Descended to Mice
Just a few weeks of relative truce in Donbas made it tough for the Russian TV-propagandists. They had to turn to forgotten closet to bring the 10-year old syncs, to broadcast comments of little-known ‘talking heads’ and to quote the news of Ukrainian President’s web-site. Should it had not been for the scandals about the local election campaign, the Kremlin’s propaganda machine would have stalled.
The juiciest topics of ‘Ukrainian’ overviews and stories by central Russian TV-channels on 16-20 September were:
- developments and arrest of Igor Mosiychuk, the Radical Party deputy, accused of corruption;
- ‘blockade’ by the Crimean Tatars and Right Sector of goods supply to the Crimea;
- sanctions against the Russian airlines;
- agreements achieved between the insurgents and Kyiv about the disengagement of heavy weapons.
At the same time the number of stories about ‘DPR/LPR’ has dropped significantly if compared to the first fortnight of September. The separatists are only mentioned in the context of Minsk negotiations progress. Convincing of the Russian viewer that the insurgents win more and more concession from Kyiv is symptomatic.
But nobody cares about the inconsistency of messages broadcast within a week. Like, from 16 till 21 September Channel One and Russia.TV inform about the start of local election preparation in ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ in the end of October – beginning of November “observing strictly the Minsk agreements”. But 22 September the same channels, referring to insurgents’ representatives, communicate that together with Kyiv they prepared a ‘plan’ to implement the political part of Minsk agreements, according to this ‘plan’ the election is postponed to the end of February. And again this is presented as another victory of Russian diplomats and ‘DPR/LPR’ representatives.
In order to distract attention from the evident inconsistency of new facts with the previously declared position, they turn to another ‘intense’ statement of ‘DPR leader’ Zakharchenko. Under the colors of Vesti, NTV and Lifenews on 23 September, he threatens to quit the agreements: ‘The words of Poroshenko and his representatives during the Kuchma’s negotiations in Minsk about the Ukraine’s necessity to join NATO are aimed at destruction of Minsk Agreements. If Ukraine launches the preparation of NATO entering referendum or other procedures, the DPR will quit the Minsk Agreements right away and start the liberation of the whole Donbas territory from Kyiv’s occupation. I am sure that this time many regions will quit Ukraine “.
Thus, the Minsk Agreements and special status of ‘DPR/LPR’ are deliberately associated with the policy of counteraction to NATO expansion. As a matter of fact, they accustom the viewer to the idea that if Ukraine tries to join NATO, the war in Donbass will resume ‘naturally’. That is to say, for absolutely legitimate reasons. And, again, Russian has nothing to do with this.
The Donbas developments are also a demonstration of might and power of Russia’s President on the international stage. During 27-29 September the central TV-channels were covering the visit and participation of Vladimir Putin to the 70th session of UN General Assembly.
In particular, all TV-channels spread out his statement that the weapon under 100 mm caliber must be disengaged in Donbas. Morning 30 September, Channel One informs, referring to the negotiators, that the document about the disengagement of weapon under 100 mm was accepted by consensus giving the green light to the peace. But the focus was changed by evening:
- It was not a ‘document’ but an ‘agreement’ allegedly binding on Ukraine;
- The agreement is not a consensus but ‘a diplomatic breakthrough’ of ‘insurgents’.
- The agreement is not a way to peace but to a new stage of ‘acute political confrontation’ where the key role will be played by the RF President at the meeting with the leaders of France and Germany in Paris.
Channel One, News, 30.09.2015, 09:00
The long-awaited document about the pull-out of weapon under 100 mm caliber from the conflict area (in Donbas, they called it ‘historical’) is agreed by all parties, and it is to be delivered to Donetsk and Luhansk today for signing. Thereafter the agreement will enter into force, as explained by ‘DPR’ envoy. Though it does not mean that the weaponry will disappear at once. The process will be implemented step-by-step and take over a month…
‘Finally, the consensus was achieved. The document was initialed and signed by the parties except for ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ leaders. The signing is planned. After that the document will come into force, and we will be withdrawing the weapon under 100 mm caliber’, as communicated by Denis Pushilin, plenipotentiary envoy of self-declared ‘DPR’.
‘This is the document giving green light to peace, cessation of violence, shelling. And it should be noted that it was made during the respected cease-fire. Let’s hope that we will keep moving ahead in the war,’ said Azamat Kulmukhametov, Russia representative in the Contact Group.
Channel One, News, 30.09.2015, 18:00
HOST NOT IDENTIFIED
Aleksandr Zakharchenko, head of self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, signed the Agreement of withdrawal of weapons under 100 mm caliber. His press-service communicated this to the RIA News agency. The leader of self-proclaimed ‘LPR’ is expected to sign the document any minute as well.
The Agreement was initialed, in other words it is preapproved, the day before; this is the outcome of the Contact Group meeting in Minsk. But there were hard negotiations before: for several months the parties under the facilitation of OSCE and Russia were trying to agree details but it did not work out due to Kyiv’s position. The insurgents started weapon withdrawal unilaterally. And now the long-awaited diplomatic breakthrough is announced.
Russia, Vesti, 30.09.2015
Leaders of ‘republics’ Aleksandr Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitskiy are to sign the agreement in Donetsk and Luhansk. Thereafter the document will come into force. But this does not mean the ultimate end to the Donbas confrontation. It gets to acute political stage. None of the points defined in a set of measures adopted by the meeting of ‘Normandy Four’ this February had been fulfilled, actually. The constitutional reform of Ukraine, the law about special status of Donbas and the local elections are the main topics of the nearest sessions.
The next session of the contact group is in a week, right after the meeting leaders of Normandy Four countries in Paris. And the decisions to be taken in France will influence largely the Minsk negotiations.
So, the TV-viewers are being convinced that the Donbas situation develops in favor of Russia and Putin keeps it under full control. And the peace can fall apart through the Ukraine’s fault only and Ukraine’s failure to fulfill its obligations. And this time Russia would not stand aside for sure.
At the same time, the second level TV-channels (NTV, Lifenews) on 20-25 September instill an association of ‘DPR/LPR’ with two unrecognized republics in the Caucasus – Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The visit of I.Plotnitskiy and A.Zakharchenko to these ‘unrecognized republics’ has become a news peg. During meetings they thanked their colleagues for significant help and the latter, in their turn, promised to support the aspiration of Donetsk and Luhansk separatists for independence.
So, we think, it is too early to talk about ‘flush out of Novorossiya’. Quite the opposite, Kremlin continues the information processing of the society so that, in case of new crisis, to get the ‘go-ahead’ for Donbas annexation from ‘people’ easily and without additional efforts.
But in terms of the number of stories on the Russia’s TV, the separatists lost to ‘Kyiv junta’. Newsrooms grabbed any pretext to show the weakness of Poroshenko’s regime and Kyiv’s hostility towards Moscow.
In particular, a detailed story in the Channel One’s week end news spot of 20 September was dedicated to the corruption of new officials. And the phone-call of US Vice President Biden with a ‘threat to suspend the assistance’ was related to the shady past of the very president of Ukraine having taken the accusations by Aleksandr Zinchenko in September 2005 as a proof. Allegedly, back at that time Poroshenko tended to ‘shelter’ smuggling and bear hard on judges.
The conclusion that the democracy in Ukraine is farce was demonstrated by means of ‘humiliation’, comparison of Ukrainians with mice that choose cats. Quite symptomatic that the same day NTV broadcast the comment of Chechnya leader R. Kadyrov with similar ‘prophecy’ of the very end of new authorities of Ukraine and, first of all, of President Poroshenko. Kadyrov also used the humiliation method reminding of ‘tie chewing’ by the Georgia President, a meme popular in RF.
Channel One, News, 20.09.2015, 21:00
Why does Ukraine prefer struggling with reporters while USA accuses Kyiv of corruption outburst?
… Familiar faces are looking at Ukrainians from the election billboards, they call themselves grass roots, and promise again to struggle with public utilities tariffs and fair retirement pensions. Meanwhile the Internet is full of altered images of this election campaign accompanied by a comment: ‘The Ukrainian authorities will not change even in 20 years, and Ukrainians are like mice that are welcome to elect any of cats they like’.
NTV, News, 20.09.2015
This week Petro Poroshenko signed a decree about putting of almost 400 persons and over a hundred of companies and organizations on the black list of so called enemies of Ukraine. Ramzan Kadyrov is on it.
The Chechnya leader is not surprised with Poroshenko’s action. Kadyrov is sure that the sanction list is a mere gesture of despair.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechnya leader: ‘These are his last steps. His economy is null, prestige is null, only Yatseniuk and Saakashvili remain. He has nothing to do but to chew a tie’.
Kadyrov also underlined that sooner or later the citizens of Ukraine would understand who ruled their country.
Kadyrov: the Ukrainians will throw out the ‘thieves, traitors and betrayers that took over… We should not in any way influence the Ukrainian people. The better we treat them the more they understand that they are ruled by thieves, traitors and betrayers. They will throw them out on their own’.
In addition to Poroshenko, there were also attacks against Timoshenko (a story about online petition of citizens to appoint Timoshenko as an ambassador to Honduras), Yatseniuk (about ‘absurd demand’ of 16 billion USD against Gazprom, about the ‘wrecking’ of sanctions against airlines, about the involvement in customs frauds based on Saakashvili’s accusations, about the bribe as accused by deputy S. Kaplin).
Special attention shall be focused on the civil blockade of Crimea as covered by the Russian TV-channels. We were surprised to find out that the messages spread around by Russian TV were later disseminated by the politicians representing the Opposition Bloc. All in all, the campaign against the blockade of Crimean Tatars comes to the following points:
1. The blockade was organized by an illegal organization – ‘unregistered organization “Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars”’.
2. The blockade was supported by Right Sector terrorist organization.
3. The farmers and producers of Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts will suffer from the blockade first of all.
4. The blockade violates the law of Ukraine about the free-trade zone in Crimea.
5. The blockade will increase the border smuggling and the radicals will get profit.
6. The blockade will definitely undermine the trust of Crimea locals to Ukraine.
The last four messages were actively and are still used inside Ukraine. By the Opposition Bloc. Moreover, Channel One aired a story on 23 September about ‘turbulent events’ in Kharkiv; it described mayor Kernes and his close friend, ex-governor Dobkin, from Opposition Bloc as enemy radicals and National Guard ‘thugs’.
So the Kremlin’s favors in these elections are evident. The only question is whether it will manage to convert these favors to real actions and new ‘anti-maidan’.
Channel One, News, 22.09.2015, 21:00
Truck drivers get more and more frustrated on the blocked roads to Crimea.
Ukrainian suppliers of vegetables, berries and fruits are to suffer the most as a result of actions of Ukrainian radicals blocking the border. The food blockade of Crimea goes on. Truck drivers that can’t get to the peninsula are getting more and more frustrated. While the Crimea does not experience any growth of prices or shortage of foods due to blockade.
Representatives of Azov battalion that planned to shut off the border with Transnistria changed their mind eventually. The participants of so called protest action stood at the check-point for a couple of hours and left when the locals started complaining.
‘If goods come, they are given for free or what? The currency also comes here. We have lost markets: the Russian one is lost, the European is not reached,’ a local says.
Meanwhile the Crimean border is closed at all three check-points for three days. The larger jam is the less politeness is between the radicals and drivers. They say that the situation is absurd because the check-points work as usual but you can’t get there because of concrete barricades.
‘The vehicle is cleared, I am responsible for cargo. I signed for it. I am bound with the cargo. The customs say that I can go, but these do not allow. Who are they to do this?’ a driver clamors.
‘They are standing, the road is blocked by unknown armed people, with cocktail bombs, they stand there and threaten to set vehicle on fire. They don’t allow pass, how would you call that? Who does that?’ another driver adds.
‘Our state suppresses us,’ a hauler says.
As a matter of fact, the radicals breach the Ukrainian law about the free-trade area adopted by Verkhovna Rada but only the drivers care about that. According to the Russian FSB, the traffic from the peninsula to Ukraine has been also limited today. Two trucks are blocked on the neutral territory between Russian and Ukrainian check-points. Ukrainian militia officers supported the blockade organizers. In Kherson oblast they are going to block even the unsurfaced roads that, as the law-enforcement bodies believe, can be used to get to the border.
‘The blockade will be ongoing. I think for months. The only solution is to turn the truck and get back home,’ says Illya Kiva, deputy head of MIA in Kherson oblast.
But not many leave. The most of drivers pass the time inside the trucks. Make food on open fire afield. There are no facilities in the Ukrainian frontier zone. Unlike the drivers, the blockade organizers feel comfortable. They made a field camp, the water and food are delivered there regularly. ‘Our activists come here every hour, and we will keep standing here. For days, weeks, months, until everything gets clear, there are many of us here,’ a blockade participant says.
Kyiv authorities approve the Crimean border blockade. This was announced by the Presidential Commissioner for Crimean Tatar People Mustafa Dzhemilev. Moreover, according to him, the action details were discussed with Petro Poroshenko and Arsenii Yatseniuk. Political experts think that doing so the Ukrainian leaders prejudice Ukrainian people against themselves.
Meanwhile, the blockade organizers hiding behind patriotic slogans serve their own financial interests.
‘Tell me what kind of patriotism is about tearing of Crimea from the continental Ukraine? Mejlis was always financed by Turkish business, and they fulfil the order of Turkish business. We by our own efforts are knocking out the Ukrainian producer from Crimea. There are no Ukrainian goods there. Turkish contraband gets there. We liberated the Crimean market from the Ukrainian goods for Turkish contraband. Chubarov accomplished the task. I can’t understand the patriots – what they are thinking about,’ a political expert Pavel Karnazytskyi says.
The Leader of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars Chubarov supports the Kyiv authorities, he has already proposed to create grocery centers on the Crimean border. And, as envisioned by Chubarov, the list of food allowed for sale there should be defined by the Ukrainian government.
‘After all, the smuggling will be controlled and grey horses very close to the Ukrainian authorities will get the profit. They will turn a dollar. And if someone thinks that they can one-up or get the profit by-passing the governors or Kyiv’s representatives, nothing of the kind. These will never give up their honeypots and control over smuggling,’ says the president of Ukrainian analytical center Aleksandr Okhrimenko.
Meanwhile Kyiv publishes articles with headings: ‘Crimea suffers the food shortage’. The grocery prices allegedly reached the London and Singapore level. But the peninsula laughs at that.
‘The milk costs 52 rubles, 49 rubles. You see, every commodity has its purchaser, actually, the prices are in the same price segment. I’d rather not use the word ‘blockade’. If today we have some remainders of Ukrainian products of 2-5%, but talking about ‘blockade’ is, to say the least of it, not correct, such epithets are used by our Ukrainian quote-unquote colleagues that market themselves and kill the Kherson producer,’ says the Crimean Minister of Industry Andrei Skrynnik.
The radicals blocking the road hardly take care about that, in the evening the nationalist leader Yarosh offered to expand the action to the East and block the roads to self-declared republics.
Channel One, News, 23.09.2015, 15:00
Kharkiv is experiencing turbulent events today.
Over 200 disguised persons broke into the town hall; to all appearance, they are from Azov regiment, a part of so called National Guard. They were going to handle the city mayor Gennadiy Kernes, who wants to be re-elected at the 25 October election. Eventually they decided that the raised disturbance was enough and wanted to leave but the guards tried to detain them. By then the town hall was surrounded by militia. But the radicals used the teargas and escaped.
And about a hundred of activists came to the home of ex-governor and current parliamentary deputy of Opposition Bloc Mikhail Dobkin. As Ukrainian media report, recently he offered to name one of the Kharkiv streets after Berkut, the disbanded special ops unit, and the radicals responded by painting his fence and throwing a few smoke-puff charges into the yard.
The monitoring is carried out by Telekritika NGO supported by the Internews Network.