Russia: propaganda is mobilized to stir up hatred against “ukronazi” government

Since the beginning of the conflict, the state media and the “patriotic” channels on Telegram relay the myth inherited from the Soviet era according to which Russia can only be victim or attacked.

by Benoît Vitkine (Moscow, correspondent)

“So much for you, dogs!”, “Good memories of the Donbass”, “it’s still too little, too bad for civilians” … This January 14, the news of a missile strike on a residential building De Dnipro, Ukraine, is hardly known that commentators are unleashed. In a few minutes, as the assessment continues to swell – it will reach 45 dead – thousands of Russian Internet users let go on the “patriotic” chains of Telegram messaging, where the most inquired the most fervents of the “special military operation” launched by the Kremlin for almost a year.

The tone is violent, the smileys fun or enthusiastic. The few messages doubting the Ukrainian responsibility in the drama are erased, and those who express compassion, rebuilt. “And they, did they cry for Donetsk?” Asked multiple contributions, in reference to the current conflict since 2014 in Donbass. “It must be remembered that these people have never sought to stop their Ukronazi government, and that they swallow the propaganda that accuses Russia of everything.”

How many are these Russian citizens, to justify or rejoice in the death of Ukrainian civilians? A small minority, contrary to what these few comments might think. The only survey existing on the subject was conducted in January by the Levada Center, the last independent institute of Russia. “Among those questioned, only 11 % say they feel hatred towards the Ukrainians, indicates its director, Lev Goudkov. In addition to the very ideologized nationalist fringe, it is especially the over 45s that are only informed by television and belong to the most disadvantaged social strata in society. “

Admittedly, we must add to this figure some 30 % which say they feel mistrust, fear or hostility for the Ukrainians. Conversely, 28 % evoke “sympathy” for their neighbors. A sign of the difficulty in reading such studies, this last category includes both Russians frankly opposed to the “special operation” as others who support it but believe that the Ukrainian people only aspire to be released by Moscow . Note, moreover, that “Ukraine” arouses much more massive negative feelings (70 %) than “the Ukrainians”.

paradox of the conflict

This subtle distinction corresponds to the crest line followed by Russian propaganda for many years. His main idea, which Vladimir Putin has exposed many times, is that the Ukrainian state and national construction is a scam, a fiction which only served to remove the “brother people” from its Russian roots. This idea deeply rooted in the Russian Imperial Psyche is at the center of the discourse justifying the “special operation”: it is not a question of oppressing the Ukrainians but of saving them from a allogenic, Nazi political regime and sold to the West.

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/Media reports cited above.