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Putin's Big Lie: Why Russia Is Doubling Down On The "Denazification" Of Ukraine

Even as the Russian army shifts in its original invasion objectives, the country’s state media is busy fueling pro-war sentiment with what remains a central talking point, the supposed "denazification," of Ukraine, which some warn is a recipe for genocide

Photo of a protestor throwing red paint on the banner of the TV channel NASH to protest against Russian propoganda

Protesters demonstrate against the Russian propaganda of the tv channel NASH in its Kyiv headquarters.

Cameron Manley


At the end of March, Russia appeared to clearly readjust its ambitions for the invasion of Ukraine. Moscow was no longer requesting Ukraine to be “denazified,” and according to state media would “magnanimously” retreat from Kyiv towards the Eastern and Donbass regions of Ukraine.

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But the would-be magnanimity didn't last long: the rhetoric coming from Russia now seems to have retreated back to familiar ground. The spurious narrative of denazification as the primary excuse for the “special military operation” is being pushed harder than ever before.

Central to this renewed push was an article written by Kremlin political operativeTimofey Sergeitsev entitled“What is Russia to do with Ukraine?,” and published last week on Russian state-run media site Ria Novosti. It has since stoked a series of debates on state TV channels Rossiya 24 and Perviy Kanal, with viewers being bombarded with denazification propaganda in an attempt to fuel the pro-War sentiment in Russia.

Meanwhile, Ukrainians have warned that the article is a“blueprint for genocide,

Ukrainian "Stockholm Syndrome"

The harrowing article argues that denazification of Ukraine goes hand-in-hand with de-Ukrainianization. He writes: “The political elite must be eliminated, its re-education is impossible. The common people, who actively and passively supported it by action and inaction, must survive the hardships of the war and assimilate the experience as a historical lesson and atonement for its guilt.”

Sergeitsev goes on to advise Russia “to finally part with pro-European and pro-Western illusions,” demanding that Ukraine be freed from the “intoxication, temptation and dependence of the so-called European choice.”

Where should the process of denazification stop? What should we do with Zelensky?

The article has since been viewed millions of times and was published in tandem with an article byVictoria Nikiforova, advising Ukrainians on how to cure themselves of their “Stockholm Syndrome” with the West. She comments on the psychological instability of the Ukrainian people, who support “drug addicts and neo-Nazis,” saying that “after the liberation of Ukraine, of course, a whole range of measures will be required to bring these mentally unhealthy people to their senses.”

Photo of a woman looking at the exhibition "Call the War a War" in Lviv, Ukraine

The exhibition "Call the War a War: Russian Crimes Against Media in Ukraine" in Lviv, Ukraine

Mykola Tys/SOPA/ZUMA

Russian state TV

With liberal press in Russia facing 15 years of imprisonment for contradicting the Kremlin’s official line, Russians are left with little option but to receive news from state-run TV. On Thursday evening, during the political talkshow Evening with Vladimir Solovyov, pro-Kremlin ex-Ukrainian parliament member Spiridon Kilinkarov asked host Vladimir Solovyov “Where should the process of denazification stop? What should we do with Zelensky? Should he be removed?”

Solovyov replied: “Zhirinovsky [an ultranationalist politician] made an ingenius forecast and it went something like this: ‘Zelensky is the last president of Ukraine because after him there will be no Ukraine’.”

Kilinkarov’s first question, however, appeared to be answered on Friday on a different talk show onPerviy Kanal. Here Nikita Danyuk, Deputy Director, Institute for Strategic Studies and Predictions of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, said, “I've got the impression that the denazification operation should in one way or another take place not only in Ukraine because what we're now seeing in the Baltics is an outright honoring of the Nazis.”

Indeed, neighboring countries, such asMoldova, have already begun to fear that Putin’s relentless war mongering will spill over into an invasion of their nation of 2.6 million.

Russian media creating its own world

Now, too, the Kremlin is pushing that same line. Representative for the ministry of foreign affairs, Maria Zakharova, who has been relentless in her anti-West rhetoric since the start of the war, called out the alleged presence of Nazism in Ukraine ina press briefing on April 7: “They don't want to compromise,” she said. “This is what we are talking about — xenophobia, Nazism, extremism in all forms.”

The Russian state is creating its own world.

Propaganda in Russia is becoming increasingly distant from reality. The Russian state is creating its own world, according to the narrative it wishes to depict. After the atrocities revealed in Bucha, the Rossiya 24 network aired a video of military men placing mannequin bodies on the ground claiming it was proof of a set-up by the West and Ukraine. It was later revealed that this was behind the scenes footage of a TV series filmed in St Petersburg.

The longer the “special military operation” goes on and the further away “victory” appears to be, the more tempestuous and violent Vladimir Putin becomes, and the harder state-controlled media must work to keep Russians believing in the decisions of their elite.

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Putting the latest AI breakthroughs at the service of national security raises major practical and ethical questions for the Pentagon.

Photo of a drone on the tarmac during a military exercise near Vícenice, in the Czech Republic

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