Disinfo: EU reaction to Lukashenka’s presidential win is an example of Western double standards

Summary

Following Belarusian President Lukashenka’s re-election victory, the European Council announced plans to hold a meeting on the imposition of sectoral sanctions against Minsk. Why did the European Council not hold a meeting about the recent presidential election in Poland? Among other things, Poles were prohibited from casting their votes from abroad.

Disproof

The claim is false.

Polish citizens abroad were allowed to vote in the 2020 presidential election, regardless of their country of residence. Guidelines and regulations for prospective voters abroad were published by the Polish Foreign Ministry. Although administrative issues prevented some to cast their ballots in time, the Ministry reported record turnout at foreign polling stations, with 311,124 votes cast in the first round and 415,951 in the second.

As for the Belarusian elections, candidates and demonstrators are questioning the honesty of the official election results, as several potential opposition candidates were barred from running.

The European Union has urged the Central Electoral Commission of Belarus to publish the results reflecting the choice of the Belarusian people.

This disinformation message appeared in the same TV broadcast as the claim that protests in Belarus are a colour revolution according to Maidan scenario;

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 207
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 10/08/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: EU, Belarus, Poland
  • Keywords: EU, European values, Elections, The West

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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The West is manipulating Ukrainian secret service to pit Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians against each other

[The detention of 33 Russian citizens in Belarus]  is a wake up call for Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, to stop and think about what happens when we are played off against each other. When secret services of Ukraine are exploited [by the West].

[…]

I hope that Belarus will draw right conclusions, that regardless of the fact that Ukrainians are brothers, but they are also puppets in the hands of CIA and the rest of Russophobes.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory.

The disinformation message appeared in relation to the detention of 33 Russian citizens by the Belarusian authorities, who are alleged to be members of Wagner group, a private Russian military company. Ukraine has requested the extradition of a number of detainees over suspicions that they have participated in hostilities in East Ukraine.

Poland is scared of Russia’s missiles, according to leading Polish expert

In the last decades, the capabilities of the Russian army expanded significantly and Russia is now able to strike Poland and many western countries, Andrzej Wilk from Warsaw’s Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) said in an interview. There is no reason to doubt the power of the missiles of the Russian Federation, therefore, Poland would be scared of the Russian “mallet”, the expert said. We must say that Russia’s Ministry highlighted many times that Moscow has no intention to attack anyone, but according to several Polish citizens, given that the Russian Federation has powerful weapons, it is better that Warsaw maintains a good relation with its neighbour.

Disproof

This is a deliberate distortion of expert Andrzej Wilk’s original interview with Polish radio station Polskie Radio, who never said that there are no reasons to doubt the power of Russian missiles and that Poland is scared of them. Pro-Kremlin media frequently resort to this manipulative technique of quoting sentences from serious publications and then introduce a distorted message as if it was part of the original article, in this case recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about Russia’s military might, its “peaceful goals” and the need for its neighbours to yield to its requests in order to maintain good relations.

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.

Foreign Policy magazine proposed two scenarios to overthrow Lukashenko

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.

Disproof

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.