Sunday, July 16, 2023

Moscow’s Propaganda in Non-Russian Languages about Ukrainian War Backfiring, Baranova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 13 – Most of Moscow’s propaganda to the non-Russian peoples of the Russian Federation is in Russian rather than their native languages, but some non-Russian expressions have entered the public discourse because they are so powerful in their emotional impact, Vlada Baranova says.

            But this combination, reliance mostly on Russian language materials and a lack of attention by the center to what is being said in non-Russian language outlets is backfiring because the way in which all-Russian solidarity is being promoted is backfiring, the Doha journalist says (

            On the one hand, many non-Russians are offended by the statements of Putin and others that in the war in Ukraine “we are all Russians,” Baranova says. That is highly offensive to many non-Russians who proudly say “we know who we are.” And on the other, many of them are picking up on the national traditions contained in propaganda about the war.

            In Kalmykia, Tuva and Chuvashia, whose non-Russian media she examined, the journalist found that talk about the war in these languages promoted national traditions rather than Russian ones, something that has strengthened rather than weakened non-Russian identities despite Moscow’s obvious interest in doing just that.

            This pattern in fact has fed anti-colonial discourse in these republics by suggesting that this war is a purely Russian one that they are being used in but about which they have no interest – a trend that has not been countered by Moscow whose officials seem to be ignoring what is written in the non-Russian outlets.

            Government propaganda has “made several attempts to intercept the agenda of the decolonial wing of the anti-war opposition,” but it has generally failed because the only way to attract non-Russians to the center’s agenda is to use non-Russian memes that may a very different impact on their listeners than Moscow would like.

            According to Baranova, “there are no signs that the authorities are consistently monitoring minority-language outlets to promptly respond to criticism from decolonial activists.” Instead, Moscow propagandists seem to believe that stressing the multi-ethnic composition of the Russian army is sufficient.

            But “at the same time,” she continues, “the rhetoric of ‘elder and younger brothers’ and ‘rallying’ is an unintentional part of imperial discourse.” Those producing such texts do not recognize that what they are saying is offensive and may generate protest, especially when propaganda in non-Russian outlets provides the necessary vocabulary to do so.


No comments:

Post a Comment