Propaganda film portrays Moscow, not Minsk - Lukashenko

by Andy Potts

Russia's alleged information war against Belarus is a personal affair - and attempts to portray president Alexander Lukashenko as a backwards-looking tinpot dictator merely reflect on Russia's leadership.

So says Lukashenko himself, commenting on recent films shown by NTV painting him as an autocratic Godfather figure as the two halves of the so-called Union State struggle to find any harmony.

The films suggest that Lukashenko has mental health issues and rules over a corrupt state where political opponents mysteriously disappear.

But the Belarusian leader dismisses the charges and accuses the Kremlin of portraying itself on screen.

"Everything you see, it is not about Belarus and its president," he told Interfax. "It's a film about them, what they want, and they are all like this.

"So there was no reaction to this mess in Belarus."

Strained relations

The once-friendly neighbours have endured ever-increasing quarrels in recent years. Russia is furious that Lukashenko is dragging his heels on recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and is concerned that he is making overtures to the west.

In Minsk, however, there is anger over Russia's perceived efforts to ramp up energy tariffs and restrict agricultural trade over the border.

But Lukashenko, who was speaking after a meeting with the governor of Russia's Kursk Region, insists that the "unbreakable friendship" between the two peoples will endure.

"There are no politicians who would be able to break our friendship and brotherhood," he told, before sounding a warning to his neighbours.

"The world is enormous and it should only move in the right direction. But I don't know if [this argument] will be profitable to Russia's leaders."


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