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russian propagandists have dramatically changed their key narratives about Ukraine – IMI study

30.06.2022, 19:11

After the full-scale invasion, russia has radically changed its narratives about Ukraine. This is stated in the study that IMI conducted in June based on the five most popular online media of the russian federation: TASS, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Lenta.Ru, Izvestiya, RBK. The sample consisted of 275 reports from these websites.

Now the most popular Ukraine-related narrative in the russian media has to do with discrediting the Ukrainian army. This topic constituted 40% of the total number of articles included in the sample during the monitoring period.

The image of the UAF in the russian media is currently being discredited through the following narratives:

  • the soldiers fire on the civilian population and carry out terrorist attacks against the civilian population
  • UAF are drug addicts and alcoholics
  • TDF fighters are simply "cannon fodder" who are not prepared for the war
  • the fighters who were captured by the russians want to stay and live in russia, because in Ukraine, a trip back to the front line awaits them
  • soldiers of the Armed Forces forcefully take food from the civilian population, while the russian army feeds the residents of the occupied territories

The next narrative is about the powerful russian army and the potential of the so-called "ldnr" army which is fighting against "nationalists" and "weapons from the West" (21% of the content included in the sample). The russians are calling such acts of fighting not a war, but "denazification" and "demilitarization." The army of the russian federation is portrayed as honest, open to the civilian population, as the ones who came here in peace and want to help the "ldnr" fighters.

The next most popular is the narrative about the occupied territories coming back to life (18% of the content included in the sample). The russians are very active in declaring and demonstrating that life in the occupied territories is being restored after the "consequences of the shelling by the UAF," that the occupiers have managed to put things right, and promise the residents a wonderful life.

The russian media have also been posting news about Europe and the USA suffering because of their aid to Ukraine. Discrediting messages about Europe and the USA have been presented in the context of Ukraine. Experts have recorded 7% of such content in the sample.

The narrative about how "Ukraine should cede the occupied territories to the russians in order to end the war" was also popular (4% of the content included in the sample).

During the monitoring period, the most mentions of Ukraine and its territory were made by: "RIA" 49%, "Lenta" and "Izvestia" 17% each, "Komsomolskaya Pravda" 12%, and "RBK" has written about Ukraine the least often – 5% of the total number of articles included in the sample.

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