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From the fear of death to its cult: in 11 months of the war, Russian propaganda has evolved to the level of martyrs

Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine began 11 months ago, and in that time even leading Russian propaganda analysts have lost count of the many conflicting theories justifying the bloodshed. However, despite this, the propagandists managed not only to convince the majority of the inevitability of war, but also to change their minds so much that the most terrible and crazy things are perceived by many Russians as something completely normal. ForumDaily decided to figure out how this happened.

Photo: IStock

Killing in the name of peace

In fact, by the time the invasion began, the perception of the world by those who had believed in Kremlin propaganda for many years was significantly distorted. At least since 2014 (and in a milder form, much earlier), television has managed to build a full-fledged illusory world for its viewers. This is a world in which the West hates Russia for the very fact of its existence, dreams of destroying it and will achieve its goal regardless of the behavior of the Kremlin. All the actions of Russian oligarchs and corrupt officials, shamelessly robbing the country, presented as a form of the “Western yoke”, and the inability of the Russian authorities to create efficient production or develop science as Investigation "enemy intrigues".

All actions of Ukraine or the West, which are natural the consequence aggression of Russia itself, are taken out of context and appear as an illustration "global war of civilizations" - a war that must be waged until the enemy is completely destroyed. The use of military force, up to and including nuclear weapons, is a completely natural thing here, and the Russian majority sincerely believes that "everyone does it." Accustomed to living in an aggressive militaristic world, Russians are sure that the West thinks in the same categories, and simply cannot imagine any other way of thinking.

Essentially, on first turn after the invasion, propaganda only reinforced this perception, adding to the overall picture the story of the alleged development by Ukraine nuclear и biological weapons. Here, as in previous years, the fear game was used, but it is important to note that core values, declared in society, remained unchanged and formally "normal". The Russians were convinced that by fighting in Ukraine, Moscow was thereby protecting itself from “future aggression”, and Russian soldiers were sacrificing their lives for the sake of peace, happiness and well-being of their compatriots.

Killings in the name of elections

On conditional second stage propaganda, this fear was reinforced by the fear of defeat, in which case, according to propagandists, "Russia will be completely destroyed." In the process of this destruction, the Kremlin ideologists predict "bloodshed" arranged by the West and intimidate citizens by reprisals on the part of the victors. In this case, the main value of society is no longer proclaimed peace and happiness, but banal survival. However, even this value with a stretch can be called formally adequate.

The third stage propaganda becomes a kind of tipping point. On it, the end and the means are interchanged. If earlier the main goal was proclaimed victory in the war, now propagandists are increasingly admitting that both victory and the war itself are only a means to solve internal Russian problems. Participants of the main propaganda show of the country "Evenings with Vladimir Solovyov" straight talkthat before the war "the Russian economy did not grow", and the country itself rotted for 30 years. According to them, this would inevitably lead to an economic downturn, which, in turn, would affect public sentiment in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.

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In a moral sense, here we can already talk about an altered state of consciousness, for which the killing of innocent people in order to overcome their own inferiority and inability to develop is considered something quite natural. But goal such killings, although certainly not achievable through war, is still formally stated adequately: the development of the economy and the country as a whole. However, in parallel with it, the “positive consequence” of the war is the so-called “purification” of society, in which completely different concepts are laid.

Killing for the sake of killing

On the one hand, it is understood as “cleansing from traitors, oligarchs and corrupt officials”, which meets the long-standing expectations of the Russian “deep people”. This also includes illusion of convergence authorities with the population in a single impulse "work for the needs of the front", and image Russia as a "welfare state" helping the mobilized. Increasingly, however, the word "cleansing" is becoming synonymous with "being yourself" and "going back to basics." This is what can be called a turning point, fourth stage propaganda, on which the formally declared values ​​are already changing.

For example, in the next "Evening with Solovyov" the former spy Andrey Bezrukov saidthat the main "betrayal" of the late Soviet elites was the very idea that Russia could live well. For this, according to Bezrukov, the authorities dared to deviate from the course set a thousand years ago for the country by its "founding fathers", including the "expansion of territories." In this case, the ideologues of the war explicitly state that the worst evil for modern Russia is peaceful life and human happiness, and instead they prefer to follow the medieval habits of capturing foreign territories.

Echoes Bezrukov and Vladimir Solovyov, declaringthat it is necessary not to reduce, but to increase social tension so that society does not feel relaxed. The destruction of normal life began to be presented as absolute normality, and war as the only possible form of existence sovereign Russia. Religious preachers also joined in such propaganda, assuring that, just killingRussians can "become themselves". It is quite logical that further followed fifth stage propaganda glorifying death as such.

For example, the already mentioned Solovyov said that life is greatly overestimated, and Russians should not be afraid of death, since they, according to words Vladimir Putin, "they will go to heaven." "It's worth living for something you can die for." But that's the way it should be", - summed up propagandist.

Such an ideology, unlike the Soviet one, offers Russians death not in the name of a "bright future", but for the sake of death as the only meaning of existence, which is very similar to a radical Islamist cult. In fact, Russian propagandists today are themselves openly proclaiming what Ukraine and the West were accused of at the time of the invasion - destroying normal life and human happiness and bringing war and suffering to replace it.

Of course, Not everyone Russians are ready to senselessly go to death - moreover, the vast majority not going to do this. However, even among them, propaganda narratives that sound like shahid terrorists do not cause any dissonance. And this unhindered inculcation of the cult of death and the hatred of life seems to be the main result of Putin's rule.

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