Disinfo: Foreign Policy magazine proposed two scenarios to overthrow Lukashenko

Summary

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.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 208
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/08/2020
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: EU, Belarus, US
  • Keywords: EU, Alexander Lukashenko, Colour revolutions

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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Arrest of Russian ‘mercenaries’ in Belarus was a Ukrainian provocation

The 33 Russian citizens arrested in Belarus in late July have been labelled members of the Russian private military company Wagner and allegedly hired to destabilise the country. However, a Russian newspaper investigation traces the affair to Ukraine and says it could be a provocation by its intelligence services.

The tickets for the group were booked by a Ukraine-based travel agency, according to information provided by Turkish Airlines. The Ukrainian firm had only opened in January 2020. Yet another Ukrainian firm, also registered in January, was used to buy tickets for the second group of contractors. 

The journalist behind the investigation believes that the entire set-up was orchestrated by Ukraine’s successor to the KGB, the SBU, which then allegedly tipped off its Belarusian counterpart about the ‘Russian mercenaries’, portraying them as a threat to Belarus and aiming to drive a wedge between Moscow and Minsk.

Disproof

The story advances recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about Ukraine and its security services

Despite its considerable length, the “investigation” originally published by the pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda bases its claim of Ukrainian involvement in the affair entirely on the manner in which the plane tickets were acquired. 

Beirut explosion was staged by Mossad

The tragic explosion which rocked Beirut last week was not an accident, but an expertly planned terrorist attack by Israeli intelligence aimed at displacing Hezbollah from Lebanese territory.

While ammonium nitrate may have been the primary explosive, various photographs clearly show that the blast was triggered by a thermonuclear explosion. The signatures of the initial detonation, as well as the resulting white mushroom cloud and burst of red fire, all indicate that a complex weapons system was utilized.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory. 

Contrary to the author’s claim, a mushroom cloud can result from any large enough explosion, not necessarily a nuclear one. In fact, the Beirut blast lacked precisely the two elements which accompany a nuclear detonation, namely a white flash and a searing thermal pulse. Additionally, a non-proliferation expert dismissed the claim citing the small size of the explosion and an absence of radiation in the area. 

The EU criticised the elections and repression in Minsk, but in fact, the EU and its members have the same lack of democracy and repression

The EU criticised the elections and repression in Minsk, but in fact, the EU and its members have the same lack of democracy and repression.

In 2005, a Referendum in France rejected the constitutional treaty but two years later the treaty of Lisbon was ratified. France did not respect the will of its citizens. Germany didn’t either since no referendum was even organised. This is a violation of democratic principle and all media are silent about it. Ursula von der Leyen, condemned the repression in Belarus and asked for accuracy in the result of the vote.

But there is a landslide victory for Alexander Lukashenko whereas no such legitimacy happened for the regime of Merkel or the EU.

Furthermore, in France, the repression was violent against the yellow vests. More recently, in Germany, for the day of Freedom where half a million people demonstrated for their freedom on August 1st. The press said only 20,000 people attended the event and demonstrators were arrested by the police.

European, French or German elections are in no circumstances any better than elections in Belarus. Even though, Belarus is not a perfect democracy, the European Union is no better.

Disproof

Recurrent disinformation message using relativism to undermine European values and at the same time legitimatize low standards of democracy, in this case in Belarus. Following these elections which took place on Sunday 9th August, Ursula von der Leyen declared that:

Harassment & violent repression of peaceful protesters has no place in Europe. Fundamental rights in Belarus must be respected. I call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure that the votes in yesterday’s election are counted & published accurately.

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

Candidates and demonstrators are questioning the honesty of the official election results, as several potential opposition candidates were barred from running. International observers were concerned about the fairness of the electoral process.