Mild Mental Retardation
Review of Russian TV propaganda and manipulations in 1-15 November 2014
It is well-known that the use of children and animals in TV-ad is limited by legislation in civilized countries. Similar regulation is in force in Russia. Moreover, some of the politicians want to restrict the involvement of children in ads in the Russian Federation even more since ‘the use of children image decreases the sensible perception of information by consumers and is aimed at manipulation of adults.’
More than likely, Russian TV journalists and editors working on the ‘Ukrainian crisis’ are well aware of this special value of children to manipulate information. There is good reason why in the first half of November during the ‘elections’ in ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ the TV-channels broadcasted a range of stories supposed to explain why the Donbas residents want to be independent from Ukraine. The horrible present and the bleak future of children of Donetsk and Luhansk as parts of Ukraine balanced out other arguments. The pro-Kremlin channel LifeNews has become a leader of such special TV ops making use of children.
The first story about tortures of Donetsk children by National Guard was launched a week before ‘elections’. A 13-year old boy arrested by militants was in the limelight. At first (the story of 28 October by LiveNews) ‘teenager Stas’ was described as ‘a young saboteur’ who was drugged and black-mailed. The conclusion of the TV-channel’s journalists was voiced by the head of militants Guivi: Ukrainian soldiers used the Vietnamese experience of American servicemen of intentional use of children. A classic example of transfer of negative impression of Americans’ crimes to the supposed actions of Ukrainians.
But the very next day the NTV’s story has another accent: the teenager was intimidated, drugged, stuffed with special devices and turned into a spy. And the ‘militants’ did not detain him but saved. In the next two plots of NTV (of 1 and 5 November) the story of the young ‘willy-nilly spy’ is enriched with sentimental details so that the pity for the kid would boost the hatred of ‘punishers’.
What do all the stories about Stas Petrov have in common? Minimum direct speech of the boy, outrageous facts are told either by a journalist or by ‘DPR’ gunmen. Moreover, all the stories, except for the last one (5 November), do not show the boy’s face and it is unclear if this is actually Stas Petrov who speaks in front of the camera. One may catch many controversial testimonies in the boy’s words, in the comments of journalists and militants when comparing different stories. And the statements about drugs have a reference to anonymous physicians in one of the stories only. The rest stories present this as an unquestionable fact.
After the ‘crucified boy’ story, a new speculation on war crimes against children in Ukraine caused the upsurge of indignation of opposition-oriented Russians. DOZHD journalists decided to figure out the situation. And 5 November, when NTV and ‘militants’ were looking for ‘custodians’ for a ‘boy being a soft-skinned target’ since his parents had been killed by ‘punishers’, DOZHD stated, putting it lightly, that the whole story is far from being true.
DOZHD TV-channel, 05.11.2014
‘Donetsk authorities identified the boy of NTV’s story
Story: Ukrainian crisis
Donetsk Oblast State Administration identified the boy Stas who featured in the NTV’s story of 2 November ‘National Guardians with syringes made a target for rockets of a Donetsk boy’. This is announced on the official web-site of the authority on Wednesday, 5 November.
Two days before this story was aired, the local militia put the 12-year old Stanislav Petrov of Krasnyy Lyman village on the wanted list. According to the data of Krasnoarmeiskiy local office of MIA of Ukraine, the boy left home on 12 October. The All-Points Bulletin says: the boy seems to be 12-13 years old, 140 cm height, of gaunt figure, oval face, blue eyes and medium length fair hair. The militia officers mentioned that Stanislav Petrov has got ‘mild mental retardation’ and the boy ‘is prone to vagrancy’.
On Sunday, 2 November, NTV broadcasted the story ‘National Guardians with syringes made a target for rockets of a Donetsk boy’. The story tells that Stas was kidnapped by National Guard fighters, and threatening with killing his parents they put a pea-jacket stuffed with radio transmitters on the boy and made him ride to separatist roadblock having injected a drug.
‘The boy remembers a shot, feeling giddy, his way to militants of 50 km by bicycle,’ the story tells.
When the story begins the author tells about three shots on the boy’s left hand, and Stas shows three spots inside his elbow. But a couple minutes later the narcologist Olga Nikolaevna tells that the shot traces were on the right wrist.
Earlier, 28 October, a story about this boy was aired by LifeNews TV-channel. It also tells that the child had a drug injected into right wrist, and Stas shows it for camera.
On Wednesday, 5 November, the official web-site of Donetsk Oblast State Administration has information that after the NTV’s story about Stas the State Administration identified him and found his parents.
The information states that Stas is supervised by Office of Children’s Service of Krasnoarmeisk District State Administration as a child prone to vagrancy. He ran away from home several times, was taken to orphanage and then brought back home.
‘This is a sick child with proven diagnosis. He often lies. He may walk around the village and tell that he is adopted though this is not true. He may lie about anything else,’ tells the Head of Office for Children’s Service Vera Sagaidak.
Having seen the NTV’s story about the boy, his parents came to Donetsk Administration and informed that National Guard of Ukraine or other military units had never come to them, and they had never been beaten.
Representatives of Donetsk Administration told that specialists of children’s service established that the boy was in Donetsk. ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ representatives offered his parents to come with documents and take the boy from the Oblast State Administration building occupied by the separatists currently. Since there is no connection with the parents, the Donetsk Administration does not know if they managed to take their son home.’
But in war, especially in information blockade, telling the hidden facts or showing the point of view of another side is fairly not enough. As opposed to coordinated efforts of Kremlin-loyal mass media, special services and diplomats to compromise the politics of Kyiv in the eyes of domestic and foreign viewers, the Ukrainian party fails to follow through the line to expose the lies.
Meanwhile the new stories mingle with the old ones making a negative image of Ukraine, justifying any actions of ‘militants’ as a weaker and unprotected party of the conflict.
This is so much the case that even Russia TV-channel is not afraid of telling about the real customs of ‘militants’ since they cannot overshadow the ‘savageness of punishers’. It does not matter that the story continues mainly about the wounded men treated in one of Donetsk hospitals and none of them tells about ‘stamping with swastika’ or ‘ear cutting’. Any critical perception of information is suppressed with a flow of emotional comments of wounded and demonstration of their sufferings. The focus on physical pain and personal tragedies covers any arguments of rational mind by far.
Russia, Vesti, 02.11.2014
‘Punishers stamp the captives with swastikas and cut their ears
By Aleksandr Rogatkin
UN OCHA has published the latest report on death toll in the conflict in the South-East of Ukraine. The official number of killed is over four thousand, the number of injured is about ten thousand. Over five million civilians are in horrific conditions.
A motorcade with beamers by-passes the ruined roadblocks, burnt-down and brown of infernal fire armored cars. We rush at full speed, pass the last fortified area of militants and leave for midground. We are going to exchange captives. Ukrainian soldiers in a minibus are very nervous that everything may fall apart.
Paratrooper Nazar is clasping the small cross, his talisman. Two months ago he was blown up by a mine in the Luhansk airport. The doctors brought him back to life.
He was not beaten but deeply intimidated. The military says ‘it was moral coercion’. ‘They said they were going to cut my ears, but I’m alive and healthy,’ told Nazar.
If one remembers the tortures of captive militants, swastika stamping, he is very lucky…”
And 5 November the topic of children murders in Donbas becomes one of the central themes of Russian TV. And LifeNews is an initiator again. The same day the Channel One airs a story. The fact: as a result of artillery shelling on sports ground of school No. 63 of Kuybyshevskiy District of Donetsk there were two children killed and four injured (the children are pupils of the secondary school and students of vocational school).
In the beginning, the Channel One demonstrates the shots of site, then gives comments of relatives of victims and makes introduction. They do not say directly that the children were killed by Ukrainians but do their best to suggest such an idea to the viewer with indirect ‘evidences’:
Channel One, News, 05.11.2014, 21:00
“Two teenagers die in Donetsk shelling on school grounds
… Oktiabrskiy District in the suburbs of Donetsk is shelled by Ukrainian army in broad daylight. It is near Peski settlement, positions of Ukrainian forces are there. Mortars and heavy artillery are launched from there.
‘They often shell the settlement. Though there is no strategic target here. A school, a kindergarten and a settlement around school,’ a local tells.
The school where teenagers got killed. Viktor parked his truck not far from the football pitch. The car is demolished.
‘Such explosions: this is either ‘Tochka-U’ (Scarab B) or I do not know what. You see it is torn into small parts. Over there a house is damaged, a half,’ he says.
Destroyed houses are a total loss, backyards are ploughed with mines. The house had been finished when the front line approached Donetsk. The owners moved to the downtown. A shell tore into the roof, the fire broke out. They were extinguishing the fire under shelling.
The roar of guns becomes stronger. People say it was calm a week ago. Shelling recommenced after the election of Donetsk People’s Republic head. It has become much more intense. ‘The garage is blown up, the house is blown up. The house over there in the end is blown today, this is the first time I see shooting people. Don’t they have a map? They have got everything. They see us,” a local says bitterly.
Ukrainian artillery fired settlements of Luhansk oblast today. The militants inform that in Frunze settlement 12 locals got killed. The number of victims in Donetsk is still to be determined. At the moment the shelling can be heard in any part of the city.”
Unlike Channel One, LifeNews accuse the Ukrainian Army right away. The reporters support their peremptory statement with a ‘fact’ about location of Ukrainian troops (who else but they could shell) and with the words of victim’s mother who was not on site.
LifeNews, 05.11.2014 21:26
“A schoolchild injured as a result of Ukrainian Army attack told about Donetsk shelling
The eldest victim Aleksei Lavrenov turned 21 on 2 November. His mother Marina is in the hospital admissions waiting for verdict of doctors.
- 2 November my son had his birthday, and today this has happened. Splinters injured his back and hands as doctors say, - tells Marina Lavrenova. – This is what Ukraine does to our children. Two children got killed and three are injured as a result of shelling. I wish endurance to all parents, I can’t talk, I’m lost for words.
5 November two pupils of 8th grade fell victim to the shelling in Donetsk, other four of their fellows are severely injured. This happened as a result of artillery shelling of sports ground near school No. 63 not far from the railway station.
It should be reminded that the day before the Ukrainian servicemen being located in settlements nearby Donetsk resumed shelling of peaceful district of the city. The military fired from howitzers, mortars and ‘GRADs’. One civilian and two soldiers were killed. And 7 residents and 6 militants are injured.”
Thus, the necessary emotional background is made, the facts are adapted to the necessary message. The next days the TV-channels consolidate the negative information making use of repetitions and statements of facts. One of the main manipulation elements is selective citing of OSCE (suppression of the fact that on the site of tragedy the OSCE representatives detected many shell craters and could not identify the circumstances of shelling resulting in children’s deaths), the use of anonymous sources and references to weighty sources (MFA of RF and Investigative Committee of RF). Making mention of MFA and IC was supposed to convince the viewer that the case is actually solved and serious since it’s supported at such a high level.
It is worth mentioning the sections that show the gravity of degradation of some of the journalists ready to forge any information to defend and support the ‘correct’ version of schoolchildren death. Thus, the 9 November story of Evgeniy Poddubny (Russia, Vesti): anonymous locals tell about seeing a ‘Ukrainian drone’ several minutes before the tragedy. The reporter does not explain how the drone could be identified. Aleksandr Naumov of TV-Centre openly tells that the National Guard goes to all lengths and bombs elderly people and children.
Russia, Vesti, 09.11.2014
‘Punishers killed Donetsk children with the help of drone
By Evgeniy Poddubny
The Donbas capital keeps mourning over the children killed on school sports ground by artillery shells. The teenagers were playing football. The OSCE observers conclude that the shells came from north-west, from Peski settlement controlled by Ukrainian Army. DPR chiefs know the names of artillerymen involved in shelling and require the prosecution of war crime …
After the death of children the main question is: who shot and from which location? The militants immediately declared that these were the Ukrainian forces that fired. The area was shelled with howitzers and 120-mm mortars…
OSCE officers working in Donetsk made their conclusions. The school was shelled from north-west that is from Peski the territory controlled by the Ukrainian group. But the declarations of official representative of National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine are cynical and, considering the expert information, have nothing to do with the reality…
Kyiv has accused militants of shelling their own territory. But Donetsk residents do not pay attention to the words of Ukrainian forces any longer. They believe it was the precision fire. Several people say that a few minutes before the volley to school they saw Ukrainian drone in the sky. ‘This is not a tragedy, this is a murder. They are killing us willfully,’ people say.”
By Aleksandr Naumov
… Donetsk hasn’t seen such shelling for several months. Kyiv’s army seems to involve its whole armory: tanks, howitzers and mortars. The city is shaken by massive explosions. Kiyevskiy, Kirovskiy and Petrovskiy districts suffered the most. Entire streets are on fire. Dozens of people are left homeless. Many of the houses need total reconstruction.
Dreadful whistling and cannonade keep raging continuously. Ukrainian forces are firing randomly. Three schools, two kindergartens, a market and a dormitory were destroyed by shelling over the last 24 hours.
One of the mines hit railway institute. According to the self-defense’s information, as a result of these bombings at least ten people are injured. One person is killed. Fire trucks are rushing all over the city.
There are few dwellers in one of the houses. These are elderly and children mainly. But the National Guard would not stop. If a shell did not hit a house, it’s already a good luck, people say. The locals have learned to determine the type of weapon and the targeted direction by splinters and craters.”
Dramatic background made by communications from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts not only reinforces the hostile image (of Ukraine) but also imposes an opinion on viewers that current events form the new political reality – Novorossia. Almost always this term is delivered by hosts or reporters as a common denomination of ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ or as a synonym of one of the people’s republics.
‘Novorossia’ is convenient for the group identification of residents of occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and for contraposition to the rest of Ukrainian citizens. To our opinion, the promotion of ‘Novorossia identity’ by Russian TV-channels along with tales about savageness of ‘punishers’ and demonstration of Kremlin’s support and ‘ordinary Russians’ is aimed at legitimization of another annexation of Ukrainian territory. At first, in the heads of Russian who will anyway have to pay the price. And later, in the heads of Donbas locals: they are imposed with an idea that ‘Ukrainians’ want to exterminate them since they (Donetsk and Luhansk locals) are ‘other’ because they are and always ‘have been’ ‘Novorossians’ but did not know that. And they have no other way but to unite with Russia to save their identity and life. And it should be noted that so far the fortune favors the ‘Russia’s Space’ ideologists and practitioners in this effort.