While his friends were protesting, newsreader Sergei spoke of “aggressive youths

It was Sergey Kozlovich’s boyhood dream: working at the Belarusian newsreel. But the rising star had had enough of the propaganda of the Belarusian state media and decided to give up his dream job. Dozens of other journalists followed, hundreds went on strike.

In doing so, a traditional pillar of President Lukashenko’s support seemed to falter, but nothing could be further from the truth. Due to the efforts of Russian journalists the tirades towards the demonstrators hardened, according to the story of Kozlovtish

State speech tube

The presenter looks back on his career as Lukashenko’s mouthpiece without feeling guilty. In a country without independent television channels, the young computer science student Kozlovich had no choice but to apply to state television in 2011. He worked his way up: eight years after his start as an assistant technician he was launched in 2019 as the figurehead of the breakfast news on the main Belarusian channel 1.

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After the death of a demonstrator as a result of police violence, he was pretended to be his own fault: he would have held an explosive device. Images from the AP news agency show that the police are shooting at him:

“I was at that time the only source of news for many Belarusians, because the internet had been shut down”, he says about the strength of his text during the protests. That realization broke something: he no longer wanted to put his conscience aside. “I experienced no fear or shame, but more an emotional stress. I had stiffened up in the evening and the next day and couldn’t do anything.”

He decided to leave. On Instagram he announced that the boy’s dream has come to an end. “This is my choice. I’m going to look for a new job.”

The foreign deployment is subtle, Kozlovich thinks. Only behind the scenes, skilfully directing how Belarusian journalists should bring the news. The tone has changed since then. Demonstrators are put away as Western agents, who want to lead an anti-Russian Maidan revolution. The red-white opposition flag is called a Nazi symbol.

At a report of an opposition meeting, “Lukashenko, go away” was changed to “go away”, so that the impression was created that the member of the opposition Maria Kolesnikova was booed:

The Russian influence became painfully visible when ‘Belarussia’, the Russian name for the former Soviet Republic, was mentioned in the news. Kozlovich calls the new course an insult to the laggards of the state broadcaster. “Apparently the authorities don’t care about their employees. If things continue this way, Belarus 1 will soon turn into Russia 1.”

He hopes one day to return to his old employer, but not as long as Lukashenko is in power. In the meantime, he hopes to create a furore as a ‘social journalist’ on YouTube, “because at least there I am free”. With his channel Not on TV he interviews Belarusian demonstrators and strikers.

Morrow he plans to report on the weekly protest march. Kozlovich is afraid to be arrested one day, although he does not break the law. “At the moment no one is safe”, he sighs.