Behind the Façade of the Union State: The System of Russian Influence in Belarusian Public and Political Life
- Olga Kevere, Strategic Director, International Strategic Action Network for Security (iSANS)
- Andrei Yeliseyeu, Head of the Monitoring Group, iSANS
- Anton Motolko, iSANS Coordinator in Belarus
- Vlad Kobets, Executive Director, iSANS
- Joerg Forbrig, Director for Central and Eastern Europe, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Relations between Belarus and Russia, closest allies in Eastern Europe and formally associated in a union state, have steadily deteriorated over the last years. Russian aggressions against Georgia and Ukraine were a warning to all of Russia’s neighbors, including Belarus. The Zapad 2017 military exercise rang alarm bells among domestic and international observers. Russian pressure towards closer political integration has heightened since 2018 and since late last year, Moscow and Minsk are embroiled in a more serious spat than ever over oil and gas deliveries, Belarus’ economic lifeline, that remain partially suspended. This souring of bilateral ties has contributed to the suspicion among many in Belarus and abroad that the country may soon become the Kremlin’s next victim.
Investigations by the International Strategic Action Network for Security (iSANS) provide evidence for the systematic expansion of Russian influence over the domestic media and social, economic and political dynamics in Belarus. iSANS reports trace subversive Russian information campaigns, the sponsoring of vigilante networks, and the manipulation of far-right groups. These add to pervasive ties between Russian and Belarusian political and governing elites, intellectuals, the military and intelligence apparatuses, and via the Russian Orthodox Church. Through these channels, the Kremlin seeks to divide the Belarusian public and to promote an effective merger of Belarus and Russia. This presents an ever-more urgent threat to Belarusian sovereignty, and a challenge to the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Belarusian society, and the country’s Western partners. The latter, in particular, have to re-assess their strategy, engagement and assistance towards Belarus.
GMF and iSANS are pleased to invite you to a timely discussion of latest findings and developments in Russian interference in Belarus. The event will examine the extent of Moscow’s influencing measures and consider responses that official Minsk and Belarusian society can launch to safeguard the sovereignty of their country. This discussion is particularly important given the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus later in 2020.
To register for the event, please contact Sophija Savtchouk at SSavtchouk@gmfus.org.