Spilnota Detector Media

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “traitors”

Propagandists regularly call all Russians who speak out against the war that Russia unleashed against Ukraine as traitors. Like, such people are worth nothing, they sold themselves to the collective West. Sometimes a picture, poster, movement, word, color of clothing or even a dream is enough to be recognized as a traitor. For example, a resident of Chita was arrested for dreaming about Zelenskyi, whom he asked for a common selfie. And Z-patriots are calling for a ban on clothing in the colors of the US and UK flags after a wave of denunciations of people wearing blue and yellow clothing passed through Russia.

It is important for representatives of Russian propaganda to maintain a homogeneous information field, since with the slightest criticism of the authorities, the entire power vertical can slowly crumble. Therefore, traitors are opposed to Z-patriots who do nothing but praise Russia and its regime. Very often, the activities of “foreign agents” and “unwanted organizations” are simplified to the concept of “treason”, since they go against the systemic narrative, namely, they oppose war. However, if the concepts of “foreign agents” or “unwanted organizations” are relatively new, “treason” is somewhat familiar to Russians. That is why propagandists so often resort to this term.

By using this term, Russia wants to increase public pressure to humiliate those who tell the truth and prevent anyone else from doing so. For example, everyone who publicly opposes the war in Ukraine, condemns the Russian government, or says that the President of Ukraine is good, as in the case of one of the Russian pensioners. Thus, Russia also wants to divert attention from its crimes and justify its failure on the battlefield. Like, the Russians are losing because there are so many traitors among them, and everyone who is against the war are real enemies.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: the “canonical church”

The canonical church in the understanding of Russian propaganda is exclusively the Russian Orthodox Church or the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Like, others are non-canonical, that is, false. Allegedly, Moscow is the only center of Orthodoxy.

To confirm the non-canonicity of other churches, in particular Ukrainian ones, Russian propagandists claim that Ukraine is a pagan state, and that in general the Ukrainian leadership is ready to destroy all shrines, because Zelenskyi is a stubborn Satanist. According to Russian propaganda, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine does not meet religious canons, because the primates allegedly dream of canonizing Stepan Bandera and even Joe Biden. And peaceful Ukrainians allegedly do not respect other religions and wish death to all dissident believers.

Moscow resorts to conspiracy theories to show how Ukrainians are “sinning” if they refuse to visit the UOC-MP. For example, the authors said that the OCU “sows confusion” by expelling the UOC-MP from the territory of Ukraine. Allegedly, on one of the main temples of Ukraine, “crosses turned black” due to the blasphemous actions of Ukrainians. Even the animals pointed to the blasphemy of humans. It was rumored that flocks of dark birds circled over Kyiv precisely because of the sinful actions of the Ukrainians. And the propagandists called the recent spring flood in Kyiv the punishment of God, although this is a characteristic natural phenomenon for cities located on the banks of rivers.

Thus, propaganda is trying to convince its consumers that Ukraine's actions are contrary to religious canons, and therefore it is worth mobilizing and saving the “canonical Orthodox Church” with weapons. This is one of the messages by which Russia justifies its invasion. However, there is no “canonical” or “non-canonical” church. Ukrainians choose the church they like. The OCU is an independent church recognized by 4 out of 13 local churches, in particular Constantinople, Oleksandria, Cyprus and Greece.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “riots”

According to Russian propaganda, riots are a crime against the public and its security, which consists in organizing rallies against the government and its decisions. That is, a peaceful rally turns into a “mess” if the Russian authorities do not like the topic of protest raised.

Propagandists use the term “riots” to keep the Russians associating that a rally is something undesirable, and it’s generally uncharacteristic to express one’s opinion, because it can harm the “general order” in society. That is, order “needs to be restored” and to get rid of any dissent. This term exists at the national level. The Criminal Code of Russia provides for liability for the so-called creation of riots. In Ukraine and in the rest of the civilized world, the term “mass riots” is used, which directly alludes to hostile (sometimes armed) actions against people and authorities.

“Riots” concerns not only Russia, but the whole world. In pro-Russian and Russian media, for example, news about recent protests in Georgia or France is tagged with the tag “riots in the world”. Moreover, the search engine has more answers if you search for information specifically on the keyword “riots”.

Thus, Russian propaganda instills in Russians indifference to public opinion, deprives them of the opportunity to be heard and understood. This is beneficial for Moscow, which is afraid of public condemnation of its actions, and therefore is trying in every possible way to settle these processes and avoid protests.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of a newspeak: “cleansing”

Russian propagandists use different definitions to soften or avoid mentioning the crimes of the Russian army in the media where pro-Russian rhetoric is disseminated. One of such terms is “cleansing”.

The word, formed from the verb “to cleanse” and in the original sense means the blockade of residential areas, checking the documents of all their inhabitants, identifying and eliminating “undesirable elements”.

The Russian armed forces began to use this term as part of the Soviet army during the military campaign in Afghanistan in the 20th century. The most common use by the time of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the definition acquired during the Chechen wars. An example of a “cleansing” in the war against Ukraine is the actions of the Wagner terrorist organization, where the commander ordered to “clean up”, that is, to eliminate everyone (even civilians) whom the soldiers see in a certain territory, including women and children. Using this wording, the propagandists want to justify the crimes of the Russian army and give them the right meaning. They say that Russian soldiers do not kill everyone in a row, but only dangerous elements. However, it is the civilians who suffer the most from their actions.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “extremism”

According to the definition of propaganda, everything that contradicts Moscow's “policy” is regarded as “extremism”. Like, the actions of some radical Russians are aimed at inciting the public. Accordingly, all extremists must be punished.

There are four “extremist” articles in the Russian Criminal Code: one of which appeared in 2014 after the Russian occupation of Crimea. According to the conclusions of law enforcement agencies, Russians cannot call for separatism, that is, criticize the government or its actions. So, the Russian branch of the BBC in its material gives an example when in Odnoklassniki a Russian liked a post with the wishes of death and shame to the Russians who are going to fight in the Donbas. And a criminal case was opened against him on charges of “hatred on a national basis”. This is not the only case of combating extremism. According to statistics from Russia's Supreme Court, 693 people were convicted of extremism last year. Further, they did not explain what crimes the Russians were tried for.

Of course, the Russian authorities exaggerate their powers and regard as “extremism” almost everything that they simply do not like. Even according to the findings of the analytical centers Sova or Ahora, the actions of Russians in social networks are monitored by law enforcement agencies. For example, the administration of the social network VKontakte is actively cooperating with the investigating authorities, revealing user data, their addresses, phone numbers, time of access to the network, etc. That is, this is a deliberate restriction of freedom of speech, and by no means a protection of Russians from radical people. Russians call extremism any disagreement with the government, with its actions and deeds. Allegedly, all the actions of Russia are exclusively true and not subject to condemnation.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “everything is according to plan”

The Russian troops have a number of systemic problems that are exposed by the aggression against Ukraine. Gaps in planning are on the list of critical issues. In particular, very often these plans have to be changed due to the worsening situation at the front for the Russians. In addition, during planning, the Russian military command often does not take into account important details that can completely change the balance of power in a particular battle.

However, propagandists cannot say this directly. It is important for them to maintain the illusion that management knows what they are doing. Therefore, even when the situation becomes chaotic, propaganda continues to say that everything is “according to plan”. The phenomenon is regular, as propagandists resort to their “plan” whenever the Ukrainian army launches a counteroffensive. Moreover, quite often they do not specify what kind of plan it is and who created it.

An example is the February events at Vuhledar, where Russian troops suffered perhaps the largest losses since the beginning of a full-scale war. During the debacle, propagandists continued to claim that the Russians were winning and that everything was going according to plan.

By using this wording, the propagandists reinforce the illusion that Russian actions are “strategic”. As if the Russians outwitted the Ukrainians again. In fact, the Russian army is afraid of shame, which completely crosses out all its “heroism”.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “unfriendly countries”

In the international arena, Russia positions a number of countries as unfriendly. Like, they are engaged in “unfriendly actions” against Russia as they impose sanctions and other restrictions. According to propaganda, of course, Moscow receives sanctions unfairly and is not respected in diplomatic groups for no reason at all. Therefore, Russia is fighting back by creating its own list of “unfriendly countries” and showing which countries Russians should not be friends with.

For the first time, the term “unfriendly country” appeared in Russian legislation in April 2021. The restrictions were that such states could be prohibited from hiring citizens of other countries in their diplomatic missions in Russia. It is understood that only Russians can work in embassies and consulates of foreign countries in Russia. Initially, there were two countries on this list: the United States and the Czech Republic. Subsequently, the Russian government not only increased the list, but also created another one. So far, there are two lists of “unfriendly countries” in Russia. Propagandists say that such measures are solely a response to the “hostile actions of those countries”. That is, the entire European Union, the USA and Canada, as well as Japan and Australia - 48 countries of the world.

In fact, there are no “unfriendly” countries. The whole world opposes the aggressive policy of Russia and responds with sanctions, limiting the number of Russians in diplomatic institutions. The countries do not intend to be at enmity, but on the contrary, declare democratic values, respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For Russia, obviously, such actions are unfriendly. Russia has made friends with Belarus, Eritrea, Syria, and North Korea. These countries, for example, are actively blocking any legislative initiatives aimed at supporting Ukraine in the UN General Assembly. One of these friends - Belarus - even admitted that it was participating in the war together with Russia.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “unwanted organizations”

Every Friday, the Russian Ministry of Justice adds new individuals and legal entities to the register of “foreign agents”. Although there is an opinion that the status of “foreign agent” and “undesirable organizations” is identical, in fact this is not true.

The status of an “unwanted organization” in Russia is regulated by a separate law. This status is stricter than the status of “foreign agent”. While “foreign agents” have the right to continue working in Russia, however, with significant complications, “undesirable organizations” are prohibited from working in the country from the moment the status is granted. If an organization continues to operate even in spite of its status, it will first be fined and then forced to close.

According to the law, “unwanted organizations” are defined by the level of their threat to Russia's national security. However, the Russians manipulate this definition and substitute the concept, considering any criticism in their direction or the dissemination of truthful information about the war as a “threat” to their national security.

Using this status, Russia wants to destroy those who speak the truth and criticize the government, as this could destroy the current regime. Thus, it wants to divert attention from its crimes and shift responsibility for them to third parties. Like, all these organizations want to destroy Russia, and it has no other choice.

At the same time, while criticizing Western countries for “oppressing” organizations beneficial to Russia and for the plan to “destroy Russia”, Russia itself resorts to anti-democratic practices with the tacit consent of its citizens as a victim.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of the newspeak: “schismatics”

Russian propaganda positions the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate as unified and canonical. After the Orthodox Church of Ukraine received the right to autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Russian propaganda calls Ukrainians schismatics.

Propagandists use the term “schismatics” to imply that the Ukrainian church is allegedly fake and illegal. At the same time, all believers who attend the OCU are not real Orthodox. They say that the OCU arbitrarily separated from the UOC-MP, although the latter is a “real” church. The Russian Orthodox Church condemned Ukraine's actions on autocephaly and even severed relations with Constantinople. For example, in the appeal of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, it was said that the decisions on Ukraine were “illegal” and were taken “unilaterally” without taking into account the appeals of the ROC and “fraternal local churches”. However, the ROC does not take into account that it has no right to interfere in the affairs of another sovereign state at all.

Therefore, Ukrainians are not “schismatics”, but free believers who are ready to choose the church that they like. Moreover, believers who are fighting for the right to the independence of the Ukrainian church and are fighting against the dominance of Russian influence on the church. The OCU is an independent church, which was recognized by 4 out of 13 local churches, in particular Constantinople, Oleksandria, Cyprus and Hellas. The Ukrainian church has its own customs, sacraments and parishioners.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the newspeak: “сombat actions”

Russian propagandists continue to circumvent responsibility by choosing different language to define the war that Russia unleashed in Ukraine. Very often, the use of official language can cause not only fatigue, but also doubts about the actions of the Russian military. Therefore, a more informal construction is “combat actions”.

The war between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for the ninth year. It is clear that most of it takes place on the battlefield, which is the combat actions. However, “combat actions” have a clear definition - war.

Using this phrase, Russia is trying to show that the war against Ukraine is a temporary phenomenon and allegedly creates additional problems for the Russians. The vague language is also being used to play along with the “blitzkrieg” message the Russian government promised its citizens in the event of an offensive into Ukraine. Additionally, with this phrase, Russian propaganda is again trying to shift the responsibility for the crimes of the aggressor onto the victim of aggression.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “nationalists”

Moscow is trying to demonize Ukrainians, attributing to them so-called nationalist views, calling them right-wing radicals, Bandera, and so on. According to Russian propaganda, after the so-called “coup d'état”, “nationalism” became the official state ideology of Ukraine. Like, free-thinking is prohibited in Ukraine, and everyone who does not obey the state ideology will be punished.

Russian propaganda appeals to the Ukrainians and calls them nationalists to hint at supposedly radical views among civilians. Russian propaganda deliberately exaggerates the weight of those who hold nationalistic views in Ukrainian society, describing them as sharing views with representatives of nazi Germany and mocking Russian supporters. Allegedly, Ukrainians have become hostages of other Ukrainian nationalists and should, for example, deny everything Russian, hate Russians and the Russian language. All is in order, first of all, to split society and create camps of “us” and “them”. Later, the manifestation of something Ukrainian in society - language, culture, customs - was labeled as “nationalist”.

Propagandists equate Ukrainians with the so-called nationalists, because in Ukraine, on the contrary, publicity and free-thinking reign, so Ukrainians do not deny their identity, moreover, they do not refuse to declare it. At the same time, the term “nationalism” itself is not something bad, but is characterized by loyalty and devotion to one's nation. For Moscow, the manifestation of originality is something “terrible”, because it is more difficult to keep people around their ideology. Gradually Ukrainians refuse Russian products, language, traditions, etc. And this is not a manifestation of nationalism, it is a sign of a conscious Ukrainian society choosing its own independent path.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of a newspeak: “rebel forces”

In its materials, Russian propaganda uses the term “rebel forces” to refer to separatists who have collaborated with Russia and allegedly “liberated Donbas” in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions since 2014. This phrase was also used to refer to the Russian military, who in fact were on the territory of the Donbas and Luhansk region, but Russia did not recognize this.

With this term, they want to give greater heroism to the participants in the separatist movements. Like, they were engaged in resistance to the “Kyiv regime”, which came to power as a result of the “coup d'état” of 2014, as Russia calls it. In fact, it is about the events of the Euromaidan or the Revolution of Dignity. The propagandists want to create a legend around the people who supposedly opposed the values of the Revolution that they are fighting for real values and for their own survival. However, among the so-called rebel forces were representatives of the Russian special services. Their presence, in particular, was recorded due to the dialect, which is atypical for the inhabitants of the region, and there were other signs as well. Calling these events the so-called rebellion, Russian propaganda substitutes the concept, because in 2014 there was a Russian attack on the eastern regions of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

Using the term “rebel forces”, propagandists want to discredit Ukraine and deepen the artificially created split in it. Allegedly, the Ukrainians wanted to destroy the real identity of Donbas and Luhansk region, and the locals could no longer tolerate this, and therefore joined the “rebel forces”. This approach is not new. For example, a similar tactic was used during the 2004 presidential election for the campaign of Viktor Yanukovych, when his team spread messages about his opponent Viktor Yushchenko, whose supporters allegedly divide Ukraine into two types: the best (the West of the country) and the worst (the East). However, it is Russia that artificially deepens such a split, since it often supports forces that manipulate differences among residents of different regions of Ukraine.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: a “coup d'état”

“Illegal change of power” and “coup d'état” is how Russian propaganda describes the events in Ukraine in 2013-2014. They say that it was after this “coup” that Ukraine went on the wrong course and felt kinship with “the wrong ones”. Moscow convinced the whole world that “mass riots” took place in the Ukrainian capital, which led to the discontent of the “common people” who “arose”.

Russian propagandists use the term “coup d'état” primarily to refer to the Revolution of Dignity, an event that took place in response to the de facto usurpation of power by the fugitive ex-president Viktor Yanukovych. In 2013, he did not sign the Association Agreement and Free Trade Area with the European Union in Vilnius. After that, mass protests began, which became the beginning of the Euromaidan. One of the reasons for the bloody clashes between peaceful Ukrainians and proteges of Yanukovych was the beating of students who came to the rally to complain about the failure of the agreement between Ukraine and the EU.

Using the term “coup d'état”, Russian propaganda alludes to the illegal seizure of power by the so-called “nationalists” who took power into their own hands. However, in fact, Yanukovych's policy was to massively russify Ukraine, in order to later turn it into a Russian colony. And the government of Azarov, under the leadership of Yanukovych, seized power in Ukraine. After the beating of Ukrainian students on the orders of Yanukovych, the Ukrainian people did not commit a “coup d'état”, but fought for freedom, dignity and the right to call themselves Europeans. At a time when Ukrainians were dying for the foundations of democracy, Yanukovych fled Ukraine on his own and thus renounced power.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “regrouping”

Russian troops are experiencing failures on the battlefield. Incompetent command, corruption, divisions among the elites, resource problems, outdated technological capabilities - all this is faced by Russian soldiers at the front.

Because of these problems or the pressure of circumstances, time or leadership (and often all factors at the same time), entire echelons of Russian soldiers have nothing left but to flee in order to save their own lives, at least for some period. However, propagandists cannot say it the way it is. It is important for them to maintain the heroic image of the Russian armed forces. In addition, it holds on manipulating the essence of self-sacrifice. Like, a Russian soldier for the sake of the motherland is ready for anything: go through fire and water as well as sacrifice their life. Therefore, the Russian propaganda calls the flight of the Russian troops “regrouping”.

Moreover, using this wording, the propagandists want to create the illusion that Russia's steps are well thought out. It seems to be another move by major Russian strategists who outwitted the Ukrainians. In fact, such escapes are spontaneous and are due to the fact that the Ukrainian army is forcing the Russian military out of Ukrainian territories.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “foreign mercenaries”

““Foreign mercenaries” are NATO envoys”, “Russia is fighting against the West” - such messages are promoted by Russian propaganda in relation to foreign fighters who have come to the defense of Ukraine. They say that everything is bad in Ukraine, there is no one to fight, and therefore they recruit “mercenaries”.

However, Russian propaganda substitutes the concept and calls the foreign legion mercenaries. The Foreign Legion is legally part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the exact number of its members is not reported, like all other fighters. Accordingly, propaganda wants to downplay the importance of the Ukrainian army, opposing it to the so-called mercenaries, who allegedly outnumber them on the battlefield. At the same time, Moscow equates “mercenaries” with criminals in the context of Ukraine. However, mercenaries are really fighting on the part of Russia, for example, the Wagner group.

In general, the term “mercenary” means that a person participates in a war, but is not part of the armed forces of a particular country. Mercenaries are usually recruited by third parties and are subsequently paid for their work. Article 47 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 states that the mercenary is guided by the basic principle of receiving a monetary reward that is significantly higher than the remuneration of fighters of the same rank officially included in the armed forces. So, Russian propaganda is trying to show that Ukraine is recruiting foreigners to fight for it. However, the International Legion is a military unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in which only military volunteers serve.

The propagandists claimed that the military from the EU countries fought on the territory of Ukraine even before the full-scale invasion, or that the number of foreigners in the Ukrainian army would soon exceed 50%. Thus, propaganda wants to create an appearance that is actually at war not with Ukraine, but with the so-called “collective West”. Analysts of Detector Media in their study analyzed the tactics by which Russian propaganda forms the image of a “foreign mercenary” in Ukraine.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “partial mobilization”

Russia needs a human resource to wage war against Ukraine. The participation of private military companies alone is not enough for this, especially against the backdrop of failures at the front. That is why Russia announced mobilization.

However, even the propagandists who publicly support and nourish the topic of war opposed full mobilization. To soften the image of this process in the information space, it is called partial. Like, not everyone is conscripted, but only the most sophisticated professionals.

However, practice shows that it is not partial. In particular, the decree of Russian President Volodymyr Putin is as vague as possible and does not clearly define the boundaries of who actually falls under mobilization and who does not. Moreover, regional military commissariats often do not adhere to the same decree and send everyone to war.

Even among propagandists, the decision to mobilize is considered ambiguous: some support it, others write that this is a sign of failure and assimilation to Ukraine. The authors of the decision were well aware of the likelihood of such a reaction, for which the term was created. Like, they respond to a small crisis with partial measures.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of a newspeak: “propaganda”

Russian propaganda claims that the information field of Ukrainians is “permeated with propaganda”, too much “Nazism propaganda”. Allegedly, the Ukrainian leadership is forming a nation of Nazis, because it promotes such values in society.

The term “propaganda” is closely intertwined with Russian narratives, in particular, about the formation of the Nazis or individual nationalist groups in Ukraine. According to propaganda, the leadership of Ukraine condones people in their desire to “destroy other peoples or minorities”, especially Russian-speaking people. For example, the “protection of the Russian-speaking population” became the reason for the “special military operation”.

Since 2014, Russia has devoted a lot of time to building confidence that there are Nazis among Ukrainians. To do this, they exaggerated the weight in Ukrainian society of carriers of nationalist views, and also promoted the perception of Ukrainian nationalists as sharing views with representatives of Nazi Germany and mocking supporters of Russia.

However, these are Moscow's inventions to justify the war in Ukraine, which Russia unleashed. Using the term “propaganda” the authors are trying to hint that Ukraine is using hostile propaganda against another state, propagating “Nazi views”, etc. Once again, Russian propaganda is positioning Ukraine as an aggressor, while hiding its actions. At the same time, propagandists reflect their actions in this way and say that it is Ukrainians who kill civilians, profess hatred for many peoples, and despise other cultures and religions.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “terrorist act”

As of now, the international definition of a terrorist act includes actions that are criminal in nature and are committed under the influence or with the support of a terrorist group or state. Since Russia is officially recognized by some states as a terrorist state, its crimes against civilians in the framework of the war against Ukraine can be classified as terrorist attacks.

Propagandists refer to terrorist attacks as crimes in which the involvement of terrorist groups has not yet been clarified or confirmed. In fact, they call a terrorist attack by all means, which goes against the actions or statements of the Russian government. For example, in the Russian media, the murder of Dariia Duhina, the explosions on the Crimean bridge and the incident with Nord Stream 2 were called terrorist attacks.

Thus, Russian propaganda wants to make these events more dramatic and use them as an excuse to escalate the conflict. Moreover, often this happens not as a statement of fact, but as a call for this escalation. Like, it justifies the actions of Russia.

However, the most negative consequence of such abuse is that it devalues the notion of a terrorist attack and the tragedy of its victims and their families. On an international scale, terrorist attacks are crimes that have caused fear in a large number of calm and safe places, and the fight against terrorism is an urgent problem. However, by calling everything a terrorist attack, Russia distracts the world community from real problems.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of a newspeak: “a piece of paradise”

On the night of March 18, Russian President Volodymyr Putin arrived in the temporarily occupied Mariupol, where he allegedly talked with local residents and followed the progress of restoration work in the city destroyed by Russia. One of the “residents” (in fact, one cannot establish for sure whether a woman lives in Mariupol now or she lived during the blockade of the city) addresses Putin, saying that she lives in “a piece of paradise”, which is now Mariupol thanks to the Russians.

In fact, it is impossible to find out whether the so-called local residents in Mariupol were not there to meet with Putin, his proxies or representatives of the Russian special services. In addition, in some Russian media, a moment was recorded where, against the background of a conversation about a “piece of paradise” and the “restoration” of Mariupol, shouts are heard: “This is all a show-off!”, which surprised the participants in the dialogue. But even if one skips this, it is clear that Russia is trying to create an illusion of success and development of the temporarily occupied territories, the source of which is Russia.

Russia is trying to substitute the concept in this case, since Mariupol is a city completely destroyed by Russian troops, turning it into hell. Moreover, the decision to destroy civilian infrastructure is well calculated and not accidental - this is a strategy Russian troops constantly resort to in their military campaigns.

Such “recovery” projects often divert attention from Russia's own infrastructural problems. In particular, in many cities you can find buildings in disrepair, in which there is no access to water supply and heating, which is very far from a “piece of paradise”. Instead of working on this, Russia is actually building poor-quality temporary infrastructure for the sake of a good picture, which serves more as a decoration. Russia resorted to such actions even during preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. When it comes to explaining to the locals why their life is definitely not a “piece of paradise” even though there is no constant shelling, the Russian authorities on the ground will blame Ukraine and the “collective West”. If Russia had not waged war against Ukraine and not destroyed its infrastructure, the money spent on the “restoration” of the temporarily occupied territories could have been spent on improving the living standards of the inhabitants of the Russian hinterland.

That is, by calling Mariupol a piece of paradise, Russian propaganda is substituting the concept. After all, it was Russia that captured a quite successful Ukrainian city and turned it into a hell in which thousands of people died. And if it had not been for Russia, Mariupol would not have had to be reconstructed.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of a newspeak: “evacuation”

“It’s safer in Russia”, “protect your life and your children” – such theses are promoted by Russian propaganda in the temporarily occupied territories in order to facilitate the deportation of women and children taken to Russia or to the annexed Crimea. To hide the fact of the crime, propagandists use the term “evacuation”.

By the term “evacuation” propagandists mean the removal of people from the war zone and the provision of a “safe” place to live. Like, Kherson region, Donetsk region, Luhansk region, Kharkiv region are unsuitable for life and people from there need to leave for a safer place. Usually, Russian propaganda attracts adult Ukrainians with a variety of “profitable offers”: provision of housing, registration of a special quota, etc. However, it is not known for certain whether such a category of persons really received the “privileges” declared by Russia. As for other categories of people, namely children, Russian propaganda actively promoted messages about “health camps”, “recreation centers” and stated that Ukrainian children “need to be saved”.

In fact, this is not an “evacuation”, but a deportation of the Ukrainian people. That is, Russia substitutes the concept and calls the forced deportation “salvation”. People do not come back, and even can go missing, in particular, children. For example, the investigation of one of these trips to the camp was described by the American publication NYT, which published the story of a resident of the Kharkiv region, whose child went to Russia in August to a free children's camp, supposedly safe from constant shelling. As of November 23, when the NYT story came out, the child had not returned to his mother yet. And in general it is impossible to establish what percentage of people go to Russia voluntarily and in general if  such people exist.

At least 2 million 800 thousand Ukrainians were forced to leave or were deported to Russian territory. And this is by no means the fault of the eight-year shelling of Donbas by Ukraine (already nine years), but the armed aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the destruction of villages, cities and towns, the occupation of territories. A terrorist country kidnaps people, brings them into the depths of Russia, so that it would be as difficult as possible for them to return home, to their homeland. All deported people are deprived of their means of communication, their documents are taken away and they are intimidated, and children are tried to be adopted illegally.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of a newspeak: “staging”

The atrocities of the Russians in Bucha and Hostomel in the Kyiv region, in Izium in the Kharkiv region, the destruction of the Mariupol maternity hospital and the drama theater, the murder of Ukrainians at the railway station in Kramatorsk - all these and other crimes against civilian Ukrainians are called “staged” by Russian propaganda.

By using this term, propagandists want to cover up their terrorist activities and absolve themselves of responsibility. Like, Russia does not commit any war crimes, they just want to discredit it. Allegedly, in order to expose Russia as an aggressor, Ukraine lies. Moreover, Russian propaganda is trying in every possible way to justify the murder of Ukrainians, speaking of the so-called staging of events: all the bodies of the dead, located in the territories liberated from the invaders, are called “fake with the participation of professional actors”. For example, after the liberation of Bucha, Russian propaganda promoted all sorts of theses, including: “Ukraine is committing a provocation” or “not a single civilian was hurt”, etc. Other liberated territories are named as “Bucha 2.0” (Kharkiv region), “Bucha 3.0” (Kherson region). Thus, propagandists once again emphasize the alleged non-involvement of Russia and its occupying troops in all war crimes on the territory of Ukraine. As for terrorist attacks, Russian propaganda also finds an excuse, looking for a so-called “military target” in everything. Allegedly, in civilian infrastructure facilities, in hospitals, in schools and in maternity hospitals, there is a “Nazi headquarters” or “decision-making centers”.

However, the term “staging” really hides something else: the genocide of the Ukrainian people. The genocide is committed daily by the Russian army on the territory of Ukraine destroying Ukrainian cities and villages, killing thousands of Ukrainians, children in particular.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “people's republics”

The war against Ukraine began in 2014, when Russia became directly involved in the creation of separatist formations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. At that time, Russian propaganda, at the direction of the Kremlin, tried to present this as exclusively the people's will. This should have increased the informational noise around the “referenda on self-determination”, which are recognized as illegal, that is, their results are not recognized by other states of the world. Therefore, the new quasi-formations were named “Donetsk People's Republic” and “Luhansk People's Republic”. Such terminology is used by communist states to show in the name the importance of the people for power, although in reality these countries are far from “people's”, for example, the People's Republic of China or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Thus, Russia wants to shift the responsibility for its actions to Ukraine and justify them. They say that the people of Donbas suffered as part of Ukraine and wanted rapprochement with Russia, so Russia heard them and liberated them. The propagandists want to create a false impression of a split within the state and artificially deepen it.

This is a new text for the “Newspeak” section, which Detector Media launched as part of the “Disinformation Chronicles” project. In it, we will tell and explain new lexemes that Russian propaganda uses to distort reality.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of a newspeak: “conflict”

Together with the “special military operation” or even the “Ukrainian crisis”, Russian propaganda deliberately hides its actions and avoids responsibility. In order not to constantly resort to official statements that have become part of state rhetoric, propagandists use a more informal definition of war - “conflict”.

This term appeared back in 2014, when Russia began to call the war in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and the seizure of Donbas and Luhansk region a “conflict”. Despite numerous evidence of Russia's involvement in the war, Russia has not officially acknowledged the fact of its invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, it allegedly called it a “conflict” or the conduct of “military operations” or a “civil war”.

Now and then, these terms are intended to cover up the bloody war that Putin and the Russian army are waging, having received the support of the Russian people with appropriate statements or silence. The term “conflict” is associated with some kind of diplomatic process, with a situation that can be resolved through negotiations, agreements, etc. The annexation of territories and subsequently a large-scale attack on the territory of Ukraine, the killing of Ukrainian civilians, the destruction of Ukrainian villages, cities and towns, the seizure of territories is not a manifestation of diplomacy, but an example of waging a barbaric war, the destruction of the Ukrainian people. Such actions are in no way subject to negotiations and agreements and further achievements of “peace”. In the “special military operation”, “Ukrainian crisis” and “conflict”, there is a clear definition that Russian propaganda is trying to avoid by all means – war.

This is the twelfth text for the new section “Newspeak”, which Detector Media launched as part of the “Disinformation Chronicles” project. In it, we will tell and explain new lexemes used by Russian propaganda to distort reality.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: “Ukrainian crisis”

Russian propagandists continue to elude responsibility by using different phrases to define the war that Russia unleashed in Ukraine. Very often, the use of the official wording “special military operation” can get the audience tired. Therefore, a more informal construction is the “Ukrainian crisis”.

The war between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for the ninth year. The situation of war is a moment of crisis for the whole country, a test of strength. This crisis, however, has a well-defined name: a war. Russia has launched aggressive military actions against Ukraine. This, as well as the crimes of the Russian armed forces against civilians, at least fall under the definition of “crime of aggression” under international law. Accordingly, in the future there is every reason to hold Russia accountable not for the crisis, but for the start of a targeted war.

Using this phrase, Russia is trying to show that the war against Ukraine is a temporary phenomenon. The term “Ukrainian crisis” is also being used to play along with the “blitzkrieg” message that the Russian government promised its citizens in the event of an attack on Ukraine. In addition, in this way, propagandists are trying to reduce the degree of the tragedy of the situation. Like, there is nothing serious, just a small “crisis” that can be easily resolved by negotiations and big concessions towards Russia. Additionally, Russian propaganda with the help of this phrase is again trying to shift the responsibility for the crimes of the aggressor onto the victim of aggression.

This is a new text for the “Newspeak” section, which Detector Media launched as part of the “Disinformation Chronicles” project. In it, we tell and explain new lexemes that Russian propaganda uses to distort reality.

Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with a newspeak: the collective West

Russian propaganda builds an imaginary curtain between the whole world and Russia, saying that there are enemies on the other side. That is why propagandists use the term “collective West” to hint at the alleged hostility of other countries towards Russia, especially the West.

Primarily in Putin’s public rhetoric, the “collective West” first appeared in the 2021 address to the Federal Assembly. Since then, Russian propaganda has used the term “collective West” to refer to all the alleged dangers that the West can bring to Russia. It is noteworthy that under the “collective West” Russian propaganda means both the leaders of European countries and Europeans who are carriers of “hostile Western values”.

However, using this term, propagandists most often appeal to European officials or to large organizations, such as NATO. Thus, Russian propaganda wants to show as if all countries are united against Russia and yearn for its destruction. However, in fact, it is Russia that instills in Russians hatred and hostility to other countries, intolerance towards peoples, and legitimizes xenophobia. At the same time, it calls itself a “safe haven” - a country that is able to protect its people from “all troubles and hardships”.

This is the eleventh text for the new section “Newspeak”, which Detector Media launched as part of the “Disinformation Chronicles” project. In it, we will tell and explain new lexemes used by propaganda to distort reality.