Companies from Western countries place 6 out of 10 commercials on Belarusian propaganda TV channels, whose programs threaten opponents of the regime with death. German companies such as Henkel and US corporations such as Mars and Procter & Gamble advertise the most.

The non-governmental organizations Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights and Professional Union of Belarusians in Britain (PUBB) have published a new monitoring report of advertising on Lukashenko’s TV channels. From November 15 to November 21, independent Belarusian observers monitored and evaluated the commercial breaks of the three state TV channels Belarus 1, ONT and CTV from 7 to 10 p.m. 

Of a total of 960 commercials, 56 percent were placed by Western companies. By comparison, Belarusian companies ran only 30 percent of all spots. Companies from Russia, Ukraine, India, South Korea and several other countries account for the remaining 14 percent of commercials.

One in three commercials comes from companies in EU countries, among which Germany has the largest share, accounting for half of all such spots. While 18 percent of the commercials are placed by U.S. companies, British companies account for 4 percent and corporations from Switzerland for 3 percent.

Also German companies finance Lukashenko’s propaganda TV

“We are very shocked that German companies in particular continue to finance Lukashenko’s TV stations with advertising money despite the numerous human rights violations in Belarus. Directly before and after propagandistic news broadcasts and in the environment of agitational hate programs in which dirty laundry is literally washed over critics of the regime, Henkel places advertisements for detergents. While the medical care of the currently over 900 political prisoners is completely inadequate, German pharmaceutical companies broadcast advertisements for pharmaceuticals. This morally extremely questionable advertising engagement must be stopped immediately. I am tired of listening to the excuses of all those advertising companies”, said Marco Fieber, chairman of Libereco’s German section.

The most commercials are placed by Mars (61, USA), Procter and Gamble (51, USA), Henkel (47, Germany) and Sanofi (45, France). These are followed by Queisser Pharma (30, Germany), Grindeks (28, Latvia), Colgate-Palmolive (27, USA), PepsiCo (25, USA), Dr. Theiss Naturwaren (23, Germany) and Sandoz (22, Switzerland). In addition to these top ten corporations, 17 other Western companies –  including GlaxoSmithKline (UK), Jacobs (Netherlands), A1 (Austria), and Danone (France) – ran another 180 commercials.

Some companies have reduced the number of their commercials

In contrast to the initial monitoring period in July, no more commercials from Carlsberg (Denmark) and L’Oreal (France) were observed in November. Swiss food multinational Nestlé significantly reduced its advertising from a 9 percent share in July to 0.4 percent in November. Similarly, the share of Coca Cola’s commercials dropped from 4 percent in July to 0.2 percent in November.

“Of course, we welcome the fact that individual Western companies have sharply scaled down or perhaps even ended their advertising on Belarusian state television. But this is far from enough. All Western companies should immediately and completely end their advertising on Lukashenko’s propaganda channels in order to stop being complicit in financing death threats openly expressed on TV against critics of the Belarusian regime. After Nestlé has significantly reduced the number of its advertising spots, we now see Sandoz in particular as the second Swiss company with a special responsibility not to place any more advertisements in Belarusian state media ,” explains Lars Bünger, president of Libereco’s Swiss section.

On the state broadcaster CTV, opposition figures, representatives of civil society and opponents of the regime are paraded, insulted and threatened by host Grigory Azarenok on the weekly hate program “The Order of Judas”. This even leads to direct death threats when a gallows rope is displayed next to the heads of the alleged enemies of the people.

Belarusian diaspora announces protests

In addition, political prisoners are repeatedly forced under abuse and torture to confess their alleged guilt on Belarusian state television. The most prominent example of this is blogger and government critic Raman Pratasevich, who was forced to give an interview on state TV and speak at a staged press conference. Earlier the Belarusian regime forcefully landed a Ryanair plane in Minsk to arrest the prominent activist and his girlfriend.

In the wake of the refugee crisis on Belarus’s border with Poland fueled by Lukashenko himself, Belarusian state television is spreading targeted disinformation. Poland and the EU are consistently portrayed as inhumane and aggressive, while Belarus is shown as a humanitarian actor.

The Professional Union of Belarusians in Britain (PUBB) stated: “It is shocking to see that despite its affirmed human rights commitments and well written policies, the British company GSK has stepped up its collaboration with the propaganda tool of the terroriste regime in place in Belarus. GSK and all respectable businesses should stop sponsoring the illegitimate and criminal regime in place in Belarus, as Nivea, Skoda and others did earlier when they withdrew their sponsorship to the ice hockey world championship planned in Minsk. Belarusian diasporas in the UK will be holding protests by GSK headquarters and organising other media campaigns as long as the current unacceptable situation persists.”

Transparency Notice:

Unfortunately, we made two errors in the monitoring published on Dec. 6, 2021:
– 19 commercials were incorrectly assigned to the German company ESTEL Europe, which is, however, a subsidiary of a Russian parent company.
2 commercials were incorrectly assigned to the Belgian company Solvay, but belong to the US-based Abbott Group.

We have corrected both errors and adjusted the figures in the text and graphics accordingly.