Column from Belarus: Can propaganda unite people?


Christian Life

Zmicier Chviedaruk, CNE.news

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks at a forum in 2020. Photo AFP

All Belarusian schools held an official day of Belarusian People's Unity on September 15. But Zmicier Chviedaruk feels some happiness that Belarusians are still divided.

In every classroom, every boy and girl heard an online lecture from the country’s dictator, who has “ruled” the state for the last 29 years. He told everyone how people should value unity and be afraid of Western ideology, which, with the help of special agents, tries to destroy harmony and unity inside the country.

We know that unity is one of the greatest social values of all time. As Abraham Lincoln tried to quote the Scripture before the Civil War in the US – a divided house won’t stand. Since the creation of the world and the original sin of Adam and Eve, we have faced a world where even the closest people, like wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, live full of hate and corruption. We all feel a tragic lack of unity.


After 2020, Belarus has been divided as never before in our modern history. We have an armed government which took total control of media by closing down all independent media. In addition, we have 1,500 political prisoners (or probably three times more than in official reports). Also, almost 5 per cent of our population (nearly 500,000 people) left the country after the political crises started in Summer 2020. Now, Lukashenko tries to make Belarusians more united around him. How? With the help of fear, propaganda and a new “Unity holiday”.

How Can Propaganda Use September To Gain “Unity”?

Local propaganda tries to play an old game that the Soviets used to play a century ago. They try to make “unity under the government” as a major and the greatest value of all. They say that only unity will bring total comfort to every Belarusian. That’s why the propaganda machine invented a new “Unity Holiday”.

This holiday has some historical foundation. Before WWII began, the Belarusian state was separated between the USSR and the Polish Republic. You probably remember that the Second World War started on September 1st 1939. Earlier, two totalitarian states – Nazi Germany and USSR signed a secret deal to invade Eastern Europe. After that friendly action with Hitler – September 17 became an official day of reunion of Western and Eastern Belarus.

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Local propaganda tries to play an old game that the Soviets used to play a century ago. They try to make “unity under the government” as a major and the greatest value of all. Photo AFP

Why? The secret pact and military action of September '39 handed Belarusian territory completely into Stalin’s military control. State propaganda told that the Soviets rescued and united Belarusians from totally evil Westerns and from capitalism slavery. This “rescue” and “unity” led to mass murders, deportations, repressions and everything bad you can imagine, which became normal practice in those times.

Nowadays, propaganda tries to convince us that the biggest modern (as it used to be in the 1930s) problem isn’t the corruption of the state, propaganda, or the absence of political freedoms and freedom of speech and religion. Instead, it warns mainly against the Western influence that is successfully dividing Belarusians. In this difficult situation, only the government can save and bring back unity. In some cases, the state does not fulfil its duty of stopping evil and providing justice and order, as the Reformer John Calvin believed it should. Instead, it becomes some idol that demands complete obedience in all circumstances.


In such a situation, we realise that sometimes the absence of unity can be good and even helpful. It would be more frightful to live in a Belarus where everyone agrees to Lukashenko’s ideology, where everyone tries to build Orwell’s “Big Brother is watching you” than to live in a Belarus with political prisoners.

The absence of unity can even remind us that we have some hope in such a dark age. We can remember God’s major promise stated in the Garden of Eden, where He told the first corrupted humans that He would start the war between fallen men and the snake. He said that He won’t let the world unite under evil power and control. We might say that our Lord stood against cruel unity and brought some separation for our good and His glory.

True unity means that people share the same values and completely agree on different issues. Today, facing the “Unity Day”, we feel some happiness that Belarusians are still divided and don’t all agree on what’s going on in our country.



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