Monitoring of the media coverage across the Russian Federation (March 6-8)

 The Non-Governmental Analytical Center  team of Ukrainian Strategic Studies continues to monitor various Russian media. This task provides understanding of the severity of censorship and its weak spots.

In the nationwide Russian media, the most popular news are different interpretations of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.  Such as a statement made by V. Medinsky “Our expectations had failed”.  News about Zelensky, who insists on continuing negotiations.  And also another speculation, that Zelensky is ready to discuss the status of Crimea.  Unlike last week’s trend, reports of Moscow’s military achievements or “horrors of fascism” are not at the top (except for one, in 15th place,  talking about the entry of Moscow troops into the city of Izyum).  Instead, there is news of a “silence time” allegedly announced by Russia on March 8.  (During this “silence”, bombing of peaceful neighborhoods and residential ares of Ukrainian cities, rocket-propelled grenades, etc. continued).  Also quite popular  are reports about sanctions and Western corporations shutting down in Moscow.

We would like to unveil more details about media coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian war  in the regions of Russia. 

In Vladivostok and Transbaikal, the top 20 news included reports about the lists of “unfriendly states” .  Also information from Chita about calls from unknown numbers,  broadcasting the sound of an air-raid siren, has gained some popularity.

Yakutia news. There is a popular report about former deputy of Yakut State Assembly (Il Tumen) Sulustaana Miraan single protesting against the war in Ukraine with a call for peace and negotiations (including a wide majority of public representatives of both countries). She was detained by police.  It is significant that this, along with her arguments and without approval commentary supporting officials,  is represented on one of the main news portals of the Republic of Yakutia.  Also, this information has gained popularity in the Khabarovsk region.

In Arkhangelsk, the top news is about the death of Russian military member Anatoly Shchekoldin  in Ukraine (native of Konosh District).  In the comments section there is a public discussion – some part condemn aggression and unmotivated war, the other one broadcast propaganda clichés and accuse dissidents of fearing sanctions.

And in neighboring Vologda in the top 15 news about the negotiations (that allegedly Ukraine is the one that “begs” to continue this process), also some information about Zelensky’s “change of heart” towards NATO.  Fake claims about the intention to attack humanitarian convoys from the Russian Federation by the head of the Sumy Civil-Military Administration.

In Murmansk, a lot of news covered Putin’s promise not to send newbie recruits to Ukraine, and intention not to mobilize reservists.  Such promises were made in a congratulatory speech  in regards to International Women Day on March 8.  But the topic of sanctions has gained more attention of the population, which is why manipulative material about the grandchildren of high-ranking SS members, who are allegedly imposing anti-Russian restrictions, has become widespread.

In southern Volgograd, the most popular news was the death in the Russian-Ukrainian war of two high-ranking officers – former chief of staff of the landing regiment from the Volgograd region Konstantin Zizevsky and Yuri Agarkov.  Both are buried in the Pskov region.

In Tatarstan, the top 2 were the news of the failure of the next round of negotiations .  Attention is also paid to economic problems – the mass panic purchase of buckwheat and other food products.

In the semi-enclave of Kaliningrad, increased attention was paid to the war – wide coverage of the news about the possibility of recognizing the “DNR / LNR” and Crimea, Zelensky’s disappointment in NATO.  But the greatest attention has gained a report about the entry of two American warships into the Baltic Sea.

In the Krasnodar Territory, an article about the strange sounds of muffled explosions over the city of Shakhty, which could be the result of a jet test, became popular.  Also in the top news is an appeal to Zelensky made by politician-collaborator Kiva to transfer power to Yanukovych.

There is more news on the matter in the neighboring Stavropol Territory, primarily about the deaths of three people from this region during the invasion of Ukraine.  Also popular was the news of four award-winning North Ossetians who were also killed in the Russian-Ukrainian war.  Purely propagandistic news about the Kadyrov troops also became widespread.  Fake report that in Ukraine the occupants helped teachers find children stuck in a nearby village.

Dagestan – On March 6, the Tabasaran district press informes about the deaths of two residents of the district during the invasion of Ukraine.  Additionally , the article mentions deaths of other military members from the area during hostilities in Ukraine, as well as the reception of refugees from Donbass.  In the social network “vkontakte” among the largest community groups there is no recent information about the Russian-Ukrainian war.  One of the largest publics that objectively covers the events in Ukraine – “Right Dagestan” – has 14.4 thousand subscribers.  Public administrators comment that they hold neutral positions and stand for justice.

Chechnya – The Mufti of Chechnya announced the participation of Chechens in the war with Ukraine to be considered as jihad.  Many Chechens do not support the war on social networks.  They call it the futile death of their fellow citizens.  Although there are those who actively support Kadyrov’s statement.

North Ossetia – regional news issue an important warning – any unauthorized actions in the region will be brutally suppressed, and citizens are strongly advised not to participate .  There are no large community groups of this region in the social network “vkontakte”.  News about the war is not very common.  Among the few there are some posts about the humanitarian support of Donbass. Also a commonly spread topic is refutation of suggestions that some food items  may disappear from the shelves.  There are no comments under the posts.

Kursk. There is no important news on the subject of war.  Among the few relevant ones that cover the topic of Ukraine – opening the humanitarian corridors to the Kursk region for refugees from Ukraine and the fact that these corridors were used by 11 foreign students who left Sumy universities after they were “expelled”.  The Ambassador of Tanzania is expected to visit the students.  Also among the news – granting a Russian passport to a teenager from Donbass.  It is also reported  that retailers have set limits on the number of items that can be sold to one customer .  On social media, under the news of an action in support of the Russian occupation forces, most commentators support Russia’s war against Ukraine.  However, there are many anti-war comments, their authors call the war an unnecessary death of their sons, or call the invasion paid.  There are also reports of economic sanctions.  In general, anti-war and anti-regime, or at least more or less adequate, comments can be found under the posts.

Belgorod – Among the main news of the city and the area, one of the most popular is the explosion in the residential area of Belgorod.  The governor denied suspicions that it was a rocket attack, at the same time not ruling out the possibility of a grenade attack.  In the comment section under these posts there are statements that people are tired of living without knowing the true state of affairs and the potential distrust of the government due to such omissions.  They also write about humanitarian corridors and the detention of participants in anti-war actions.  Social media is actively commenting on the news of the explosions.  Information about the shelling of Kharkiv by Russian troops emerges in the comments.  In the comment section  for the video of the Russian military, some thank the people of Belgorod for their help, however in the comments there are mentions of the real numbers of the losses among Russian occupiers, and real video of interrogations.  There are fierce battles in the comments.

Voronezh – The topic of the Russian invasion of Ukraine rarely appears in the news.  One of the top – information for Voronezh residents, where to appeal if you notice a rise of price.  Social media writes about the “heroic deed” of a Russian major near the city of Sumy, who allegedly broke out of the surrounding Ukrainian forces , carried out the wounded, and even managed to kill Ukrainian defenders.  In the comments, in addition to admiration and positive comments in his favor, there are also negative comments.  And one of the comments is that this officer is actually dead and buried.  Other groups have welcomed the blocking of the tik-tok network.  Issues of humanitarian aid for the residents of Donbass and for the Russian occupation forces are also being discussed.

Rostov-on-Don – There is a lot of news regarding the Russian-Ukrainian war.  Top news is about the explosion in the sky over Azov.  Also there is information about the first funeral of the Russian military member in the Rostov region.  Among the top news there is a statement made by Pushylin, the leader of the DNR gang, that the Ukrainian military planned to start a war against Donbass and Crimea on March 8.  At the same time, he refers to fake documents found in the broken headquarters of the Praviy Sector.  In addition to these documents, a laptop with a NATO mark was allegedly found there.  The occupiers claim that they received the same information from captured Ukrainian soldiers.

Saratov – There is an article about the death of a Russian army member, born in this region. Please note, that the preposition “in Ukraine” is used referring to Ukraine as to a separate country, against the commonly intentional “on”, that refers to Ukraine as a part of a bigger land. Also among the news there are articles about the economic sanctions that affected the region, in particular, there are some reports about brands and stores closing their business across the country.  The region’s social networks mention the approval of the list of “unfriendly countries” by the Russian government.  Reviews are diverse and sometimes crucially opposite.  Anti-Putin statements can also be found under other pro-Russian posts.  Among the news there is an announcement about the opening of a call center in Saratov,  that provides information about the availability of products in stores.

Udmurtia – Among the top ten most popular news stories in recent days there is only one mention that is barely related to our topic – it is about approval of the list of “unfriendly countries” .  There have been no mentions of events in Ukraine in recent days on the social network VKontakte across the largest public communities .  There is a single group , containing about 14.3 thousand subscribers,  called “Udmurtia against”, that writes about the Russian-Ukrainian war, expressing anti-war rhetoric.

Perm – The region’s media holds information about the deaths of three riot policemen (OMON) from the Perm region.  At the same time, it is stated that they died “in Donbass”.  During these last 24 hours,  social networks pages occasionally mention a rally in support of the war against Ukraine.  However, there are a lot of negative comments to such posts .

Chelyabinsk – Death of a Russian pilot Alexander Podshivalov is among top news of the area.  Taking into account that he died on the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – in Gostomel  on February 24th, news about it surfaced only on the 8th of March .  He allegedly fought in Syria before this operation .  There are also reports about the problems of Chelyabinsk residents who were unable to fly to Europe due to the closure of the air service.  In the social network “vkontakte” among the discussions held during the last day – the main one is about the closure of the “tik-tok” network.

As we can clearly see, the majority of the population across the country appears to be more focused on economic problems and sanctions.  However, in the regions that are closer to Ukrainian borders,  much more attention is being paid to the Russian-Ukrainian war topics.  Propaganda is forced to acknowledge the number of victims, and promotes expectations of a quick victory and willingness to negotiate.  At the same time, some regions have relatively less control over the media content in the Far East (especially in Yakutia).  Organic comments to posts raise doubts about the need and purpose of war.

Yuriy Oliynyk/ Head of Research Programs NAC Ukrainian Studies in Strategic Studies,/ Candidate of Political Sciences

Mykhailo Kubliy/, Candidate of Historical Sciences

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