Wins and losses of Crimean pro-Kremlin media. Monitoring survey
The Kremlin-controlled Crimean "mass media" mention Ukraine fairly rarely and do not even write about the war all that much. Even though one would assume that, since "bavovna" has blossomed in Crimea more than once, Putin's vertical propaganda would take a more proactive approach to this region.
As the IMI* monitoring survey showed, only 10% of the information in the Crimean occupation media were related to the Russian war in Ukraine one way or another. There were no other news related to Ukraine at all.
Interestingly, the previous monitoring period (November 2022) saw almost four times more reports about the Russian war (42% of the total amount of content).
Crimean news topics related to Russia's war on Ukraine. The survey covered the pro-Kremlin media resources operating in Crimea: RIA Novosti. Krym, Kryminform, Sevastopol Media, Komsomolskaya Pravda Krym, the Crimean News Agency. The sample included all content featuring mentions of the Russian war and Ukraine, published January 25–27, 2023. Punishments for discrediting the Russian army (31%); Honoring the memory of and helping the "SMO" participants (27%); Transport connection between Crimea and the occupied South (12%); the Western rule (12%); Zelensky on the Crimean TV (6%); Crimean officials' statements about Ukraine (6%); Other (6%).
A third of the war-related content on the Crimean occupation resources (31%) were devoted to the threat of Ukraine discrediting the Russian military and carrying out sabotage on the territory of Crimea. Interestingly, according to the occupation media, such discrediting operations are being carried out by Crimeans themselves:
- Yalta man caught discrediting the Russian Armed Forces for the third time / Kryminform
- Crimean man fined 40 thousand for discrediting Russia's army / KP.RU
- Man from Chornomorsky district to pay a fine for discrediting the Russian Armed Forces
The Crimean occupation media go out of their way to describe the risks faced by those who "discredit" the Russian army in all detail:
- "The man made public statements 'about the Russian military personnel's actions in Ukraine being unlawful, about them executing illegal orders by their commanders and other war criminals,' reports the press service of the Chornomorsky District Court." The court ruled to fine the man 40,000 rubles.
- Another "saboteur", who allegedly committed "public actions aimed at discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation", was fined 65,000 rubles.
Propagandists portray people who protest against Russia's actions as drunks and hooligans:
- "In Yalta (Republic of Crimea), patrol police officers detained a 35-year-old man who, being in a state of alcoholic intoxication at a public transport stop, violated public order and even made statements discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," the message says.
Such reports show intimidation attempts and increased pressure on citizens in the occupied territories of Ukraine.
Glorification of "SMO participants" ranked second among all the war-related news. 27% of all content that mentions Ukraine are devoted to this topic.
In Crimea, memorial plaques to Crimeans who had been drafted and died in the Russian war against Ukraine are being installed in schools:
- 13 streets in Crimea are named after the deceased special operation participants / RIA Novosti Krym
- Memorial plaque to an SMO hero installed in Crimea's Belgorod district
- Memorial plaque to a deceased SMO participant installed in Crimea's Belgorod district / KP.RU
- Memorial plaques to SMO heroes installed in two Crimean schools
Such news contain pompous speeches by local officials, seeped with World War 2 nostalgia. For example, "'Honorable sons of our Fatherland, who gave their lives for the Motherland, repeated the feat of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who fought on the front line of the Great Patriotic War. The memory of Viktor Toshmotov and Dmitry Loshatetsky will forever remain in the hearts of their grateful compatriots,' said Alexander Shuvalov, Chairman of the SCRC Committee on Patriotic Education and Veteran Affairs."
In general, the glorification of the participants of the so-called "SMO" has been one of the most prominent narratives pushed by the propagandists. For example, KP launched a whole project for this purpose, called "Heroes of Operation Z:"
- Operation Z hero senior ensign Vasilyev crushes the enemy's positions with direct fire
- Operation Z hero corporal Orlov repels an attack on his convoy
Such news articles are replicated by all occupation media outlets with little to no variation, only the headlines may be slightly different. This means that there is no journalistic processing behind such news and they are being distributed as part of the centralized Kremlin information campaign.
There are also news about aid to the living Russian soldiers. Currently, this aid is limited to accepting applications for land plots. "'Applications for land plots are open for SMO participants and their representatives. The process started yesterday, January 24. Today, we are working with a large group in the Rosguard,' said the head of the city administration, Yanina Pavlenko."
12% of the war-related information is devoted to the transport connection between Crimea and the occupied Ukrainian South. Earlier, when Kherson was still occupied, Crimean media were writing a lot about travel routes from Crimea to Kherson:
Headline: "Bus to Kherson takes off in Crimea for the first time in 8 years. It will be escorted by the Rosguard"
But now these routes have shortened to Henichesk:
Headline: "Shuttle buses to course the following routes: Henichesk – Simferopol – Yalta; Henichesk – Canköy; Skadovsk – Simferopol"
Another 12% of news reports were devoted to Russian aggressive propaganda's traditional narratives about the hostile "collective West" and the "creeping Nazism."
Namely, the Crimean occupation media have been reporting on the Western arms supply to Ukraine – the tanks attracted their special attention. Crimean media mainly parrot the stance of Russian politicians. For example, Russian Duma deputy from the occupied Crimea, Leonid Babashov, believes that the supply of tanks will lead to "a final break in the mindset of the Russian society."
"'Today, in Ukraine, we are waging a war against the collective West, a war for our right to live and prosper, for the future of our children and for our interests, to combat the creeping Nazism and to defend the Russian people from genocide. It took 11 months of hostilities for this fact to crystallize in the mass consciousness of Russian citizens: 'the West is Russia's enemy,' and has always been. Those who used to sincerely believe the USA and its satellite countries were our friends. Those who used to call them an example of successful economy that is worthy of emulation, and most importantly, a stronghold of democracy and justice, now they understand that they have been living a lie for over 30 years,'" the deputy noted," the Crimean Information Agency writes.
The Russian legislator managed to cramp at least four narratives into one paragraph. It has the evil "collective West", which is trying to destroy the Russian Federation and the future of Russian children, and a claim that Russia is not at war with Ukraine, but with the same "collective West", and genocide of the Russian people (which is a thing, as it turns out), and, of course, the "creeping Nazism".
Alexandr Grishin, a so-called analyst at "Komsomolskaya Pravda", even made calculations and claimed that the USA was giving us tanks at an inflated price, ironically comparing it to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense purchasing eggs:
"And the American authorities, together with the company that produces these tanks, found out at what prices the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense was buying eggs for the UAF servicemen, and decided to snatch a 'jackpot' for themselves, too – a chance one only gets one time or two in a lifetime. Especially since Kyiv has nowhere else to turn anyway, you can sell them a tank for the price of a destroyer, no less. After all, it is obvious to everyone how things are going to end in Ukraine, and that no one is going to repay the debts."
From this, the analyst deduced a new argument to insinuate that the NATO bloc is prolonging the war:
"In this simple way, of all the billions of Western aid 'gifted' to Ukraine to be repayed later, most will end up in the pockets of the US arms industry tycoons, strengthening the American economy and currency. This is the real reason for all NATO's efforts to drag out the conflict."
Aksyonov, in turn, even found a diagram of a Leopard 2 tank and its "weak spots".
Headline: "Aksyonov publishes a Leopard 2 diagram for easy identification of its weak spots"
Other topics covered by Crimean propagandists included Ukrainian programmers hacking the Crimean television to broadcast Zelensky's address (Hackers make Crimean TV stream Zelensky / RIA Novosti Krym), as well as Crimean officials' meaningless and even somewhat absurd statements about Ukraine.
Headline: "Ukraine has started the process of self-liquidation, says Konstantinov". Lead: "Konstantinov: Hate towards Russians has triggered the process of Nazi Ukraine's self-liquidation"
As a result, the Crimean media's propaganda seems awkward and weak, because, surprisingly, the amount of content about those who "discredit the SMO" exceeds the amount of content about those who make it "glorious". The Russian occupation authorities are focused on the policy of scaring Crimeans with fines and arrests for their pro-Ukrainian position. Obviously, sham glorification is not as successful in Crimea as the Kremlin would like it to be.
* The monitoring covered the following information resources: RIA Krym, Kryminform, "Komsomolskaya Pravda. Krym", SevastopolMedia, the Crimean News Agency.
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