It was by accident that the public learned about "Russian staff" who arrived in Belarus to make crazy cash in return for propaganda: a local newsroom chief who got fired for supporting protests managed to find out about the replacement.
Unable to quietly deploy their military hardware and troops, Russia has applied another tool – their indispensable propagandists
As it turned out, a replacement was found in Moscow – at the infamous Russia Today. Besides, Lukashenko chose not to hide the fact that he had hired several teams of Kremlin "professionals" – so that Belarusian journalists, he said, could follow their example. Apparently, propaganda pundits have not only taken over the Belarus state TV and Radio but also deployed in Lukashenko's Administration.
Over the weekend, they were already spotted at a pro-government rally in Grodno, where Lukashenko was speaking. Moreover, it is probable that the Russians were on the other side of the camera filming the complacent "father of the nation" wielding an automatic rifle on board a helicopter.
Russia's favorite weapon is propaganda
Unable to quietly deploy their military hardware and troops, Russia has applied another tool – their indispensable propagandists. That's because the Kremlin knows the price – not only of its weapons, but also of the media that are able to "shoot" no worse than an AK.
Once fooled with the narratives about mad Maidan rioters and "Banderites", people may this time doubt what they hear that it's Belarusians who are branded this way
These journalists are working on the tyrant's image and at the same time ease tensions in the society that until now used to be inert and passive before suddenly waking up. People are not focused right now and they can easily be distracted, thus falling victim to the most outrageous fake news.
By the way, it's Russia Today that's since 2015 been working on Putin's image of a "sly FSB guy" and "smooth judoka".
However, the narrative of the Kremlin media has not changed since the Euromaidan in Ukraine. And the repetition of fake news, as well as the abuse of trust, is a very dangerous game: once fooled with the narratives about mad Maidan rioters and "Banderites", people may this time doubt what they hear when it's Belarusians who are now being branded this way.
Designing an appearance of some external threat, fabricated reports alleging that protests are financed from abroad, etc. are well-known manipulation tools employed by the Russians, although they are traditional versions of classical authoritarian rhetoric. This was already the case in Ukraine back in 2013-2014, and continues today. However, now it's the minds of Belarusians that have fallen victim to the Kremlin's narrative.
Propaganda has been out there for a long time.
Of course it has. The despot must be supported in the media space: he is put "in a warm bath", he is referred to as an indispensable leader ready to shake an ordinary worker's hand or scold farmers for poorly handled livestock. This is the way Lukashenko's image has been molded since 1994, when he became the only Father, having even replaced the Church.
Russian propagandists were brought to Belarus not just for the sake of it. It was not due to the lack of staff as Lukashenko claimed. The Russians were hired because they know how to show events from the "right angle"
At the same time, it's a bit weird to see Belarusian journalists, who had been catering to Lukashenko's needs as if being his press service, are now complaining about being replaced by Russians who "are even paid more."
Many TV hosts have already resigned – when the first blood was shed in Belarus streets. Some even shared insider information about the mechanism behind Lukashenko's ideology.
Russian propagandists were brought to Belarus not just for the sake of it. It was not due to the lack of staff as Lukashenko claimed. The Russians were hired because they know how to show events from the "right angle" and specialize in keeping the tyrants afloat in a stormy sea when the system's ship is already sinking. Another option is to shape a completely new image of the Belarusian "Father" holding an automatic rifle instead of a potato, with enemy troops from NATO behind his back. That's because citizens have grown weary of Lukashenko's long-term "farmer's suit".
Yana Stavska is an UNIAN news feed editor