Despite Putin's best efforts to control the narrative on his invasion of Ukraine, the ugly truth about what he's done is starting to slip through the cracks on Russian state television.
March 11, 2022

Despite Putin's best efforts to control the narrative on his invasion of Ukraine, the ugly truth about what he's done is starting to slip through the cracks on Russian state television.

From the Daily Mail: Russian state television DEFIES President Putin's propaganda edict and broadcasts criticism of the war in Ukraine - with guests describing the shambolic invasion as 'like Afghanistan, but even WORSE':

Putin’s war on freedom of expression in Russia appeared to be fraying at the edges on Thursday after guests on Kremlin-backed TV defied Moscow and openly criticised the brutal conflict in Ukraine, calling the invasion ‘even worse than Afghanistan’.

Guests have refused to support the narrative pushed through by television hosts on Putin’s request that Russia has been conducting a ‘special operation’ to ‘demilitarise’ and ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine – claims dismissed as baseless pretexts by Kyiv and her partners in the West.

One who appeared on one of Russia 1’s prime time talk show rebelled by referring to the USSR’s disastrous invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 which ended in withdrawal ten years later. [...]

Putin’s ‘propagandist-in-chief’ Vladimir Soloviev, who has been sanctioned by the EU, was forced to interrupt Semyond Bagdasarov after the academic told him: ‘Do we need to get into another Afghanistan, but even worse?’. He said that in Ukraine ‘there are more people and they’re more advanced in their weapon handling’, before adding: ‘We don’t need that. Enough already.’

Speaking during a broadcast on Russia 1 earlier, Karen Shakhnazarov, a filmmaker and state pundit, said the conflict in Ukraine risked isolating Russia.

He told Mr Soloviyev: ‘I have a hard time imagining taking cities such as Kyiv. I can’t imagine how that would look.’ The filmmaker went on to demand an end to the war, declaring: ‘If this picture starts to transform into an absolute humanitarian disaster, even our close allies like China and India will be forced to distance themselves from us.

‘This public opinion, with which they’re saturating the entire world, can play out badly for us... Ending this operation will stabilise things within the country.’

As the article noted, Russians who criticize his actions could be looking at 15 years in jail and independent media in the country have had threats of being shut down or paying hefty fines if they refuse to call the invasion a "special military operation."

The reality of these sanctions is setting in, and as The Daily Beast reported, propagandists for Putin also warned that he should end the conflict before “frightening” sanctions destabilize his regime and risk civil war in Russia:

There is a notable mood shift in Russia, as darkness sets over its economy and the invasion of Ukraine hits major problems. While the beginning of President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale war against Ukraine was greeted with cheers, clapping, and demands of Champagne in the studio, the reality sobered up even the most pro-Kremlin pundits and experts on Russian state television. [...]

Putin’s most trusted propagandists are becoming ever more desperate to distort or deny the evidence of the atrocities because the truth is finding its way past the roadblocks erected by the Kremlin. Russian citizens are not pleased either with the war, nor with the financial price they have to pay for their leader’s ill-conceived military conquests.

Even the infamous show run by Soloviev—who was recently sanctioned as an accomplice of Putin by the European Union—became dominated by predictions of Russian doom and gloom. Andrey Sidorov, deputy dean of world politics at Moscow State University, cautioned: “For our country, this period won’t be easy. It will be very difficult. It might be even more difficult than it was for the Soviet Union from 1945 until the 1960s... We’re more integrated into the global economy than the Soviet Union, we’re more dependent on imports—and the main part is that the Cold War is the war of the minds, first and foremost. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union had a consolidating idea on which its system was built. Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia has nothing like that to offer.”

State TV pundit Karen Shakhnazarov pointed out: “The war in Ukraine paints a frightening picture, it has a very oppressive influence on our society. Ukraine, whichever way you see it, is something with which Russia has thousands of human links. The suffering of one group of innocents does not compensate for the suffering of other innocent people... I don’t see the probability of denazification of such an enormous country. We would need to bring in 1.5 million soldiers to control all of it. At the same time, I don’t see any political power that would consolidate the Ukrainian society in a pro-Russian direction... Those who talked of their mass attraction to Russia obviously didn’t see things the way they are. The most important thing in this scenario is to stop our military action. Others will say that sanctions will remain. Yes, they will remain, but in my opinion discontinuing the active phase of a military operation is very important.”

I'm not hopeful about much these days when it comes to Putin's actions and the situation in Ukraine, and for the rest of the world for that matter with how dangerous this is, but this does give me a glimmer of hope that he won't be able to continue to propagandize the majority of his own country for long as reality sets in with these sanctions.

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