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PR-CAMPAIGNS BRING NO EXPECTED RESULTS

Analyzing results of authorities’ propagandistic actions, which are being carried out within the framework of the presidential campaign, their low efficiency must be noted. We remember how much time and money was spent on praising a symbol of ingenious democracy – the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly. And what is the result? More than three fourth of respondents took no part in that event, and more than 15% heard nothing about it (see Table 1). Moreover, voters assess its possible results rather modestly – about 15% think they would positively affect the situation in the country, whereas more than 40% said the Assembly is unlikely to change the situation (see Table 2).

Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question: “How did you participate in the second All-Belarusian People’s Assembly?”

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question: “What could you say about results of the second All-Belarusian People’s Assembly?”

Another scandalous action by Belarus’s authorities – suspension of three Russian TV channels broadcasting on May 8 and 9 – caused a very negative reaction (see Table 3). Only 5% of respondents view such “short-term manifestation of sovereignty” positively, more than 60% – negatively.

Table  3. Distribution of answers to the question: “As we know, on May 8 and 9, 2001, broadcasting of three Russia’s TV channels (ORT, RTR, NTV) was suspended in Belarus to broadcast programs of the national television. How do you view it?”

Unlike one time suspension of Russian TV channels broadcasting, the war of official Minsk against the OSCE AMG seems to be a lingering campaign, which abates for a short time, and then flares up again. Denunciation of subversive activities by Ambassador H.G. Wieck on the state-run television has turned into an everlasting series. And what is the result? Only 12.8% of respondents claim that Ambassador Wieck’s activities run counter to Belarus’s laws and support the authorities’ intention to expel him (see Table 4).

Table  4. Distribution of answers to the question: “Belarus’s authorities claimed there is a possibility that OSCE AMG Head Ambassador H. G. Wieck would be expelled from the country, because, they say, he violates Belarusian laws?”

An important detail – more than 55% of respondents heard nothing about Ambassador Wieck’s activities, when he was the hero of 30-minute reports in prime time twice a week. Naturally, we shall keep in mind a low quality of the Belarusian television, but, undoubtedly, the above figures say there is no need to overestimate possibilities and significance of electronic mass media.

For more proofs See Tables 5, 6. But the Belarusian television dislikes the opposition even more that H.S. Wieck. However, after tens of Secret Springs of Politics programs more than 40% of respondents say they never watch it, and only 10% think worse about the opposition, while 4.5% say the program improved their vision of the opposition. If we consider the group of respondents who watch such programs and assess efficiency of the propaganda, it turns out that only 16.6% of respondents believed the authors of Secret Sprints to this or that degree.

Table  5. Distribution of answers to the question: “The Belarusian television has recently launched TV programs denouncing activities of the opposition. What influence did such programs have on you opinion of the opposition?”

Table  6. Distribution of answers to the question: “The Belarusian television has recently launched TV programs denouncing activities of the opposition. What influence did such programs have on you opinion of the opposition?”*

* Only those who have watched these programs are considered

It is well known that unlike Belarus’s authorities, the opposition has no such possibilities to use domestic electronic mass media. Thus, it is hard to underestimate importance of first appearances on Russians TV. But we shall not focus our attention only on mass media. Here we shall say a couple of words about street protest actions. IISEPS has repeatedly stated that street protest actions in their present form bring no results, as expected by organizers, and do not develop social base of opponents of the present authorities. Another proof to that – respondents’ reaction to the new Chernobyl Way action. The Chernobyl tragedy is a disaster, which affected all people regardless of their political persuasions. Logically, Chernobyl Way must be the most popular action, viewed positively to the maximum. Its popularity and level of organization was discussed right after it took place. Table 7 provides arguments in favor of those reproaches. More than 40.8% heard nothing about it, 14.5% view it negatively.

Table 7. Distribution of answers to the question: “What is you attitude towards the opposition action Chernobyl Way, which took place on April 26, 2001?”

But that does not mean that it is necessary to give up street protest actions. Criticism of such actions is usually based on claims that recent actions turned into ritual events without new ideas and thoughts. At the same time members of the youth movement Zubr suffer no lack of ideas and new forms. They began to carry out their actions not long ago and mostly in Minsk. Nevertheless, about 18% of respondents say they know about such actions (see Tables 8, 9). Almost half of them (43.5%) view such actions positively.

Table  8. Distribution of answers to the question: “Do you know about recent actions by the youth movement Zubr?

Table  9. Distribution of answers to the question: “What is your attitude towards such actions?”*

* 82% of respondents omitted this question, because only those who answered the previous question positively were offered to answer this question

Thus, the authorities’ PR-campaign cannot be considered as successful at the moment. Over the last months authorities made a number of serious mistakes (for example, suspension of Russian TV channels broadcasting), which did not slip by unnoticed by voters. Their efforts to discredit those, who are thought opponents, the opposition and the OSCE AMG, has so far brought no results. At the same time we see no riposte campaign (not one time actions) by the opposition, except for publicizing the problem of disappeared opposition politicians.