This past Sunday, Ukrainians elected a new president: in a landslide victory of over 73%, comedian and political novice Volodymyr Zelenskiy won the presidency from the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko. Whatever one might think of the result, the contest was ultimately a triumph of democracy, with free and fair elections followed by a peaceful transfer of power. International observers have described the elections as the cleanest in the country’s history. Indeed, Ukraine deserves congratulations not only for succeeding where many other countries have not, but for doing so despite enduring more than five years of Russian war, disinformation, and hybrid aggression aimed its destruction.
Naturally, the pro-Kremlin media is taking a distinctly contrary view, and instead of commending Ukraine for its success is doubling down on efforts to portray the country as corrupt, unstable, and controlled by foreign powers. This week, we observed a strong dual effort to delegitimize the election outcome – for instance by falsely claiming that six million Ukrainians were denied the right to vote and that the US controls both candidates – as well as reassert prevailing pro-Kremlin narratives about the illegitimacy of Ukraine’s government, the status of Crimea, and the war in eastern Ukraine. Internationally, these efforts are an attempt to retain narrative control about Ukraine during the high-profile election and post-election period, while domestically they are intended to discourage popular support for democratic reform by painting Ukraine as a failed state.
The stories manufacturing an alternate reality about Ukraine ranged from the routine to the absurd. As usual, we’re told that the fascist Ukrainian regime came to power by a coup, that Russia did not instigate the war in Donbas and still has nothing to do with it, and that it was in fact the US that first triggered the conflict in 2014. Crimea chose to rejoin Russia in a democratic referendum and has since become an integral part of the country – apparently, even Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged that Crimea belongs to Russia! Meanwhile, Ukraine has simply become a vassal state of Germany – which, in turn, is a vassal of the US and lacks any true sovereignty. And then the absurd: since neither of Ukraine’s two presidential candidates will end the violence in Donbas, electing an alien is the only hope for peace. Yes, really – the pro-Kremlin media would rather facetiously invoke an extraterrestrial saviour than admit Russia’s responsibility and leading role in the war.
As we have covered previously, demeaning and ridiculing political candidates is a common Kremlin tactic during election periods. One especially interesting case this week shows how shrewd these efforts can be: an exit poll published on a site claiming to belong to a Ukrainian election monitoring organisation likened the contest to a vote for chocolate versus “Green Tarkhun” (a neon, tarragon-flavoured soda). Poroshenko, the founder of a major confectionary corporation, is known as Ukraine’s “Chocolate King”, while Zelenskiy, in Ukrainian, relates to “green” (зелений). But as it turns out, no public record exists about the organisation in question. The website that published the “poll” was registered only on April 4th, just weeks ahead of the elections.
Finally, the pro-Kremlin media’s election coverage wouldn’t be complete without a Jewish conspiracy. As president, we are told, Zelenskiy will be controlled by the US and Israel thanks to Ihor Kolomoyskiy, his primary sponsor and an Israeli puppet. Of course, there is no effort to reconcile this with the contradictory and longstanding narrative that the Ukrainian regime is fascist. Indeed, the Russian disinformation machine has also been conspicuously silent about the fact that Zelenskiy is Jewish, which is a particularly inconvenient truth when one of your favourite arguments is that Ukraine is full of neo-Nazis. Just this week, another story claimed that Ukraine is consolidating Nazism under the guise of elections, and that Kyiv is making plans to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. But we mustn’t be too surprised – after all, logic and consistency have never exactly been the Kremlin’s strong suit.
Notre Dame Conspiracies, Continued…
Aliens didn’t feature only in context of the Ukrainian elections – apparently, they were also responsible for the Notre Dame fire. Numerous UFOs were spotted during the blaze, and the same aliens are now purportedly planning an attack on another cathedral.
But hey, if aliens aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other alternative explanations to pick from – except that of the French authorities, of course! Official statements claim that the fire wasn’t caused by arson, which obviously means that it was. But who is behind it? The French intelligence services, or Islamists? Or perhaps it was the Freemasons, who have destroyed the evidence before escaping from Earth!