In August 2020, Belarusians took to the streets to protest the results of a rigged presidential election. The protests soon became the largest in the country’s history and were eventually violently supressed, with tens of thousands arrested, beaten and prosecuted. Extensive disinformation campaigns continue to enable and accompany the brutality of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime against its own citizens, independent media and civil society.
The Belarusian state-controlled media have been complicit in the brutal crackdown on dissent in the country. Forced, televised “confessions” from political prisoners is just one of many examples, illustrating that state-controlled media have become an extension of a repressive state apparatus in Belarus. We also observed how the Belarusian state-controlled media aided Belarusian officials in weaponising migration into the EU.
Furthermore, the Lukashenka regime and its media apparatus have been instrumental in supporting Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Belarusian authorities have repressed social media as well – for example by declaring many popular independent Telegram channels as “extremist material”.
At the same time, pro-Kremlin outlets continue to support and facilitate disinformation campaigns in and around Belarus, falsely accusing the West of engineering a “colour revolution”, claiming that the democratic Belarusian opposition is a “puppet of the West”, and labelling pro-democracy supporters as “zmagars”, extremists, terrorists and Nazi disciples.
The East Stratcom Task Force has been closely observing the media and disinformation landscape in Belarus. Below is our collection of articles on disinformation and information manipulation targeting democratic Belarus, exercised both by Lukashenka’s and Putin’s ecosystems of information manipulation.