"They build up paranoia and fear, that tomorrow you'll be shown on TV"
On TV channel Belarus-1 February was fruitful for "investigative journalism" - the blockbuster "Bash at BAJ", the hit "Lessons of Polish" and a strong middling "The Big Brother". Domestic TV people with Stakhanov-like enthusiasm and a pioneer-like fervor expose Western embassies and create a very specific sense for an average citizen: Belarus is besieged by enemies and envious. Meanwhile it's obvious: darkness is coming to our land from the West.
According to political analyst and journalist Viktor Martinovich, the whole variety of anti-Western "investigative journalism", emerged recently on state channels, clearly fits into the guideline of domestic media work - building up of a universal paranoia and suspicion.
- Viktor, how do you think, why Belarusian television viewers are bombarded with revealing films about Western puppeteers and their Belarusian accomplices exactly now?
- I think, it's connected with the coming parliamentary elections. Processing of public opinion is going on, anti-European moods are being built up. Political campaigns are usually carried out as follows: six months before, a total "carpet bombing" of everything that moves starts. Of politicians, media, active individuals. In order to create a rosy picture a couple of months before the elections: flowers are blooming, birds are singing, everything is cool in the country. These films are the first bells of the future hysteria.
- Why do propagandists create in the genre of "investigative journalism"?
- They could, of course, make "KGB-TV": in front of a camera intelligence officer sits and tells his version of the Belarusian Association of Journalists activity and of other organizations. But it's unlikely in our country, that such presentation would inspire great confidence.
- In social networks, and on opposition websites the movies of "Belarus-1" TV channel is one of the main reason to laugh and sneer. Maybe they are not worth of paying attention, because one can believe in the truthfulness of these "investigations", only if one wants it very very much?
- The target audience of these movies is 70% of Belarusians, who are not regularly in the Internet. In our country, approximately 30% of people often come to the World Wide Web. Meanwhile, approximately 120-140 thousand read sites that may be called the opposition-like. To work with this people is impossible for the Belarusian propaganda. But still the vast majority is there, who watch these "investigations" and trust them to some extent.
The nature of the network is reflexive and ironic. Of course, for many readers of independent sites one cannot imagine bigger circus than these films.. But they are watched by a fairly limited number of people, so that "Belarus-1" successfully finds its audience outside the Internet.
- The British Embassy and the Belarusian Association of Journalists have been already "exposed", Poland is the main European sponsor of the fifth column, and the U.S. is the evil empire. Does our country have any "enemies" who can be brought to light by new blockbusters?
- When we put this question, we assume that there is a list of enemies who are have to be tarnished. But de facto, the role of propaganda in Belarus in the last 5 years is not reduced to the struggle against the enemies, but to creating and exposing them. Right now they created an enemy - BAJ - and immediately brought it to light. The question is, what will be the conceptual configuration of enemies that must resist the stability and prosperity.
Let's look at the Belarusian Association of Journalists - the organization which unites Belarusian journalists. I'm glad, I'm its member, but I don't feel very cool about it. I have no confidence, that if I be hit on the head in a dark corner, the Belarusian Association of Journalists will meet tomorrow, will find offenders and get even with them. But the film shows, that they allegedly are almost the main striking force of Belarusian opposition.
- It turns out, the process of creating enemies is the goal?
- In fact, this is the creation of bubbles, filling these bubbles with an imaginary sense and their exposure. It's like Woland: the ceans of black magic and its subsequent exposure. There is no point in enemies, but in the process of their creation and the triumph over them.
- And what is the meaning of such a virtual enemy?
- Firstly, they build up paranoia, suspicion, fear, that tomorrow you'll be shown on TV. This is a driving force behind all the political processes in Belarus. This is a perfect information environment for the existing state power.
Secondly, it is the substitution of real political actors, which are now in jail (Sannikov, Statkevich, etc.), virtual enemies. BAJ has no threat to the regime, no threat from the British Embassy to the regime, no threat from Poland to the regime. It is in virtue of their virtuality, these threats are very easy to build up and to call them the main enemy of Belarusian stability.
- What conclusions the watching of movies of "Belarus-1" TV channel should stimulate? What are their educational goals?
- The first conclusion: the opposition is so impoverished and suffers a deficit of some interesting personalities, the main enemies are the Poles, presented in a cartoon form of the series "Grandpa Talash".
The second message is a paranoid suspicion. Belarus is the closed world, surrounded by enemies dancing. This effect is of North Korea.
The third conclusion, it seems to me, is the most important. I may be formulated as follows: keep out of the politics as far as possible. There's a solid dirt, pornography, espionage. Whether you're a worker, even though a seller, or a union leader, if you go into politics, you'll find yourself in the middle of this dirt, not being able to wash out it for ages.