Viktor MARTYNOVYCH: I have not heard anything bad about Ukraine for a long time
A recent unauthorized demonstrations by the FEMEN activists near the KGB building in Belarus was a cause of appearance of publications that claimed some sort of negative attitude towards Ukraine is present in Belarus society. Let us remind that the first messages in mass media said that the employees of the State Security Committee detained three women on December 19. As the FEMEN activists stated later in their blog, the girls were tackled at the Minska railway station by the Belarus police and KGB workers, “they put blindfolds on the girls, drove them around in the bus for the whole night, took them out into the forest, poured oil over them, forced them to take their clothes off, threatened to set them on fire, threatened with a knife, which later was used to cut the girls’ hair.” On the other hand, the head of the State Security Committee stated that that the information about the detention of FEMEN activists by the Belarus KGB workers is a gross provocation. It is hard to say who is right in conditions like these. But it should be noted that TV show host and politics reviewer at Kommersant, Pavlo Sheremet, concludes in his article at Ukrainska Pravda that “Ukraine has turned into a laughing-stock in Belarus mass media long time ago. Deriding the citizens of Ukraine is a tradition now. Disdain of Ukrainian ways is being cultivated by the state propaganda in Russia and Belarus.” The Day addressed Viktor MARTYNOVYCH, BelGazeta’s editor in chief with a request to comment on this situation, and the publication of his Belarus colleague.
“I would not say Ukraine is a laughing-stock. It seems to me that this is not true. Ukraine is not being mentioned often in Belarus mass media. The relations between the countries became edgy because of this FEMEN girls scandal, it was said, there is no order in Ukraine. The biggest scandal of this kind happened when our te-levision said that there were only 300 people at the Sakharov Avenue in Moscow. This is an example of how the state mass media handle the information. But I have not heard anything bad about Ukraine lately.”
How can the appearance of this publication be explained?
“I have no idea. Maybe the author of this article and I read different Belarus papers and watch different TV channels. Perhaps he is more vulnerable to the things he sees. For instance, I know how Belarus propaganda can work, and the ways it can slander. I do not see this happening in relation to Ukraine now. It seems to me that after Yanukovych was elected as a president, and especially now, when the new negotiations with Moscow on a number of questions, especially the selling of Belarus assets, are coming, they are simply not interested in making the relations with Ukraine worse. Therefore, I do not see any signs of harsh anti-Ukrainian propaganda.”
What really happened to the FEMEN activists in Belarus in your opinion?
“I tend to believe FEMEN than people who find some discords in data. There were too many cases in Belarus, when people who organized demonstrations or took part in the opposition activities, were taken out into the woods and threatened with some kind of physical violence. This does not let me neglect the FEMEN girls’ story, though it is quite contradictory.”
What is the attitude of Belarus to the protests that are taking place in Russia?
“It seems to me that most of the people started treating Russia in a different way. Before Russia used to be a country of totalitarian unlawfulness. And now it is showing some examples of skills to stand for the rights of the people, to prove that they need real elections, instead of ridiculous decorations, it demands the renewal of governor elections. Despite the fact that the propaganda is working in a different way there, it states that the Russian opposition is scattered, that its meetings are a failure, most of the Belarusians who watch federal Russian TV channels that highlight the events in a more or less adequate way, look at Russia with hope. It happened historically that we live in Russia’s shadow. When the revolutions happened in Russia, starting in 1917 or even earlier, we followed the tendency. That is why there is a number of citizens who attribute the changes in Russia to a hope for some changes here. If Russian opposition succeeds, there will be some changes in Belarus too. Maybe even the governor elections will be resumed here too, because the now governors are appointed.”