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Article September 9, 2020

Incorrect footage exaggerates size of pro-Lukashenka protest in Vilnius

By Lukas Andriukaitis

While reporting on a pro-Lukashenka gathering in Vilnius, Lithuania, the Belarusian state TV channel CTV instead showed a full square of people in the Belarusian town of Klichaw.

On August 20, 2020, CTV released a video reporting on a pro-government gathering in Vilnius. The narrator said that Lithuanians had gathered to protest against a “Belarusian Maidan” — in reference to Ukraine’s 2014 pro-democracy Maidan Revolution — but the video showed the wrong gathering, using footage from a full square of Lukashenka supporters in Klichaw, Belarus. There was a pro-Lukaskenka rally in Vilnius the day prior, but it only gathered about a dozen people.

Protests in Belarus started in August 2020 after a widely contested election in which longtime president Alyksandr Lukashenka reportedly garnered 80 percent of the vote, despite his mounting unpopularity. The DFRLab’s ongoing monitoring of the situation in Belarus has focused on pro-Lukashenka disinformation campaigns and the evolving security situation in the country.

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The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news, documenting human rights abuses, and building digital resilience worldwide.