Staunton, Aug. 22 – Since February 24 when Vladimir Putin began his expanded war in Ukraine, many things have changed in Russia but perhaps none more important than the media habits of the Russian people who are now watching state television far less than they did and reading telegram channels far more.
According to the Romir polling agency, the share of Russians watching the state’s First Channel has fallen from 33.7 percent to 25.5 percent, those watching Russia-1 from 30.9 percent to 23 percent, and those watching NTV from 21.1 percent to 16.6 percent (thinktanks.by/publication/2022/08/23/rossiyane-stali-suschestvenno-rezhe-smotret-goskanaly.html).
At the same time, the agency found, the share of those turning to Telegram Channels has gone up from 19.1 percent to 26.8 percent. That combination means that the Kremlin is gradually losing the audience of its main propaganda media and that Russians are turning to the more diverse Telegram Channels whose opinions range widely.
But it means something else that must not be ignored. It doesn’t mean that Russians are more opposed to the regime than they were but rather that they are no longer attracted to its messengers. In the short term, that may not matter much although the regime is clearly worried; but in the longer term, it will because the Kremlin will be less able to control public opinion.