24 February 2018, Saturday, 5:28
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Natallia Radzina: Public Propagandists Blackballed

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The system is gradually falling to pieces.

Chief editor of Charter97.org Natallia Radzina commented in an interview to Belsat TV channel on the dismissal of main propagandists Pavel Yakubovich, Henadz Davydzka and Yury Kaziyatka.

- We'd like to start our conversation with your phrase written on your Facebook account: "I know that Lukashenka received an analytical note, which compares budgets and audience of the Charter and public media. Mr. Dictator burst with anger. Removals from office will continue." Could you explain what you mean?

- The system is gradually falling to pieces. Yes, we were informed that Lukashenka had received the analytical paper, and he witnessed that the website turned to be even more popular than all public media put together. Over the past six months 4 million unique visitors have read the Charter. In fact, Belarus is making a choice today. The country reads independent sites. People want to know what is really happening in the country and do not believe Lukashenka propaganda channels, newspapers and websites. And that's why Lukashenka fired his Goebbelses. They lost the information war.

- Is this the reason for Lukashenka to enhance his propaganda? Are deputies of these Goebbelses more competent than they are?

- No way. Whatever Lukashenka does today, the people don't believe him anymore. He knows well, he has information that people hate him, his rating is extremely low, and no lie today is able to save him. People still bypass the blocking of the same site "Charter'97". And we see that Belarusians need a free word: people of different ages including pensioners are learning to bypass the lock today, computer skills of the whole population of Belarus are rapidly increasing. People go to protests. Both in Belarus and around the world. Leaflets are handed out in the country, graffiti appear, banners are hung almost every day in busy places of cities. And Lukashenka sees it as well.

- It's no wonder he says that we need someone on the Internet, we can't make the youth give up on their phones. We need to tap into these phones. How much potential do public propaganda have to somehow make at least a difference in theory?

-As long as they lie, they have no potential. Under the dictatorship there is no other option but lies.

- There is one more moment. It's been an increasingly interesting case. Yakubovich is about to take a position in the public council of the police, and former policeman takes his place in Sovetskaya Belorussia. I'd like to have this issue discussed. Maybe Lukashenka has actually given up on his propaganda. His public propaganda loses out to the Charter, Belsat, independent journalists, and the Russian propaganda. He may bet on those who can use batons. And Yakubovich might be needed to finally confuse policemen for them not to rebel against him. Can this version be reasonable?

- We can see that today Lukashenka suffers a great stress. I would better quote Yury Khashchevatski who said that Lukashenka made "neurotic moves". In fact, he has blackballed his old propagandists. They are not capable of changing anything, and he is really afraid of his future.

The fact that the dictator has appointed his own bodyguard as General Adviser proves it. It proves his inadequacy, the level of fear he suffers today. I'd like to say once again that it won't help him.

And it does not matter what position Davydzka, Yakubovich and Kaziyatka take now, they have been blackballed for their incompetence. I see that Yakubovich is shocked. He did not know about his resignation. And his lies do not play any role. He did not know anything. His first interview to independent media proves it. Please, draw attention to his phrase "I will not be allowed to write memoirs, because I know too much."

- Well, this phrase is really eye-catching. And this is the reason why Lukashenka says that these people should stay. To keep a tight rein on them.

- I think that Yakubovich has already have his memoirs written. They are just hidden in a safe place, because today he fears for his safety. I'd like to stress that Yakubovich, Davydzka and Kaziayatka are criminals; they are subject to persecution, because they have been telling lies to the whole country for two decades.

They have assisted in trumping-up of criminal cases against the opposition. These people have been veiling political murders. Today I have witnessed how many of my colleagues from independent media rushed to interview them and, in fact, "hominify" them, ask polite questions... Guys, it's really scaring. Because even I, the editor-in-chief of the largest independent website that is blocked in the country, has not been interviewed in such a way.

The situation with the independent media is awful. I would like to remind you that self-censorship is self-destruction. Neglect of principals has finally resulted in low popularity of other independent websites. People have lost faith in them, they see that journalists cheat.

- Does it mean that Lukashenka has his mission accomplished when said that "one should make unfair journalists shut up and turn them into fair ones"?

- Fortunately, it's not about all journalists. They will speak out; the Charter will continue its work. And Lukashenka does himself a disservice by blocking the Charter. One can't adopt the decree on digital economy and block independent sites.

We can see that all world media have written about the blocking. Today the European Parliament discusses the issue. The embassy of the USA and embassies of all European countries are informed. The US Department of State is also informed. Foreign Ministries of European countries, OSCE, international human rights organizations deliver statements. An attempt to destroy freedom of speech on the Internet is a suicide step for Lukashenka.

-Natallia, thank you very much for your comments. Our editorial office expresses solidarity with the portal "Charter'97". We will break through.