2021.12.08 08:00

‘It’s like fighting windmills.’ Belarus’ anti-Lithuanian propaganda has not peaked yet, analysts say

Žygintas Abromaitis, LRT TV, LRT.lt2021.12.08 08:00

Belarusian propaganda attacks are constantly changing, but remain active, according to Lithuanian analysts. The Minsk regime is closely monitoring Western messages related to the migration crisis, adapting them to its own advantage.

Concerned reporters of the Belarusian national broadcaster present fake news stories every day.

“Murdered by representatives of a democratic EU country because he asked for asylum. Now, this horrible phrase is a reality. An ordinary refugee has been beaten to death by Lithuanian officials who consider themselves to be humane.”

This is one of the most popular propaganda stories in Belarus these days, Lithuanian analysts say.

“The latest narratives are about dying migrants who were beaten, killed, and then dragged to Belarus by Lithuanian officers,” said Auksė Ūsienė, an analyst at the Lithuanian Military’s Strategic Communications Department.

Belarusian national broadcaster often shows video footage of allegedly beaten migrants that “could have been filmed anywhere”, she added.

Belarusian propaganda also compares Lithuanians to Nazis for the way they treat migrants and says that the EU supports these actions.

Another false narrative proposes that Lithuania was the one that organised the migrant crisis, which the West exploits to raise tensions and build up military presence on the border with Belarus.

According to Ūsienė, another Belarusian propaganda message is that Lithuania and the West have organised the migrant crisis to prevent Belarus from coming to Russia's aid in case of war.

“This is one of the more recent narratives. It postulates that Lithuania is escalating the migrant crisis at the border to contain the Belarusian army in case a military conflict breaks out between the West and Russia,” she said.

These propaganda stories spread not only through state media but also on social networks. Last week, Facebook removed a dozen of Belarusian KGB-managed accounts and groups that fuelled tensions on the Poland-Belarus border.

According to Lithuanian analysts, containing propaganda on social media is almost impossible.

“Fighting against [propaganda] groups on social media is like fighting windmills. We have tried to do this, to deconstruct [fake stories]. Eventually, we decided that we would simply do our job and provide real information to the public,” said Deputy Interior Minister Kęstutis Lančinskas.

According to Lithuanian analysts, the Belarusian propaganda has not peaked yet, while the information war is getting more complex.

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