Numerous Western companies still run adverts on Belarusian state television, the mouthpiece of the Lukashenko regime. In this way, Western companies contribute significantly to financing the state propaganda machinery. This is highly problematic for several reasons.
Since the summer of 2020, more than 40,000 people have been arrested in Belarus on political grounds, thousands of whom have been tortured or ill-treated. Several opponents of the regime have reportedly been killed. Belarusian human rights organisations have currently recognised 900 detainees as political prisoners.
All these human rights violations are concealed in the Belarusian state media, which are co-financed by the advertising of western companies such as Henkel, Sandoz or Mars. In addition, state TV deliberately spreads disinformation, for example about the situation of refugees on the Belarusian-Polish border. The state media, controlled by the Lukashenko regime, are also involved in campaigns against critics of the regime. Political prisoners are paraded in front of the camera and forced to make forced confessions.
What is more, the state-controlled TV station CTV shows a programme called the “Order of Judas” every sunday night. The programme targets well-known Belarusians who have spoken out against the rigged elections or the regime. The show, presented by Grigoriy Azarenok, follows the rhetoric of the Lukashenko: Azarenok calls the displayed people “regime traitors” and continues to use demeaning and dehumanising language. The Belarusians who dissent from the opinion of the ruling regime have been called “vile reptiles”, “abominations of the human race”, “inhuman”, “parasites and idlers”, “macaques”, “rats”, “jellyfish” or “corpse-looking witches”.1
Furthermore, the programme “The Order of Judas” contains implicit threats to the dissident people: The show combines photos of the discussed persons with the display of a noose.2 These implicit death threats are broadcast on state television at prime time and are preceded and followed by advertisements of Western corporations. Libereco therefore calls on all companies to immediately stop their advertising on Belarusian state television and to stop being complicit in the serious human rights violations of the Lukashenko regime.
1 EUvsDisInfo: Disinformation Fuels Hate on Belarusian TV, 18 June 2021.
2 Since autumn 2021, the show has replaced the noose with a snake that bites its own tail, also known as Ouroboros.