From lies and hatemongering to military aggression, atrocities and genocide
Disinformation, fake news, cynicism, bluff, threats, blackmail and seduction with bribes and lucrative schemes have all become part of the varied arsenal of tools that Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s Russia has employed in its approach to the outside world.
But at home increasingly authoritarian methods have been used by the Kremlin to control society and to brainwash it into accepting the Putin regime’s creeping despotism and application of fascism. It has resulted in Russia’s demonization of the democratic world and extreme hostility towards it and paved the way for the current barbaric attempt by the Kremlin to destroy Ukraine as a sovereign, Western-oriented, democratic state and claim it for the autocratic Euro-Asian “Russian” world.
The names of the Lavrovs, Peskovs, Zakharovas and Nebenzyas and other official representatives of the Putin regime are known well enough, and it should surprise no one that these officials blatantly lie, obscure, and confuse as part of their duties.
On March 2, 2022, the EU imposed sanctions on Russian state-owned outlets RT/Russia Today and Sputnik’s broadcasting in the EU. Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, explained that systematic information manipulation and disinformation by the Kremlin were being used as an operational tools in its assault on Ukraine. “It is also a significant and direct threat to the [European] Union’s public order and security.”
But there is an even more repugnant category of cruder propagandists employed by the Putin regime to not only shape Russian domestic public opinion through disinformation but also to fan intolerance and hatred and justify war crimes and crimes against humanity. While censorship has been stepped up, some propagandists have become familiar and popular figures on Russian TV who conduct themselves as stars with a brazen sense of impunity and self-importance.
These accomplices to the Kremlin’s crimes are rarely known outside Russia and should be exposed as despicable Goebbels-like promoters of contemporary Russian fascism. They too should be made to answer for their contempt not only for their own people but for humanity as such.
So, who are the main Putinist purveyors of hatred, xenophobia, war, and the idea that Russia can do, and get away with, whatever it wants regardless of international law and the norms of civilization?
Adapting to the unexpected scenario changes
Before we get to them, let’s recall the evolving context.
In the first days of the renewed war, launched by Putin on Feb. 24, the main Russian TV channels covered what was happening from morning until late night. Victory was expected within days, with Kyiv taken, a puppet regime installed, and a victory parade carried out for the Russian public and the outside world to see.
But, as we know, Russian troops did not achieve anywhere near these expected successes. And so, the official Russian TV was forced to dwell on the lie that Russia had launched a limited “Special Operation” to help the pseudo-Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic armies defend themselves from the “Nazis” ruling in Kyiv.
Such programs as “60 Minutes” on “Rossiya-1” and “Vremya Pokazhet” on Channel One continue to hold the attention of viewers with the help of the maximum permissible level of controversy.
The rhetoric of these propaganda shows is extremely manipulative: hosts are aggressive, militant, and uncompromising. Experts are gathered in the studio, which supposedly implies a discussion, but in fact, each successive speaker only “reinforces” the opinion of the previous one.
At the beginning of the war, Russian TV channels concealed what their armed forces were really up to the destruction of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure far beyond the Donbas region, and the killing of civilians. And an attempt to, but failing, to capture the Ukrainian capital and strategic spots around it.
More recently, the coverage has changed after the major setbacks because of Ukrainian determined resistance. The official Russian channels are blaming the Ukrainian side for the deaths and destruction that they have inflicted on their neighbor.
According to the Russian propagandist narratives, designed essentially for domestic consumption, from Mariupol to Bucha, it is the Ukrainians themselves who have provoked, staged, or carried out the war crimes that the world knows Russia is responsible for.
And as for the military failures and huge losses that Russia has experienced in its brutal assault on Ukraine, including the sinking of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s flagship – the Moskva – by Ukrainian missiles, it is no longer Ukraine as such who is to blame, but NATO. It is not the resilient Ukrainians, but the West as such who are thwarting Russia’s military and imperial ambitions.
And that is all the more reason that some of these criminal instigators call publicly for the merciless destruction of the Ukrainians as a separate people and state. Calls for genocide by any other name on Russian state TV!
Exponents from Putin’s Propagandist Arsenal – Olga Skabeyeva
Without necessarily keeping to an order of importance, the first in this villainous gallery is Olga Skabeyeva a Russian “journalist” and regular TV propagandist. Together with her husband, Yevgeniy Popov, she has hosted the talk show “60 Minut” on the TV channel Russia-1 since the spring of 2016. The show runs twice every day, in the morning and evening.
Putin’s iron doll
Skabeyeva has been slandering and vilifying Ukraine for years on Russian television, describing the Ukrainian army as fascists and Putin as a defender of Ukrainian Russian-speaking citizens in the Donbas. With the launch of Russia’s latest onslaught against Ukraine, she has been confirmed in her role as one of the most aggressive peddlers of Russian fascist propaganda.
Because of the particular timbre of her voice and her active role as a Kremlin propagandist, Skabeyeva has been nicknamed “Putin’s iron doll.”
On Feb. 27, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the decision of the European Union to ban the broadcast of Russian state media RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik in the EU. The EU also imposed personal sanctions against “media persons” close to the Kremlin, including Skabeyeva.
Here’s an example of her in action. She claimed at the outset of Russia’s war against Ukraine: The decision to launch a “special operation” was difficult for Putin. But there was no choice. Because people in the Donbas are not stray dogs, Russia could no longer watch them be destroyed by “the Ukrainian Nazis.”
According to the Kremlin itself, it was conducting a “special operation” in Ukraine (defending the Donbas, but nevertheless attacking Kharkiv, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Mariupol, etc.). Nevertheless, on March 28, Skabeyeva suddenly admitted that the Russian Federation wanted to take over Ukraine and not just “liberate” the Ukrainians.
“A huge European state … A month of a special operation. It is impossible to seize the country so quickly. It is impossible to ‘demilitarize’ it so quickly,” Skabeyeva said, contradicting the Putin regime’s lie about a “special operation.”
In response to reports that Russian soldiers had committed atrocities in Bucha and other places in Ukraine, Skabeyeva has been claiming it is the Ukrainians themselves who are carrying out a “genocide against their own people. Contrary to all the evidence, she has also claimed that Ukrainians have been “happy” to see the Russian invaders “liberating” them
After the Ukrainian forces managed in mid-April to sink the Russian Black Sea Fleet flagship, the Moskva, Skabeyeva told viewers that the ongoing Ukrainian invasion “as escalated into [what] can safely be called World War Three,” and that Russia was now fighting against NATO itself.
In her noon broadcast on April 19, Skabeyeva said that Russian troops were bombing the Azov steel plant in the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, where more than a thousand civilians, including women and children, had taken refuge, with rockets called “white swans”. According to her, the presence of women and children there was not proven, and only “Ukrainian Nazis” were known to be on the territory of the enterprise.
According to Skabeyeva. “Inadequate, stoned, drugged people wage war on the Ukrainian side.”
Kremlin Nightingale – Vladimir Solovyov
Vladimir Solovyov is another leading notorious pro-Putin TV propagandist.
Here are examples of some of his comments regarding the Russian invasion.
“Russians were not the first to attack Ukraine. Russians are not fighting the Ukrainians but the ‘Banderovitsi’ (Ukrainian nationalists) and Nazis, whom they are hostages of. The Nazis have taken control of Ukraine.”
On March 6, Vladimir Solovyov lost his property in Europe due to Western sanctions. The Italian authorities confiscated two of his villas on Lake Como in an elite resort area at the foot of the Alps. YouTube also blocked two of Solovyov’s channels.
On March 14, Solovyov threatened Western countries with continued Russian aggression on one of his shows. “If you think that we will stop in Ukraine – think 300 times. Let me remind you that Ukraine is only an intermediate stage in ensuring the strategic security of the Russian Federation.”
This week he has been warning Europe that after Russia is done with Ukraine, the rest of the continent will need to be “denazified.” Europe does not even have enough weapons to defend itself, he has been telling the domestic audience and stressing that from Russia “There will be no mercy.”
To be continued…
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