‘Your Friend: Belarus’ programme broadcast twice weekly on Belarus International Radio

On Chinese radio wave

Belarus International Radio is a versatile media resource not only listened to but watched, with its site (http://radiobelarus.tvr.by/) hosting video interviews and reports, as well as comments. It hosts promotional works and various photo contests, while having its own Facebook page.

“We’re expanding our Internet broadcasting in eight languages: Russian, Belarusian, English, German, French, Spanish, Polish and Chinese,” explains the Chief Director of Belarus International Radio, Naum Galperovich. “We can now be listened to through all sorts of gadgets and via HotBird, Galaxy 19 and Belintersat satellites. We also work in the FM-band for bordering regions. Recently, we launched video on our site.”

Belarus’ call signs were first heard on May 11th, 1962. Originally, programmes were prepared in Belarusian, with focus on our countrymen living abroad. At that time, it was a department of foreign broadcast at the All-Union Radio. Its main objectives were the propaganda of the Soviet lifestyle, the struggle against ideological opponents and the desire to bring home as many Soviet citizens (who went abroad after the Great Patriotic War) as possible. In 1985, the radio launched German language broadcas­ting. In the 1990s, when the country gained independence, it transformed its goal to telling the world about Belarus. In 1998, it introduced Russian and English languages and, in 2006, Polish. Since 2010, French and Spanish programmes have been available.

“Our broadcasting schedule includes: news and analysis; radio interviews with scientists, writers and musicians, masters of art and folklore, and athletes; and programmes on history, culture and spiritual values,” Mr. Galperovich comments. “In total, over 100 author projects are planned for the new season, exploring various spheres of Belarusian life. Our compatriots living abroad will continue enjoying access to our World Programme.” 

In January 2013, Chinese language programming was introduced; the ‘Your Friend: Belarus’ programme is broadcast twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Sa­turdays, hosted by Zhang Haiyan, Chen Wanlu, Qu Hao and Anastasia Chekulaeva. Audiences hear about the main political, economic and cultural events of the country. Tuesday programmes offer a digest of news, with the focus on Belarusian-Chinese cooperation, while Saturday programmes are dedicated to Belarusian culture, art, folk traditions and history.

‘Your Friend: Belarus’ also has a practical section for Chinese tourists, detai-ling which Minsk cafes and restaurants serve national Belarusian cuisine, and recommending hotels and attractions. “These sections are very popular,” comments the Deputy Director of Belarus International Radio, Vyacheslav Laktyushin. “In Belarus, there are about two thousand Chinese people, with many studying. Some come on business and others visit as tourists.”

Vyacheslav was employed at Belarus Radio in 1998, when English broadcas-ting was introduced. He has also been engaged in the launch of Chinese broadcasting, selecting hosts and helping to train them, sharing his professional secrets. Among the first voices heard by Chinese listeners was that of a Chinese teacher from the BSU, Li Tso, who is also a poet, that of Chinese language teacher Wang Yu Hong, who works at a Minsk school, and that of philologist and journalist Veronika Karlyukevich.

At present, ‘Your Friend: Belarus’ is hosted by a post graduate student of the Belarusian State University’s Institute of Journalism and a member of the Belarusian Union of Journalists, Zhang Haiyan, joined by a graduate of the BSU’s Institute of Journalism, Chen Wanlu, a fourth year student of Minsk State Linguistic University and the Deputy Chairman of the Union of Chinese Students in Belarus, Qu Hao, and BSU Chinese language teacher Anastasia Chekulaeva. Journalists Dmitry Zanevsky, Alexander Kravchenko and Marina Dragina help prepare the programme.

Mr. Laktyushin notes, “All are capable journalists, with good ‘radio’ voices. The fact that Belarusian and Chinese specialists work together expands the scope of our capabilities, enhancing our vision, and helping avoid offensive and inexcusable errors. Anastasia Chekulaeva, for example, checks texts to make sure that the names of Belarusian cities, families, and cultural and public figures are written correctly and that history is not distorted.

Belarus Radio closely interacts with International Chinese Radio in Beijing, where Belarusian journalists Olga Galperovich and Roman Myshkovsky work. They exchange materials with Chinese colleagues, and organise joint broadcasts. In 2014, Naum Galperovich visited China as a member of a press tour, visiting various newspapers and magazines, to see how their editorial offices worked. The head of the Belarusian media resource was much impressed by International Chinese Radio. “It has a huge building, employing hundreds and broadcasting almost worldwide. Its workers represent diverse nationalities, including Americans, French, British and Germans, as well as representatives of African countries,” he says. 

Belarusian journalists also liaise with the Embassy of China to Belarus. One of the latest joint projects is between Belarus Radio, the Chinese Embassy, the Belarusian Society of Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and the BSU’s Confucius Institute of Chinese Studies. They ran a contest requesting essays on the topic of Belarusian-Chinese Cooperation: The Silk Road and Great Stone Industrial Park Through My Eyes. Works were accepted in prose and verse, in Belarusian, Russian and Chinese. So far, over fifty authors from Belarusian and Chinese regions have made submissions, in addition to participants from other countries (such as Poland). All essays are being published on the radio’s site and on the information portal of Zvyazda Publishing House (with which an agreement on the exchange of information materials has been signed).

The Head of the International Co-operation Department at the Belarusian State Pedagogical University, Svetlana Kobachevskaya, has sent her ‘My China’ essay in three languages: Russian, Belarusian and Chinese. She writes: ‘For many, China is associated with the legendary rulers of the Shun and Yao, Shang-Yin and Tang dynasties, the Great Plain and the Tibetan Plateau... ‘My China’, as a discovery, is almost fifty extraordinary young people who study at the Belarusian Maxim Tank State Pedagogical University. Among them are Liu Jing and Zhang Linyuan, Zhao Tunbo and Zheng Jīnyŭ, Guo Cui and Zhang Midoun, Ni Sha and Yang Ibo…They are industrious and inquisitive, direct and open. They always have their phones with them, like miniature computers, using them as translators, voice recorders, cameras and as a compass. It’s easy and professional. They always smile on meeting me and it’s impossible not to smile in return…’

“All works are interesting and each deserves attention and promotion,” admits Mr. Galperovich. “We’ve decided to publish a book after the contest is concluded, to include the best essays. Winners will be awarded with prizes.”

It’s not the first time that Belarus Radio has been ‘interactive’. Some time ago, it ran a selfie contest, entitled ‘Hi, Belarus!’ which attracted over 300,000 visitors to its site. Photos were sent from such countries as New Zealand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the UAE, and there were many ‘selfie-greetings’ from European countries, such as Germany, the UK and France. This new information season (launched in September) will feature a quiz dedicated to the 500th anniversary of book-printing and the ‘KlikBelarus’ contest.

Speaking of Chinese listeners, Mr. Galperovich notes that they are socially active, and aged 25-45. They tend to have higher education, are interested in international projects, and have studied in Belarus or have business contacts in our country. He adds, “For many, our programme is a starting point before co-ming to Belarus. We also have a fan club of Chinese language broadcasting.”
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