How does the criminal regime of Belarus use Ukraine in propaganda to maintain its power?


After the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Belarus automatically acquired the status of an enemy and an ally of the occupier among Ukrainians. Although this country did not conduct active hostilities, the media belonging to the dictatorial regime that seized power in the country constantly spread pro-Russian narratives.

Franak Viačorka, Advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Source:

We contacted Svitlana Tsikhanouskaya’s advisor Franak Viacorka and asked what the situation with propaganda in Belarus is and what image of Ukraine Lukashenko’s media have created for their readers. We also learned what benefit the dictatorial regime has, setting the peoples of Belarus and Ukraine against each other through the mass media.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarusian political activist, President of the Coordination Council of Belarus

Svitlana Tsikhanouskaya is a Belarusian political activist. She stood for election in the 2020 Belarusian presidential election as the main opposition candidate after her husband, Sergei Tsikhanousky, the previous candidate, was arrested in Hrodna by Belarusian authorities. She had received between 60 and 70% of the vote people.

What is the situation with mass media in Belarus?

It should be noted right away that Belarus has been ruled by an authoritarian government since 1994, which has left its mark on all spheres of civilian life. The beginning of the dictatorship is associated with the coming to power of Alexander Lukashenko, who is still, illegally, the president of Belarus. His criminal regime was nicknamed the Lukashenko’s regime.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus since 1994

Of course, a dictatorship directly affects the quality of state media by establishing censorship. Although it is prohibited by the constitution in Belarus, there are still a number of laws that are dangerous for journalists. These include a law (Article 369 and other) that makes insulting the president punishable by up to five years in prison, and another that makes criticizing Belarus abroad punishable by up to two years in prison.

“Freedom of the press in Belarus remains extremely restricted. State-owned media are subordinated to the president, and harassment and censorship of independent media are routine. The government subjects both independent and foreign media to systematic political intimidation, especially for reporting on the deteriorating economy and human rights abuses. Journalists are harassed and detained for reporting on unauthorized demonstrations or working with unregistered media outlets. Journalists have been killed in suspicious circumstances. Most local independent outlets regularly practice self-censorship”, said on Wikipedia.

Our source from Belarus, who wished to remain completely anonymous, spoke in a little more detail about the situation.

«The main independent media until 2020 was the «» portal. Today it has been destroyed by security forces and blocked. The main director and the director received 12 years in prison each. Many journalists have served time or continue to serve time. Today, part of the editorial team is working on the «Zerkalo» project (recognized as extremist). Many journalists were convicted and continue to be in prison».

Marina Zolotova and Lyudmila Chekina (editor and director were recognized by the court as a threat to the national security of Belarus

You can find out about journalists who are still illegally detained here.

Examples of the popular media:

  • «Nasha Niva«, «Belsat» and a number of others are also independent.
  • «BELTA«, «Belarus 1«, «» and other state media are propaganda.
  • The main state propagandists are Azarenok, Tur, Mukovozchik.

The main state propagandists are Azarenok, Tur, Mukovozchik

The informant added that only entertainment and specialized non-state media such as «» and «» remained in the country.

“Telegram news channels, well-known opposition channels recognized as extremist or terrorist, are popular. Part of the population watches television. It reflects only the officially authorized information and obeys the state newspapers too”. 

He explained that Belarusians can get access to alternative sources of information through a VPN, but subscribing to most independent news resources is fraught with criminal prosecution. Negative comments in social networks too.

Franak Vyachorka called the current situation in Belarus a real information war.

“It can be said that those in Belarus have access to various media. Half of people are mainly influenced by state media and the rest by independent media. It is a good thing that trust in state media is quite low, while trust in independent media is quite high. This means that even when they look – it does not mean that they believe in all this”. 

He added that he also observes a correlation. Those who watch Lukashenko’s media, as a rule, either empathize and sympathize with Russia, or take a neutral position. Those who watch independent mass media, search on the Internet they support Ukraine and do so actively.

An anonymous commentator from Belarus added that people from the periphery and elderly are more often exposed to propaganda.

“In my opinion, part of the population is exposed to TV propaganda, usually it is the older generation and more often living on the periphery. But I think that propaganda in Belarus is much weaker than in Russia. Therefore, they often look at her”.

«We have dozens of «crucified boys» per week»: what kind of fakes does Belarusian propaganda spread?

You can clearly follow the differences between Belarusian propaganda and independent media. Of course, firstly, it is due to the observance of journalism standards and the objectivity of the materials. However, to put it simply some tell the truth, and others lie. We will consider this as an example of how they portray Belarusian volunteers fighting for Ukraine against Russia.

Propagandists usually speak of Belarusians who are currently fighting for our country as traitors and sold-out mercenaries. Here is an example from the «Belta» resource:

“One more fact. A few days ago, literally. You know, there was already a battalion there, now a regiment «named after» Kalinowski in Ukraine from our fugitives and others. Well, there were 67 of them, or how many people remained. But the battalion does not sound – the regiment, the time has come. They came under fire from Russian artillery. They looked: no, we didn’t want this, we are preparing to return and overthrow the regime here. They came under fire, and the battle began. And «run away». Together with Ukrainians. There are several dozen of us fugitives and Ukrainians. Twenty men from our Kalinowski regiment remained there.

Kastuś Kalinoŭski Regiment, Belarusian volunteers are fighting on the side of Ukraine

I am not happy about this, although these are not just opponents – they are enemies of the Belarusian state. But they are Belarusians, they left here to defend Ukraine, and, most importantly, they are preparing to return and fight here. But we know who sent them there. Why is it that today, appearing on the screens, Tyhushki, Lohushki and others do not say that they threw people into hell, promised to pay them well, and these twenty people died? Who will answer them to their parents? Rhetorical question. I think our bloggers and journalists will deal with it. And let our special services give this information to our society. Well, they fought…”

We do not know what «run away» Lukashenko talks about in his speech published by «Belta». However, here is an obvious confirmation of our words about slandering the Belarusian military, who allegedly sold out.

Belarusian volunteers use the flag of the times of independent Belarus in 1918-1919, 1991-1995

In contrast to the previous sample, the independent publication «Nasha Niva» published a separate interview with a soldier of the «Kalinowski» regiment, who had already been wounded three times at the front. Journalists presented information objectively and did not spread any fakes. They also submitted his comment about the need to form an independent army in the homeland:

“The idea of ​​an independent Belarusian army, which Belarus is waiting for, still persists. We need to have the same formation as the «Azov» battalion in Ukraine. They are doing a great job. There are people with great combat experience and great patriots, they all speak their native Ukrainian language. We need such parts very much”.

Franak Viacorka commented on the difference in coverage of this topic in the media, as follows:

“Independent media talk about Belarusians fighting for Ukraine since 2014. The mass participation of Belarusians is impressive. For democratically minded Belarusians, they are heroes and the Belarusian media also consider them heroes. They are interviewed, they are invited, they get millions of views on YouTube. State media turn them into traitors, mercenaries who sold themselves for Western money to Zelenskyy’s fascists. Attitudes are trying to form such that they are doing it for money, and not because they are protecting someone. In general, society treats them well”.

Another popular scenario in propaganda materials is accusing Ukraine of a war with Russia. As if Russian aggression was caused by Ukrainians who are Nazis and are under the influence of «the regime that seized power in Ukraine.» Here is an example of the «Kyiv regime»:

“According to reliable sources in different countries – including Ukraine – according to available information, the Kyiv regime is preparing a provocation on the territory of its country, connected with the detonation of a so-called «dirty bomb» or a low-power nuclear weapon. The purpose of the provocation is to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction in the Ukrainian theater of war and thus launch a powerful anti-Russian campaign in the world aimed at undermining confidence in Moscow”.

This story is not new. Franak Viacorka, comments:

“Their idea is that Ukraine itself is to blame, that the Americans/Europeans especially inspired this war in order to provoke a crisis in the region. That it is in their interests in the first place. And that this is a struggle for resources, for American/Western dominance in the region. That this is a struggle against our values, which should be based on Orthodoxy, the «Russian world» and so on. They propagandize that Belarus is a peacemaker in this situation, it is helping Russia, because Russia is fighting for truth and values, it is our sacred duty to help it. The whole narrative is completely pro-Russian. Even when Lukashenko speaks from pseudo-neutral positions, all propaganda works in support of Russia”. 

In the previous example of propaganda, a narrative related to provocations by Ukraine was sounded. This is also a common scenario promoted by Belarusian propaganda. Here is an example of Lukashenko’s speech broadcast by the media from July 2, 2022.

“We are being provoked. I have to report to you: three days ago, maybe a little more, from the territory of Ukraine they tried to attack military facilities on the territory of Belarus. But, thank God, the «Pantsir’ anti-aircraft systems managed to intercept all the missiles that were fired by the armed forces of Ukraine. What is this? Not a single soldier, I assure you under oath, not a single soldier of Belarus is fighting on the territory of Ukraine. I have always been honest”.

There is another side to the so-called «provocations» of Ukraine. Recently, information has been spreading about the fact that Belarus is preparing a resolution on the common border in order to film everything for the propaganda media and allegedly prove the threat from Ukraine.

Franak Viacorka explained it:

“It seems to me that it lasts the whole year. These conversations about provocations on the border, that Ukrainians are attacking us – this did not change. What the Russians will shoot may be larger, although I doubt it. They are now also intimidated, they do not want the situation to escalate – it is much more profitable for them to create such psychological pressure than the provocations themselves. When there are provocations, they will be rather informational. It is necessary to understand that they are inventing that in 2014 there was a «crucified boy» – we now have 10 such «crucified boys» a week. They are made up, and when you read Lukashenko’s channels, there is so much trash – it simply does not get into the Ukrainian and international media, because it has become the norm”. 

By the way, a whole investigation of the story of the «crucified boy» was conducted, and no evidence was found regarding this situation. On the contrary, many inaccuracies were found that indicate the fakeness of the story.

How does the criminal regime use the image of Ukraine for its own purposes?

Constant conversations about provocations by Ukrainians, foreign agents and NATO troops who want to control lands in the region do not arise for nothing. This instills fear in people and makes them fear an external enemy, although the real enemy of Belarusians sits at the head of the state and has been putting its roots in the presidential chair for decades.

We asked Franak Viacorka how Belarusian propaganda uses the image of Ukraine for its own purposes. He explained everything to us in detail.

“Firstly, to create fear of a possible escalation of the war on Belarusian territory, so that people are satisfied with what is now. For example, now they don’t have a war, and it’s «thanks to Lukashenko», and if it weren’t for Lukashenko, there would be a war – this is part of the propaganda narrative. On the other hand, it is to intimidate people that something will start, when people are intimidated, they usually do not mobilize – they are afraid to protest. Repressions are also aimed at this, because they go together. Provocations are possible, that’s why we carry out repressions – this is an excuse for the regime to «tighten the nuts» and carry out terror. Every day dozens of people are imprisoned, beaten, tortured – this has never happened before. In 2020, there was no such scale of terror that is happening now”. 

In addition to imposing Lukashenko’s «usefulness» on Belarus, propaganda is also engaged in justifying the presence of Russian troops on its territory. Here is a continuation of Viacorka’s explanation:

“It can also serve as a justification for the presence of Russian troops. For example, the Ukrainians and the Americans are planning provocations on our territory, so the presence of 10,000 troops is necessary to stop these provocations just in case. This is how any dictatorship works, it is necessary to create the image of an external enemy, that we are all surrounded, that everyone wants to make us slaves and occupy us. Pumping is part of propaganda narratives”.

«The last dictator of Europe» — such a «title» was worn by Alexander Lukashenko for a long time, but now he is in the shadow of his «great friend» from Moscow

Lukashenko is one of the people most interested in the continuation of the war between Ukraine and Russia. The strength of his dictatorship directly depends on the duration of these bloody events. Further, from the words of adviser Tsikhanouskaya:

“War is profitable for him. He is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this war in that he has hidden his power thanks to Putin. Under the noise of the war, he was able to increase the repressions and the attention switched to the war, so no one cares about him. He was so close to the fall, the destruction of his regime 1–2 years ago – he almost lost everything. And now, against the background of Putin, it does not look like such an important problem. He is interested in this war dragging on and the status quo remaining. Any change in the status quo, for example Belarus going to war, will lead to destabilization. The current situation, when Russia controls the territories, Putin fits in with Lukashenko, finances him – this is quite satisfying for him now. Therefore, he would not want any changes”. 

The border between Belarus and Ukraine will no longer be the same as it was before the start of the war. Source:

The consequences of Belarusian propaganda are already being felt in both Belarusian and Ukrainian societies. Constant talk about the threat of an attack from one of the countries makes people feel enmity towards each other. Franak Viacorka explained this in more detail:

“All this has consequences already now, because it is incitement, it is aimed at quarreling and dividing peoples, so that Belarusians do not feel any solidarity. It is difficult to convince Belarus that Ukraine is an enemy, there have never been any conflicts, historically we have had difficult times with everyone, but not with Ukraine. The goal now is to spoil the relationship for years. When throw-ins happen, for example, at the beginning of the war, Belarusian soldiers are already standing near Kyiv, together with the Russians – this did not happen. We know that this was specially thrown in by the propagandists to turn us against each other. Therefore, the Ukrainian media must also carefully choose information that comes from the regime and see what information from it can be a provocation”. 

He also added:

“They constantly mention that every week the Belarusians will attack, drop bombs, go on the offensive – the same exercises at the border. It is clear that for a Ukrainian, this is a psychological stress that affects relationships for many years. We will need to seek understanding after the changes. Belarus is not Russia, and it is very important for us to explain this with actions and deeds. We still need to be together, then, after the victory of Ukraine – rebuild relations”. 

Indeed, constant media coverage of Belarus’ preparations to enter the war immediately creates tension between the two nations. Although there are already many articles on this topic, we asked our expert whether it is possible for Belarus to enter the war.

“At the beginning of the war, everything was possible and there were attempts to draw Belarusians into the war. Now, it will be difficult for them to do this, because there is a consensus in society. We faced the risk of losing our sovereignty entirely. Currently, Russian troops are stationed on the territory, in various districts, and the state actually pursues Russian, not Belarusian, policy. Not all Belarusians feel it, not all understand it. This war led to the death of Belarusian independence. In addition to the Russian-Ukrainian war, we also have a war between the state and the people. Therefore, it is now difficult to understand and measure public opinion, because the community is in a state of paralysis and intimidation”. 

He added that even the Lukashians are against participation in the war. 86% in one survey, 95% in another, that Belarus should not enter this war. And even Lukashenko’s entourage, they understand this this is the reason why Putin and Lukashenko failed to convince the military to join the war earlier.

Tatiana Stelmakh

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