With sadness I watch the Ukrainian threads on social networks today. The headlines of the world's top media are full of pictures of the heroic Russian journalist with a poster, who, allegedly, was not afraid and spoke out against the war.
Unfortunately, many people and the media have fallen into the trap of a specially planned Kremlin information operation. Let’s try and analyse to see why this is a Kremlin-controlled outburst.
Until yesterday, Russia was loosing the information war. The disinformation narratives of the Russian Federation, which were spread quite straightforwardly and uninspiringly no longer worked in the West, where the narrative "Russia will attack" had already been rolled out.
The image of Russia as a monster and murderer has been firmly cemented, even in those countries where the Kremlin ruled three weeks ago. The same countries, which did not know where Ukraine was or even that there was such a country, but now they know where the bridge across the Irpin River is.
So Russia has taken a different path. I call it "the game of an embarrassed liberal." And we will see many more productions in this direction of special operations.
They probed the topic with a recent post by Latynina. Thanks to specially trained as well as useful idiots, it did well, so they decided to launch more heavy artillery. That's how Ovsyannikova with a poster appeared on Channel One.
The saddest thing is that none of the "experts" who enthusiastically disseminated this post asked such simple questions as:
- How did this video get on the air, if the First Channel in Russia does not broadcast live news?
- Why not a single muscle twitched on the face of the host Ekaterina Andreeva. I understand Botox and professional deformity, but still it was an "out of the ordinary" event. Andreeva calmly read the news, because she knows it's all under the control by the authorities.
- Why is Ovsyannikova so calm? In a video that she recorded allegedly before the performance, she was absolutely calm. A person, who knows that after this act she may go to jail for 15 years, or even be tortured or poisoned with polonium or something like that, cannot be so calm.
- Where and for how long does the "activist" work? What is her biography? Ovsyannikova has been working for the First Channel since 2013, and not as an errand girl, but as an editor (that is, she forms the news frame), and then suddenly such an insight.
What's wrong with the messages of the girl with a poster?
In a video she allegedly recorded before the rally, she is promoting narratives that are already traditional for the Kremlin. And here, as always, Russian liberalism ends with the Ukrainian question.
Traditionally, the following narratives have been promoted:
We are brothers
Ovsyannikova calls the war between Russia and Ukraine "fratricidal." If anyone still has any doubts that we are brothers with Russians on the 19th day of the war, I advise you to read a simple and accessible explanation from the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy and the Institute of National Remembrance, why we are not brothers with the Russians, never were and never will be.
It's all Putin, and we are ordinary people who have nothing to do with it
If you still think so, check Datallion – a joint project of the Ukrainian government and the public, where the evidence of the Russian aggression in Ukraine is uploaded daily (photos and videos). Thousands of murders, including children, millions of refugees, destroyed cities and cultural monuments, are committed not by Putin himself, but by 190,000 soldiers, and millions of voters and taxpayers who made it possible.
"Good Russians" or the myth of the opposition in Russia
In the video Ovsyannikova says she is ashamed of what is happening and that the Russians are guilty of not resisting and not going to the protests, and that they did not go to the protests, when, attention, Navalny got imprisoned etc. And Navalny is mentioned for a reason.
Remember once and for all. There is no real opposition in Russia – there is a handy opposition that stumbles very easily on the topic of Ukraine (remember Navalny's answer to the question "whose is Crimea?"). The campaign called ‘Navalny opposition’ has been going on for years. The handy opposition in power is a well-thought-out option for Russia to ease sanctions in the future.
Once sanctions are eased – Russia is on our doorstep again.
What is the purpose?
With this tactical step, Russia has tried to achieve both short-term and long-term goals. First, to attract attention both in Ukraine and the world, blur key messages, and disrupt the flow of our hashtags.
The girl with a poster has her own hashtag and a bot army is already working there.
So, something tells me that it is quite possible that Mariupol’s dead mother and baby will be replaced by a Russian woman with a poster in hashtags tomorrow.
Ovsyannikova was already on the front pages of the world media in the evening replacing Mariupol.
If you can’t conquer, then lead the way.
The long-term goals of the operation is to continue promoting Russian narratives, which are critical for them to put in our heads, both in Ukraine and other countries. The Russians will continue to try to reshape the vision of the world conflict, towards a "fraternal", "intra-Slavic conflict", which the world should not care about.
The second goal is to pave the way for a new hybrid influence in the form of Russian "dissidents" who will be allowed to Europe and the United States. I have even heard ideas to give such Kremlin agents Ukrainian passports from some people in Ukraine.
Ordinary Ukrainians, as well as media workers and communication experts, both in Ukraine and the world, need to continue thinking critically and distinguishing between misinformation and manipulation.
The information war continues and we must be even more demanding, even more attentive, and even more critical of ourselves in terms of media hygiene, as well as not forgetting who the enemy is.
After all, sometimes it can hide behind a sheepskin, or behind a poster "NO WAR".