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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 400
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Debunking the Kremlin's Propaganda Film 'Crimea: The Road to the Homeland' - And Recurring Faux Memes
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The propagandistic video Crimea: The Road to the Homeland released just as President Vladimir Putin returned after a mysteriously 11-day disappearance is continuing to get heavy rotation on Russian state media and Kremlin-supported social media.

As we pointed out, there are some revelations in the video that prove what many were saying all along:

But while the film with faked scenes was covered as a news story, few have more systematically debunked it.

As Lucian Kim explains in Slate, the "faux documentary" rewrites history and serves as a propaganda tool to erase memory.

Broadcast on the state-run Rossiya channel, the docufiction was timed to the eve of the first anniversary of Crimea’s disputed independence referendum, held after thousands of Russian troops had seized the peninsula following the Maidan protest in Kiev. The film has little in common with journalism so, as a result, offers few new facts. Yet it provides insight into what makes Kremlin propaganda so effective—and how Putin is trying to rewrite history.

Russian propaganda has come a long way since the days of the Soviet Union. If in North Korea petrified announcers shout the day’s patriotic achievements in sing-song voices, in Russia, the news is presented no differently than in the West: by plastic anchors in sleek studios aided by fancy computer graphics. Sunday’s film was professionally made, with lots of aerial shots and a dramatic soundtrack. No expense was spared for the most comprehensive account to date of Putin’s great Crimean adventure.

The film intersperses snippets of an interview with Putin in a chronicle featuring Crimea’s leadership, Russia’s top brass, and members of the “people’s militia” who rose up against the pro-Western government in Kiev. Documentary footage is mixed with reenactments to create a collage of fact and fiction whose purpose isn’t to document what happened, but to hammer home the narrative that Russia’s lightning covert operation saved Crimea from Ukrainian “fascists,” if not direct NATO intervention.

Kim himself reported the Crimea takeover on the ground. Read his Kremlin TV: Vladimir Putin’s New Faux Documentary is Trying to Rewrite the History of His Own Aggression

One Kremin-sponsored meme we see repeatedly showing up on Twitter, VKontakte and other social media is a billboard that says "We Will Never Forget, We Will Never Forgive" which was also the slogan for the Anti-Maidan march in Moscow on February 21 and is on billboards.

The picture of a little girl weeping by her dead grandmother in a war scene in fact is fictional, taken from another movie.

 -- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick