Posted: 13.12.2023 16:54:00

Fugitives’ research: trust in Belarusian government and state media is growing

Based on the results of a study conducted by the liquidated opposition structure, Press Club Belarus located in Poland, the trust in those engaged into the undermining of the political situation is going downhill, while the ratings of the Belarusian state media are growing, the Belarus 1 TV channel reports

It follows from the results of the study that 47 percent of respondents indicated that they received information from TV sources in 2022, and that was 14 percent more than in 2021. In 2022 and 2021, the share of those focusing on TV, social networks and messengers increased, and of those relying on the Internet sources decreased. In 2021, 34 percent of respondents chose social media as the main source of information, and the figure rose to 40 percent in 2022. From August 2022 to May 2023, there was an increase in the share of weekly use of Belarusian and Russian state media.

According to all conducted sociological studies, Belarusians support President Aleksandr Lukashenko.

In order to attract an audience, opposition media have to buy viewers by opening bot farms and artificially increasing the number of views. Meanwhile, Belarusian state-owned media are banned on the foreign YouTube platform and not recommended to users for viewing. Differently speaking, if people want to watch Belarusian media stories on this platform, they need to clearly phrase what they wish in the search bar. However, even despite all this, the audience of the Belarusian state-owned media has grown by 18 percent, and trust in these sources – by 8 percent.

Based on the research of the Press Club’s secret report, the so-called independent media (as they are named in the source) are losing their loyal audience. The number of those who read such media from time to time has also decreased. People prefer the state-run media as a source of information.

The segment of the loyal audience of the state media is stable, and there has been registered an increased segment of the neutral audience. The growth in consumption of the state-owned media news is not due to an increase in the pro-government core, but due to the former neutral audience, which is becoming increasingly loyal towards the state media. Differently speaking, the positions of trust in the state media and the Belarusian authorities are actually strengthening on the account of those who earlier supported the opposition media.

It is no secret that the so-called free media is far from being free, since they are funded by the European Union and the United States. For example, in August, the US placed a grant for the ‘independents’ – Belarus’ Mission – worth $135,000, and the European Union launched a new financing project for the Belarusian and Russian media in the summer. There is also information about a grant allocated by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Norwegian Embassy in Lithuania and the Swedish Institute.

The opposition Press Club made a conclusion in the basis of its research: the audience of the so-called independent media is disappointed about the quality of materials, political bias and unprofessionalism of the employees of these media. As a result, people are turning to the state-run media to seek the truth.

Another study was conducted by British scientific and industrial associations. According to its open data as of November 22nd, a third of fugitive journalists stopped working in the media after going abroad. Meanwhile 75 percent of those in the profession made attempts or sought opportunities to return to Belarus.

“Importantly, no money is flowing into Belarus to fool its population, to develop this political activity,” Oleg Gaidukevich, a deputy of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, commented on the results of the study. “Well, if we remove the financial issue and if there is no money, then no one deals with this nonsense. People start to listen to the truth, they start to perceive it. When looking at how much money they receive, it becomes obvious how much their leaders are interested in the fight going on forever, so that these flows never stop. The figures that cover poor deceived fools again confirm the truth of life. When a person arrives and realises that no one needs him, no one needs his struggle, there will never be any success, then he wants to return. In turn, a leader wants to further get money. That's the truth of life. We must not forget the lessons of 2020. There should be no foundations, parties, politicians or public figures who are supported from abroad.”

In turn, Olga Shpilevskaya, the Chairperson of the Belarusian Women’s Union and Director of the Mir TV and Radio Company representative office in Belarus, commented on the journalists who had gone abroad and decided not to work with the local media, ‘taking a breath of freedom’. “These are the people who really saw and felt what ‘freedom of speech’ and the ghostly things they had been talked about are. Much more important, I think, is their recognition that the so-called neutral audience has eventually turned towards the state media, potentially becoming the viewers and readers of the latter. These people make an analysis, and they see that the state-owned media do not lie, that they tell the truth – and this is time-tested. Of course, the audience trusts the one who tells the truth. Our truth has been time-tested, we have never turned off this course, we have never played down to anyone.”