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Tactics and tools How Russian propaganda uses tactics of “beautiful people”

The “beautiful people” tactic is one of the most common tactics of Russian propaganda inside the country, but it is also used in Ukraine. Propaganda messages are spread by attractive, successful, famous people such as TV presenters, bloggers, film actors, singers, writers, etc. Because of their recognizability, they become so-called “thought leaders”. This encourages other people to think that if they follow the same ideology, the same behavior, they will also be happy or successful.

This tactic is often used in advertising to increase product sales. It is also used to attract people to religious cults. Like, take an example from this person and come to us. Russian propaganda has also adopted this tactic and mainly uses it to spread propaganda in the domestic media space. In particular, actors and singers with Ukrainian roots who have Ukrainian relatives are used as a source of “true” information about events in Ukraine. Their fans, guided by the authority of idols, assimilate and spread this rhetoric. However, there are examples of the use of this tactic in the Ukrainian information space. Here are the materials of Detector Media for an explanation.

For example, after participating in the first season of the reality show “The Bachelor” with Maksym Chmerkovskyi (2011), Tetiana Pop became recognizable. At that time, she said that she had a business in Ukraine, and before that she worked on regional television in her hometown of Khust. Later, Pop appeared on Oleksii Durniev's show and was a participant in Russian TV shows “Mom in Law” and “Dom-2”. That is, the image of “a girl who suddenly woke up famous” stuck behind Tetiana Pop.

Since 2015, Pop has supported Russia and promoted Russian propaganda messages. In messages on the Vkontakte network, she called the participants in the Revolution of Dignity “conscious”, “Ukry” (“Ukrainians”); the authorities were called “junta”, and those who support this power were called “30% of morons”; she praised Stalin, and insisted that “Ukrainians, Russians and Belarusians are one people”, and “gays are sick people” who “should be punished”. Now this rhetoric has become even more aggressive. Pop has her own telegram channel with over 107 thousand subscribers and a Youtube channel with an audience of 65 thousand subscribers. On these resources, the propagandist tells how “citizenship and language” are being taken away from Ukrainians, about American biological laboratories in Ukraine and glorifies Russia. Now Tetiana Pop lives in Russia, so her audience is mostly Russians, but videos from her telegram channel are shared to the Ukrainian information space through a network of pro-Russian telegram channels.

Another example is Diana Panchenko, a pro-Russian journalist and TV presenter for NewsOne, First Independent and Ukrlive channels. They tried to create the image of a young, beautiful, successful TV presenter of Diana Panchenko, who has her own opinion and is not afraid to express it.

While working on television, Panchenko refused to call a war a war until it was “recognized by the Verkhovna Rada”; made Ukraine guilty of continuing hostilities; imposed on the audience the thesis that Ukraine does not want to return the Donbas if it does not agree to Russia's demands. Panchenko also helped Russia justify a full-scale invasion, admired the strength of Russian weapons, which even the United States seems to be afraid of. She supported Lukashenko during the protests in Belarus and even held a concert for him. She promoted the Russian version of Victory Day, demonized the Revolution of Dignity, etc. Now Panchenko is promoting a pro-Russian agenda in the Ukrainian information space through a Youtube channel (a little over 77,000 subscribers) and a telegram channel (almost 66,000 subscribers). Recently, the Security service of Ukraine (SBU) informed the propagandist about the suspicion.

Pro-Russian propaganda was also spread by another TV presenter, Oksana Marchenko, the wife of the pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who is the godfather of Russian President Putin and who was accused of high treason. Actually, Oksana Marchenko was also informed by the SBU about the suspicion.

Marchenko gained the greatest popularity thanks to the work in the projects of the STB TV channel “X-factor” and “Ukraine has got a talent”. Using popularity and financial opportunities, Marchenko advertised the Moscow Patriarchate Church for Ukrainians in the author's project “Pilgrim”. In the Russian-language product, Marchenko manipulates church norms, promotes the idea of “general reconciliation”, “submission”, etc. Moreover, in one of the episodes, Marchenko tells how “Ukrainians are killing each other and how nice it would be for them to come to their senses”.

Another indirect way to advance the pro-Russian rhetoric is silence. Quite a few Ukrainian artists who previously worked in Russia have resorted to such tactics. Since February 24, 2022, they have either disappeared from the public space or avoided commenting on the topic of the war. The repetition of such behavior by their fans is fraught with the fact that silence, and therefore the absence of resistance, plays into the hands of our enemy.

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