- Russian state media workers have been exempted from Putin’s latest military draft.
- Russia tightly controls what can be said about the war, aided by a largely compliant media.
- This means that the TV stars who push a distorted image of the war do not have to face its reality.
Russia’s Defense Ministry released a list of exceptions to President Vladimir Putin’s latest military mobilization on Friday, and it includes the media figures helping to sell the war to the Russian public.
Personnel of “organizations in the field of information and communication” in approved outlets shall not fight in Ukraine, the ministry said in a Telegram post.
Other key industries to be exempted include IT and telecommunications professionals and bankers, the post said, “to ensure the operation of certain high-tech industries as well as the financial system of the Russian Federation.”
Putin’s announcementon Wednesday that he would send as many as 300,000 reservists to the battle lines in Ukraine – something he promised he would not do – was followed almost immediately by reports of Russian men climbing to avoid drag.
The decision to exempt state-approved journalists ensures that the media figures pushing a distorted state narrative about the war in Ukraine do not have to face its realities themselves.
State-sanctioned media – which are tightly controlled – have been an important force in maintaining public support for the war through misleading and distorted information, as Insider’s John Haltiwanger reported.
And some Russian media stars have flourished in an environment that rewards overt propaganda — often longer than the Kremlin itself.
Propagandist Olga Skabayeva, called “Putin TV’s iron puppet” stepped up the rhetoric after Putin’s announcement, in which he suggested that the readiness of Russia’s nuclear arsenal “is not a bluff.”
On Skabayeva’s “60 Minutes” talk show, regular guest Vladimir Solovyov directly advocated hitting Britain and Germany with nuclear weapons. Skabayeva herself blithely suggested that Russia should have bombed the Queen’s funeral, which took place on the same day as the broadcast.
Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation estimates that Skabayeva and her husband have a real estate portfolio worth $4 million, while Solovyov – who is under US sanctions as a propagandist – estimated to have at least $1.18 million in assets.
Independent news media in Russia have all but disappeared, thanks to a years-long crackdown accelerated by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to the law, the war in Ukraine must be referred to only as a “special military operation”, with harsh penalties for those found to be circulating unofficial information or “discrediting” the military.