• Below you can find a summary of the main topics on Russia’s most watched state TV news channels this week.
  • The news shows’ agenda in Russia is carefully attuned to serve the Kremlin’s needs.
  • Therefore, following Russian state media sheds light on our understanding of how the Kremlin seeks to influence the Russian-speaking audience in Russia and beyond. Read our story here.
  • Our monitoring of pro-Kremlin disinformation also reveals that many of the themes set out in Russia’s most popular state TV news programmes find their way into European outlets.

1. Undermining the statehood of Ukraine

The fact that former Odessa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili crossed the Ukrainian border even though he was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship was interpreted as a sign of Ukraine’s weakness. The sovereignty of Ukraine was repeatedly contested during the show on Channel One and the ”60 Minut” talk show on Rossiya 1.

Guests were claiming that “there is no Ukraine” but a “southern branch of the Russian people”, a state “built on lies” that “cannot be regarded as a serious state”, “an unformed nation and an unformed state” and finally a state “which is controlled by the USA and Europe and lives off their money and so on, and has de facto ceased to exist”. Speculation went further on Thursday on the same show, when some panelists suggested that Saakashvili might have links to the Kremlin.

As a culmination, Channel One reported on its talk show that Hungarian-American investor George Soros is behind Saakashvili’s return to Ukraine. Soros is one of the most repeated targets of disinformation outlets. Check out individual disinfo cases here.

2. The military have taken over control in Washington

Reporting on the tensions with North Korea, Vesti Nedeli describes the US as a “stratocracy” where political power lies in the hands of the military. The story describes three generals in key positions governing the US: current White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defence James Mattis.

“Of course it’s not a junta, but a sort of a stratocracy, like a power of the military”, TV host Dmitri Kiselyov states.

TV channels in Russia have for some time been actively accusing President Barack Obama’s administration for today’s perceived failures. Now, according to NTV’s news programme, “grim Russophobia and witch hunts” have continued under Trump just like before.

3. Poland, Lithuania, and the battle for history

Weekly news show Vesti Nedeli made two distorted claims in its report from Poland: hinting that Poland might have been the initiator of World War II (Read more in our latest Disinfo Review) and stating that it was Joseph Stalin who handed over the “Polish city of Wilno” to Lithuania.

Both claims undermine the historical facts of the Molotov-Ribbentrop secret protocols in which eastern Europe was divided into German and Soviet spheres of influence. Eastern Poland and Lithuania, among others, fell under the Soviet sphere of influence.

Vesti Nedeli portrays Poland as a nationalistic aggressor that has during the last century strived to gain control over Lithuania, Ukraine, and Russia itself.

A new law in Poland demands the removal of mentions on public monuments that seem to glorify Communism or “any other totalitarian” regime. Channel One with its talk show Vremya Pokazhet discussed this topic and described those responsible as “Europe’s Taliban”, comparing them to Daesh.