Dmitri Likin says he has spent more than 20 years shaping the look of Russian state television, but neither he nor his friends have seen the news.
This is an example of a long-standing bargain by some employees of the Kremlin propaganda machines, those who value steady work and creative challenges without agreeing to the mission of the workplace.
It was only this month that President Vladimir Putin resigned as long-time art director of Channel 1, the Russian national television network, a major player in the Kremlin’s vast propaganda equipment after the invasion of Ukraine. He claimed he was “not a politician,” but the aggression meant that he was now part of an operation with a “life-extinguishing” agenda.
“In Russia, television is made for people who are too lazy to use other sources for some reason,” Rikin said in a telephone interview, looking back at the audience. “These are simply people who lack education or habits of analysis.”
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has cut off some Russians who have worked for the government for a long time. This is a sign that the Kremlin is struggling to fully unite society behind the war. Thousands were arrested in protest of the Ukrainian invasion, tens of thousands fled the country, and Putin’s climate envoy Anatoly Chubais was reported to have resigned on Wednesday since the invasion began on February 24. Became the first high-ranking government official.
Russia’s national television channel has had at least four notable resignations. This is an important pillar in which Mr Putin controls the country’s domestic politics. Marina Ovsyannikova, a staff member of Channel 1 who interrupted the live news broadcast last week and spread an anti-war poster saying “They are lying to you here,” showed the most impressive protests. .. Others like Rikin can get a glimpse of the fermentation in Putin’s system, reminding us of the immense power of television that shapes how most Russians see war, and is quieter. went to.
“People are just depressed — clinically depressed,” said Channel 1 correspondent Zhanna Agalakova, who resigned this month, saying some of her colleagues were left behind. She said, “Many thinkers feel their sins, and there is no way out. Do you know? It’s not enough to ask for forgiveness.”
Russia’s national television network is entirely controlled by the Kremlin, and although its influence has diminished due to the rise of YouTube and social media, it remains the only major news source for the nation. About two-thirds of Russians relied on state television last year to get news, according to a study by the Levada Center, an independent pollster in Moscow. This is down from 90% in 2014.
During the war, state television channels provided Russians with pictures of conflicts that were the exact opposite of what was seen in the West. The Russians are as good as they were when they fought Nazi Germany in World War II. Liberation to Ukrainian lands seized by neo-Nazis funded by the Hegemonic West. Pictures of dead civilians and destroyed houses are either fake or misbranded as a result of Ukrainians bombarding themselves.
“Locals say Ukrainian troops are deliberately shooting down residential buildings,” a Channel 1 reporter said in a segment broadcast Wednesday from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. “Others say they were ordered to destroy the city as much as possible before the nationalists withdrew.”
Most Russians agree with the message released in their living room — especially presented as a logical extension to the story of the hostility and complaints to the West that Russian television has promoted for years. Because it is. And TV journalists in most states are enthusiastically touting the message that Russia is currently staying in their job and struggling for the right to exist. Anchor Lilia Gildeeva, who left the state channel NTV, told Russian insiders this week that she couldn’t determine her colleagues who were left behind her. She started how far she went.
“When you gradually succumb to yourself, you don’t notice the depth of the fall,” she said.
The shock of the war seems to have driven tens of thousands of Russians into a historic escape in recent weeks, stuffing planes into destinations such as Turkey and Armenia that are still accepting flights from Russia. While some journalists and activists escaped the possibility of arrest, many engineers and other young professionals suddenly lost sight of the future in Russia.
Some members of the Russian elite are also heading for the exit. The most notable departure news to date came on Wednesday, when Bloomberg News reported that the Kremlin’s climate envoy, Mr. Chubais, had stopped the war in Ukraine and left the country. The Kremlin confirmed that Mr. Chubais had resigned. He was considered one of the few liberal-oriented officials remaining in Putin’s administration, and his leading role in Moscow’s 1990s economic reforms made him unpopular in much of Russian society.
It is not clear whether complaints among some elites could somehow destabilize Mr Putin’s government. Former Channel 1 art director Rikin said he believes that people like him who are willing to resign their principles make up a “small minority” of the Russian masses.
Russia-Ukraine War: Significant Progress
“Many people aren’t working for ideas,” said former Channel 1 correspondent Agarakova about her ex-colleague who remained behind. “People have a family, they have a loan, and they need something to survive.”
Those who have quit their jobs on state television, especially those who speak, are facing an uncertain future. Mr. Agarakova spoke on the phone from Paris, where she was based as her correspondent, and said that some of her acquaintances stopped communicating with her after she quit. Rikin said he plans to stay in Russia and continue his parallel career as an architect. He said he could imagine returning to television if television “changes the agenda from life-threatening to life-affirming.”
Government-sponsored polls claim that most Russians support Mr Putin’s aggression, but analysts warn that people are even less likely to answer the survey honestly during the war. ing. Years of propaganda on Russian television, Agarakova laid the groundwork and recognized the war, especially by overturning memories of Russians’ victims of World War II and supporting Kremlin’s current policies. doing.
“Of course, when the concept of Nazism is thrown into society literally as if it were in the backyard of Ukraine, everyone reacts instantly,” said the Kremlin’s mistake that Russia is fighting the Nazis in Ukraine. Said, referring to the allegations. “This is a shameless game. This is a fraudulent game.”
In the barrage of propaganda, Russians who are distrustful of television have fewer places to seek more accurate news than ever before. Since the beginning of the war, the liberal echo of Moscow’s Echo of Moscow radio station has been closed, TV Rain’s independent TV channel has stopped broadcasting for staff safety, and access to Facebook and Instagram has been blocked by the government. rice field.
On Tuesday, Russian officials announced that popular journalist Alexander G. Nefzorov was under investigation for posting a post on his Instagram page about the Russian bombing of Mariupol. It was the latest effort to disperse fear among war critics by defeating the enforcement of new laws …