The past few years have seen a significant spike in post-Soviet dictatorships - many of which were buoyed by rising hydrocarbon prices - shelling out for Western lobbyists to spin, pen, and produce paeans on how great their respective governments are. Belarus, now, appears to have gotten in on the act - at least, in the form of a new magazine.
As I found, a new, glossy magazine floating around DC - one with a decidedly pro-autocrat slant - maintains a raft of non-disclosed ties back to the administration of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko:
Unsurprisingly, numerous questions exist about both the magazine’s financing and its ties to the Belarusian government. For instance, according to his Facebook, publisher Mikhail Morgulis serves as the “Honorary Consul of the Republic of Belarus in Florida.” (On his page, Morgulis pitches the magazine to readers who “desire to experience a whole new world.”) Morgulis’s profile notes that he has served as honorary consul since December, when he was appointed to the position by Belarus’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As it is, Belarus’s foreign minister, Vladimir Makei, wrote the opening article in theUS-Belarus Observer — without disclosing his relationship to Morgulis. For good measure, Morgulis writes in the inaugural issue that the “Belarusian government is doing everything possible to make the lives of regular people easier.”
The magazine’s unveiling comes on the heels of numerous post-Soviet dictatorships — including Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan — spending exorbitant sums on improving their images among Western audiences. Grigaltchik, however, noted that funding for the magazine’s launch came from “business companies in Belarus” as well as “some anonymous private individuals in the United States who wanted to also have Belarus come to the forefront.” The phone number for the magazine’s lone advertiser in the inaugural issue, however, was answered by a representative of the “Honorary Consul.”