Case: Lukashenka regime's propaganda incites hostility towards NGO activists

Case: Lukashenka regime’s propaganda incites hostility towards NGO activists

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State-controlled and funded media outlet spread the information, inciting hatred against NGO activists, including «J4T — Journalists for Tolerance».

Case: Lukashenka regime's propaganda incites hostility towards NGO activistsThe author of the publication — the propagandist Mukovozchik — provides a list of organisations, public initiatives and activists cooperating with IBB — the Johannes Rau International Education Centre. It is one of the oldest Belarusian-German organisations working in Belarus to strengthen pan-European democratic values, promote human rights, protect environment, work on recording memories of the victims of Nazism.

Mr. Mukovozchik gives a negative assessment for activities of persons and institutions based on the expression of a civic position, for example: anti-war, support for victims of political repression or the valorisation of Belarusian national symbols.

So, for the publication on his personal Facebook page of a “fake video of “abuses at Akrestsina”, the propagandist calls for one of the activists to be brought to justice. In Belarusian realities, «responsibility» means deprivation of liberty. The author also calls on readers to «inform» about «suspicious» activities of friends: «Firstly, because the GUBOPiK is not enough for everyone. Secondly, something needs to be done by yourself.»

The negative attitude expressed by the author is extrapolated to an indefinite circle of people: both online commentators, «blazing with heat», and those writing to the editorial office.

Among the organisations listed by Mukovozchik is “J4T — Journalists for Tolerance”.

Here is a quote with propaganda content: «From the latest news: «The online course «Conflict-Sensitive Journalism» is organised in October-November 2022 by the IBB together with the human rights organisation «Journalists for Tolerance» with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.» Will we wait patiently and see how our sensitive students from the journalism department will be taught tolerasty?”

The last phrase creates a negative image of the organisation and its activists. The word «tolerasty», used by Mukovozchik, is a mix of the words ‘tolerance and ‘ pederasty ‘, the latter being an inappropriate term. In Soviet times, the word «pederasty» was used to refer to male homosexuality, as well as a short name of the article of the criminal code, on the basis of which homosexual people were punished by imprisonment.

Since 2020, 1,283 non-profit organisations disbanded in Belarus.

This is due to “pressure on their members and employees, an unfavourable legal environment,” as well as repression, according to human rights defenders from Lawtrend.

In April 2023 alone, 34 NGOs were disbanded, 110 altogether since the beginning of the year. There are 824 organisations in the process of forced dissolution. The number of self-disbanded NGOs is also regularly increasing (as of the end of April 2023, there were 459 of them).