Patrushev intimidates Russians, Nebenzya intimidates the world
TEXTY analyzed the public rhetoric of two key Russian officials to show how domestic Russian propaganda aimed at Russians differs from that spread outside the country.
The persons in question are the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolay Patrushev, and the Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya. Their statements are actively quoted and discussed on Russian political talk shows and widely disseminated by Russian propaganda.
Translated by Dmitry Lytov
We downloaded news from Telegram channels of the most popular Russian media and from February 24, 2022, we researched those in which Nikolay Patrushev and Vasily Nebenzya are mentioned or quoted. We found 570 and 848, respectively, and divided them into categories of messages, leaving out common and neutral topics.
Patrushev and Nebenzya spread common messages in certain categories (for example, "anti-Western rhetoric", "biological threats"). But some others are visibly different. In particular, Patrushev talks a lot about the activities of Western special services, while Nebenzya talks about Russia's peaceful intentions from the UN podium.
Anti-Western rhetoric is a major theme for both officials, but there are nuances. The difference in the emphasis on different messages demonstrates how Russian propaganda adapts to different audiences. For example, Patrushev caters to the domestic audience by spreading narratives about a strong warlike Russia, while Nebenzya is a "dove of peace" for the external world, who claims that Russia is ready to negotiate peace, but on its own terms.
The nonsense about the "partition of Ukraine" by Western partners is only directed to Russians; outside the country, Nebenzya is silent about this topic, as well as about the activities of Western special services that are destructive for Russia. Instead, he is focused on accusing Ukraine and obfuscating the truth about Russia's war crimes through "everyone lies" technology.
Patrushev demonizes the Anglo-Saxons
Patrushev's goal is to intimidate the Russians and convince them that a Russian attack on Ukraine is the only possible survival scenario for their country. Therefore, he says that the West, led by the USA, is trying to destroy Russia. The Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation uses a term that the Russian audience has known for many years: the Anglo-Saxons.
This is a symbol of evil and threat to Russia:
"The collective West led by the Anglo-Saxons leaves no hope of defeating Russia, ensuring its isolation in the world, depriving it of the status of a great power capable of providing a worthy resistance to the USA with its aspiration for global domination."
According to him, the USA wants to establish control over the leadership of the Russian Federation, as they did in Europe, in particular in Germany: "Modern Germany is not independent: for many years the White House controlled [chancellor] Merkel, and today the USA continues to humiliate the Federal Republic of Germany."
To reinforce this theory, Patrushev involves stories about Western special services that seem to work day and night to harm Russia:
"The murder of Darya Dugina and Vladlen Tatarsky, the blowing up of Zakhar Prilepin's car were committed by Kiev with direct coordination from Washington."
To convince his fellow citizens that Russia must continue to fight, allegedly to protect its borders, Patrushev needs examples. And he cites them:
"In the Kaliningrad region, the creation of the "German autonomy" was prevented,” or "the facts of the collection of documents by the Polish special services to provoke discontent among Russians were established."
And here's one more news, about the North Caucasus:
"Western special services are activating sleeping cells of terrorists, nationalists and radicals in the North Caucasus, militants are intensifying their propaganda and recruitment work."
Patrushev demonizes the US by inventing absurd conspiracy theories, in particular, to whitewash the war crimes of the Russian army in Ukraine.
One of them is that the West allegedly created Al-Qaeda and ISIS:
"The USA only pretends to fight terrorism. Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) were both created by the Americans and are still manipulated by them.”
Today, according to Patrushev, Western special services are recruiting terrorists to help Ukraine:
"Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev accused the USA and Britain of recruiting international terrorists to help Kyiv."
Patrushev also states that it is the Western special services that are encouraging Ukraine to allegedly fire at the Zaporizhzhia NPP and are responsible for blowing up the Kakhovka HPP:
"The US is coordinating the Armed Forces on the location of critically important objects of the Zaporizhzhia NPP so that their shelling does not stop",
"The US, UK and their NATO partners gave consent to blow up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station".
Nebenzya demonizes Ukrainians
Vasily Nebenzya at the UN has a different role. He directs his efforts to accuse Ukraine. Thus, the representative of Russia seeks to reduce the level of support for Ukraine in the world.
The murder of Daria Dugina, according to his version, is allegedly the handiwork of Ukraine, and as proof he shows a screenshot from the Myrotvorets (Peacemaker) website:
"Nebenzya showed the UN a printout of a screenshot from the scandalously famous Ukrainian website "Myrotvorets", on which Dugina's photo is crossed out with the inscription "liquidated". "They are openly bragging about her murder."
According to Nebenzya, Kyiv is also to blame for blowing up the Kakhovka HPP:
" The Kiev regime committed an unthinkable crime by blowing up the Kakhovka dam", " The Russian Federation believes that Kiev attacked the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station to regroup its forces and inflict humanitarian damage."
Nebenzya portrays Ukraine as a country capable of blowing up its own nuclear power plant, and appeals to the West to prevent this from happening:
"Russia hopes that the West will not allow Kyiv to organize a catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia Atomic Power Plant (ZNPP)." It was actually the Russian army that occupied the NPP, planted mines in it and operated it in violation of all safety standards, periodically shelled its infrastructure in order to disconnect it from the Ukrainian power grid, and then accused the Ukrainian armed forces of shelling.
The demonization of Ukraine from the UN podium is Nebenzya's key task: "Ukrainian authorities have essentially admitted that they consider genocide as a possible measure." "Representative of the Russian Federation Vasyl Nebenzya, in turn, showed the UN the Lepestok anti-infantry mine, which the Ukrainian Armed Forces fires at civilians of the DPR and LPR, and called it a "living proof of the sadistic and barbaric nature of the Kyiv regime ".
If Patrushev unreservedly blames the West for the fact that Russia started the "SVO" (as Russia calls the war against Ukraine), Nebenzya shifts the main blame to Kyiv: "Nebenzya accused Ukraine of starting a special operation... " I repeat once again: if the Minsk agreements had been implemented, no special operation would have been needed, but the Kiev regime decided otherwise.”
He also continues to promote the long-standing Russian narrative that Ukraine is ruled by radicals:
" And Zelensky has demonstrated that he is weak, that he does not have the political will and strength to resist those radicals who are the main political force in today's Ukraine."
And he uses the international platform to portray Russia as the defender of the Ukrainian people from the bad "godless" government:
"Nebenzya spoke about ignoring the persecuted canonical Orthodoxy in Ukraine", "Vasily Nebenzya said about the formation of an anti-Christian dictatorship in Ukraine".
Fakes about Kiev's resale of Western weapons are also regularly heard from the UN podium - this is how the representative of Russia tries to discredit aid to Ukraine.
Nebenzya blames the Ukrainians themselves for all crimes committed by the Russians in Ukraine.
"Vasily Nebenzya said that Ukrainian air defense forces regularly hit residential buildings. Ukrainian air defense has long had a steady notoriety. At least from the moment when, in October 2001, a Russian civilian aircraft was shot down over the Black Sea during military exercise.”
He calls the Russian atrocities in Bucha or the destruction of the maternity hospital in Mariupol fakes and productions:
"Nebenzya once again explains to the Western partners that the attack by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the Mariupol maternity hospital is a fake... the sinkhole next to the building was apparently formed as a result of the explosion of a land mine."
Patrushev: War until Victory, Nebenzya: Peace on Russia's Terms
When Patrushev threatens and assures that Russia is capable of obtaining a complete victory by military means, Nebenzya declares that Moscow is peaceful and does not reject peace negotiations, as long as Russia’s interests are observed:
"Russia is ready to negotiate with Ukraine, but Kiev is not interested in it", "Permanent Representative of Russia at the UN, Vasily Nebenzya called baseless allegations that Russia wants to destroy Ukraine. According to the diplomat, such statements are completely untrue, as “Ukrainians are a kin and friendly people to us."
Patrushev and Nebenzya's favorite fake news
But some Russian fakes for internal use do make it to the UN podium. For example, fictions about biological and nuclear threats to Russia - here Patrushev and Nebenzya sing almost in unison.
Various conspiracy theories about US biolaboratories are often highlighted in weekly reports based on the results of monitoring Russian propaganda and disinformation about the war (you can read them here), by other Ukrainian and international media. This is one of the most popular fakes of propagandists.
Patrushev is one of the main newsmakers in this topic. It was he who launched the theory that the USA is creating "anti-Russian viruses":
"The Pentagon's biological programs may be aimed at creating "racially oriented" viruses."
He accuses the United States of creating the coronavirus: "Patrushev admitted the involvement of the United States in the creation of the coronavirus."
Patrushev was one of the speakers who actively spread fakes about the radioactive cloud that arose after the alleged destruction of depleted uranium munitions and which is moving to Europe: "Patrushev spoke about the increase in radiation in Poland... In Poland, an increase in radiation was seen after the destruction of ammunition with depleted uranium in Ukraine".
Patrushev justifies the start of the war with nuclear threats: "Ukraine's creation of nuclear weapons would threaten the security of the entire world and provoke the outbreak of a nuclear war... He emphasized that Russia could not allow the appearance of such weapons by "naked, ungovernable" Ukrainian nationalists."
Nebenzya provided a similar version of the events: "Nebenzya declared at the UN that the current operation in Ukraine is the realization of Russia's right to self-defense after Kiev's declaration on nuclear issues."
Like Patrushev, Nebenzya often talks about biological and nuclear threats to Russia:
"The participation of the Kharkiv Institute in carrying out work on the collection of strains of avian influenza viruses that have a high epidemic potential and are able to overcome the interspecies barrier has been documented."
The representative of Russia at the UN accuses Ukraine of the possibility of using a "dirty bomb":
"Russia calls on the West to force Kyiv to abandon plans for a "dirty bomb".
And if Patrushev's words are traditionally aimed at a domestic audience, Nebenzya, as always, says it to mobilize critics of the United States. His words are echoed by the Chinese:
"US biolaboratories in Ukraine have really attracted a lot of attention recently. All dangerous pathogens in Ukraine must be stored in these laboratories, and all research activities are led by the US," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a briefing on March 9.
Instill faith and sow distrust
Patrushev's tasks inside Russia and Nebenzya's outside Russia are somewhat opposite. One tries to mobilize the population, to strengthen the faith of Russians in the inevitable victory, instills fear, equating defeat with death and the destruction of the country. And Nebenzya works in a different direction and for a different audience, trying to sow mistrust of Ukraine in the world, shake support, and strengthen doubts. Patrushev offers Russians more completely invented theories, while Nebenzya has to come up with more excuses and alternative interpretations of Russia's real crimes in Ukraine. But individual hoaxes and conspiracy theories, such as those about secret US biolabs, are gaining international support. In particular, this is largely due to the confrontation between China and the USA. Beijing supported Russia's version, which partially legitimizes the Kremlin's theory of a biothreat.
This material was created within the Fight For Facts! project, which is carried out by the Institute of Mass Information with the support of n-ost, and is financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ). The views expressed in these publications are those of the independent authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the BMZ.