American media on Russia-Belarus information war

Recent Russia-Belarus information conflict is still attracting attention of leading international media outlets. The latest dispute broke out in June when Russia and Belarus tussled over natural gas prices, and continued when Mr. Lukashenko nearly scuttled a planned customs union between his country, Russia and Kazakhstan that had been a pet project of Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s prime minister and pre-eminent leader.

Michael Schwirtz of The New York Times* reflects on the mudslinging, which has played out in both countries’ government-controlled media in recent weeks.

In Information War, Documentary Is Latest Salvo
By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ
The New York Times
Published: July 31, 2010

MOSCOW — A new documentary film about the Belarussian president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, portrays him as a bumbling tyrant enamored of Hitler and Stalin. He has political opponents killed, journalists silenced and elections rigged in the film, all while keeping his faltering country locked in a Soviet time warp.

For years, human rights groups and Western governments have been leveling similar accusations. But the latest salvo against Mr. Lukashenko comes from an unlikely source: Russia’s government-controlled television.

The documentary is part of an all-out propaganda war that has erupted between Russia and neighboring Belarus, two former Soviet republics that were once so close they had been on track to reunite. When the documentary, titled “Godfather,” was aired this month on Russia’s NTV television, it seemed to signal that the marriage was officially off.

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