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How ordinary Russians were turned into murderers and rapists through TV and smartphones

Article by: Liubov Tsybulska

Speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council on 21 June 2022, information warfare expert Liubov Tsybulska told that the Kremlin’s systematic propaganda that “fed the Russian nation with hatred” enabled the ongoing genocide of Ukrainians. The propagandists behind it should be brought to justice together with the rest of the Russian leadership.

Ukraine is going through the most difficult period in its history. The largest war since World War II is going on in Europe.

Russia wants to destroy Ukraine. Destroy it literally — by killing and raping, and also destroy in a broader sense, by eliminating our culture, our language, and history — everything that shapes our identity.

Russia has been demonstrating imperial appetites for hundreds of years. Ukraine’s history is a continuous struggle for survival and independence, the struggle against Russia’s attempts to conquer us.

Not to mention the Holodomor, a mass famine in which the Soviets killed at least four million Ukrainians by deliberately depriving them of food.

Back then, the regime would house citizens of Soviet Russia in the homes of people who had just died and starved to death. Their homes were literally still full of the warmth of their lives when new owners moved in.

This is exactly what is happening now. Russia brings famine to our land and blackmails the whole world with a food crisis.

Not to mention the murder and torture of Ukrainian writers, artists, and architects in the 1920s and 30s. A period that went down in history as the “Executed Renaissance.” According to Moscow, the Ukrainian word and Ukrainian art should not exist.

Tsybulska speaking at the UNSC event. Courtesy photo

And this is exactly what is happening now. Russian teachers forbid children to speak Ukrainian in Mariupol, Kherson, and Melitopol. Ukrainian libraries and museums are being destroyed with ostentatious brutality.

Not to mention the mass deportations of Ukrainian dissidents in the 1960s and 70s. They were forcibly sent to the farthest corners of the Soviet Union, where they died in intolerable living conditions in labour camps.

Deportations are again exactly what is happening now. In just a few months, more than a million people were deported from eastern and southern Ukraine to Russia. 307,000 of them are children.

We, Ukrainians, have seen all these terrible crimes more than once. In relation to us, Crimean Tatars, Baltics, Poles, Chechens, and other peoples. This is the modus operandi of the Kremlin.

However, the current war is extraordinary. It is extraordinary for its inhuman cruelty. It exhibits the brutality of medieval wars.

Bombing of maternity hospitals and even cemeteries, deliberate attacks on shelters and evacuation routes, rape of women, men, and children, the mass murder of unarmed civilians – you have certainly seen it all in the media. The Russian army has demonstrated barbarity that is difficult to imagine in the 21st century.

As soon as the full-scale invasion began, Ukrainians everywhere asked only one question: “Why? Why do they hate us so much? ”

Then the whole society united in one movement, to tell the truth to so-called ordinary Russians.

We would massively send them photos and videos of the atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine. We would call our acquaintances and relatives in Russia to explain the horrors of this war. Hoping to arouse their sympathy. We thought that when the Russians saw all the atrocities, they would definitely condemn this lawlessness.

Instead, we saw en masse the absence of any compassion.

Not to a 1-year-old boy from the city of Izium, who was raped by two Russian soldiers simultaneously and died. Not to a 16-year-old girl from Irpin, whose nails were torn off by Russians, then she was raped and shot in the head.

The majority of Russians have not condemned all these war crimes. They begin to show pride and approval.

Many people think that these are isolated cases. However, in addition to what we saw online, in addition to opinion polls showing full support for the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine by Russians, we also listen to interceptions – conversations between Russian soldiers and their families. Here are just a few quotes :

A conversation between a Russian soldier and his wife: you there, rape Ukrainian women and don’t tell me anything.

And this is a conversation between a Russian soldier and his mother: “it is right you kill them all. They are all Nazis. And children too.”

These are implications of the consistent work of the Russian propaganda machine. The Kremlin’s media created an alternative reality for millions of people, in which Ukrainians have ceased to be human beings, in which Ukrainians must be physically exterminated on a huge scale.

All these years, Russian propaganda has been systematically spreading hatred towards Ukraine and the West, systematically dehumanizing us. It denies the existence of Ukraine, the Ukrainian language, and culture.

In some cases, Russian soldiers explicitly justified their violence against civilians by referring to materials they saw in the Russian media.

There is a lot of evidence for genocidal rhetoric. My colleagues and I started creating a database to show the longevity and systematic nature of demonizing Ukrainians. Here are just a few examples:

  • On 4 April, in Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency, the pro-Kremlin journalist Timofey Sergeytsev called for the destruction of Ukraine’s national identity and a campaign of brutal punishment of its people. He called for imprisonment, forced labor, and death for Ukrainians who refused to comply with the Kremlin’s rule in Ukraine.

  • On 5 April, Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian prime minister and president, currently a deputy chairman of the Security Council, described Ukraine as a “completely fake” nation and a “copy of the Third Reich” that doesn’t deserve to exist. Then he has already gone even further and proposed to expand Russia from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

  • In the program of the well-known propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, one of the guests stated the following: “Ukraine cannot be repaired. You cannot repair this construct. It has to be destroyed as it is anti-Russia, an entity that threatens Russia ”

  • Another well-known in Russia media figure Anton Krasovskiy who led the RT media said: “This country should not exist. And we will do everything so that it doesn’t exist. We will burn down your constitution ”

  • The head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, also posted in Telegram that “if we do not kill them (Ukrainians), as our grandfathers did not kill them, we will have to die, but our grandchildren will have to pay even more. So let’s better end it now. ”

Colonialism became a mindset of the Russian people. This is a mindset where there is no room for democracy, human rights, and freedom.

The world has missed how very dangerous processes have begun to unfold in Russia. The world’s largest country with a population of 140 million, has begun to profess extremely chauvinistic, nationalist, and racist beliefs.

We have seen something similar in the history of mankind. We know what terrible consequences it can lead to. We repeated for years “never again.” And this horror is happening again right in the heart of Europe.

Russia is no longer authoritarian. This is a totalitarian state where the regime has given the green light to its citizens to be as cruel as possible. It gave permission to kill, torture and rape. This permission was delivered through the media. Through TVs and smartphones, ordinary Russians, who were then sent to Ukraine to fight, were turned into murderers and rapists. And millions of other Russians were allowed to cheer and applaud for this.

The Kremlin has been saying for years that Ukrainians are Nazis. That Russia protects Russian speakers liberating them from the Nazis. However, it turned out that the Kremlin doesn’t care about Russian speakers. It kills them with the same fury as everyone else. Thousands in the mass graves in Mariupol spoke Russian. Russia liberated them from only one thing – from life.

Russian officials like to say that all these crimes are staged and that there is no evidence. I have to disappoint them. Thousands of pieces of evidence of Russian war crimes have already been collected and continue to be collected. Russia does not follow any rules of war. And the whole world sees it.

It’s very important to understand that this threat exists not only for Ukrainians. This is a threat to the entire Western world. After all, in recent years, the Russian state media machine has also created an enemy image of the Western countries. Speaking of the erosion of moral values, NATO’s aggressive intentions towards Russia, and imposing on Russian citizens the view that Russia has the historical right to bring order to the West.

There are already many victims of this war. It is unlikely that we will ever be able to count them accurately. But there will be more, much more — if we do not stop Russia and don’t do everything possible to make the Russians understand their mistake. If this process of bringing them back to humanistic values does not happen, as it did in Germany, Russia will do it again.

This country has never reflected on its crimes in its history. It did not reflect on the bloody revolution at the beginning of the last century, it did not reflect on Stalinism, purges, deportations, murders, and persecutions of journalists, activists, and politicians, the invasion of Georgia, the annexation of Crimea, and the downing of MH17. That is why Russia is repeating these crimes with impunity over and over again.

It is now extremely important for us to study the connection between what Russian propaganda has been saying all these years and the mass atrocities committed by the Russian army in Ukraine. However, we must not only study but hold accountable those who have been inciting hatred and spreading genocidal rhetoric all this time.

It was systematic propaganda that enabled the genocide. With specific people behind it. This is not a mythical formation with no faces. We know the names of those who fed a huge nation with hatred, in return for generous compensations, paid from the Russian state budget. As a result, my country is flooded with blood and tears. Let’s not let these people avoid responsibility, together with the rest of the Russian leadership, which should be brought to justice. Let’s avoid the trap of the “Banality of Evil” when criminals claim that “they only obeyed orders.”

Unpunished evil returns. Let’s finally punish it and protect millions of free people in Ukraine and across the world.


Cower photo: People ride a subway in Moscow, some of them read on their smartphones, Feb. 24, 2022. /AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr.


Article first time published on Euromaidan Press web page. Liubov Tsybulska is the founder and first head of Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security. Now she heads the NGO “Join Ukraine.”


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