On 3 February it started a series of documentaries about modern history. The first was pretty mild, merely saying that President George W. Bush’s grandfather had laundered Nazi money, while American corporations had financed the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union. It also claimed that the Coca-Cola company had invented Fanta especially for the Nazi war machine. That was standard stuff in the Soviet era. I remember listening to Radio Moscow, Radio Peace and Progress and other Communist broadcasters trying endlessly to prove that as Hitler was a capitalist, so capitalists must be Nazis.The next programme started by denouncing American democracy, saying that election results are “carefully choreographed”. That really puzzles me: does that mean that the wicked string-pullers decided that it was necessary to have a cliff-hanger result in Florida in 2002? A bit later on, he added a new note, saying that “Hollywood is being run by masons and sodomites”. I wondered if he had forgotten the Jews, or was saving them for later. Walt Disney, incidentally, is the “destroyer of children’s souls”.Against this daily, hourly drip of pro-regime, anti-Western programming, it’s very hard for the opposition to make headway. Alexander Milinkevic, the rather impressive physicist who is the democrats’ joint candidate and the beneficiary of rather muted outside support, gets just two half-hour television broadcasts. Until last week, when candidates were registered, campaigning was prohibited, so he has just four weeks to get his name across before the election on 16 March. He can’t advertise in the non-state press (and there isn’t much else), or even meet voters except in state-approved locations. He can’t spend more than $30,000. He has to watch his words: “slander” is a vague charge in the electoral rules, which can get you disqualified. None of this, of course, applies to President Alexander Lukashenko, whose plentiful public appearances, denunciations of the opposition, and fawning media coverage are justified on the grounds that he is speaking not as a candidate but as head of state. That goes down well with his core supporters, who are provincial, ill-educated and untravelled. They are also the ones most likely to believe the absurd smears against the opposition. And with other voters? If the regime would only give me a visa, I’d go and find out. But why? If the choreographers are capable of keeping us all in doubt for weeks, surely they are clever enough to fix the result properly from the start? Logic may not be a central ingredient in this brew, but nostalgia for the most pungent propaganda of the Stalinist- era certainly is. Viewers were next treated to a guest appearance by Yuriy Vorobyevskiy, a Russian “expert” who explained that America’s system of government “is rooted in the philosophy of masons”. I once heard freemasonry described as “the great conspiracy of the second-rate”. At best, it is a good way of raising money for charity, fuelled by some bogus rituals. At worst, it makes even murkier that slightly sleazy world where local government and land development overlap. But Vorobyevskiy spoke darkly (and unilluminatingly) about the “truly repulsive” masonic rituals. I was puzzled by the lack of details, so I googled “repulsive masonic rituals” but found zero entries. There are some lurid sites attacking freemasonry in general, but I don’t imagine they were much help for his programme: they are not only clearly written by mad people but also denounce freemasonry for its links to, er, Communism. Edward Lucas is Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for The Economist.