Announcing the invasion – or, as he termed it, the “special military operation” – in late February, Vladimir Putin justified his measures on the basis of the “abuse and genocide from the Kyiv regime”. He said his forces were sent for the purpose of “protection” and to both “de-militarise” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine. The propaganda appears since to have changed direction, with state television channels featuring voices condemning “Satanists” and “pagans” in Russia’s neighbouring country.
Konstantin Malofeyev, an Orthodox tycoon, said in a Channel One Russia programme Russia was engaged not simply in a “special military operation” but a “holy war”.
Francis Scarr, who reports on Russian TV for the BBC, translated in a post on Twitter: “Konstantin Malofeyev says Russians should recognise that their country is waging a ‘holy war’ in Ukraine against ‘satanists’ and ‘pagans’.”
Max Seddon from the Financial Times stressed the significance of the comments.
He responded: “You know the Kremlin wants to promote once-fringe imperialist ideologues like Malofeyev when they put them on prime time state TV.”
Channel One, which Malofeyev appeared on, is the same station which last month broadcasted a live protest by its former employee Marina Ovsyannikova.
Ovsyannikova burst on to a live news set holding a banner and shouting: “Stop the war. No to war”.
Programmers quickly transitioned the screen to another report, but the message had already been delivered.
Ovsyannikova was later fined what is equal to around £215.
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The Kremlin made it clear early on in its war against Ukraine it was not willing to tolerate dissent at home.
The Russian parliament passed a law in March imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading “fake” news about the military.
The lower house of the Duma said in a statement: “If the fakes lead to serious consequences then imprisonment of up to 15 years threatens.”
Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin added there would be a “very tough punishment” for those who make “statements which discredit our armed forces”.
Despite waging an information war at home, some protesting has occurred, particular in Moscow, though where possible this, it would appear, has been dealt with quickly.