‘Interesting and positive information about Belarus’
An issue of improving Belarus’ image is to be duscussed on December, 4-5 at forum ‘Image of the Republic of Belarus: Benefits and Paths to Reach Goals’. The event is being organised by a number of state bodies alomg with the Marketing Specialists’ Guild, the Belarusian State Academy of Music, etc.
As early as last month the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered Belarusian companies to build Belarus’ image together: in the course of presenting web site Belarus. Facts the Ministry’s spokesman invited ‘big companies, exporters and other perspective donors’ to finance different information projects.
‘Europe’s last dictatorship’
This negative brand is closely associated to Belarus across Western Europe: that is the way that foreign quality newspapers name our country. It is apparent to the naked eye that the authorities decided to make another attempt to alter the country’s image in the run-up of the EaP summit in Vilnius and the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship in Minsk. Moreover, the investment climate in Belarus is far from congenial.
In 2008 British spin doctor Timothy Bell tried to tackle the situation: he was to repair the country’s reputation in the eyes of Europe. But in 2009 the Belarusian authorities did not prolong the contract with Mr Bell.
At the end of 2012 Mikalai Khalezin, head of Belarus Free Theatre, posted Bell’s 32-page report on boosting Belarus’ international standing on his Facebook. A number of measures taken were successful, i.e. unblocking assets of Lukashenka’s minions blacklisted by the EU, selling Lukashenka’s economy success, etc, the document stated.
The Belarusian President was also recommended to grant an interview to a popular international mass medium and release imprisoned opposition politicians.
According to Mr Bell, his plan cost €10 mln.
Ploshcha, prisoners and President’s bad language
All the talks stopped after crackdown on the peaceful demonstration on the day of the 2010 presidintial elections: hundreds of detainees, a brutally beaten presidential candidate, the KGB prison did engage the public eye.
In 2011 additional anti-brands (devaluation risks, creeping inflation, outflow of investable funds) came out of the blue. But it is the head of state who did his best to ruin the country’s reputation: Lukashenka’s rude remarks on former German FM Guido Westerwelle’s homosexuality, abusive words to the address of Jose Manuel Barroso are amply sufficient to prove that the President has been biting the hand that feeds him.