Uladzimir Matskevich: There is an urgent need to organize informational resistance against Russia

Aliaksei Yurych, EuroBelarus Information Service

If information war of the same strength as in Ukraine comes to Belarus, it will crumple and crush the country.

On November 24 talk show “Time will tell” went live on Russian state TV Channel One. The show discussed a “Ukrainian scenario” for Belarus. Historian Nina Stuzhynskaya took part in the talk show and she is shocked: “they deliberately escalate the Russian-Belarusan conflict.” Can it be that the Russian propaganda has started an anti-Belarusan campaign akin to anti-Ukrainian one?

Uladzimir Matskevich, philosopher and methodologist, answered the questions of EuroBelarus Information Service.

— Belarus is a country not that rich in events so we rarely attract the attention of foreign media. There has been a long-lasting campaign aimed at discrediting Belarus in a various ways unfolding in minor Russian media. There is a familiar, slightly ironic and snobbish criticism of the Belarusan regime. But there are also innovations: for example, Russian media has recently paid attention to the Belarusan nationalism. Not even nationalism but something gullible political experts, analysts, journalists call “mild belarusization”. However, “mild belarusization” agitated some of the Russian radicals, supporters of the “Russian World”, to no end.

Until recently anti-Belarusan rhetoric could be found in insignificant Russian resources, questionable Internet websites, in the marginal press. Now we can witness this wave reaching the central television. The Russians found a reason — the launch of the book by Aleh Trusau, which contains no threat either to Russia or to the “Russian World” whatsoever. It’s just an opinion of the Belarusan historian on medieval Europe. There’s no way the advocates of the “Russian World” and the Russian Empire can allow the Belarusan scientists, historians, public opinion to suddenly have their own views on the Belarusan history.

— Does this mean the information war has reached a new level, the one similar to that preceding the Russian-Ukrainian war?

— I would not say that the information war against Belarus has already begun and is going on. Rather, we are experiencing an echo of the Russian-Ukrainian war. At the same time, we have to understand that a sudden order by the Kremlin will provoke a beginning of a massive information war against Belarus, which will unleash rapidly and will take the same ugly forms as those we have seen in the information war against Ukraine. But when compared with the Ukrainians we are even more vulnerable and helpless; Russian TV channels are also broadcast in Ukraine, but there are national media and a very well-established media system. We have nothing like that: Belarusan TV is still dominated by Russian TV channels, the majority of population believes the Russian broadcast opinion. Therefore, if information war of the same strength as in Ukraine comes to Belarus, it will crumple and crush us.

— A more sinister meaning can be attached to the fact that up to 4162 military freight cars are to arrive from Russia to Belarus in 2017 — compared with 2015, the overall traffic increases in 33 times at once. Even in Transnistria Russia will send 131 cars only.

 — The leaked information about the intensive cargo exchange of the Russian Armed Forces with Belarus allows for very bad thoughts indeed. Any war, any aggressive foreign policy always begins with the preparing informational background. First, the country, at which aggression is directed, is getting discredited in public opinion and is shown as a potential enemy or a danger, and then political and military force take effect.

— And Belarus has nothing to oppose this possible aggression not only in terms of information, but also militarily. Russian political expert Uladzimir Salavei announced the results of some secret poll according to which 80% of Belarusan officers are in favor of a real unification of Belarus and Russia.

— Let us think for a moment: where did a Russian political expert get the information, which is closed even for Belarusan military? This is an obvious lie. One can never trust the information that appears in the media through leaks. It means that someone is trying to create certain expectations, influence public opinion, including the opinion of the military. On the one hand, it is done to frighten the opposition, patriotic, nationally oriented circles: give up right away, on the other hand — to energize the pro-Russian sentiments not only in military, but also in society.

 Assuming that a real survey on this subject was really made, it is likely to show much less willingness of Belarusan military to merge with Russia: I do not believe the Belarusan military has a burning desire to fight in the Donbas region and other “hot spots”. Although any army has “hotheads” ready to take part in actual combat. But it is improbable that they make up the majority of the Belarusan military.

I would not believe this information but we cannot treat it irresponsibly. The moods in the Belarusan army are truly very far from patriotic, Belarusan army is no defender against Russian aggression. Belarus can be protected by only familiar, well-established methods — guerilla war. And there is an urgent need to organize a real informational resistance until it is too late. The Belarusan regime has a lot of reasons to think if it is high time we eliminated the monopoly of Russian TV channels in the Belarusan media space.