European countries need to take control of the situation in Belarus. US magazine Foreign Policy suggests that the EU will first have to actively fill the information space with statements against Lukashenko. For example, it could be recommended to accuse him of repression or electoral fraud, at the same time that a “double approach” is promoted: Europe will announce that it is ready to provide material support to Belarus during the so-called “transition period”, and to help individual political forces inside the country that “want to help the process”. The goal is to carry out a “silent” coup in the frame of the election in Belarus. The publication admits that this scenario is unlikely, so they offer an alternative. If Lukashenko refuses to deliver the government voluntarily to a pro-Western opposition successor, he will face “hard moderation measures” in the form of colossal pressuring sanctions. However, in its attempts to overthrow Lukashenko, the article says, the European Union should take into account past mistakes. Six years ago, while Brussels was negotiating free trade with Kyiv, power-hungry Ukrainian oligarchs overthrew Viktor Yanukovych, surprising the EU, causing an armed conflict and effectively interrupting the diplomatic and constructive process of rapprochement with Europe.
Contrary to the claim, none of those statements are in the original Foreign Policy article, whose content is deliberately distorted to support a set of recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, framing the West as conspiring to take control in Belarus through a colour revolution. Actually, the FP article calls for European strategic leadership during the Belarus crisis, strongly supporting free and fair elections in the country without expanding EU or NATO membership to Minsk, following the same model as applied during Armenia’s protests in 2018. It calls for Europeans to “learn the lessons of Ukraine and stick to a firm public script of values and rule of law”, and affirms that EU leaders should make clear “to Moscow that any dramatic erosion of Belarusian sovereignty would be met by sanctions”. This is radically different from calling for president Alexander Lukashenko’s overthrow and setting the scenarios to do it. The following cases are examples from our database where distorted quotes have been omitted to serious publications: pro-Kremlin media claimed that British outlet The Guardian pointed to the ruling elite as the real instigators of the racial crisis in the US or reported that the EU remained silent as Europeans couldn’t buy food for the first time in 75 years. The pro-Kremlin media also claimed that Newsweek magazine explained how a US coup in Iran will end; that The Guardian claimed that Soros’ structures saw an opportunity in the coronavirus pandemic to attack the “bad guys”; or that the US special envoy for Syria admitted that Washington’s goal was to defend terrorists from Russian attacks.