Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy at the Kalinowski Conference: the history of the Belarusian media in recent years is a success story

The fourth edition of the Kalinowski Conference this time took place in Brussels. Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy, the director of Belsat TV, spoke at the meeting devoted to independent media and state propaganda in Belarus. The main topics were: the actions of Lukashenka’s regime in the context of the war in Ukraine, repressions in Belarus, political prisoners, and ways to limit the violence of the Belarusian authorities.

Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy. The Kalinowski Conference in Brussels, 21 June 2022.
Photo: Belsat TV

The head of Belsat TV emphasized that the Belarusian media successfully changed people’s awareness, but their employees paid a high price.

– The history of recent years for the Belarusian media is s success story – she said. – This may sound paradoxical. This year Alyaksandr Lukashenka quit sending his army to Ukraine. Why? The reason was the state of mind of Belarusian society. And the influence of the media on people’s awareness cannot be overestimated – she said.

Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy reminded us that since the so-called ‘freeloaders’ protested in 2017, the interest of Belarusians in independent media has increased. She cited data on the growing readership of independent media every month since the beginning of 2020. At that time, protests against the new tax for non-workers existed across the country, and independent media were the only ones to cover these protests. By these media, it turned out that the reburial of the January insurgents in 2019 in Vilnius turned out to be a predominantly Belarusian event. However, it was formally a Lithuanian-Polish event. It became clear then that the Belarusians’ consciousness was changing and that something was going to happen. As a result, the most significant social protests in the history of independent Belarus occurred after the rigged elections.

The Kalinowski Conference in Brussels. 21 June 2022.
Photo: Belsat TV

The director of Belsat TV said that the price of working for free media was high: dozens of journalists were arrested and imprisoned. Currently, thirty journalists are behind bars, including Belsat TV’s journalists: Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova, a philosopher and one of Belsat TV’s hosts Uladzimir Matskievich, and former TVP co-worker Iryna Slaunikava. Dozens of other journalists were forced to go abroad. However, in her opinion, the price was worth paying.

According to Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy, the independent Belarusian media must resist not so much Belarusian propaganda as Russian propaganda, which has more resources and looks much more impressive to the audience. In her opinion, its authors can cast doubt even on apparent facts.

The Kalinowski Conference is dedicated exclusively to Belarus, and it was held at the European Parliament for the first time since 2020. It allows finding practical solutions to current problems in Belarus as well as presenting a vision of possible cooperation between the European Union.

Ales Navaborski, jb /