In the period from 9 until 15 October 2023, Russians somehow limited their release of Russian-language materials that belittled the image of Poland. The most likely explanation is that it stems from the Russian misinformation apparatus’ involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which serves both internal and external objectives.
In relation to Poland, Russians have propagated several messages and narratives worth noting. The first narrative is concerned with an alleged civil war in Poland (in the aftermath of elections). The key factor that lets Russians put forward this narrative was a speech delivered by the former President of the Republic of Poland – Lech Wałęsa. Based on the part of the interview granted by Lech Wałęsa to the French Le Point portal, Russians have released materials entitled ‘The risk of the outbreak of the civil war in Poland’. The purpose of such actions is to create an impression that Poland is a “land of chaos” and a state that “poses a threat to peace” in Europe. The alleged risk of civil war is presented subliminally as a factor that will lead to destabilisation in the region.
The second example of influence refers to messages about the alleged persecution of migrants by officers of the Polish Border Guard. In this case, Russians and Belarusians have propagated information about the alleged mistreatment of a migrant by Polish officers, which involved “forcing” him to drag a dead migrant to the Belarusian border. The source of these reports is the State Border Committee of Belarus – the unit persistently committed to activities that prove hostile to Poland. The steps mentioned above are a form of keeping a narrative in which Poland and Polish authorities are “responsible” for the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border and allegedly liable for “migrants’ suffering”.
Parallel to the above-stated accounts, Belarus has dedicated a lot to elections-related issues. The Belarusian disinformation apparatus was very active (12-15 October) in creating materials that gave the impression that upcoming parliamentary elections in Poland were “non-democratic” and “stained with fraud”. Minsk has put much effort into portraying the upcoming elections as “deviating from democratic standards”, which contrasted with the vision in which “true democratic standards” were followed “only in Belarus and Russia”. The purpose was to intentionally belittle the reputation of Poland and elections (in Poland) and, therefore, justify and support the image of Lukaszenko’s regime as a “guarantor of security and democracy” (as opposed to the alleged inappropriate situation in Poland).
In the overall distorted picture of reality created by Moscow and Minsk, Poland is depicted as a “wicked regime” that “rejects” democratic values. Poland is said to be “the area of chaos” and allegedly responsible for the “misery of the innocent”. In the holistic view, we are reportedly an opposing force that “generates threats and problems” for ourselves and the entire region.
The overall distorted picture of reality, designed by Russians and Belarusians, allows their citizens to be convinced that only “Russian and Belarusian democracy” is “right” and must be “desired” by society. This action must be considered as an attack not only on Poland, but the entire Western World – whose democratic nature is questioned and disregarded.
Author: dr Michał Marek
Public task financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland within thegrant comp etition “Public Diplomacy 2023”