This article stresses the interconnection between the current political situation in Belarus, Soviet history and the post-Soviet region. Using the case of Svetlana Alexievich’s Nobel Prize, it analyses how autocratic elites learn from the past, and how diffused norms shape public attitudes in neighbouring autocracies. The article assumes that the choice of the Belarusian authorities to strategically neglect Alexievich’s contribution to the Belarusian cultural landscape, as well as the prevalence of nationalist discourse surrounding Alexievich’s Nobel prize in both Belarus and Russia, are conditioned by the geographical proximity of Belarus and Russia and their common historical past.
Therewith it contributes to research on autocracy, elaborates on the learning of autocratic practices across space and time, and expands on the knowledge of contemporary politics in Belarus and Russia. This research is based on both primary sources, such as official statements, opinion poll data, and media coverage, and secondary sources, such as analytical articles and papers.