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Russian media offers its viewers Orwellian coverage of the war in Ukraine

But this is the Russian government-controlled TV channel Rossiya24 and in this report the soldiers attacking his village are Ukrainians, not Russians. The Russian correspondent describes them as “nationalists”. Other reports on the channel call them “neo-Nazis”, “fascists” or “drug addicts” who use civilians as “human shields”.

Almost all reports of the conflict come from the separatist Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, in particular from the two self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk, mainly Russian-speaking entities that Russia has recognized as states. independent on February 21.

This was the trigger for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, providing Moscow with the pretext to invade, claiming it had no choice but to “protect” them from an imminent attack from the Ukraine, an allegation that Ukraine strongly denies. As one news report put it, “Denazification was only possible with a military operation.”

On Russian broadcasts, the war in the rest of Ukraine, the war that most people around the world witness, is largely ignored – the wreckage of Mariupol left behind by Russian bombing; the charred skeletons of houses and buildings in Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Kherson, Zhytomyr and other towns decimated by Russian airstrikes; residential neighborhoods of the capital kyiv, along with their shocked and bloodied residents fleeing Russian bombardment – almost none of this is shown on Russian television. When this is the case, it is of course the fault of the Ukrainian forces. There is also no accurate coverage of recent military setbacks suffered by the Russian military.

The reports are poignant, often filled with angry accusations and threats. On one of Russia’s most popular talk shows, host Vladimir Solovyov rails against Europe and the United States, at one point taunting US media reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin, allegedly, is not informed by his aides about what is really going on in Ukraine.

“You don’t know what answers we’re preparing for you yet, you don’t know where this is taking you, and you really aren’t going to like it, our fellow Americans!”

Russian media offers its viewers Orwellian coverage of the war in Ukraine

Putin has also used more raw and emotional language in his television appearances when he meets his Security Council in virtual Zoom-like discussions, or in person, with a member of his cabinet seated at the opposite end of a ridiculously long table. , to avoid any possibility of being infected with Covid.

The West has one goal, he said in a speech: “the destruction of Russia”.

“But any people, and especially the Russian people,” he assured his viewers, “will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out, like a flying gnat in their mouths.”

In the closed world of Russian propaganda, however, strong emotion cannot always compensate for a lack of logical coherence. Putin claims that Ukraine is not really a country but rather a historical part of Russia. Ukrainians and Russians, as he described in a rambling treatise he published last summer, are one people. And yet, in the war he himself ordered, the Russians are killing their Ukrainian “brothers”.

Dotted throughout the news bulletins are short video clips aimed at drumming up support for the attack on Ukraine: cheering youngsters clashing with a formation spelling out the letter “Z” from above, the unofficial symbol of Russia’s offensive against Ukraine, painted on almost all tanks and armored personnel carriers in the war zone – and sometimes, back in Russia, spray-painted on the doors of Russians who express any opposition to the invasion.

In another “rally around the flag” video featuring short quotes of people who look like ordinary Russians, a man says “I support our president!” Another proclaims: “I fully support our president’s policy to protect our people!” Yet another said grimly “We don’t want NATO near us.” The last speaker implores: “Come together!

In an Orwellian touch, the conflict in Ukraine can only be called a “special military operation”. Under a law passed on March 4, it is illegal to call the war a “war” or to describe it as an “attack” or an “invasion”. Violators can be punished with up to 15 years in prison, as can news agencies that broadcast anything considered “fake news” about the “operation” or the Russian military.

There is simply no contrary view of the war to be seen or heard in the Russian media. The anti-war street protests that erupted across Russia in the first weeks of the fighting, in which more than 15,000 people were detained or arrested, are never shown on state television.

Russian media offers its viewers Orwellian coverage of the war in Ukraine

Information Blockade

The Putin government for years methodically eliminated free media from Russia, and at the beginning of the war the last two independent media, TV-Dozhd (TV-Rain) and Echo Moscow Radio, closed down after the new “Don ‘t say war law” was passed. All broadcast media are now controlled by the government, either directly or through Kremlin-friendly owners, and most Russians, with the notable exception of young people , get their news and information on TV.

Online news sources, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other foreign social media platforms have been blocked. The same applies to international media that broadcast in the Russian language, such as the BBC and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

This information blockade seems to be succeeding in convincing the Russians that their president’s war is justified. Subjected to a fire hose of propaganda with lies that the Nazis rule Ukraine, that Russian compatriots in Donbass are victims of “genocide”, that Russia itself is in mortal danger of attack from NATO, it can be understandable that many Russians support the war.

A March poll by Levada Center, an independent pollster, actually suggested Putin’s ratings had risen since the start of the war, with 83% of respondents saying they approve of the Russian president, up from 69% in January. But it is clear that polls are not necessarily reliable in a country where people are subjected to a flood of propaganda and where dissent is not tolerated.

Ukrainians will suffer for years from the destruction unleashed by this unnecessary war. But the Russians, too, will suffer the effects of this vicious information war waged by their own government.

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.