Minsk. “Galasy zmesta” is a new name in the musical life of Belarus, but due to the relevance of the lyrics it has already trending high in Belarusian YouTube.”

FIGHT FOR HISTORY

  • “The rehabilitation of Nazism, the marches of the SS veterans and the banners of the traitors in the streets of the hero cities — all this is the result of 30 years of targeting and brainwashing our children. The most striking example is Ukraine. Nazi accomplices, Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, are declared national heroes, and children are quick to raise hands in a Nazi greeting gesture.»
  • “Local traitors helped the Ukrainian nationalists and fascists. Belarusian neo-Nazism was white-red-white branded. These color resurface now and then.»
  • “There are no minor traitors. Nor does the white-red-white flag — invented in the early 20th century – has a minor chapter of unsightly history. This is a Goebbels-like insidious sabotage of the friendship of kindred peoples and their historical unity. And historical sabotage is being carried out today in every territory of the post-Soviet space.»
  • “The year of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory is coming to an end. This is an occasion to remind once again about the lessons of history that many today neglect.»
  • “Falsification of history, substitution of concepts, banners of traitors — all these are classic technologies of color revolutions, which were used in Ukraine at least twice. This is the opinion of the famous Ukrainian analyst Ruslan Bizyaev. In his opinion, it is the historical continuity that helps maintain peace and tranquility. «
  • “We, Belarusians, who lost every third in this terrible war, need to remember that the white-red-white flag during the Great Patriotic War was used by those people who collaborated with the invaders, who actually destroyed our people. There is factual proof captured on numerous photographs and archive footage.»

CONTROLLED DIALOGUE

  • “Public reception offices are a new form of interaction between the authorities and citizens, which has become a logical continuation of dialogue platforms. The issues of major repairs of residential buildings, construction of housing for large families, including in rural areas, and the cost per square meter were discussed today in Gomel.»
  • “Now more than ever it is important to create and engage the most diverse strata of society. A closer link between students and the public officials is created by the youth parliament.”
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