Belarusian ideologists are outplayed by Kremlin propagandists; security forces step up the pressure on independent media and trade unions
The Kremlin propaganda machine promoting the Great Victory ideology has taken over the Belarusian propaganda efforts, however, the Belarusian leadership has undertaken steps to retain loyalty among those susceptible to Kremlin propaganda. Security forces have stepped up repressions, including the criminal persecution of independent trade union leaders, heavy fines for independent media journalists and politically motivated dismissals.
Despite the initial ban on holding the Immortal Regiment rally organised by pro-Kremlin activists on May 9th, Victory Day, the Belarusian authorities have caved in and authorised it at the last moment.
The Belarusian leadership is afraid to lose its reputation as the only advocate of the interests of pro-Russian part of Belarusian society. Security officials are attempting to retain their influence among social groups nostalgic about the Soviet Union and most susceptible to Kremlin propaganda. For instance, Defence Minister Ravkov during formal Victory Day celebrations praised the Stalin’s social model, and Interior Minister Shunevich wore NKVD uniform and the medal for the annexation of Crimea.
Law enforcement has enhanced criminal persecution of the REP independent trade union leaders to retain control over the workers’ movement amid the lack of improvements in people’s well-being. In addition, the authorities have attempted to restrict BelSAT TV Channel activity in Belarus and imposed heavy fines on its journalists. Neurologist Zuyeva has been dismissed from the hospital in Brest, according to her, for speaking at a rally “Brest Women Against Lead”. Reports about politically motivated dismissals could have a chilling effect on other social and professional groups, especially in the public sector, in terms of joining the protest movement.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to integrate Kremlin propaganda activities into Belarusian Victory Day celebrations in order to reduce the opportunity for the Kremlin propaganda’s influence on social groups which are nostalgic over the Soviet Past and support close ties with Russia.