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Problems of information and ideological support for Belarusian-Russian integration in the context of new challenges

Research shows that the relevance of the subject of the Union State in the Belarusian and Russian information space is increasing every year. For example, according to the Infometrica information and analytical system used at the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Research (BISR), 63,130 mentions of the Union State were recorded in the Belarusian media over five years, of which 20,266 occurred in the last year (based on monitoring of 580 sources). In the Russian media – 46,000 and 12,500, respectively (based on monitoring of 302 sources).

According to technical analysts, the associative array of the Belarusian-Russian integration includes a constructive working agenda related to specific projects (union programs, import substitution, national security, economy) and their implementation. At the same time, inertial problematic aspects remain, which deserve attention in the context of developing union information projects:

1. The imbalance in the coverage of integration processes in the Belarusian and Russian space. For example, the share of publications about Russia in the Belarusian information space is 17%. In turn, publications regarding Belarus are presented more modestly in the Russian information space, making 3%.

2. The preservation, both in the Belarusian and Russian telegram space and in the near-scientific circles, of critical messages regarding the integration potential of the Union State, of insolvent stereotypes regarding the foundations and motives of integration.

3. The practical lack of demand for the Union media (BelRos, Soyuznoye Veche (eng.-Union Assembly, etc.) as effective channels for popularizing Union building.

At the same time, distinct converging points of union narratives were formed: a shared politics of memory of the Great Patriotic War; the desire to develop Eurasian integration, interregional ties. A positive trend is the perception of the integration of Belarus and Russia inside the Union State as an integral element of the common geopolitical strategy of both countries and an effective format for uniting our peoples in the face of unfavorable trends of today.

For example, over the past 2-3 years, the dynamics of security challenges of our allied states has increased significantly. The escalation of military threats at the borders (for example, deployment of more than 30,000 NATO and US troops in the immediate vicinity of Belarus and Russia), committing sabotages and terrorist acts unimaginable in terms of cynicism occurs with a simultaneous increase in the level of aggression in the information field and in the sphere of meanings.

Western countries and their allies from among the former socialist countries and individual Soviet republics openly formulate provocative and revanchist ideologies justifying the militarization and subsequent restructuring of the region, including the expansion of NATO that has already taken place, and increasing military assistance to the Kiev regime in Ukraine.

To understand the depth of the ongoing deformation of the ideological attitudes of the West, it is possible to cite data from a study of the dynamics of historical memory concepts on the example of countries bordering Belarus. Based on a methodology specially developed at BISR, which involves five research positions – the civilizational paradigm, self-perception, assessment of one's history, attitude to other peoples, the quintessence of the country mission (described in detail in the author's article on the BISR website), the following trends have been identified:

1. The civilizational paradigm of the collective West tends towards renouncing the legacy of the Second World War (in fact, zeroing out the unconditional Victory of the Soviet Union in 1945) in order to justify the actually implemented ongoing dismantling of the international security system, checks and balances.

2. The self–perception of the Western world tends to realize its own "exclusivity" and the desire for unipolarity and complete self-isolation from everything that may be associated with Russia (and, accordingly, with its closest ally, Belarus) with the suppression of dissent.

3. The perception of other peoples strictly depends on their belonging and attitude to the so-called Western civilization. In general, there is a wary and distrustful perception of other peoples as a whole (nothing in common, only interests).

4. Assessment of one's history takes place through the prism of revisionism and hyperbolization of historical grievances (especially typical for Lithuania, referring to the "Russian" and then the "Soviet" occupation), historical politics is transformed into historical propaganda and total rewiring of consciousness (Polish Institute of National Memory).

5. The West sees its current "civilizational" mission as another revenge in the struggle for territories, resources and human capital, including under the pretext of "saving" from Russian spiritual and military-political influence.

Therefore, the emerging historical, worldview, and political-ideological discourse of Western states is aimed at suppressing and "canceling" ideologies and concepts equally shared and revered by both Belarus and Russia.

In these conditions, the ideological and informational support of the Belarusian-Russian integration, including in the context of creating a union media company, requires much more consistency and concentration. It is vital to develop meaningful and coordinated approaches to the protection of common values and historical truth, as well as the formation of principled and reasoned messages from the outside, denoting the subjectivity of the Union State, its consistency and high gravitational potential. Based on the totality of the results of studies conducted in our countries of social trends and requests, it is possible to propose the following model of external and internal ideological positioning of the Union State:

1. The civilizational paradigm of the Union State consists in belonging to a single East Slavic world based on the historical proximity of the allied peoples, self-sufficiency to acquire the status of a civilizational pole, ready to scale and develop integration projects.

2. The self-perception of the Union State is aimed at addressing the origins and traditions of our peoples, readiness to awake reserves of historical memory to transmit to generations an original cultural code based on ancient human values.

3. The attitude towards other peoples in the paradigm of the Union State is based on the principles of openness and peacefulness, while being transformed towards "multidirectional tracks" in relation to friendly and unfriendly peoples, respectively. The latter are subject to a policy of deterrence and, if necessary, asymmetric counteraction.

4. The Union State's awareness of the common history is transformed towards an objective reassessment of each of the historical stages through the prism of their influence on building the Union future. The formula of the common history was pronounced by the President of the Republic of Belarus A.G. Lukashenko during his address at the forum "This is OUR History" on September 17, 2022: "In alliance with the East Slavic neighbors, the Belarusian lands developed. Ancient Russia, and the Russian Empire, and the USSR. But in the arms of the West, we were there more than once, in these arms we were destroyed, we decayed as a nation." In general, this formulation can be applied to the entire post-Soviet space.

5. The quintessence of the common country mission of the Union State can be formulated as "development in spite of pressure and aggression, preservation and enhancement of historical truth and human values for their subsequent rooting in a post-conflict future," which, I am sure, will come sooner or later.

Therefore, today, the basis is being formed for the formulation of common ideological concepts that fully meet national interests of both allied countries. On this path, we still have to overcome a number of problems of both external and internal nature. The main ways for joint work of all parties involved is to replicate and convey these messages to the general world community both through political statements (as part of participation in international events, press conferences and forums, during appeals to the peoples of unfriendly countries) and in a less public way - through channels of expert diplomacy, joint scientific research, educational and intercultural communication.

From the materials of the International Scientific and Practical Conference "The Union State in a Multipolar World" (Moscow, March, 2024)