Further: Poland borrowed in the amount of the annual GDP, Belarusians don’t travel to Lithuania and Latvia, and Belarussian TV discovered confirmation of Ukrainian Nazism. Top-5 Fake News spotted by the Weekly Top Fake team.

Fake #1 Belarussians don’t travel Poland and the Baltic States

Fake date: 25.08.2023

On August 28, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Poland and the Baltic countries agreed to close the border with Belarus completely in case a "critical incident" occurs there. Shortly before the meeting, Aleksander Lukashenko stated that these travel destinations have been out of interest for Belarusians. 

Lukashenko’s Telegram channel Pul Pervogo published the video segment of his statement on August 25.

“Let them close, we don’t go to Lithuania and Latvia anyway. And we don’t work through them either,” Lukashenko said.

This is not true. According to the Lithuanian border service, more than 1.7 million people entered Lithuania from Belarus during the last year only. How many of them were the citizens of Belarus, statistics do not specify. The approximate number can be estimated using the Belarusian border guards’ data. They say about 250,000 Lithuanians, visited Belarus with a round trip last year. 

After subtracting this quantity from the total flow of people crossing the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, we will get the number around 1.5 million persons. Probably, this is an average amount of Belarusians who have arrived in Lithuania. 

Approximately the same number has visited Poland in 2022. 

However, there is no open data from Latvian statistics, as well as no official response to the Weekly Top Fake’s request from the authorities yet.

As of the first half of 2023, about 640,000 Belarusians entered Poland through the only active border crossing ‘Brest’. Also, nearly 800,000 citizens of Belarus have come to Lithuania during the same period.

Fake #2 Only Nazis’ heirs use the title ‘Edelweiss’ nowadays

Fake date: 28.08.2023

On August 28, Sergei Gusachenko spoke about the atrocities of the German Edelweiss battalion during the Second World War on the air of Clear Politics, TV program on the Belarus 1 state-run channel, and concluded that only Nazis’ ideological heirs use such a title nowadays: 

“And after such a terrible case, Zelensky cynically and deliberately establishes “Edelweiss 2.0” in Ukraine. The blood-stained name is a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine now. It is obvious that local propaganda has brainwashed the local population long ago. However, one of the significant steps in making heroes out of Nazis is to confer a legal status.”

In Weekly Top Fake, we have already mentioned that this name was exploited in Russia itself by a special forces detachment in Mineralnye Vody until 2016, furthermore, CSTO troops are conducting military exercises at the Edelweiss training site in Kyrgyzstan.

This “bloody-stained name” is also used by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. After the drone attack on the airport in Pskov on August 30, the local authorities reportedly introduced the Edelweiss plan — they put secret services on an enhanced response mode.

The fact of the plan introduction was reported as far back in May, when a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group entered the fortress of the Belgorod region. Official services, however, did not confirm its implementation then. 

The Edelweiss plan is officially registered in the documents of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. This was reported by the Russian state agency RIA Novosti, for instance.

Fake #3 Poland borrowed $540 to modernize the army

Fake date: 30.08.2023

Poland is deliberately exaggerating the threat coming from Belarus before the parliamentary elections in October 2023, and in the meantime is taking huge loans to buy more weapons. Such a statement was made in the program Trends on the Belarus 1 TV channel on August 30.

“On the sly, Warsaw is creating the strongest army in Europe. Truth to be told, on credit. The latest types of military machinery are actively being purchased: aircraft, submarines, tanks, howitzers, etc. The Polish government has borrowed $200 billion from a South Korean bank. And recently they asked for another $340 billion. It clear, who will repay the debt,” said in the video.

As per Belarusian TV, Poland has requested a $540 billion loan. This amount almost equals Poland’s annual GDP or the 7-year GDP of Belarus. 

In fact, Polish President Andrzej Duda advised on July 14, that Poland had ordered about $9 billion worth of weapons from South Korean manufacturers. Poland had claimed a loan from South Korea for the same amount to finance this deal. These figures were also confirmed by Korean television.

“The Polish government has requested $9 billion loan for the purchase of arms, and this subject is being considered positively,” SBS stated, citing a senior government source. 

On July 21, the news broke that Poland had requested a loan of $16 billion for the second contract. However, according to the Korean media, the tranche was not approved.

These sums are dozens of times smaller than the numbers of $200 and $340 billion announced on Belarus 1 TV channel. It is unlikely that another currency was considered in the statement: these amounts would have been equal to 12 and 24 trillion in Korean won or 38 and 77 billion in Polish zlotys respectively.

Fake#4 Belarus doesn’t reduce the number of Belarusian-speaking classes, and WWII tanks entered Berlin under Lukashenko’s red-green flag

Fake date: 28.08.2023

The ideology of Belarus should be taught starting from kindergarten, historian Igor Marzalyuk stated on August 28. Here is what he said on the air of the talk show Essentially, the propaganda TV STV:

“The most important foundations lay in the preschool educational programs of Belarusian kindergartens. It's emotional, beautiful. Well, I remember, my child ... I remember how the children came from kindergarten and divided everything into Belarusian and non-Belarusian and drew red-green flags under which tanks marched on Berlin. Do you understand? These are children of the 2002 sample. Therefore, at the kindergarten level in Belarus, certain ideas are implied, including historical knowledge.” 

The propagandist talks about the red and green flag, the state symbol of Lukashenko's regime. In fact, during the Second World War, tanks could not enter Berlin under red and green flags, because that flag hadn't existed back then. 

That flag was created for the Belarusian Republic as part of the USSR in Soviet times, in 1951. Previously the flag of the Belarusian Soviet Republic had been completely red and had differed from the Soviet only in the inscription ‘BSSR’ under the hammer and sickle. So in 1945, the flag of the Belarusian Soviet Republic was completely red.

There are no problems with Belarusian-language schools and classes in Belarus, Deputy Minister of Education Aleksander Kadlubay said on the same program.

«Here we have an absolute balance in terms of languages. In accordance with our Basic Law. As a rule, the educational institutions that were declared as Belarusian-speaking, are functioning that way. According to the latest statistics, I did not see any switching to Russian-language studying among educational institutions. Stable indicators, and figures,” the official said.

Actually, it's not true. In the 2020—2021 academic year, out of more than a million Belarusian schoolchildren, about 108 thousand students studied in Belarusian.

It is about 10%. In 2016 and 2010, there were 13% and 19% respectively.

Within 10 years, the proportion of these pupils has almost halved, or decreased by 70,000 people. And the share of those who study in Russian has grown from 81% to 89%.

Fake#5 Legalization of pornography, pimping and prostitution in Ukraine

Fake date: 25.08.2023

Ukraine has celebrated Independence Day on August 24. The next day, Belarusian political scientist Andrei Lazutkin criticized the country for the allegedly wrong name of the holiday on the air of Soloviev.Live, the Russian propagandist media outlet: 

“I really like their presentation itself. Independence. Well, 75% of the budget of your independent state is American money, European money, which is given to you for the conduct of hostilities. This is the question: Did you earn the remaining 25% somehow honestly? Let's see what the latest bills were there: legalization of pornography, porn industry in Ukraine, pimping and pandering, prostitution.

Besides, they are going to legalize marijuana there, which is also an essential matter. Also, there have been laws in the gambling business before that. The last restrictions were lifted from the industry there as well. Here is how you fill your budget.”

In fact, prostitution is illegal in Ukraine. However, a group of Ukrainian lawmakers tabled in parliament a bill on the decriminalization of pornography. The authors proposed to abolish responsibility for the creation or maintenance of brothels and pimping, as such that do not cause significant harm.

They also propose not to punish for the creation and distribution of pornographic content, if it doesn't affect minors. However, it is not known whether this law will be passed.

Discussions on the legalization of marijuana have been going on for a year now. Ukrainians are talking about a proposal to legalize medical cannabis, which has no narcotic effect and relieves pain. 

The only thing that has been really legalized is the gambling business. But within three years, it fell short of revenue expectations. Last year, instead of the expected UAH 12 billion, they received only UAH 1 billion. And this year they plan about UAH 7 billion.

Ukraine has a really scarce budget because of the war. This means that their own income is enough onlyy for half of the required expenses. Foreign aid closes that budget deficit. 

In the first half of 2023, the Ukrainian economy grew by 2.7%. Recall, that in Belarus the growth was 2%.

The sole responsibility for any content supported by the European Media and Information Fund lies with the author(s) and it may not necessarily reflect the positions of the EMIF and the Fund Partners, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the European University Institute.

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