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Military Propaganda in ORDLO: Back in the USSR

Parade in Donbass

The International Centre for Countering Russian Propaganda analyzes the messages that Russia is implementing in the temporarily occupied territories of eastern Ukraine. And these are the following.

First, it is further militarization of ORDLO’s (certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) population minds. It culminated with a military parade held on 24 June. Second, it is blaming Ukraine for ‘neo-fascism.’.And third, it is making the agenda absolutely archaic, resuscitating and modernising old slogans instead of producing new ones.

Creating promos with the same messages, and even with the same vocabulary and similar semantic constructions, suggests the use of so called “temniks” (templates of articles with the same key messages), which Russian propaganda supplies to collaborators, representatives of ORDLO’s administration.

Resuscitation of the USSR

Valentina Bykova, a media expert and analyst, believes that the cornerstone of modern Russian propaganda is the “Russian peace”concept, namely the exaggerated role of Russia, which is portrayed as the only winner of German National Socialism in World War II.

An analyst at the International Centre for Countering Russian Propaganda analyzes that the events of 1941-1945 (according to the Russian chronology of the war) are being used to increase the militarization of the population, including children and adolescents, both within Russia and in the occupied territories. The culmination is the annual Victory Parade on 9 May. According to Promote Ukraine, this year, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the date of the parade in Moscow was postponed to 24 June. On the same day, it took place in Russian-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk.

The parades in ORDLO were preceded by a number of propaganda measures, which can be regarded as elements not only of information, but also of cognitive, that is, semantic war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

In particular, the head of the ORDLO “administration,” Alexey Kulemzin, signed an order to erect a monument to Soviet military leader Ivan Panfilov in Donetsk.

Envelope armyIn addition, the”State Enterprise” “Post of Donbas” issued a postcard “Parade of Winners” on 24 June, 1945 with a stamp depicting the Marshal of the USSR Georgy Zhukov. Commander  Zhukov is notorious for his contempt for the lives of soldiers and officers under his command, which reflects the proverb “women will still give birth,” common in Russia. In particular, according to military figure Dwight Eisenhower, Zhukov himself told Eisenhower about the Soviet infantry attack through minefields.

“German minefields, covered by enemy fire, were a tactical obstacle, causing heavy losses and significant delays in advancing. It has always been difficult to break through them, despite the fact that engineers have invented various devices for the safe disposal of mines,” recalled Eisenhower. “However, Marshal Zhukov daily told me that there are two types of mines: anti-personnel and anti-tank ones. When they hit a minefield, the Soviet infantry continued the attack as if there were no mines.”

“I had a clear picture of what would happen to any American or British commander who tried to use such tactics. And also an even brighter picture of what people from any of our divisions would say if we tried to make such tactics part of our military doctrine. The Americans measure the price of war by human lives, and the Russians by the total human losses of the nation.” Eisenhower wrote.

Nevertheless, Zhukov and other odious allies of Stalin still occupy certain places in Russia’s historical and military pantheon.

Another propaganda campaign from the arsenal of “attention designers” (term by G. Pocheptsov) was also held in Donetsk. Here, on 24 March, the postal block”Year of the Great Victory. 1945-2020″ was issued with a circulation of 2,000 copies. It includes 13 postal stamps: “Glory to the Hero City of Leningrad,” “Glory to the Hero City of Stalingrad,” “Glory to the Hero City of Sevastopol,” “Glory to the Hero City of Odessa,” “Glory to the Hero City of Kiev,” “Glory to the Hero City of Moscow,” “Glory to Brest Hero Fortress,” “Glory to the Hero City of Kerch,” “Glory to the Hero City of Novorossiysk,” “Glory to the Hero City of Minsk,” “Glory to the Hero City of Tula,” “Glory to the Hero City of Murmansk,” “Glory to the Hero City of Murmansk,” and “Glory to the Hero City of Smolensk.”

Two main points are noteworthy. First, there are the cities in this block that have long been on the territory of independent states: Kyiv, Odesa, Kerch and Sevastopol (Ukraine, the last two – in the Crimea annexed by the Russian Federation), Minsk and Brest (Belarus). Second, it is the use of the names of Russian cities of Soviet times: Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and Stalingrad (Volgograd). The block also features an image of Joseph Stalin in the column of the Soviet newspaper Pravda.

A similar set of commemorative souvenirs dedicated to the hero cities was issued by the so-called “Central Republican Bank” in ORDLO, which again mentions the capitals of independent states: Kiev (Kyiv, Ukraine) and Minsk (Belarus).

No doubt in the occupied territories they are trying to revive the “USSR 2.0” paradigm. The need for its creation is constantly mentioned by Russian propagandists, referring to the “return” of Ukraine and Belarus to the “brotherly family of nations.”

Accusations of fascism and the same messages

At the same time, ORDLO regularly broadcasts propaganda messages that “fascists seized power in Ukraine” and that ‘Ukraine has become the centre of the revival of modern neo-fascism. This narrative is broadcast in the occupied territories to increase antagonism, maintaining the population’s sense of “occupied fortress.” Its subtext is that ORDLO’s inhabitants are the descendants of the victorious Soviet military; the Ukrainians living in the territories controlled by the Government are the descendants of the defeated “Banderites,”so the “people’s war, the holy war” continues.

Recently, this message was repeatedly heard both in the “state” media in the occupied territories and during numerous propaganda campaigns. In particular, during the meeting of the People’s Club of the People’s Council of the so-called ‘DPR’ on the topic “The beginning of the Great Patriotic War as the prologue to the Great Victory: memory and counteraction to the falsification of history,” the so-called “Chairman of the People’s Council of the DNR” Vladimir Bidyovka stated that the falsification of history is especially relevant for Ukraine, where:

“Nationalist formations practically took as a basis the ideology of fascism. Indulging the whims of nationalists, the Ukrainian government is trying to erase the heroic pages of its history. However, it has a peculiarity to revive, especially for those who forget this story, and fascism, which was revived in Ukraine today, is sure to be overthrown again.”

The actual tracing of Bidyovka’s words is the speech of Yakov Osadchiy, a “representative of the People’s Militia of the People’s Republic of Luhans”’:

“Ukraine’s military and political leadership is uncomfortable with the public’s awareness of the importance of the Great Victory, and it is trying to push historical values out of the people’s minds, replacing them with the ideology of Bandera criminals who collaborated with the Nazi occupation regime.”

Artificial and baseless accusations of “fascism” in Ukraine were also made in the speeches of the “LDNR” terrorist groups’ leaders during military parades. In particular, Denis Pushylin, representative of the occupation administration of ORDLO, stated:

“Neo-Nazism is raising its head. The criminal Kyiv authorities ignored the harsh lessons of that war, adopted nationalism and radicalism, and resolved the armed conflict against the working people of Donbas.’

The same message about “attempts to falsify history” and “Ukrainian fascism” was broadcast by another collaborator, the leader of ORDLO, the leader of the unrecognized “LPR” Leonid Pasichnik:

“Despite attempts to distort the course of events, we will not allow to rewrite the history of our country, to tarnish the memory of the feat of the Soviet people during the Great Patriotic War. The era of the generation of winners, the heirs of whom we are all today, began with the victorious May 1945. Since 2014, our army has been proving this in the fight against Ukrainian fascism… The fight against Ukrainian fascism has shown that there is no force that can defeat the people of Donbas.”

Military equipment at the parade as violation of the Minsk agreements

As for the parade on 24 June, it should be noted that the First and Second Army Corps of the Russian occupation forces demonstrated samples of military equipment that they could not “dig up from the coal mines.” In particular, armoured personnel carriers BTR-80, BMP-1 and BMP-2, T-72 tanks, self-propelled artillery units 2C1 “Gvozdika” and 2C9 “Nona,” anti-aircraft missile systems “Strela-10” passed along the main street in Donetsk.

In Luhansk, T-72 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, 122-mm D-30 howitzers, Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile systems and “Grad” multiple rocket launchers took part in the parade.

This is another violation of Clause 2 of the “Package of Measures to Implement the Minsk Agreements,” according to which heavy weapons must be deployed to permanent locations, which must be verified by an OSCE representative. According to the agreements, the safety zone for artillery systems with a caliber of more than 100 mm should be 50 km (25 for each party) or 70 km for MLRS (35 km). Artem Street in Donetsk, where the parade took place, is only 10 km from the front line.

During last year’s military parades, the leaders of the ORDLO artificial formations justified themselves by saying that the military equipment involved was “antique” and “rare,” so it was unusable and did not pose a threat. But the same cannot be said about the samples of equipment that were defiantly demonstrated in Donetsk and Luhansk on 24 June, 2020.

Rehabilitation of the NKVD

By the way, the archaic narrative of Russian propagandists “Back in the USSR’” also took place during the parades. In particular, Soviet-era military equipment took part, and some participants in the parade in Donetsk and Luhansk were wearing “World War II” era military uniforms.

The fact that a military rank wearing the uniform of the NKVD (“The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs” – Soviet-era internal troops) took place at the parade in ORDLO deserves special attention.

During the parade, the bodyguard of ORDLO’s leader Denis Pushylin was also wearing the uniform of an NKVD officer. Earlier, the head of “Donetsk Republic,” Alexey Muratov, who was appointed to this position by order of Denis Pushylin, boasted in the NKVD uniform.

Reference: The NKVD is a punitive organization formed in 1934 at Joseph Stalin’s suggestion. This department played a sad role in the terror and repression that Joseph Stalin staged in the USSR against his own people.

In particular, despite the Soviet Constitution, NKVD workers could consider cases of “enemies of the people” out of court, as well as in absentia, deciding on exile with confiscation of property, deportation, imprisonment in a concentration camp without the right of correspondence, and execution (fusillade). The hearings were held without a lawyer, and the defendants did not have the opportunity to appeal.

The structure of the NKVD (since 1935) also included the “Department of Labour Settlements,” which sent “socially alien elements,” “kulaks,” and representatives of deported peoples, and the infamous Main Department of Correctional Labour Camps (Russian – Gulag). The NKVD also consisted of so-called “barricading detachments” that stood behind Soviet troops with weapons during World War II and shot those who tried to leave the battlefield. They also identified “deserters, cowards and panickers” and carried out a field trial over them, including the right to shoot on the spot.

One of ORDLO’s regular propagandists, Alexey Akutin, tried to justify the fact that the NKVD had been rehabilitated with theses that were morally and historically questionable but absolutely “correct” in terms of Russian propaganda. In particular, in his telegram channel he wrote:

“For many years, the NKVD was shrouded in a kind of negative halo associated with political repression and the arbitrariness of the penal institutions. But at the same time, it was somehow forgotten that it was the NKVD soldiers…. fought with Bandera, ‘forest brothers’ and other undefeated evil spirits, that is still relevant today.”

To be continued.

Valentyna Bykova

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