So far the information attacks at Belarus may not be a thought out campaign, but they correspond to the "general policy of the Kremlin."
Right after the visit of Lukashenka in Russia a wave of harsh criticism appeared: Minsk was accused of connivance of possible Maidan, Belarus was called "less than a state" and Leanid Rashotnikau, the director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), made a comment that the Belarusian language was created by a decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) in 1926 in Moscow. This incident has even caused a statement of protest from the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs - previously unimaginable action of the Belarusian diplomacy towards the nearest and the main ally.
Uladzimir Matskevich, philosopher and methodologist, noted in his interview with the "EuroBelarus" information service:
- Each nation consists of very different people. But some kind of national narratives are a real fact. That is, there are immutable provisions, which are not a subject to any criticism and which are not consciously comprehended.
Russian narrative regarding the Belarusians and Ukrainians began to emerge somewhere in the 17th century, at the time of the war campaigns with Moscow and the subsequent wars between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Muscovy. One of the fundamental properties of the Russian narrative is as follows: in the west there is a hostile Poland, where the Russian people are suffering under the Polish yoke.
When the Soviet Union broke up, the Russians were not prepared to see the Ukrainians and the Belarusians as independent nations. That’s why the national identity of Belarusians and Ukrainians is still a mysterious phenomenon for them.
This stereotype is such a basic property of the Russians that it can be traced at all times, including the most peaceful periods. As soon as there is a worsening, everything that can be a casus belli, a cause for a war, is made loud and public.
Therefore, I think that the statement of Rashotnikau in the current situation annoys Belarus a lot and becomes a cause for diplomatic reactions. Rashotnikau is not a journalist and not just an individual, he is the director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, which, as we already know, developed the Crimea and Donbass scenarios as well as, I am sure, some other geopolitical adventures. Therefore Rashotnikau’s attacks are absolutely offensive for us.
- Is all of this a thought out policy of the Kremlin or an accidental expression of mood of the Russian society?
- There is no direct evidence or any grounds to say that it was a thought out Kremlin's scenario. However, I can’t imagine such thing to happen without the previous agreement with the Kremlin.
- How did Minsk take the blow?
- We can only make guesses about what is happening at the diplomatic level. Surikau , the Russian Ambassador to Belarus, condemned the activities of the arrested "Regnum" employees and the statement made by Rashotnikau. This can mean only one thing: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus gave a sharp response, thus Moscow was forced to make some, say, apologetic moves.
- Why did Minsk recognize these attacks?
- The Belarusian regime is now struggling to seize the mood of the Belarusian society, which is dominated by moods of national revival, identity, etc. The state wants to fill it with its own content and meaning. The authorities found themselves in a difficult situation after the Russian aggression against Ukraine: they have to say the exact opposite of what they were saying previously. Hence, the analysts' opinions about "inconsistent belarusization" appeared. However, the head of the state and the officials can’t avoid having national values in the discourse and narrative .
- So far no improvement of the relations is expected as Russia has not yet reached agreement on placing its airbase in Belarus, and oil and gas disputes are not resolved.
- I believe such mood in Russia will grow so far as Belarus develops and gets stronger. But I also hope that there are sober-minded people in Russia and there will be disputes and discussions between them and the advocates of the "Russian World". I hope for the victory of common sense in these debates. But, I'm sure that unfortunately it will not happen in a long while.
- But we have zapadnorusisty, adherents of the Northwestern Krai idea to help this discourse.
- Zapadnorusisty were never prominent here.
Most of the organized zapadnorusisty in Belarus survive thanks to grants from Russia.
The majority of their texts now are a tedious read, a set of the same historical or pseudo-historical non-tenable facts. This movement still exists only because the Belarusian authorities turn a blind eye on it.
Zapadnorusizm is a historical and ideological, scientific, socio-political, ethnic and religious and cultural movement, which arose in the Northwestern region (Krai) of the Russian Empire and which is based on the postulate that Belarus is an ethnic group of all-Russian people. Zapadnorusizm is analogues to the concept of “Little Russia” identity in the south-western provinces of the Russian Empire.