State-run media musters to enhance impact on public opinion, law enforcement steps up pressure on agriculture
The authorities are attempting to improve the efficiency of the state-run media to strengthen control over public opinion. The president aims to increase the proportion of national content in the state-run media though cutting Russian media presence in Belarus. Security officials are applying pressure on agricultural managers before the sowing campaign to reduce budgetary costs and retain performance levels.
The Belarusian authorities are attempting to give a boost to the ideological and media activity. Belarusian ideologists are unable to withstand the impact of the Russian media on the population, hence, they are losing the established monopoly on influencing public opinion when Minsk’s and the Kremlin’s positions differ, for instance, about the annexation of Crimea. The state media aims to increase the share of national content due to reducing the retransmission of Russian programmes. Apparently, current media trends, e.g. the reduced impact of the state-run media in Belarus and the increased impact of independent online media on public opinion, have had some impact on the uncertainty in the matter of dates for holding a constitutional referendum.
It is noteworthy that the independent media journalists have not been invited to the president’s press conference, which indicates that independent media activity is likely to face further restrictions in the future. However, the authorities yet have no plans to adopt Russia’s experience in terms of designating foreign media working in Belarus as foreign agents, primarily due to the fear of Russia’s response, provided that Russian media would fall under such designation. That said, the Belarusian leadership is concerned about the impact of the Russian media on the Belarusian audience.
The authorities continued to mobilise the state apparatus and top management of resource-intensive economic sectors. The Investigative Committee is retaining the anti-corruption pressure on farmers and has completed the investigation into some criminal cases. The Belarusian leadership aims to reduce the appetite of the agro-industrial sector for budgetary subsidies. Simultaneously, the authorities seek to retain agro-production levels at a lower cost, which is why security forces are attempting to mobilise agricultural managers before the sowing campaign.
Belarusian ideologists are unlikely to be able to replace all Russian entertainment content on the Belarusian TV. However, the state-run media is likely to focus on increasing domestic news programmes and the coverage of social and political issues, including on the Internet.