Political headquarters devise a spring programme while social networks dominate the information space
The headquarters of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Coordination Council and NAU (the AntiCrisisAdministration) are regaining their leading position in shaping the national agenda with the announcement of a spring mobilisation plan. Despite having fewer financial resources, independent media prevail over state media in the information space and shape the domestic agenda.
Independent media and political exiles have disseminated negative (NEXTA), positive (Tsikhanouskaya) and protest (Latushka) perspectives, engaging with all groups of supporters of change and leading to growth in both audiences and effects.
Firstly, the film “Lukashenka: Golden Bed [«Золотое Дно»]” gained a record number (6 million) of views on Belarusian Youtube in just a few days and forced Lukashenka into making awkward public excuses.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s speech inviting voting via the online platform “Golos”[“Voice”] regarding negotiations with the authorities resonated widely in society. The first day of balloting collected more than 500 thousand votes, exceeding last August’s participation rates. The authorities reacted by restricting access to the “Golos” website, and several Internet providers suffered disruption.
The Tsikhanouskaya initiative attracted international support, including from U.S. and E.U. missions to the OSCE.
The NAU, led by Pavel Latushka, is trying to mobilise the demonstrators on Freedom Day and encourage supporters of change to retake the central streets of cities.
Tsikhanouskaya’s initiative is supported by most politicians, both those remaining in Belarus (Andrei Dzmitryeu, Anatol Lyabedzka, Yaraslau Ramanchuk, etc.) and in exile (Pavel Latushka, the headquarters of Viktar Babaryka and Valery Tsepkala). However, the representatives of the previous generations of political exiles, including Andrei Sannikau and Volha Karach as well as ex-candidate to president Siarhei Cherechen, opposed the move. Some proponents of change have become disillusioned with the strategies of the new leaders and a perceived lack of progress.
Independent online and traditional media are actively developing projects on Youtube, attracting hundreds of thousands of subscribers and a multi-million-dollar audience. Leading examples include TUT.BY (1.26 million), NEXTA (642 thousand), Belsat (460 thousand), “Country for Life” (335 thousand), and “Radio “Svaboda” (224 thousand).
The place of the bloggers repressed during the presidential election has been taken by popular new projects, aimed at different segments of society, but with audiences in the thousands: “Malanka” (61.8k), “Chaly LIVE” (55.3k), “Raspberry Life” (51.1k). These projects’ themes and popularity indicate the persistence of a high level of political engagement, protest inclination, and interest in alternative proposals.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, therefore, retains her status as the leader of democratic Belarus, while Pavel Latushka confirms his leading position among supporters of direct street protests.