Over the past year and a half, the number of articles about Ukraine in Crimean media outlets has decreased threefold, according to a study conducted by the Institute of Mass Information (IMI). The study focused on such news websites in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as Information Agency Kryminform, RIA Crimea, Novyi Sevastopol, Crimean Information Agency, News of Sevastopol and Vesti Krym.
“The more time passes since the occupation of Crimea, the less Ukraine is present in the information space of the peninsula. According to the Institute of Mass Information monitoring data, the number of news articles about Ukraine in the most popular Crimean media outlets has decreased threefold over the past year and a half (from 155 articles as of April 2019 to only 57 in October 2020),” the study says.
Analysts note that Ukraine’s news falls out of the context of the Crimean mass media, and the remaining news is either linked to a common border or distorts Ukraine in the eyes of Crimeans.
In particular, the Novyi Sevastopol online newspaper did not publish any news about Ukraine during the monitoring period. And the largest number (26) of news articles related to Ukraine was posted by the News of Sevastopol website.
The main topic of Crimean news about Ukraine was the war in the east: it accounted for 25% of all publications. Second place was taken by the coronavirus pandemic (10.5%). And 8.5% falls on news about the constitutional crisis in Ukraine, local elections, illegal migration and smuggling.
The monitoring period was information-rich for Ukraine as the results of local elections were being summed up, the constitutional crisis began to worsen, and the number of coronavirus cases was increasing daily at that time.
However, most news publications in Crimean media outlets were devoted to the situation in the east of the country (25%). The overwhelming majority of articles on this topic was posted on the News of Sevastopol website.
Some 10.6% of publications about Ukraine related to the pandemic. Whereas the Ukrainian news agencies focused on the incidence rate and the hospital bed occupancy, the Crimean media outlets wrote about the misuse of funds allocated for fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The Crimean news agencies devoted 8.5% of their articles on Ukraine to the issue of local elections. Most news stories contained plain, factual reports on the elections. However, some publications used the rhetoric “How could this have happened.” For example, the News of Sevastopol website posted a publication entitled “Winners of mayoral elections in Ukraine dying.” Journalists used a manipulation method of exaggeration as it was told actually about one person who died from complications of coronavirus disease.
At DNR-24 website’s behest, the Crimean media outlets also wrote about the high ratings of pro-Russian party Opposition Platform – For Life, led by the godfather of Putin’s child, Viktor Medvedchuk, in eastern Ukraine.
Some 8.5% of news publications about Ukraine were dedicated to the constitutional crisis. The information was fragmentary, and it was impossible to get a complete picture from it. Instead, it reflected perfectly the idea of destruction and lack of order in Ukraine, IMI analysts say.
The Ukrainian information space almost lacks news about Ukraine’s attempts to return the peninsula. Instead, 8.5% of the total number of news stories about Ukraine in the Crimean media outlets is dedicated to this topic. At the same time, these publications are touted as if being promoted by the United States (namely, the background says that the “majority of Crimeans voted in a referendum for reunification with Russia and Ukraine does not recognise it”) or highlight the horrors of “forced passportisation”. The Crimean media agencies refer to Ukrainian government agencies in a third of their news about Ukraine. In another quarter of the news coverage, Russian authorities and officials serve as sources of information. About 21% of news is based on information provided by Russia and illegal armed formations of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and 10.5% – on sources of Ukrainian media outlets.
The Crimean news websites, which use the Ukrainian media outlets as a source of information, address the mass media with a pro-Russian stance.
The study revealed narratives of Russian propaganda. “After watching the news of the occupied peninsula, it seems that reports about Ukraine have not disappeared from its information space with the sole purpose of constantly reminding the Crimean people about the correctness of Crimea’s accession to Russia,” the authors of the study concluded.
As a reminder, an editor of the Voice of Crimea news agency, Liudmyla Shchekun, criticised the strategy of the informational return of Crimea, calling it a “stillborn child” without an action plan for the document.
Source: Zmina Human Rights Centre