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Propaganda and misinformation in ORDLO

The International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda continues to monitor disinformation and misinformation campaigns in the Russian-occupied territories of eastern Ukraine for Promote Ukraine.

In the last article, we focused on the ORDLO occupation administration attempts to restore the Stalin cult. In particular, we considered the “decree” №111 of April 23, 2020, signed by the self-proclaimed leader of the so-called “DPR” Denis Pushylin regarding the old name of Donetsk – “Stalin” use. Besides, we discussed the installation of a monument to Joseph Stalin in the Donetsk park after Scherbakova.

Evidently, it was the initiative that the leaders of the puppet formations had not agreed in Moscow beforehand, but tried to “push the carriage before the horse” and “trim the sails to the wind”. After all, a week earlier there was the information that the Stalin’s image would appear on the mosaics in the main Russian Armed Force church, which was currently being built in the Patriot Park near Moscow. However, the Russian curators had not approved the initiative of ORDL officials, so they decided to slow down the process of restoring the bloody dictator cult in the occupied part of the Donetsk region. The official cause of the Stalin monument restoring cancellation was “a possible split in society”.

As always, “appeals from the people” with a “request to cancel” and “to prevent” were used to “save the face” of the so-called “high-ranked DPR officials”. The role of “typical representatives” who were to “express the opinion of the population” had to be played by people of two social groups ORDLO: the so-called “cultural elite” and militants.

The first group was to be presented by Gennady Sizonov, who had been one of the initiators of the so-called “referendum” and illegal “elections” in Donbas in 2014.

In 2017, Sizonov became known in ORDLO as the author of a monument to the fallen soldiers of the occupying forces of the Russian Federation in the Mnogopillya village (the Amvrosiyiv district of the Donetsk region, near Ilovaisk).

Thus, the “sculptor-volunteer” announced the official thesis that a monument to Stalin constructing would lead allegedly to a “split in society” and “give a new incentive to the criticism of our republic by Ukrainian trolls”. He also noted that “there is no need to build a totalitarian state following the example of North Korea”, although the human rights situation in the Russian-occupied territories is not much better than the DPRK.

The second community has to be represented by Vadim Dovgalyuk-Kasimov, a former member of illegal armed groups and a pro-Russian propagandist now, who called on the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) for the aid.

On his Telegram channel, he appealed from the position of “Orthodox youth” who were supposedly ready to come out for a violent confrontation if a monument to “God-fighter J.V. Dzhugashvili (Stalin)” would be established in Donetsk.

Dovgalyuk-Kasimov has also referred to the “blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion of Donetsk and Mariupol” and unnamed “representatives of local Orthodox Church communities who were preparing an appeal to Patriarch Kirill of the ROC and the State Duma deputies” as well as to the official propaganda thesis, namely – “a possible split in the society”.

Interestingly, that these clumsy attempts to “be backtracking” were thwarted by another representative of pro-Russian propagandists, Maya Pirogova, who was recently fired from the head position of the state information policy department of the so-called “Ministry of Information” ORDLO.

The former propagandist denied any participation in this process of Metropolitan ROC Hilarion and noted, that such information should have appeared on the website of the Donetsk diocese. She also challenged the communities’ readiness to oppose the erection of a monument to Stalin by force. Thus, the propaganda “crabs in a barrel”, settling old scores, coped well with the refutation of the alleged “popular will”.

On May 8, an official reaction was delivered – a representative of Donetsk occupation administration, Oleksiy Kulemzin, reported that “the requests to build a monument to J.V. Dzhugashvili (Stalin) had been not received by the Donetsk administration at all”.

Perhaps, the loud resonance of this event, which worsened the already dubious image of the occupation administration, played a significant role in changing the plans to erect a Stalin monument. But this biased case should not be seen as a change of ideological course or the refusal of Russian propagandists from attempts to immerse the population of ORDLO in “USSR 2.0” with the Stalin-Putin cult.

Creeping Stalinization in the so-called “LDPR” will continue since it fits well the ideological matrix of “a big country” and “a strong hand”. The introduction of the personal cult will proceed with less loud and more covert but effective methods.

Let’s remind, the so-called “Stalintines” (as an analogue of “Valentines”) – the cards in the form of hearts with the Stalin image – were distributed on the streets of occupied Donetsk and Luhansk on February 14 of this year.

One of the most recent examples is the fact that Vladislav Berdychivsky, one of the “deputies of the DPR National Assembly” and “the Information Policy Committee Chairman” greeted residents of the occupied territories, with a postcard from World War II with the words of Joseph Stalin on May 9.

Such usage of propaganda “soft power”, influence on emotions, “surfing on the positive” is more effective at the household level than official measures such as the monument’s construction.

Representatives of the ORDLO occupation administrations also form their own “mini-cult of personality” in a caricature form. In particular, the so-called “Minister of Internal Affairs of the People’s Republic of Luhansk” Igor Kornet isn’t ashamed to use pre-ordered poems performed by children”.

Thus, the TV story of DTRK Luhansk-24 with an “important appeal” got into the network on May 8, 2020. The “urgent message”, for which the news was interrupted, turned out to be a rhyming eulogy to Igor Kornet, which was performed by teenagers in military uniforms. In verses, the children chanted the praises the “head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of LPR”, who had dismissed Kolyvan (the former ORDLO “head”). Then this story was removed from the TV channel’s YouTube channel.

Natalia Tolub

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