In Belarus, the cleanup is much more serious, much deeper than in Russia. It’s as if everything that you read was closed in Russia. Yesterday the last major media outlet was crushed, and yesterday and today the purge of the regional media continues. In this sense, God forbid you repeat our scenarios, but still Russia follows the trends of Belarus.
Inaccessible Telegram channels in fact occupy the niche occupied by classical non-state media. Of course, they have a smaller audience, because not all people are on Telegram, but this audience is growing and the blocking of new media is pushing people to Telegram. For example, the Tyt.by Telegram channel, which was closed a month and a half ago, has grown by one and a half times during this time, to 580 thousand subscribers. And of course they are influential, since the Belarusian revolution and last year’s protests were coordinated through Telegram channels and people received information through Telegram sources. They are the most influential in Belarus now.
In my opinion, everything is quite simple – the information space is being cleaned up so that there are no uncontrollable voices in the country that they can reach, in order to show all the remaining media, which are still working for some reason, where the red line runs, beyond which you can’t go over. They consider the media to be a weapon of the information war of the West against Belarus. And therefore, these “tentacles of enemies” are cut off, so everything is rather prosaic here.
Where it leads? Further migration of people to sites that are not physically located in Belarus. These are both Telegram, social networks and YouTube platforms, as well as Russian aggregators like Mail.ru and Yandex, which have always been popular in Belarus, but will now become even more popular. At a deeper level, this will lead to the polarization of people and their radicalization, because the media that are not constrained by strict Belarusian laws, self-censorship and the requirements of some journalistic standards, for example, asking for an opinion on everything, including the state, such media will work more oppositional key that will radicalize their audience. This is the path to further split in society.