Reede, 14 Märts 2014 20:28
Laas Leivat - Estonian Life No. 11 2014
Armed marauders are terrorizing the populace of Ukraine. This was recently the claim of Russia's official media and Putin's Russian Unity party. AFP has said that the Kremlin controlled news outlets have shown scenes of violence directed at the minority Russian to harm the reputation of the current pro-Western Ukrainian government.
A previously scheduled real-time broadcast of the Oscars was cancelled so that government TV could concentrate on happenings in Ukraine. Russia's former economics minister Andrei Netsajev has commented on Twitter that state TV is filled to capacity with the Ukrainian crisis.
The Rossiya 24 channel carried an "interview" with a young Russian who said he had been paid to be a sniper for the pro-Western side. He claimed to fear retaliation for his disclosure and that the pro-Western side was dragging people into cellars and killing them.
Rossiya 24 warned viewers that paid mercenaries were moving into the Crimea. "They have definite instructions to provoke a new crisis and rob people." It's been since confirmed, that the mercenaries to whom the Russian channel had been referring were actually Moscow-sent, not by the pro-Western Ukrainian government as implied by Rossiya 24.
"Armed men" took over the Ukraine 5 and Ukraine 1+1 channels in the Simferopol and replaced them with Russian channel Rossiya 24.
The Russian Pervõi channel was neatly caught in a deception. It claimed to be broadcasting scenes of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing into Russia to seek refuge. The video was actually of cars crossing over into Poland. For a few seconds one could glimpse at the sign 'Seigini', a border point between Poland and Ukraine. It's been said that the announcer's voice on Russian news video and the visuals are in reality of different events or places.
Even Estonia has been caught up in the Russian propaganda effort. The mayor of Tallinn and leader of the Centre party, Edgar Savisaar has indicated that the current Western oriented government in Kiev is illegitimate. Widely recognized semiotics expert Mihhail Lotman commented that the problem was not so much that Savisaar distorts things, he does it often. (Semiotics is the study 'signs', including words, sounds, body language as part of social life.) Of concern is that Savisaar's distortions are exact replicas of those issued by Moscow. "It's astonishing the speed with which Savisaar reacts to signals from Moscow. When Putin states that the new Ukrainian government is illegitimate, Edgar Savisaar rushes to do the same."
In addition Savisaar-controlled media – Kesknädal (Midweek), Pealinn (Capital) and Roheline Pealinn (Green Capital) – are all said to be full of information and comments that repeat "word for word" that which Putin's propaganda apparatus generates. In addition to articles devoted to the Ukrainian crisis an article about the 70th anniversary of the March 1944 bombing of Tallinn in Pealinn makes no reference to the fact that it was perpetrated by Soviet forces. This was the steadfast position of the Soviet regime, carried in all school texts, that the devastating bombing of civilian targets was executed by the Germans. Later Moscow relented when archival documents were open to the public. But seemingly Pealinn still adheres indirectly to the Soviet version.
The Russian propaganda machine is a familiar characteristic of the Russian political landscape. The mainstream media fulfills its assigned function in a pseudo-democratic environment – imitating and following orders. Other voices are smothered. Viewers have noted that independent thinkers and opponents of Putin are no longer amongst commentators, discussion groups or guests on talk shows in current broadcasts.
Government financed Russian propaganda TV channel RT is already predicting the course of history. On new maps issued by the channel, the Crimea is already the same colour as the Russian Federation designating it as Russian territory.
Sometimes Russian propaganda scores major points. Wiretapping into a conversation between Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and his equivalent at the EU, Catherine Ashton, the Russians released a quote of Paet who allegedly said: Somebody from the new Ukrainian collation could have hired the snipers." This was in reference to snipers who had been shooting people in Maidan square. The quote was posted for a lengthy period in a major Estonian daily's website. Apparently Paet had actually referring to a third party. But the damage had been done. Accuracy here was not important any more. The world now is aware that something about the snipers does not match that which Ukraine's new government claims.
Ukrainian journalist Anastasia Tido, who writes for Russian-language newspapers, summarizes the effects that Moscow's propaganda efforts have had world-wide: Ukraine has never had ethnic conflict in Crimea or the Donetsk region. The reason the areas are currently in turmoil is clearly the results of propaganda. For Russia, the fact the Russians in Ukraine have become an issue is just a pretext for the Kremlin. There are no rules in the 'info-war' whirling around Ukraine. The visuals and the text do not often match on Russian TV.
She says that up until the time that people started to demonstrate for a change in government everything was calm. Ukraine has never had a 'nationality' problem. In fact the Russian language is more commonly used than the native Ukrainian. The Crimea has been and will remain oriented to the Russian language. The working language of the local parliament is Russian. Having worked as a lawyer, Tido always had to translate all Ukrainian language documents into Russian when it had to do with eastern Ukraine. In the courts, the language expected in written or oral form was in Russian. She had never witnessed any 'imposed Ukrainian' into the system. (The current government, the one accused of discriminating against Russians, has appointed as a chief administrator in the Dnepropetrovski region a man whose language is Russian.)
She continues: Then suddenly it was 'discovered' that Ukrainians in the Western part of the country wanted to force everyone to become Ukrainians. Moscow insists that those opposing this would be ejected from the country or be subjected to violence. Tido's analysis indicates that Moscow's propaganda has had solid results. (To be continued.)