Staunton, December 8 – Kyiv plans to launch satellite television broadcasting to the Russian Federation and Russian-occupied Crimea, an indication that Ukrainian officials understand that their country is engaged in an information war as well as a real one on the ground and that they are ready to engage in it just as vigorously.
Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister, says that the Ukrainian ministry for information policy is planning such broadcasts to provide audiences in those countries with the kind of accurate news and information they are not getting from Kremlin-controlled outlets (sobesednik.ru/politika/20141207-pravdu-rossii-i-krymu-rasskazhet-ukrainskaya-propaganda-s-po).
He said that the television programs, to be paid for by the government, will be “developed by the best independent journalists” and will be used “exclusively for propaganda and counter-propaganda of the truth about Ukraine as well as providing a Ukrainian view on events in Ukraine and abroad.”
Pro-Kremlin Russian officials are already dismissive. Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the Duma’s foreign relations committee, says that he isn’t certain what “truth about Ukraine” such a channel might offer but is sure that “99 percent of Russians” won’t watch or accept whatever is offered (inforesist.org/v-gosdume-nervnichayut-po-povodu-rasshireniya-veshhaniya-ukrainskix-kanalov/).
But he and the Kremlin may be surprised. Russians are increasingly skeptical of what Moscow media report about Ukraine and much else, and yesterday, at a concert in Moscow, Boris Grebenshchikov pointedly said that “the war will end as soon as we turn off the television. They are [screwing] with our minds” (echo.msk.ru/blog/troitskiy/1450902-echo/).
But as journalist Artemy Troitsky pointed out in reporting the artist’s commented that for such an optimistic prediction to have had any chance to be true, Russians would have had to turn off their televisions “a minimum of a year ago” and not have turned them back on at any point since then.
Troitsky for his part offers seven theses about the information war now going on. First, he says, “it is necessary finally to understand and to feel that ‘an information war’ is really a WAR. Without any quotation marks. With killed, wounded, and crippled. And those who triggered it and who are conducting it now are war criminals.”
Second, those Russian television channels who are conducting it are guilty of violating a variety of Russian criminal laws including but not limited to the exacerbation of inter-ethnic hatred and slander.
Third, the actions of these channels “violate one of the basic rights of the individual: the right to truth.” And that prompts him to ask: why aren’t the numerous human rights organizations in the world focused on this violation?
Fourth, those participating in such media outlets are acting in ways that “contradict the principles of professional ethics.” Fifth, they should resign in protest even at a time of rising unemployment. Sixth, they should speak out. As Grebenshchikov has shown, there are opportunities for this if people are brave.
And seventh, Troitsky says, “as far as the soldiers, officers and generals of the information war are concerned: those who kill simply for more money … are beyond hope. But those who sincerely believe that they are fighting for the Motherland against Ukrainian aggressors, need to be reminded: You are fighting not for Russia but against her and her future.”
What is tragically the case, he concludes, is that it is currently far from clear just how much worse things will have to get until such people begin to understand this. Obviously, international broadcasting by Ukraine and by Western countries can play a major role in helping bring that day closer.