Belarus is in turmoil, triggered by a rigged Presidential election from which Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory by a wide margin. Both sides accuse the other of undue interference leading to intense narrative battles over the crisis in Belarus.


  • Hundreds of thousands have protested the fraudulent results.
  • EU and NATO states have expressed support for the protestors, denouncing human rights abuses and violence.
  • Meanwhile, President Lukashenko has reached out to Vladimir Putin for help.

Key Takeaways

  • The crisis in Belarus is rapidly escalating, exacerbated by competing narratives about a rigged election and violence against protesters.
  • Kremlin propaganda is painting all actions of the West as starting a world war.
  • Kremlin propaganda foreshadows intervention to repress the protesters.

Obfuscation, Protests, Arrests, and International Rejection

The controversy first began a few days before the election, when Belarus arrested 32 Russian citizens. Belarus alleged they were mercenaries of the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, plotting to cause riots leading to diplomatic friction between the two countries. Komsomolskaya Pavda, a daily Russian tabloid, published documents suggesting that the Ukrainian Secret Service was behind the arrests.

On election day, the internet service in Belarus was significantly disrupted, likely by its own government. After Lukashenko reportedly won 81% of the vote, protesters took to the streets, and various EU nations expressed concern over the freedom of the election. Some, including Lithuania, the U.K., and Ireland, altogether rejected the results.

Timeline showing European [1] online discussion from August 1 to August 19, 2020 about Belarus’ presidential election and its aftermath

Conversational Trends Across Europe

When looking at conversations within [2] Belarus, the most used term or phrase was “Call for Change” [of leadership], followed closely by discussion of the post-election violence.

Selected conversational themes connected to Belarus from August 1 to August 19, 2020

The conversation across Europe looks at the larger geopolitical contest, as both the West and Russia are jockeying for position to influence Belarus. The above chart shows how political violence appeared to galvanize the protesters and expand its participants, especially industrial workers (“factory”).


[1] Europe includes standard European countries and any data from anywhere in Russia or Turkey.

[2] Filtering by location selects data that is known to be from a location or in a conversation with that location. For example, tweets from Poland sharing an article from a Belarusian newspaper would be included in a Belarus data set and the Belarusian newspaper share would be included in a Polish data set.

For more insights into the highly-charged narrative battle in Belarus, including analysis on Russian propaganda, read the full Intelligence Brief on our Reports page.