The hostilities launched by Russia with the invasion of Ukraine has been going on for more than two months.
Fact Investigation Platform follows the false news and propaganda theses that have appeared in the media during the war. Last week, we examined the Russian state television channel “Rossia” which broadcasts “60 Minutes” program twice every working day.
Context: last week’s main topics
The main topics in the April 25-29 broadcast were the alleged assassination attempt on well-known TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov, the scandal around Russian gas supplies to Europe, and the visit of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to Russia and Ukraine, as well as the West’s arms supply to Kyiv.
On February 24, Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a special operation in Ukraine, which, according to the Kremlin, was aimed at protecting the people of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the “denationalization and demilitarization” of Ukraine. During the war, which has been ongoing for more than 60 days, the Russian armed forces managed to capture the Ukrainian city of Kherson and at the time of publication, most part of Mariupol․ Both cities are located in eastern Ukraine.
The main propaganda theses of the week of “60 Minutes” program
The main official theses of the Kremlin are circulated during the programs. In particular, the presenters and guests claim that the main reason for the operation is that Ukraine is led by the “Nazi regime” led by nationalist President Volodymyr Zelensky.
It is presented that Russia is fighting not against Ukraine, but against the whole West, which is arming and inciting Kyiv against Russia.
It is regularly reported that the citizens of eastern Ukraine no longer see themselves as part of Ukraine, as they have seen the actions of Nazi groups against “peaceful civilians.”
It is noteworthy that during the “60 Minutes” program, the Russian side makes almost the same accusations and threats against Kyiv as they are made against Moscow. Thus, after the Bucha tragedy, Ukraine speaks at the highest level about the need to sue the Russian military involved in the massacre of Ukrainians in an international court. Such announcements are often made by the presenters and the guests during the “60 minutes.” “The Nazis must be punished for all the crimes they have committed,” host Olga Skabayeva said in the April 25 report.
In recent weeks, footage of Russian soldiers looting Ukrainian homes and sending home appliances to Russia has surfaced on the Internet. It caused a stir in both Ukrainian and international media.
Accordingly, during the April 25 report, the alleged Ukrainian prisoner of war told that “Ukrainian nationalists were engaged in looting during the war, stealing valuable items from homes, TVs, transporting them by private cars.”
False and manipulative allegations made during the program
Ukraine is ruled by the Nazi regime
The reports repeatedly claim that Ukraine is a nationalist state ruled by the Nazi regime. In doing so, they reaffirm Vladimir Putin’s statement that the purpose of the “special operation” is the “denationalization” or “de-natzification” of the neighboring state.
Accusations of Ukraine being a Nazi state or having a Nazi regime are baseless. According to a number of international organizations, at least for the last decade Ukraine has had an administration elected through democratic elections. During the 2019 presidential elections, the candidate of the ultra-nationalist Freedom Party received 1.6 percent of the vote. In the parliamentary elections after the presidential elections (2019), the coalition of nationalist right-wing parties managed to receive only 2.15% of the vote, not being able to get a seat in the Rada.
It is noteworthy that during the previous the parliamentary elections of 2012, when Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovych was the president, the nationalist Freedom Party won 10.44 percent of the vote.
By the way, Volodymyr Zelensky, President-elect of the country in 2019, has repeatedly stated that he has Jewish roots, three of Zelensky’s relatives were victims of the Holocaust, and his grandfather served in the Red Army during the war and was awarded military medals. Moreover, Zelensky is Russian-speaking and learned Ukrainian just before the elections in 2019.
Thus, the claim of Ukraine being a “Nazi regime” is groundless.
Fip.am addressed the Kremlin’s other manipulative theses justifying the war in another publication, which can be found here.
About humanitarian corridors in Mariupol
During the week, “60 Minutes” reports actively discussed the issue of corridors provided to civilians by the Russian armed forces in Mariupol. It should be noted that the hottest battles since the beginning of the war took place in this city. As of April 25, it was partially occupied by Russian troops. The last stronghold of the resistance is the “Azovstal” factory, where the soldiers of the “Azov” battalion, several hundred civilians, are concentrated. The Ukrainian side has repeatedly stated in recent weeks the need to at least evacuate civilians from the scene of hostilities.
During “60 minutes” both the presenters and guests claim that the humanitarian corridors are provided by the Russians, but the Ukrainian military refuses to use them because they use civilians as shields. “In Mariupol, nationalists are holding civilians captive who do not even know that Russia is providing corridors,” the host said in the April 25 report.
Mariupol, with a population of 400,000, has been under siege for months, preventing independent journalists from entering the city. Moscow has repeatedly announced the opening of humanitarian corridors, to which Kyiv replied that unilaterally opened corridors cannot be considered humanitarian, especially given that the Russian side has destroyed these corridors several times.
Therefore, it is difficult to find out whether the Russian military has provided a corridor for those besieged in Azovstal. However, the testimonies of the saved citizens show that often the corridors provided by the Russian side were not safe. Thus, the diary written by Mariupol resident Polina Kovalska during the siege, published by the Russian-language independent magazine Medusa, states that food was not delivered from other Ukrainian cities because “the corridors were under fire.”
On April 30, with the mediation of the UN and Red Cross, the evacuation of Azovstal civilians began.
“Ukrainian authorities are not the representatives of the people”
Various reports of the program express the views that the current Ukrainian authorities are the puppets of the West, which do not express the opinion of the people.
During the April 27 report, the guest mentions: “The current Ukrainian authorities are not popular, they are governed from the outside.”
The government of the Ukrainian authorities by the West is not an assertion to be verified, but there are certain tools and methodologies to verify the fact of being a poplar power.
The last major elections in Ukraine took place in 2019, when first the president was elected, then the parliament.
Incumbent President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had never been involved in politics before but was widely perceived as the only counterweight to former President Petro Poroshenko considered a representative of the oligarchic system, received 73% of the vote. As soon as the election results became known, Petro Poroshenko himself accepted them and congratulated Zelensky. International human rights observers described the election as “competitive and reliable.”
Immediately after the election, by the order of Zelensky, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was dissolved and parliamentary elections were called. The results of this election were also qualified as reliabele, despite some issues.
Therefore, the statement that the Ukrainian authorities are not popular is manipulative, as the executive and legislative branches of government in that country were elected in reliable elections.