The main outbursts recently from Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine have been caused by the long-range missiles and cluster bombs we are receiving from our Western allies. The threats affected nothing. The truth is, cluster bombs are terrifying weapons and have been in Ukraine for some time — Russia has been using them since the very beginning of the war.
The Russians have been using them to kill Ukrainians and occupy our land. We will be using them to protect and liberate our land.
The second part of Russia’s national meltdown is one to watch and savour: a national propaganda machine doing somersaults to discredit the Wagner Group that they had for so long painted as patriotic angels.
When I write this weekly column, I know I’m talking to our support group here in South Africa. I feel very safe, welcomed and at home here and am enveloped by a profound sense of warmth and belonging. I religiously read your comments — we may have even met last year at Daily Maverick’s The Gathering.
All of the above means that I know we understand each other, but I want to ask you to talk about this to people you know, who perhaps don’t have a clear understanding of the situation and have become victims of the Russian propaganda machine.
We are now living through a great example of how this propaganda works. All anyone needs to do is read what the Russian media said about the Wagner mercenaries a few weeks ago and what they are saying now.
They are rewriting history in real time.
It is an unbelievable spectacle. The very fabric of Russian propaganda is unravelling before our eyes. We have a unique opportunity to witness the crumbling facade and witness the manipulation, distortion and blatant falsehoods being peddled daily. The transformation of “heroes” into villains offers an invaluable insight into the intricacies and machinations of Russian propaganda.
Once praised as embodiments of national pride, war heroes, paragons of valour and unwavering patriots, the Wagner private military company has now been branded as a terrorist organisation, notorious for its abysmal performance on the battlefield. Russian propaganda now reports daily on the inefficiency of Wagner in comparison with the soldiers of the Russian Federation. It’s an Orwellian-style 180-degree turn.
For me, this rhetoric is identical to the genocidal programmes of Rwanda’s Thousands Hills Radio, which carried the same public incitement to mass murder.
Now, more than ever, we must stand united against the rise of fascist propaganda. By understanding its nature, effects and methods we can actively work towards fostering an inclusive and just society that values human dignity, freedom and diversity. Furthermore, we all know the influence Wagner terrorists have on the African continent. They’ve now left Ukrainian land, and I hope that African countries will also be fortunate to get rid of them forever.
I have never quoted the Russian state’s propaganda, for a number of reasons. The first is, I do not want to give a voice to fascist trash. And the second one … well, I’m not sure that genocidal, racist, bigoted language should be published in a reputable publication.
To give you an idea what exactly is on Russian state TV 24/7, here are just a few direct quotes from Sergey Mardan, one of the most popular Russian “journalists” on the top Russian propaganda channel Solovyov.Live:
- Those preaching the Ukrainian cult must be destroyed like rabid animals. And without any regrets. This is obvious.
- But there is something not so obvious. Anything Ukrainian must be completely destroyed on the de-occupied territories. Complete and total de-Ukrainisation.
- Starting with the destruction of signs in “language” [Ukrainian] and ending with the abolition of “language” in high schools. Any attempt to speak Ukrainian should be regarded as a demonstration of disloyalty and result in the bearer being issued with a “wolf ticket” and banned from any profession except as a cashier in a supermarket. And only then they would learn how to speak without a Ukrainian accent: “Good day, and all the best to you.” Without any fricative Ukrainian letters. If they want to eat, they will learn to speak like a native from Yaroslavl [a city in Russia].
- And monuments to Shevchenko should be thrown into the landfill.
Here are two more quotes from the Russian “journalist” about Ukrainian teachers in occupied territories who refuse to teach in Russian:
- Take away the credit cards on which they receive money and make them eat them. Or evict them from their apartments. Well, at least something in the spirit of our good old Gulag. They are waiting for the Gulag.
- Set up a local Zaporizhzhya gulag in the steppe under the scorching sun for teachers who have not yet learned to love our beautiful homeland.
Mardan is but one out of thousands spewing this hate, 24/7. This is pure terrorism. DM