Most Belarusians discussed President’s statements in 2007

ERB has found out what news was mostly read by Belarusians this year. It turned out that the majority of Belarusians were interested in politics in 2007.
“The most popular topics are often connected with the President”.

A journalist from “Belorusskaya Gazeta” Victar Martsinovich says: “Interestingly, Belarusians are mostly interested in politics probably because there is no politics”.

Alyaksandr Zaitsau, editor-in-chief of “Belarusskiya Naviny”: “You know who our image-maker is so the most popular articles are connected with the President”.

The President’s press-conferences for Russian and Belarusian mass media drew a lot of attention.

“Taking into account that Lukashenka likes to make a number of “discoveries” and to discuss sensational topics at such press-conferences, they arouse a response in readers”, - says Alyaksandr Zaitsau,

For example, Lukashenka’s statement pronounced at a press-conference for Minsk journalists, when he claimed that the previous visit of the Belarusian Prime Minister to Russia was humiliating and that the President himself would not go to the Kremlin and “would not kneel”.

The article “I will not go to the Kremlin and I will not kneel” has become one of the most popular articles at the Belarusian portal this year. Here is a passage from it:

“According to Lukashenka, he charged the Belarusian Prime Minister Syarhei Sidorski with “finding the Russian Prime Minister Fradkov and get to know exactly if they would allocate us a credit.”. “Our Prime Minister said to me: no, they have some excuses. Then I told him to put the receiver down. It is not the middle of the 1990s. We will survive”, - said the Belarusian President.

Lukashenka’s statement pronounced at a press-conference for Russian regional mass media generated even more considerable public excitement in October. “Charter-97” is quoting the President:

“I do not know much about alcohol, - explained the Belarusian President. – But I cannot say that I don’t drink alcoholic beverages – how can’t a President drink? By the way, I only drank together with Yelstin. He was always asking: “Do you respect me or not?” – confessed Lukashenka. – “Sometimes this respect goes so far that you need 10 days to recover”.

“We had predicted Suharenka’s dismissal long before it actually happened”

Articles concerning the governmental lobby were the most popular on the web site of “Narodnaya Vola” – information about arrests, possible dismissals and new appointments. A journalist of “Narodnaya Vola” Svyatlana Kalinkina says:

“We had written about the dismissal of Kanaplyou almost a month before it took place. So I think we simply predicted that dismissal. However, at first there were only skeptical comments about our information. Even experienced analysts could not believe the Kanaplyou would be dismissed.

We also predicted the dismissal of Suharenka long before it happened and this topic has been the most rated this year”.

Articles about the visit of Putin were the most read the other day

Belarus-related events aroused most interest during the last several months; they were connected with the change of the President in Russia and prospects of the Belarusian-Russian relations. “Articles about Putin’s visit to Minsk concerned it, there were a lot of them and they were the most read over the past few days”, - says Alyaksandr Zaitsau.

Belarus-related events had high ratings on the web site of “Charter-97” too – it is the visit of Putin to Minsk, results of the negotiations and the dispersal of the demonstration “For Independent Belarus”.

The Internet is becoming a news generator

Recent events have become really popular. The meeting of Belarusian musicians at the President’s Administration aroused a lot of responses from Belarusian readers and caused a great number of comments. The comments became reasons for other news articles.

Mikalai Halezin, the head of “Free Theatre” rounded upon the negotiations between oppressed musicians and the authorities. The theatre is being persecuted in Belarus: they tour around Europe and very rarely give underground performances in Belarus. According to Mikalai Halezin, the authorities split musicians, quotes “Charter-97”:

“It is decease. Or the musicians have chosen to be collaborators. Let somebody phone me and say: “Give a performance!”, - and we will go to rend a place for it. But I will never discuss whether I am allowed to perform or not with the authorities. It is my choice and the authorities have nothing do with it”.

A journalist from “Belaruskaya Hazeta” Victar Martsinovich explains the popularity of the topic about musicians:

“Polemical issues always draw readers’ attention, for example, the information about “Belarusian musicians who went to Pralyaskouski”.

It seems to me that the Belarusian reader totally lacks opinions so every time the Internet starts a dispute … When life presents such situations, just like the one concerning musicians, when the Internet explodes and everyone feels that it is really good to have read 3 or 4 four opinions, that it is something new”.

Vіctar Martsіnovіch thinks that the polemics is moving into the Internet now. Thus, the Internet becomes a generator of news. Materials that interest bloggers and derive from the Internet are read most often:

“For example, the story about Dzyanis Dzyanisau who started collecting money in his blog and then was said to have stolen it. There were loads of comments and attention. Probably it can be explained by the fact that the Internet was the origin of the issue and it concerned all bloggers. Bloggers thought they were to read that article and to leave their comments. Blog culture makes you get used to making comments”, - noted the journalist.

Other top topics of this year also concern recent events like the cancellation of benefits. The information has been circulating on the Internet since the discussion of the project by the Parliament and it still being actively discussed on forums and in blogs.

Readers are also worried about economical issues concerning everyone, - the increase of prices for foodstuff and communal services.

Belarusian readers also like stories about celebrities and gossip

It is good that Belarusian readers do not forget to relax after having read political news and information about the cancellation of benefits and increase in prices. Eurovision and Dzmitry Kaldun’s performance were also very popular this year.

A report by Anastasiya Zelyankova about a nude beach  at Minsk Sea testifies to  the fact that Belarusians know how to spend their leisure time. The report “They are all naked and lack registration” almost got the highest rating on the web site of “Salidarnast”.