Last week, TOP-3 topics that were covered in the separatist media included adoption of the so-called law on the Donbass reintegration, continued silence of MTS mobile communication and, of course, the scandalous "decree" of the "DNR" leader, forbidding state employees to leave the occupied Donbass. So, first things first….
By no means terrorists
All the week, propagandists and journalists of the "republics" kept a close eye on how the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed the law "On the peculiarities of state policy to ensure the state sovereignty of Ukraine over temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts". The protracted parliamentary epic has given fertile ground for publications on this topic in the separatist media.
They actively discussed the refusal of the Verkhovna Rada to support the proposal to recognize the "DNR" and the "LNR" terrorist organizations. At the same time, occupation journalists did not mention that this was only one of nearly seven hundred amendments, introduced by the deputies, none of which was voted.
Let us be honest, their discussion in the half-empty hall of the parliament was purely formal and the votes for their adoption were regularly lacking. However, the separatist and Russian media have pulled the only paragraph of Oksana Korchynska's authorship out of the multipage text of the failed amendments. The radical deputy proposed to recognize the "Donetsk People's Republic" and the "Luhansk People's Republic" "organizations", which carry out administrative and managerial functions in the territory of certain districts of the Donetsk and the Luhansk oblasts, terrorist organizations". Journalists "from the other side" presented nonresultative voting for one of the hundreds of amendments, proposed by the deputies, as weakness of the Ukrainian parliament. Corresponding news was released on the separatist resources with such headlines: "Bill on the Donbass: LDNR are not recognized "terrorist", "Deputies of the Rada refused to recognize DNR and LNR "terrorist organizations".
Furthermore, following NTV Russian television channel, some separatist media distorted the very meaning of the amendment and stated that the deputy wanted to achieve the "recognition of all residents of the DNR and the LNR terrorists". In particular, Novorossia website reports: "The majority of the Verkhovna Rada deputies did not vote for recognizing the LNR and the DNR "terrorist organizations "during the consideration of the bill on the Donbass reintegration. So, the residents of the DNR and the LNR are not terrorists, what the Ukrainian authorities have been yelling about for four years".
One might assume that accusations of Ukrainian politicians in the desire to label all residents of the occupied Donbass as terrorists can be blamed on the propaganda frenzy of individual journalists. However, the "publicists" of top league of the separatist leadership did not disdain to play this card as well. "Voting of 673 amendments to this bill is the process of trading directly at the covered market under the dome of the Verkhovna Rada, and the lots are announced: should the residents of the Republic be considered terrorists, should the document be adhered to the Minsk agreements, should the delivery of humanitarian supplies to our territories be allowed", - Denis Pushilin, who calls himself head of the "DNR parliament", writes on the website of "people's council", controlled by him.
After mumbo jumbo around one proposal, cursorily voiced in the session hall of the Verkhovna Rada, "analysts" and "experts" began to discuss the fact of adoption of the law on the Donbass reintegration. Numerous publications on this topic have been reduced to quoting Zakharchenko, Pasechnik, Pushilin and other "leaders" that by this decision, "Kyiv pushes Donbass away from Ukraine even more", "It created a legal platform for escalating the conflict" and so on. Not a single publication about the essence of the adopted law was observed in the separatist media.
In the same way, local journalists offered insight into the situation with MTS shutdown in total isolation from real life. Almost all the reports were limited to retelling of statements of "official" persons, who came up with new evidence of the AFU's fault in the cable damage and tried to prove to people, who lost their usual telephone communication, that it will be even better without the Ukrainian operator….
Thus, DAN news agency went into detail about the pace of sales of starter packages of previously not very popular separatist network: "The number of subscribers of Phoenix republican operator increased by 30 thousand per day"; "About 100 thousand people became Phoenix subscriber since the disconnection of MTS-Ukraine". No one wrote about the fact that many-hours-long queues were formed to buy saving starter packages, and speculators offered the hottest-selling product at a price 10-20 times higher than the nominal.
However, local journalists still noted poor quality of communication, but in terms of statements of Victor Yatsenko, who calls himself "Minister of Communications". He swears to "adjust the work of Phoenix operator to the increased workload" and accuses Ukraine of all mobile woes: "Ukrainian hackers can be involved in DDoS attacks on the resources of Phoenix operator". A way out was found in the resuscitation of coinboxes, forgotten in Ukraine. "The work of Phoenix mobile operator is difficult due to a large number of on-net calls. In this regard, COMTEL state-owned enterprise provides… the possibility to make free calls from all coinboxes…", - the "DNR" "official" website reported. Journalists considered it necessary to clarify that it is possible to call not only from a coinbox, but also to it (?)
Against the background of growing dissatisfaction in social networks with the loss of familiar, the inability to call relatives and to support banking services on the territory of free Ukraine, the separatist media reported on the unparalleled achievements of the "republican" telephone workers. Allegedly, they illegally redirected incoming and outgoing calls from the "DNR" to Ukraine through Europe or Russian Rostov-on-Don in the shortest time possible. However, the minute of this pleasure costs $0.18.
With the help of local journalists, the occupation authorities tried to answer the intimate question "Who is to blame?" The answer was unambiguous – Ukraine.
"The DNR Minister of Communications Viktor Yatsenko made a statement on the prospects of restoring Vodafone communication in the Republic. According to the Minister, the administration of Ukrainian President Poroshenko banned the restoration of communication in the Republic. "My source says that the administration of Poroshenko ordered not to switch on under any circumstances", - locals quote the "minister's" words.
The "DNR" leader Alexander Zakharchenko even threatened that "with further sabotaging of solution to the problems of restoring Vodafone communication in the DNR by Ukraine, the leadership of the republic would take countermeasures, up to the introduction of external management on this network".
However, the mobile connection from the Ukrainian operator ran once again between the fraternal "Russian-speaking people of the DNR" and "Russian-speaking residents of the LNR". In the occupied Luhansk region, the cable was repaired by the efforts of Vodafone telephone workers, and the Luhansk citizens' phones came to life. In Donetsk, the same MTS did not appear and it became quite obvious to all "citizens of the republic" that the problem was not in Ukraine at all. Indignant users discuss in social networks how Zakharchenko and Yatsenko, not Poroshenko, ordered not to switch on the network of the Ukrainian operator under any circumstances. Naturally, fifth-column journalists did not write about it. The topic of search for the guilty was replaced by a new round of stories about the successes of the "republican" connection.
A cherry on top: weaned from the fact that Donbass is Ukraine for almost four years, hiding behind the name of Vladimir Putin, the residents of the "DNR" began gather signatures under a petition asking the occupation authorities to return at least a piece, albeit virtual, but Ukraine – the mobile communication from MTS-Ukraine.
Signed acknowledgement of constant residence in one place
And finally, last week, the separatist media had to write about what they were not going to write about. This refers to the famous "decree" No 363 of the "DNR" leader Alexander Zakharchenko, which prohibits all employees of state-financed organizations from leaving the occupied territory of Ukraine. Initially, it was planned that the document on the introduction of "serfdom" would not be available to the general public. It got to the classified category and was not published on the so-called official website of the "DNR".
However, the ban on leaving the "DNR" concerned a wide range of people, so its violent condemnation began in the social networks. Doctors, teachers and other "republic state workers" were indignant about how they were banned to travel to Ukraine under the signature.
Even "deputy of the People's Council" Anastasia Selivanova spoke against the "decree" in Facebook: "A friend called me. She works as a teacher... She cries and does not know what to do because of a new decree of the Head of the Republic No. 363 on banning employees of state power and local self-government to visit Ukraine... They propose to sign a document according to which, as an employee of a municipal institution, she no longer has a right to travel to Ukraine... Her old mother lives there, in the village near Chervonoarnijsk, who needs to be cared for...".
In this situation, it was impossible to conceal the existence of such a discriminatory "decree" furthermore. Therefore, a month (!) after its signing, a statement was issued by the "Ministry of State Security of the DNR", which acknowledged that "Decree No. 363 on the temporary on banning employees of state power and local self-government to visit Ukraine" has been signed. Local separatist media began making their own news out of this statement. The accents were placed in such a way as to show the concern of the leader of the "DNR" about "civil employees" - doctors or teachers. The background of all these news was some statistics that "only in 2017, 246 persons were detected and detained on the suspicion of espionage and treason, 148 of them were employees of the public sphere of the DNR, and those employees were recruited by representatives of the Ukrainian special services under threats or torture". In general, almost all the news articles about the ban amounted to a literal retelling of the statement of the "Ministry of State Security of the DNR".
To frighten the inhabitants of the "DNR" even more, separatist media also published a series of information messages about serious (up to 22 years) sentences of imprisonment for those who were recruited in Ukraine. "In December 2017, the military tribunal of the Donetsk People's Republic sentenced four people to imprisonment of 14.5, 15, 18 and 22 years for actions in favor of Ukraine", - writes DAN. "Two Ukrainian citizens were convicted for espionage and preparation of the terrorist attack", - Pravda DNR echoes.
There were no more intelligible comments on the adoption of the scandalous "decree" until Thursday, when Alexander Zakharchenko actually disavowed one of its points at the press conference. Separatist mass media quickly quoted him as saying that "in this decree, we are not talking about a complete ban on trips to Ukraine for employees of budget organizations, including schools, hospitals, libraries. That isolation will only lead to social tension. The ban applies to the heads of enterprises and organizations, officials holding high posts and persons having access to state secrets... In the health care system, the ban extends to the head physicians, heads of departments, in the education system - on rectors, vice-rectors, deans, heads of departments and heads of educational institutions, as well as heads of pre-school institutions". And none of the local journalists paid attention to the fact that initially the "decree" presupposed the ban on leaving of "workers of enterprises, institutions, organizations of state and municipal forms of ownership" to Ukraine, that is all "republican state employees". After such explanations to the "decree", the topic of "restricted traveling" was finally closed in the media.
Ministry of untruth
The inability of the "official" propaganda to neutralize problems of the travel ban, which outraged the residents of "the republic" and the shutdown of the Ukrainian mobile operator demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the separatist media, which are, in fact, the transponders of statements of the “authorities”.
Most accurately, the situation with the copied news was described by the active supporter of the "republic" Alexander Bolotin. He reasonably criticized the occupation journalists for blindly reprinting "official" and very unprofessional press releases. "While constantly monitoring the information flows of the DNR and around it, I often notice the blunders of the Information Ministry of the DNR, as well as the press services of various structures... The situation is horrible. Press services are working on a hard "leash". They are not capable of reacting to counter fakes, and they do not do anything in advance... Press services cannot come up with anything but stupid press releases... Intellectual work is not carried out... ", - he writes.
As a way out of the information and propaganda collapse, Bolotin suggests using social networks more actively: "It's only through social networks that you can form opinions and counteract attacks from outside... Why not work with info-leaders in social networks? There are about 20 such people in the Republic. Why not pay them wages, but to give them autonomy from the Ministry of Information? They work more efficiently than hundreds of press service employees throughout the Republic...".
However, whatever information strategy is developed in the “DNR”, it still will look like “ideological department of the party committee”. The same Bolotin, in fact, spoke in favor of dividing the leaders of social networks into good ones and pests. It turned out that the majority of the "republican" bloggers are enemies and saboteurs. They "do not allow common people to speak out”, as Bolotin said. “These "advanced" know-it-alls resemble fascists. They do not want to think with their heads, understand how people live, they just dictate their pretentious rules. These people are proud that they are from the DNR... Hiding behind their three-color profile pics, they disgust other residents... With almost all of their "activities" ... On any occasion, it does not matter what the reason is - the stupid decree or MTS shutdown... These activists are working for Ukraine... Otherwise, how to explain such zeal in the support for idiotic decrees and decisions of the DNR?".
The creator of the Vostok terrorist battalion Alexander Khodakovsky is also dissatisfied with the level of journalism in the occupied Donbass. He also has no influence on the separatist media. Therefore, he decided to make his own information resource via social networks. This week, the militant decided to express himself through a video. "We decided to resume the live stream Internet communication... I was convinced that there was some benefit from it", - he announced. Thus, in such an unobtrusive and gradual way, Khodakovsky, expecting to replace Zakharchenko as the leader of the "DNR", began his election campaign.
Another propagandist Konstantin Dolgov, offended by the current regime of the "DNR", does not miss the opportunity to tease Alexander Zakharchenko and his team on Youtube.
Thus, it can be stated that as the fake November elections of the "head of the DNR" are approaching, more and more players from social networks will come out to the information field, which will finally bury the already awkward propaganda machine, serving the current occupation administration of Donbass.
The review was prepared by Yuriy Bovkh, OstroV