15% of news about Crimea in Russian mass media turned out to be anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western propaganda. These are the results of a study by the Institute of Mass Information of the Russian mass media *.
Five news sites were selected for monitoring: RIA Novosti, Lenta.ru, TASS, Rossiyskaya Gazeta and RT.com. The sample included all news published on these sites in the period from 16 to 20 February 2021 inclusive and which mentioned the occupied Crimea. A total of 183 news pieces speaking of the peninsula were selected during this period.
The analysis showed that 34% of mentions of Crimea spoke of the weather and heavy snowfall on the peninsula that caused traffic havoc on the “Crimean Bridge”.
At the second position by number of mentions was found out the problem of water supply in the Crimea, which accounted for 16% of all news about the Crimea. The vast majority of materials spoke about the “stabilization” of water supply, the Russian authorities gave promises that “there would be no problems with water in the Crimea.” Ukraine was also mentioned: the Russian media actively spread fake news saying that Ukraine was going to “complete the dam that will block the supply of water to the Crimea.” The term “water blockade” that Ukraine would be to launch this year was largely employed, and Russian politicians and officials commented on whether Russia would launch a “gas blockade” in response to Ukraine.
In third place in terms of the number of mentions (15%) was anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western propaganda. In particular, the Russian authorities were extremely upset by Ukraine’s call to the international community to impose new sanctions on Russia for Crimea. Separately, the Russian media criticized the British government for giving Ukraine funds to support “Crimean structures.”
For the first time, the lion’s share of propaganda was directed at the “historical ties” between Crimea and Russia. They advanced the thesis that Crimea was “passed in 1954” to Ukraine, that Ukraine itself “exchanged Crimea” for Western support. Ukraine’s plans to return Crimea were actively ridiculised, including being called a “political circus,” “self-deception,” “meaningless,” and other epithets. The anti-Ukrainian rhetoric even included former President Yanukovych, who gave a series of comments to the Russian media about who “is really to blame for Ukraine’s loss of Crimea and Donbas.”
* IMI is preparing a detailed analysis with an assessment of Russian narratives concerning Crimea.
* Five news sites were selected for monitoring: RIA Novosti, Lenta.ru, TASS, Rossiyskaya Gazeta and RT.com. The sample includes all materials published on these sites in the period from 16 to 20 February 2021 inclusive.
This study was made possible by the support of the American people through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine, implemented by the international organization Internews Network. The contents are the sole responsibility of the Institute for Mass Information and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.