The movement that mobilized to oppose Aleksander Lukashenka in August 2020 was notable, among other things, for its ability to bridge divisions of social class, geography, age and identity. Almost uniquely in the pantheon of post-Soviet revolutionary movements, the Belarusians who rose up were not divided from those who didn’t along clearly discernible socio-demographic, ethnic, linguistic or regional lines. They were, however, separated by one very stark barrier: the one separating the country’s two distinct media systems, one controlled by the state, and one independent. Drawing on an original survey conducted in September 2020, just as the protest movement was reaching its peak, this article finds that respondents’ choice of news media was the strongest and most consistent predictor of their political opinions. Media, then, appear to have served not merely as aggregators of and conduits for social processes generated elsewhere, but as the producers of social and political force in their own right.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 20 Dec 2021|