Zhanna Nemtsova, a journalist and the daughter of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsova, is going abroad, citing the climate of hatred in Russia from state propaganda.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
Russia This Week:
– Is âNovorossiyaâ Really Dead?
– From Medal of Valor to Ubiquitous Propaganda Symbol: the History of the St. George Ribbon
– What Happened to the Slow-Moving Coup?
– Can We Be Satisfied with the Theory That Kadyrov Killed Nemtsov?
– All the Strange Things Going On in Moscow
– With Cash and Conspiracy Theories, Russian Orthodox Philanthropist Malofeyev is Useful to the Kremlin
– Alexey Navalny On the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
– Theories about Possible Perpetrators of the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
– Novaya Gazeta Releases Sensational Kremlin Memo
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Last week on June 4, an SU-34 bomber that had just completed a training mission skidded to a stop on a runway in Voronezh Region, then fell over, Vesti reported. The Russian Defense Ministry said that a parachute failed to open on the brakes. There were only two pilots on board and neither was injured.
The imagined spectacle of a Russian bomber on its side got a lot of press (although Russian media didn’t obtain any pictures), but it didn’t seem to be indicative of anything in particular. Russia has many plane accidents and air crashes and a reputation as having among the world’s worst airlines, just as it has car crashes and factory accidents due to poor safety culture and negligence.
But now three more accidents have occurred with the Russian air force, and the phenomenon is getting more attention.
2. A MiG-29 “Fulcrum” multirole fighter jet crashed near a practice ground in Astrakhan Region due to a technical problem. Both pilots ejected unharmed.
3. A SU-34 “Fullback” fighter jet went down during a practice fight sustaining “serious damage” in the Voronezh Region.
The Bear and Fulcrum are Soviet design; the Fullback is the newest aircraft of the Russian air force, produced in 1993.
According to Dr Igor Sutyagin, Russian military expert at the UK’s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), these recent incident could indicate that Russia’s recent military sabre rattling is taking its toll.
“This could be an interesting sign of the overstretching of Russian armed capabilities, because the maintenance template for these vehicles does not take into account the much higher operational tempo they have been operating under lately,” Sutyagin says.
“The Bear bomber jets for example are designed for a single strike on missions not for extended training flights,” he concluded.
While they involve military training, these incidents aren’t related directly to the Ukrainian war, which has not been an air war since last summer when Ukrainian bombers fired on buildings occupied by Russian-backed separatists after they launched border raids, but had to endure a major outcry when civilians were killed. Then the separatists acquired more anti-aircraft capacity, shooting down several Ukrainian military cargo planes in June and July, until finally on July 17, they downed MH17, a passenger plane, in the mistaken belief it was a Ukrainian AN-26. Neither side has used planes in the war since then.
But Russia’s military plane accidents could be related to the “hybrid war” in general and the attack on the West, as there have been hundreds of buzzings and even encroachments of European countries’ airspace and also some incidents with US planes.
Russian Bear bombers have been spotted off the UK coast over the last year and Nato’s Baltic Air Police has previously intercepted Su-34 jets. Russian defence minister Sergei Shoygu boasted in March that Russia could afford to extend its programme of unannounced flyovers, despite protests from Nato and EU members.
For now, the TU-95s will be grounded.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Zhanna Nemtsova, the eldest daughter of slain opposition leader Boris
Nemtsov, has gone abroad, citing a climate of hatred in Russia, AFP
“Russian propaganda kills,” Zhanna Nemtsova, 31, wrote in a column published by Russia’s liberal business daily Vedomosti.
of the texts of Kremlin-controlled media recall the rhetoric of African
propagandists,” she said, stressing that state propaganda played a
crucial role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
information machine — similar to those in Nazi Germany and Rwanda —
is using criminal methods of propaganda, and sowing hatred which
generates violence and terror.”
herself a journalist with Russian business news TV channel RBK, warned
that aggression towards dissenters fanned by state media could spin out
of control and claim new victims in the future.
“People infected with hatred begin committing new crimes on their own initiative.”
number of Nemtsov’s colleagues and friends have made the same point
since his assassination on February 27. In April, former prime minister
Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. went to Washington to
speak to members of Congress about a list of Russian state media
propagandists who they said vilified Nemtsov repeatedly, calling him a
“fifth columnist,” which in their view made it possible for his murder
to be commissioned. They wanted the US to ban the journalists on this
list for such incitement.
The campaign didn’t get any traction
due to First Amendment concerns, and the figures on the list retaliated
by accusing them of suppressing speech.
May 26, Kara-Murza, Jr. was rushed to the hospital with suspected
poisoning and remains in serious condition. His relatives and family
believe that he could have been deliberately given a toxic substance
because he had no complaints about his health before he suddenly fell
ill. There is a history of poisoning of opposition figures disliked by
the Kremlin. Kara-Murza’s involvement in the targeting of the Putin
regime’s propagandist and his subsequent illness fueled the sense that
For Russians, these state media hate campaigns take place in a climate where there is significant censorship and pressure on independent press so it is difficult to counter them.
Propagandists even put up billboards or hang enormous signs vilifying opposition leaders as “traitors” or “fifth columnists,” such as these, covered by Yod News:
The former journalist has accused the Russian leader of being
“politically responsible” for the killing of her father, a former deputy
prime minister, who was shot within sight of the Kremlin in February.
She has also criticised the official investigation into the murder.
5 Chechens have been arrested as suspects, the organizer of the murder,
Ruslan Geremeyev has evaded interrogation and reportedly fled Russia.
RBC.ru said Nemtsova did not reveal her whereabouts or give any indication of when she might return.
Nemtsov’s two other daughters and a son remain in Russia.
In her piece for Vedomosti,
Nemtsov cites “African propagandists” for a reason; the only case in
international law where speech has been prosecuted as “incitement to
imminent violence” is at the Rwanda tribunal in the Hague, involving three individuals who used the radio “to desensitize the Hutu population and incite them to murder the Tutsi population in Rwanda in 1994.”
Writes Nemtsova (translation by The Interpreter):
texts of media under the control of the Kremlin are reminiscent of the
rhetoric of African propagandists. The place of the Tutsi in them is
held by the liberals, opposition members, the West, the “Kiev junta,” and
the role of the Hutu is performed by the “patriots of Russia.” For a
rather long time the civilized world did not react to what has been
going on in the information space of Rwanda (the story is being repeated
with Russia) and did not acknowledge the activity of Rwanda
propagandists as a crime.
The issue is not just the
bad-faith work of some media. The Putin information machine, like the
Nazi and Rwanda machines, uses criminal methods of propaganda, sows
hatred, which causes violence and terror. The main method is the
dehumanization of the group attacked. Russia opposition members are
portrayed in Putin’s media as “alien” on the analogy of monsters from a
warrior with the same name. The dehumanization enables the simplifying
of the crossing of the moral boundary, the removal of the internal
prohibition on murder. From an attitude of groups in the population as
not like other people, but as “aliens” or “cock-roaches” or “national
traitors” it is one step to murder of the undesirables.
Recently in a speech in Poland, Nemtsova called for sanctions against such propagandists.
may be easier in Europe, with more curbs on free speech, to get support
for sanctions; the EU has already placed Dmitry Kiselyev, the Kremlin’s
chief TV propagandist, on the sanctions list for his role in the
annexation of Crimea.
While it is hard to prove in an
international tribunal the causal connection between incitement and
actual murder cases, it is easier to document the climate of hatred that
has caused Russian intellectuals to leave the country, not only due to
fear of physical reprisals but due to lack of free speech.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick