Russian Telegram channels in the (newly) occupied territories push to promote national holidays and happy childhood
Russia’s National Day on 12 June became an important talking point on Telegram channels used by Russian propaganda machine in the occupied regions across the southeast of Ukraine. Every fourth post that day contained either the word “holiday” or the phrase “Russia Day”.
Russia’s main strategy to justify the occupation of Ukraine currently focuses on the false narrative that the occupied cities “finally, 30 years later, have reunited with Mother Russia” or will soon de-facto become a part of Russia (as in the case with the posts of Kirill Stremousov, a self-proclaimed deputy head of the Kherson Military and Civil Administration who uses bold slogans without mentioning the referendum, for example, “#Kherson will soon become #Russia, and that’s a fact”).
Separate posts about the banking system integration or issuing Russian passports are only seen as additional arguments claiming that Kherson or the newly occupied areas of the Zaporizhzhia region have already become a part of Russia.
Russian financial aid remains in the spotlight
Russian Telegram channels have particularly pushed the messages suggesting that “All loans taken from Ukrainian banks don’t have to be repaid. No one will get responsible for not repaying them,” as shared by Volodymyr Saldo (the “head of Military and Civil Administration of Kherson region”) and Volodymyr Rohov (“a council member of the Military-Civil Administration of Zaporizhzhia region”).
Furthermore, the occupying forces have promised various social benefits to the residents of the occupied territories – parents of young children, pensioners, and everyone in general. “Almost all residents of Kherson region will soon receive social payments.” Posts were then followed by photographs showing people receiving cash vouchers (even when the facial expressions of the recipients did not match the narratives of the Russian propaganda).
An endless stream of family values manipulations
Children and families are regular topics featured on Russian Telegram channels. Before the National Day of Russia on 12 June, Russians have been promoting children’s competitions, fireworks, free attractions and rides.
Russia tried to “lure” local residents so that they could take photos of the “mass” celebration (wrapped in words promising peace and joy) and demonstrate the local support for the occupying regime.
Below are a few examples of the primitive propaganda quotes:
· “Cute video from all-Russian national celebration yesterday. Children rejoice and dance happily – that’s what a carefree childhood looks like.” ·
“A concert on Primorskaya Square. Children are enjoying the fun fair. Unveiling of a monument is coming soon.”
· “Children’s smiles and laughter lit up the streets of Energodar on the City Day.”
However, family-focused narratives have been dominating Russian propaganda channels long before the Russia’s National Day. Almost every tenth post contained the words “family” or “children” on the Telegram channels we have studied lately.
Much-telling are Stremousov’s posts: “Be real fathers to your children, do not shift all the responsibility on to women. Only then our #World – our #RussianWorld will be beautiful and perfect.”
It seems that the Russian propaganda channels on Telegram are increasingly trying to imitate a peaceful, stable and prosperous life in the (newly)occupied regions of Ukraine. Every now and then, the stories are balanced out by the tales about Ukrainian “terrorist attacks” or recruitment vacancies for the understaffed local police units. Russian Telegram channels continue to prefer local news and events, fitting them carefully into the vision of “Russkiy mir” (Russian world) and using the low-quality propaganda templates and tactics. Will they manage to attract a real audience or will they continue to narrate to random bots who make up the majority of their subscribers? We will continue investigating this.