Veyshnoria: A Fake Country as an Alternative to Actual Belarus

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) Gamla Torget 6, 4 floor, room 4219B
  • Lecturer: Anastasiya Astapova is a visiting scholar at IRES. The aim of her research visit is to turn the latter dissertation into a book with the major focus on various forms and genres of political folklore (or hidden transcript as coined by James Scott). These include political jokes, Alexander Lukashenko's folk biography, Belarusian Potemkin village narratives (on special preparations for the high officials' visits), surveillance rumours, protests, ideologies underneath various national symbols, nationalist naming strategies, election fraud stories, etc. (major publications available on Vasil Navumau is Swedish Institute visiting scholar at IRES. His research interests focus on the ways new ICTs influence the transformation of repertoire, scope and ideology of social movements and the way in which they can contribute to the formation of a more transparent, participative and inclusive government.
  • Website
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES)
  • Contact person: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
  • Phone: 018 471 1630
  • Föreläsning

with Anatasiya Astapova (IRES) and Vasil Navumau (IRES)

Veyshnoria first appeared on the maps of the joint Russian and Belarusian military exercise Zapad 2017 as an imaginary country to act in the potential war. Within hours after being presented to the public, the fictional Republic of Veyshnoria became more than just a viral humorous meme. Civic activists purposefully created a micronation of Veyshnoria with all the necessary attributes, including numerous virtual citizens, national symbols, legislative and executive structures. It became a political experiment in what independent Belarus has not undergone in reality—a post-Soviet wave of ethnic nationalism and democracy-building. At the seminar, we will analyze why Veyshnoria has gone so viral and popular, what are the methods of its promotion, and how it has become instrumental in the realm of information and ideology warfare.