Russian bloggers and military journalists criticize the invasion of Ukraine
After a series of humiliating failures, more and more Russians are speaking out against Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
From the start, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has faced a series of humiliating setbacks – and as the war continues to stagnate, more and more Russians are turning against their leader.
In a country where public defiance of government is rare and often results in harsh punishment, thousands of citizens took an unexpected stand against the February 24 invasion in the form of daily anti-war protests.
From that date to March 13, nearly 15,000 people were arrested, sparking reports of police brutality and even torture, with the government implementing widespread censorship measures as a result.
But rather than being silenced, since then a growing number of Russians have taken bold stances against the war.
Journalists hit back
In mid-March, Russian state television worker Marina Ovsyannikova interrupted her own network’s live news to protest the war in Ukraine, risking her life.
Ms. Ovsyannikova made global headlines after she blocked the show with an explosive poster bearing the words: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. Here, they are lying to you”.
And last week, two other journalists followed his lead by pulling off a stunt of their own, publishing dozens of heartbreaking articles about Vladimir Putin on pro-Kremlin news site Lenta.ru on Victory Day.
This symbolic day is held annually on May 9 to celebrate the Soviet Union’s defeat by Nazi Germany and is marked by military parades and speeches by leaders.
But this year, journalists Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova jumped on the significant day to upload at least 30 articles to the site, accusing Putin of starting one of the “bloody wars of the 21st century”.
According to CNNthe articles were quickly deleted, but not before journalists were able to claim that “Putin and his entourage are doomed to be brought to justice after the end of the war”, and that “Putin and his associates will not be able to justify themselves- themselves or flee after having lost this war”.
A few weeks after the invasion, a law was enacted that allows authorities to fine or imprison journalists who publish information critical of the war.
But it’s not just journalists who have stood up to Putin, with a slew of pro-Russian military bloggers also recently taking to Telegram to lash out at a recent disastrous military operation – and expose the truth to a public accustomed to nothing but positive propaganda from their leaders.
On May 12, top military commentator Yuri Kotenok took to the social media site to criticize the botched crossing of the Siverskyi Donets River, which claimed the lives of more than 400 people, including Colonel Denis Kozlov, Commander of Russia’s 12th Separate Guards Engineer Brigade.
Russian troops had attempted to cross the river, located between Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, in order to advance further, but were intercepted by Ukrainian forces who shelled a pontoon bridge the invaders were attempting to cross.
While the disaster was one of the deadliest of the war so far, few expected so many pro-Russian bloggers to publicly denounce the failure – but the backlash has been swift and savage.
“If you want fairy tales, then you’ve come to the wrong place. In such a case, you should go to the administration,” Mr. Kotenok said, adding that he was there “to provide a correct assessment, to say good from good and bad from bad, but to say the TRUTH “.
“If you want the truth, have the truth. He who has ears, he hears, eyes, he sees.
War is such a thing, people. Bloody,” he continued, after sharing evidence of the doomed crossing.
“In times of war, we sometimes suffer losses. Know it and… shut up if you have nothing to say on the merits. Listen and draw conclusions, if there is anything.
Another blogger, Vladlen Tatarskiy, was even more scathing, blaming the commander who led the operation directly.
“Until we find out the name of this ‘military genius’ who squandered the BTG [battalion tactical group] near the river and he answers for it publicly, there will be no reforms in the army,” he posted.
“The offensive in the Donbass is hampered, not only due to the lack of effective intelligence from drones [drones]but also because of such generals.
War blogger Yuri Podolyaka also joined the chorus, blaming the calamity on “stupidity”.
“I insist, because of the stupidity of the Russian command – at least one battalion tactical group was burned, maybe two”, while another, Starshe Eddy, said the deaths were the result “no not idiocy, but direct sabotage” by the commanders.
The Kremlin Nightmare
These bloggers have millions of followers between them, and experts believe they could cause real trouble for the Kremlin by revealing the truth.
This is because the Russian authorities continue to portray the invasion as a crushing success, insisting to the masses that the troops were advancing and that a victory was undeniable.
But the claims of these popular bloggers and other dissidents seriously threaten to upset that official line.
“Comments from these widely read milbloggers may fuel growing doubts in Russia about Russia’s prospects in this war and the competence of Russian military leaders,” wrote the Institute for the Study of War think tank. (ISW).