The situation with anti-Belarusian misinformation and propaganda in online media over the past two years has changed dramatically for the worse, the research of the EAST analytical center director and member of the network team of the expert structure of iSANS, Andrei Yeliseyeu shows.
According to him, the number of Internet resources regularly publishing materials about Belarus involving misinformation, propaganda and hate speech, has increased by several times. Today there are about 40 fairly active sites of this kind. Ross-bel.ru, Teleskop, Sozh, Vitbich, Berestje-News, GrodnoDaily, Mogilew.by, Podneprovie-Info, Imhoclub.by, Dranik, Politring are among the most aggressive ones.
At the same time, the study says, over the past two years, there appeared a number of new active sites with disinformation and hate language entirely devoted to Belarus. Today there are about 15 of them, whole previously, the main sources of disinformation about Belarus were Russian sites with a broad information agenda, and not only those dealing with Belarus.
Andrei Yeliseyeu notes that a full-fledged network of regional websites with regular publications applying hate speech to different social, political, religious, professional groups of Belarus has launched their activities.
“Publications use aggressive chauvinistic rhetoric, sometimes openly questioning the existence of an independent Belarusian ethnic group and language, they also discredit and distort the history of Belarus,” the study says.
For the most part, the regional network of misinformation is based on the Russian organization CIS-EMO, which previously served as the umbrella organization of “international observers” at the 2014 referendum in Crimea. For a long time, it was headed by one of the leaders of the Russian neo-Nazi organization, Russian National Unity. Now CIS-EMO is headed by Stanislav Byshok, who, together with the owner of the Sozh.info domain Sergey Lushch, Teleskop-by.org editor Lev Krishtapovich and the Russian politician Sergey Baburin, heads the Civic Initiative “Union” founded in Belarus in 2018.
All of them, as well as the head of Ross-bel.ru, Andrei Gerashchenko, maintain at least an indirect connection with the Russian embassy in Belarus through the Coordination Council of the leaders of Belarusian public associations of Russian compatriots. A number of members of the organization also frequently publish disinformation about Belarus, notes Andrei Yeliseyeu.
In total, according to him, since the “Regnum case” that had to do with the criminal prosecution of three authors of anti-Belarusian publications, this phenomenon has developed significantly both quantitatively and qualitatively.