Metamorphoses of Russian propaganda. «Vesti» newspaper
Perhaps Ukrainian citizens still do not understand: if they are given something for free, then someone will pay for it. And, thus, someone needs that.
"Vesti" newspaper looks as an interesting product of mimicry of Kremlin propaganda. Everything is subtle there: cleverly selected facts, "correct" lexicon; something to pay more attention, and less for some other; something to present more emotionally, and something not to mention at all ... Goebbels is between the lines. Massively. Into the masses.
Events in the East. War, refugees and Army as a source of danger
A key theme that attracts attention now is ATO and the events in eastern Ukraine. As a rule, this is a litmus paper for any mass media in regard to its sympathy and non-biased approach.
When you are reading the "Vesti" it becomes evident immediately: there are no terrorists in the East. There is "militia", "forces of LPR/DPR", sometimes there are "guerillas". Although "LPR" and "DPR" are recognized as terrorist organizations in Ukraine, the paper calls them "self-proclaimed republics".
“Self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics emerged... During anti-terrorist operation, declared by the authorities, dozens, if not hundreds of people were killed... Including civilians... Artillery and aircrafts of Ukrainian army are shelling the cities, gunmen of DPR and LPR are killing prisoners, kidnapping people…” (6th June, page 2).
In this quotation there are a number of messages that are actively promoted by Russian propaganda, namely:
- it’s not an ATO in eastern Ukraine, but the war with self-proclaimed republics;
- war is initiated by Kyiv;
- Ukrainian army kills civilians using heavy machinery;
- Ukrainian authorities and the terrorists in the East are equal sides of the conflict.
These ideas are being developed in other materials of the paper. «Hardening of war is growing... Whenever this happens, the fault lies with its own government ... instead of negotiating the war is waged» (6th June, page 4). «Mostly Crimean volunteers go to Lugansk oblast... There's a whole group of militias gathered there... There are such mincers that you do not know whether you will remain alive…» (6th June, page 4). «… There’s a high probability of sharp increase in military assistance from Russia to unrecognized republics» (10th June, page 2).
Newspaper picked up a key trend of Russian propaganda: Eastern Ukraine is a zone of humanitarian disaster, civilian population is suffering, large numbers of refugees; responsibility for this lies with Ukrainian authorities. Almost in every issue there are articles about sufferings of local population in eastern Ukraine, and there it’s hard to find traces that citizens are suffering because of the vacuum of state power and banditry.
Thus, in article «Besieged Slovyansk» (10th June, page 4): «All vehicles are stopped at roadblocks of ATO forces and…... not all are allowed to leave the city... City actually happened to be cut off from the outside world when the military decided to close the "the road of life", highway Izyum - Slovyansk». And on the same page there’s a note in large type: «Military promise to handle a problem by installing new roadblocks».
The article is an excellent example of mimicry of Kremlin propaganda. All the sufferings of the local population are consequences of actions of Ukrainian military: bombing of residential areas («…Ukrainian artillery struck at SBU buildings, police, and municipality. But the bombs fell near the central market, and furniture shop was set on fire, …set church on fire", "shelling damaged the majority of mobile towers ","shell hit the water supply pipe») and the already mentioned roadblocks. And not a word about terror, criminal acts of separatist gunmen and all the consequences of vacuum of the power. In subtitle: «Military actions de-energized the city, residents are left without water, means of communication…». Not terrorists, not foreign agents, but military actions. And then recalling a quote of Olena Bondarenko from a recent issue: «Whenever this happens, the fault lies with its own government ... instead of negotiating the war is waged» (6th June, page 4).
In the issue of June 11 again no mentioning of military actions or Ukrainian army, while instead two materials are dedicated to the problems of refugees and civilians of Donbass. Moreover, in the article "East: no water, no ambulances, under bombs" again the cause of all ills is either the military or banditry. But banditry illustrated only by events in Gorlivka, where Ukrainian authorities are staying, and in Mariupol that - as noted separately - not came under the control of "DPR". This article is actively pressuring the emotions – it’s stated twice that no fuel remained for "ambulance and the police".
Such hidden antipathy to Ukrainian Government in the situation in eastern Ukraine has another form: reproduction of labels and evaluations of events as they are presented in Russian mass media.
«There were bloody unrests in other regions too. More than 40 people were burned alive in Odessa itself…» (6th June, page 2).
To those people who stand with arms on the side of terrorists and separatists a positive emotional anchor is tied. This is achieved by materials that describe in details their way of life, worries, motivation, family ties. These are the articles «Hundreds of Crimeans are going to fight in Donbass» (6th June), «FSB veteran is among the killed» (10th June).
Materials dedicated to Ukrainian army tend to focus not on combats and not on the personalities of the military; the key themes here are corruption in the army, inconsistency and low effectiveness of the military, poor equipment and funding of the army. In the issue of 2 June there is almost an entire column about it (article " Tough soldiers weekdays "). In the article "Border guards take the battle, on the border with the Russian Federation - a hole " (6 June) half of the text is dedicated to the problem of corruption. This article is the main one in the issue, corruption is mentioned on the front page. On 10 June newspaper says nothing about fighting, where Ukrainian army was forced to participate, but almost the entire front page is dedicated to the problem of corruption in the military (article "In the case we are the side that is affected by the accident ").
Associative links are being built: separatists (militias) = ideological people with their thoughts and feelings; Army = source of danger, collapsed from within, poorly equipped and demoralized. That’s a full coincidence of Russian mainstream.
Presidential Inauguration: oligarchs’ hangout and a chance for friendship with Russia
Two pages inside of the issue of 10 June were dedicated to Inauguration of newly elected President of Ukraine. Thus, about 25% of the text was dedicated to his program declarations and the first steps; 15% to forecasts for the development of the situation in Eastern Ukraine; 45% to peculiarities of a reception in honor of the inauguration in the tradition of the tabloids and approximately 15% to incident of heat stroke to the guard soldier. There is no word about the course of the inauguration, respective celebration, level of representation of foreign countries; no comments on the inauguration neither from international community, nor from Ukrainian politicians and experts. This echoes the line of Russian mass media, which is emphasizing by the lack of attention from the international community to Ukrainian issue, illusion of international ignoring Ukraine and events in this country is being created, the lack of support to Ukrainian authorities from influential international players.
Newspaper separately emphasizes friendly relations of Petro Poroshenko with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov (as mentioned on the front page). Thus, the idea that Russia is the only possible ally of Ukraine in this world, and Ukraine cannot get away from its fraternal embrace is being imposed. A new president has, therefore, a chance to meet those expectations that are formed in Russian society by those local media: disown cruel predecessors, recover, end the war in the East and allow Russia to withdraw Ukraine from a brutal historical trouble. (This way the Kremlin is preparing the grounds to make restoring of order in the East its own merit).
"Behind the scenes of reception: a meeting of the oligarchs and a lard on the table” - this is wording of the title of one of the articles dedicated to inauguration. Label of an oligarch actively clings to a new President. His ties to the oligarchs of all categories are underlined, especially if speaking of businessmen from a camp of the Party of Regions. Reading between the lines: Maidan led to the strengthening of oligarchs; the same people are in the power; nothing has changed; on "the top" everything is "inter-connected"; all attempts to change it are useless. Brief overview of Russian social networks will give you all these ideas, but in clearly open text.
Situation in Ukraine: poverty, corruption and state terror
Ukraine is under control of the oligarchs, the government is corrupt and opaque – this is a key message of front pages of newspapers. "Cabinet of Ministers is totally dependent on various corruptive and oligrach groups ... there’s a fierce war between oligarchs" (6 June, page 3). "The President’s motorcade of six cars" - a key title of the issue of 11 June. This issue’s article on how the President is going to work (cortege, security, and blocked roads) is placed on the same page hat illustrates general impoverishment of Ukrainians ("Because of the crisis. Giving our planes to foreigners " and column "They are saving": on consumer’s limitations imposed on Ukrainians by the crisis).
In the issue of 6 June on page dedicated to the new power in Kyiv, there is an article «Trades are going on. Commissions and posts will be divided", which describes the disputes over distribution of powers with the following words: "Passions seethed... all claimed everuthing and believed that they were right”. This quotation of one unnamed “Udar” Party member complements predatory picture: "If we have 2/3 of votes, why should we give them power?". The army and security forces are through by corruption is the leitmotif of all the materials about the army. Declarations of government to fight corruption is an empty sound, "neither coalition nor opposition don’t see the fight against corruption" made in large script on page 3 of the issue of 6 June.
Despite dreams of the revolutionaries, the situation with democratic freedoms only has gotten worse, which is logical under conditions of oligarch’s dominance. "Authorities mastered to write off any of its actions limiting the rights and freedoms to wartime needs, and to equate any criticism almost to a high treason ... Mass media, allowing deviations from the "general line of the Party" are under pressure" - says the newspaper on 6 June (page 3), but it does not provide a single example of such pressure.
State terror against the business is one of the leitmotifs of reviews of economic and legal situation in the country. On 30 May the main page of the newspaper had a title made in orange and black colors: “Resistance movement. "Vesti" is launching the project "Stop the mess!” And further below: "Now throughout the country there’s an enormous pressure of regulatory bodies on business... We can stop all this only in joint efforts ... Ukrainians oppose corruptive pressure...”. Virtual mass character of the people’s anger and opposition to a "corrupted government" unequivocal "Resistance Movement", colors of George’s Ribbon – an unobtrusive belief in the soundness and fairness of "people’s protest" in Eastern Ukraine. The article itself describes in detail the instruments of pressure of government on business, "not associated with the power"; it is about "mass character" of a phenomenon, but there is only an example of themselves, one transport company and IT company. A position of investigators is not covered; moreover, in these cases any legal decisions and sanctions have not been made that could demonstrate the soundness or groundlessness of actions of the authority bodies.
Overall assessment of the situation in Ukraine by newspaper leads to a key message, which intersects with the trends of Russian propaganda: Revolution in Ukraine was fruitless, deaths of people are needless; the only result of Maidan is the destruction of the state, deterioration of economic and political situation, further impoverishment of Ukrainians.