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Article September 1, 2020

Pro-Lukashenka Telegram channels amplify disinformation

By Nika Aleksejeva

Pro-Lukashenka Telegram channels are spreading disinformation targeting anti-government protesters and the coordination council for power transfer initiated by Belarusian opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya after longtime President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s widely contested declaration of victory.

Telegram has become the central platform for information-sharing amid the internet shutdown initiated by the government on the morning of the elections on August 9, 2020. The sharing of disinformation on the platform suggests that pro-Lukashenka actors are targeting the communications channels used by protesters with narrative manipulation tactics that attempt to discredit the protests.

According to the final election results, Lukashenka received 80.1 percent of the vote to Tsikhanouskaya’s 10.1 percent. The lopsided vote count, the Belarusian people’s distrust in their veracity, and allegations of electoral fraud have led to ongoing protests around 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.