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The transformation of russian fake news propaganda about Ukrainian Azov regiment

The transformation of russian fake news propaganda about Ukrainian Azov regiment

On May 16, the kremlin’s propaganda media spread disinformation that, allegedly part of the Azov Regiment fighters surrendered to russian military.

Ukraine debunked fake news immediately. However, such a “misstatement” is not the first on the russia’s information agenda against the Azov Battalion.

In general, the russia’s campaign to “demonize” Ukrainian volunteer battalions is systematic in nature. In 2014, the Right Sector became the focus of russian propaganda, and in 2022 – Azov. 

From the very beginning of russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine, the russian federation called the actions of Azov Regiment all but the most important reason for the “special military operation to “de-Nazify” Ukraine”.

On March 8, russian propaganda in Berdyansk even sent out political leaflets among Ukrainians, which contained the information of russian alleged fight against Nazi groups, in particular Azov. Occupants presented the information as having no alternative regarding the course of events. According to the leaders of the russian federation, Ukrainians should hate the mythical Nazis, instead the society of our country unified, hating putin and russia.  

Later, justifying the airstrike on the maternity hospital in Mariupol, russia stated that, allegedly Azov fighters were sheltering in the building, not women in labour. Naturally, only russians believed the fake news.

The kremlin even resorted to “foreign voices” propaganda, spreading pro-russian narratives about Ukrainian Nazi-battalion Azov in the German-language media. In this way, russian propagandists tried to provoke condemnation and distancing from Ukraine in the world community.

In the absence of considerable success in the discrediting campaign against Azov, a month ago the russian propaganda machine started an informational and psychological operation aimed at bringing Ukrainians into the state of despair. The main goal is to desecrate Azov as a peculiar symbol of the struggle of Ukrainians and raise doubts about military’s bravery and endurance.

Almost every day during the week from April 18 to 25, russian media had been generating disinformation prognoses regarding how long Ukrainian soldiers would hold out on the territory of the Azovstal Steel plant. On April 19, Chechen leader ramzan kadyrov triumphantly declared that “banderites (“Ukrainian Nazis”) in Mariupol will be “finished off” today”. After kadyrov’s forecast did not come true, on April 21 he again announced that the Azovstal would be completely under the control of the russian military “before or after lunch”. Then, sergei shoigy gave a new forecast, clarifying that “it will take 3-4 days to complete the operation in the Azovstal”.

On the one hand, these fake forecasts were an element of psychological terrorism, and on the other hand, they formed an alternative reality for the russians and putin concerning the events in Mariupol.

The invincibility of the Ukrainian military forced the kremlin’s media to even resort to outright lies with the alleged partial surrender of the Azov regiment. This is the only way russia could “defeat” Ukrainian army and “save the face” of the russia’s dictator.

  • 18 May, 2022

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