The International Center of Russian Propaganda Countering has investigated the escalation of emotions in the neighbouring republic in connection with the presidential election amid a conflict between sworn “friends” of Lukashenko and Putin. A “Ukrainian trace” was also found here.
The Lukashenko regime de-legitimisation
The essence of the Russian-Belarusian conflict lies in limiting Russia’s economic capabilities and further dating the Belarusian economy. The Kremlin’s key demand is the large-scale privatisation and “corporatisation” of the corporation “Belarus,” its transformation from a “private” to “public limited company.”
Nevertheless, Lukashenko knows well that as soon as he agrees to this, he will become a minority participant without the right to vote within one term.
However much the Russians wanted to actively interfere in the Belarusian election process and openly support an alternative candidate, as was the case in Ukraine, they would not be able to.
“Belarusian balcony” is too valuable of an asset for Russians in terms of security. And for Lukashenko, an open conflict with an ally and a core image asset (as part of the campaign) will not help. After all, he has always been positioned as “Russia’s best friend” and “the most reliable partner,” especially considering that Western countries have refused to support Lukashenko and after the first repressive actions imposed sanctions on the supply of weapons and dual-use goods to the Belarus Republic. Ukraine also joined them.
Today, we can say with more than 50% confidence that the OSCE and Western democracies will not consider the elections in Belarus democratic ones (9 August – ed.). And most likely Russia also will not accept them.
The Lukashenko regime de-legitimisation at the international level opens the possibility for the Kremlin to avoid its financial obligations to Belarus, which will reduce all existing assets of Belarus day by day.
If the Russians also join the European sanctions against Belarus, they will receive a bonus in the form of common interests’ creation with the European community.
According to experts, the budget revenues of Belarus dropped by 40% in May. The post-quarantine crisis and sanctions pressure make the improvement of this situation almost impossible. Therefore, the Kremlin will be polite and correct with Lukashenko, but will not provide funding. And if it joins the European sanctions, Belarus can be on the verge of collapse.
An example of the scheme is the story with the Belarusian helicopter program. When the Russians realised that Lukashenko was going to start a business together with the Ukrainian “Motor Sich” at the expense of income from Russian helicopters renovation, the deals with Belarusian companies were stopped. As a result, “Motor Sich” lost its multimillion-dollar investment in the production base, the “Orsha” plant virtually stopped, and Belarus demonstrated unreliability as a business partner.
Thus, today the Kremlin is well aware that no matter how the election ends, Lukashenko will come to bargain for it. But to motivate him, they need internal social tension and an actualised external threat.
Ukraine as the main “extremism hotbed”
For the Kremlin, the promotion of the Ukrainian issue in Belarus allows it to not only hide its interests behind the “Ukr-Fascists” activities but also to reduce to nothing all achievements in the West due to provoked repressions against the Belarusian opposition and possible protesters.
Such a player advent is the only opportunity for Lukashenko to keep “a good face with a bad game.” Due to Ukraine’s reputational losses, Lukashenko can not only maintain the visibility of relations with Russia but also play the card of common threats and active joint participation of Belarus and Russia in the fight against them.
Ukraine, as the Kremlin’s main hotbed of extremism in the region and Minsk’s “long-term threat generator for Belarus,” is ideal for a backstage role in this Belarusian-Russian election tragicomedy.
According to Belarusian colleagues, at the first stage, sometime in March 2020, Belarusian activists began to be provoked into mass protests. In telegram chats, there were calls on how to express their “peaceful protest.” All invented forms, however, ended with the activists’ detention, which only discouraged the opposition and made it radicalised. As a result, as in previous elections, Lukashenko could not restrain himself, imprisoned all his main opponents and received a protest, psychologically excited and uncontrolled mass of people. If we count all the signatures collected by the opposition, we will see the number of about a million people, 1% of which or about 10,000 people are the radicals, whose “hope” is to be bored in the “the regime walls.”
At the second stage, the pumping of knowledge began – how to resist the security forces and give these people successful examples. Well, about whom they heard the most and know better – about the Maidan and its heroes. The statistics of “Ukraine” and “Maidan” mentioned in one of the chats (https://t.me/narod97) shows that out of 1,600 messages, 400 were dedicated to the experience of the Ukrainian protests.
At the next stage, “before the election,” the narratives changed. The radicalisation of protest and the rescue of “hope” from prison and the willingness to defend one’s choice took place. Here are some posts from this chat:
“Dear compatriots! I will single out the main goal, and everyone will choose the path to it himself. By August 9, our task is to inform the population of our country as much as possible about what is happening, to show everyone afraid to leave the home that now the government in Belarus has changed. Now, the people rule here, not the crazy old man. The way how to do this is to be decided by everyone. We all understand that Lukashenko is officially president until August 9. What happens after August 9 is not known yet, but if the usurper does not agree to leave nicely, we will use force. If this occurs, I will write a lot of useful information for more radical measures, which I received from my father (a participant of all actions in 80-90-s), the partisan grandfather and my father’s friends from the former UNA-UNSO.
Anarchist Channel “Revolutionary Action”
The image of people in masks and black clothes became recognizable in Belarus after protests against Decree №3 in 2017. Then, people in black with the banner “An official is the main parasite” led the march in Brest.
The anarchists also launched the “Banda Luky” database with detailed information on security officers, judges, propagandists and other bandits involved in political repression.
Anarchists oppose dictatorships and party bodies and support direct democracy and grassroots self-organisation. The oldest organisation of anarchists in Belarus, which also operates in Ukraine, has been fighting already for 15 years.
The issue of including in this campaign the EU faction in the Ukrainian parliament and “Democratizers of Belarus” group creation requires separate consideration. But I can say for sure that the consequences of this for European solidarity will still be there. Meanwhile, this decision is being actively promoted in the Russian telegram, and groups of Belarusian “supplicants for money” for the “revolution” are already being formed. And it will be even more interesting when these “heroes of the revolution” and the main “anti-Putinists” in Ukraine will have to protect Russian agents from the “atrocities” of the Belarusian regime.
But the most interesting thing is that literally a few days after the deputy group coming to Belarus, one told about buses with the National Corps and the “Pravyi Sector” fighters, who were going to Minsk to organise riots. And they are sent by representatives of the “Poroshenko” team to the SBU. In Telegram chats, this information has already been worked out with the psychological component.
The Russians have formed a pool of Ukrainian actors who are the victims of their information operations. And the whole parliamentary group will now be positioned as “extremists” for all Western partners. After all, the Belarusian President, even an outcast, is a “reliable source of information” for any media that will not be checked. Petro Poroshenko is well aware that Lukashenko will not think for a long time, but will simply start accusing Ukraine and his faction deputies of extremism, arms trafficking, internal affairs interference and so on.
But the worst thing is that a window of opportunity to shake up the internal situation in Ukraine for Russians has been opened. After all, if one of the “patriots” gets imprisoned in Belarus tomorrow, the tents with the calls on tougher sanctions against Lukashenko and Belarusian business will be set up under Volodymyr Zelensky’s office. And as soon as the Presidential office agrees to participate in this game, Kyiv will become a figure in Putin’s game against Belarus.
For the demonstration of the Ukrainian “useful idiots” usage by Russian special services, one can give an example of future protesters depersonalisation and Belarusian security forces psychological pumping with the help of NLP technology on an “analytical” resources of Belarus.
“Among the many conspiracy theories, there is one particularly frightening. Its defenders state, that the world’s elites, for rejuvenation and longevity, use a miracle drug – adrenochrome, which is a product of oxidation of adrenaline by free radicals under oxidative stress. It is allegedly obtained from the pineal gland of babies. So, to take the substance out of the body, children are subjected to cruel torture and violence so that they feel a deadly feeling of fear. At this point that the level of adrenaline reaches its peak, and babies are being killed at once while adrenochrome is sucked out for further use. Then, baby blood with a high concentration of adrenaline is sold to those who want it for 1,5 billion dollars per litre. So, that later the vampires longing for endless youth can drink it.”
“Hipsters, the creative class, managers and army of large IT structures are nuclear, unclouded fighters of any Maidan. They do not need a quality show at all. That is for those who doubt, for accountants, entrepreneurs and the unemployed who are lost, a play is needed, but these fighters need only an opportunity. They follow the call of the heart, and supposedly rational slogans are just a cover, which is designed not to let you see how disgusting this call is. When bombs start falling and shells explode, cocktails and tires ignite, hands fly up in Nazi salutes over rows of torches and bonfires from books, one can’t hide it, but then there is no need. Because just none will be able to obstacle this.”
So, we see that the Ukrainian case becomes a key element in the Kremlin’s Belarusian experiment in “colour” revolution technologies implementation.
And the lack of a holistic picture of what is going on among the parliamentarians, as well as the coordination of their actions with the security services, causes manipulations that will consequence at the country and the whole region’s level, but not just for a separate deputies group.
The secret services of both Ukraine and Belarus have something to oppose the activities of Russians in the region. But I would like to appeal to Ukrainians to give up traveling to Belarus until the election cycle is over so as to not to become a victim of someone’s provocations or manipulations.
I would also like to address the National Corps and the “Pravyi Sector” leaders individually: we need to make official statements about the provocative information throw-in and call on our activists to refrain from participating in any events in Belarus. We must clearly understand that only Russian “bookmarks” and “canned food” will go there.
Dmytro Gromakov, Project Manager, Center of Social Engineering “Recognition and Analysis of Non-Systemic Actions” (RAND)