Lukashenko attempts to overcome international isolation via media
On January 15, President Lukashenko held a press conference for Belarusian and international mass media. The press conference lasted for almost 5 hours, was attended by over 350 journalists representing 285 media.
The main reason for the frequent meetings of Alexander Lukashenko with journalists in the last six months is the Belarusian President’s international isolation. Ad hoc interviews and press conferences partially fill in the vacuum in the absence of real international political activity.
The large number of international journalists taking part in the January press conference, emphasize the trend, which started in early 2011: during his 4th term, President Lukashenko is increasingly focusing on the Eurasian integration, and makes most of his foreign visits to Moscow. As a result, the authorities are trying to compensate for the “Kremlin misbalance” using information policy tools.
President Lukashenko’s public activity has increased since autumn 2012, for example, in October, he gave an interview to MIR TV and Radio Channel (CIS), the Independent and BBC (UK), he also called a traditional press conference for journalists from Russian regional media. In November and December he was interviewed by Reuters (UK) and met with members of the CIS media Editors Club. All these events took place in Minsk.
Content-wise the press conference on January 15 was of a routine and populist nature as usual. The President indicated there will be no major changes in the foreign policy of Belarus. In particular, he made it clear he was not going to release political prisoners without them asking for pardon. Thus, it is anticipated that in the near future the political conflict between Belarus and the EU and the U.S. will remain frozen.
During searches of social and "green" activists and anarchists, law enforcement has seized computers, mobile phones and publications. The authorities have also exerted additional pressure on supporters of unauthorized street protests and independent lawyers, who represented defendants in the White Legion case. The security services have stepped up the persecution of opponents before the street protests announced by the opposition. Apparently, the Belarusian authorities aspire that participants in street protests would reduce in number and that the low interest of the population to socio-political agenda before the local election campaign would retain.