RT goes beyond the pale

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Russia’s English-language propaganda network, RT (formerly Russia Today), known for its outlandish and over-the-top coverage of world events from a typically anti-Western perspective has reached new depths in the ongoing crusade to demonize Ukraine as it fuels and backs a proxy war in a pocket of the country’s east. While recent coverage of debunked and entirely fabricated claims has been gaining circulation in Russian-language media designed for internal consumption (including the now widely talked about ‘crucification’ hoax), RT’s latest foray is the first with such bloodied verve and disregard for competent journalism to reach an equivalent level for western audiences.

How does it reach this level? In the following 14 minute segment by RT, Ukraine is accused of the following: Murder, torture, crucifixions, beheadings, rape, ethnic cleansing, systematic genocide, instituting man-made famine, using Weapons of Mass Destruction and banned weapons, international conspiracies, and being both literally Hitler, and worse than Hitler. It’s the kitchen sink.

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The episode of the program called “The Truthseeker” aired with the title: “Genocide in Eastern Ukraine.” The purpose being to do everything it could to depict Ukraine’s war against well armed Russian militias as nothing more than unprovoked ethnic genocide against an entirely civilian, Russian population. It even led in with a short description of Rwanda – for context.

Quoting “investigative historian” Eric Zuesse, the channel calls Petro Poroshenko’s reformist government “the most far-right wing government on the face of the Earth” on a “one way killing spree.” As elections recently showed, less than 2% of Ukraine’s far-right garnered votes nationwide, significantly less than recent results in even the European Parliament.

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The host speaks liberally of “Kyiv’s mass daily bombing of unarmed civilians”, claiming a “Kyiv junta” uses “banned cluster bombs” designed to kill everyone in the surrounding area. He describes a child dying almost immediately in front of his mother’s eyes, a direct contradiction to the statement of the massive blast radius he led in with. He was only getting started.

The Ukie army, being a direct successor to Hitlerite Wehrmacht, terribly hates Saur-Mogila, as it is a symbol of Russian valor in the Great Patriotic War. All the time their artillery and mortars lob shells directly at the memorial. But they cannot get any closer.

One day, the pravoseki [Right Sector militants] came there. NazGuard [National Guard], Azov-2 and Dnepr-2. And then they instilled European values in the village. They cut out [murdered] all the men. They would cut them alive. They would cut the arms, then the legs. Then the head.

They did not cut the women – they raped them. And now they continue [to rape them], during the pauses between battles. Doubtlessly, the various fanboys of Europe and the Maidanites will say that these are made-up fairy tales.

Take note, chocolate baron, truth is on our side, and, one day, we will come for you. Yes, you, personally!

If the above sounds like it was pulled directly from a troll’s rant from the comment margins, or some obscure hate-speech blog, that’s because it was. What was presented on air was a slightly doctored version of the above, published on June 25, with adjusted grammar and evocative narration. The source for the RT centerpiece was “Slavyangrad,” a blog dedicated to such fringe musings. (The name being a Russified portmanteau of Sloviansk & Stalingrad). The rest of the entry deals with the fight against “Ukie-stan,” and the threat of female Polish snipers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdV-iBWm78k

3RT’s “Truthseeker” continues his disconnected rant with uncited reports of civilians being “systematically massacred” under “mainstream media silence.” The channel typically positions itself as ‘alternative’ news to the “mainstream,” and regular quotes on the ticker featured lines from Russian tabloid LifeNews, known for generating comical hoaxes.

This talk of systematic genocide was sure to mention the serial ‘murder’ of journalists to endure this silence, bringing up the recent controversial case of a Russian journalist who was, as it turns out, sent to be shot by Russia, sacrificed for media exposure and propaganda material. Footage of his death has now predictably been exploited.

8RT, as it is known, regularly parades Holocaust deniers, extreme fringe theorists, conspiracy nuts, and other unknown ‘specialists’ to provide bombastic statements on the air under the misleading guise of being accredited experts. In a shining example of just how unhinged the network could possibly be, an American “living in Eastern Ukraine” was brought on screen to give his testimony: “walking up to someone and disemboweling them, a child, that’s an act of heroism for Bandera [Ukraine Nazi followers].” The unknown man went on to talk of man-made famine, a particularly seditious remark to make given the Soviet Union’s man-made genocide of Ukrainians under Stalin. He claimed the Ukrainian government was “burning wheat fields,” bombing farms, and shooting ambulances. He estimated “several hundred thousand people will starve to death.” Who is this sickly man making these statements? RT doesn’t care.

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RT captions a video of children and quotes them as Nazis
RT captions a video of children and quotes them as Nazis

A good part of the segment was devoted to intentionally mistranslating the word “inhuman” when used by government officials (namely, PM Yatseniuk and President Poroshenko) to rather read as “subhumans,” and deliberately echo Mein Kampf. The Hitler-inspired connections did not end there, as literally every single Hitler-related trope was covered, from death squads, to concentration camps, to even the concept of “Lebensraum,”  living space. The wordsmith “Truthseeker” even connected every dot in succession: Ukrainian death squads will ethnically cleanse Russian ‘subhumans’ into concentration camps, and be given Lebensraum from the pro-Nazi government. There simply isn’t a way to fathom how something as inflammatory, egregious, and outright fabricated could be disseminated to audiences under the auspice of being legitimate news.

When the opponent of mainstream media is the extremist fringe – but given the funding, presentation, and exposure of any regular mainstream media outlet – it can only lead to journalistic gongshows such as this. RT has literally reached the point where the inmates are figuratively running the asylum. RT has gone beyond the pale.

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