New Russian idol
A lot has been written about Russian propaganda. Its main secret is a monopoly on information and a constant repetition of the same messages, year after year. They must be imprinted in people's minds at the level of unconditioned reflexes. Under no circumstances must citizens address their own mind – they must just stick to the "right" clichés like "enemies are everywhere" and "if not Putin, then who?"
However, recently things began to change in Russia where Putin's name is now far from topping the popular list in terms of the number of references. It is the president of the neighboring country, Petro Poroshenko, who brazenly pushed down the Russian leader.
Russians have been dissecting under a microscope the latest moves of the head of the Ukrainian state. In particular, the work of the Ukrainian delegation at the UN General Assembly became the top topic on Russian TV. Recording Petro Poroshenko walking along the UN HQ corridors was a great success, they said. It was especially emphasized that it was a cameraman from Russia's presidential pool who succeeded. Most of the times, he is only tasked with pushing the "record" button only at the sight of Vladimir Vladimirovich.
Poroshenko taking a Russian journalist by the wrist prompted a thorough scrutiny, Poroshenko responding in Russian - caused brainstorming sessions, and Poroshenko calling Russian media out as fake news – sparked deep reflections… As he allegedly entered the room where the Russian delegation was working – Russian media immediately "explained" that the Ukrainian president had been heading to a meeting dedicated to peacekeeping issues. The Russian viewer was even deprived of the opportunity to learn about the efforts at the UNGA of the delegation led by Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov. And neither did the Russian audience hear any explanation why their foreign minister assumed that the president of Ukraine had confused Lavrov's negotiations room with WC. Meanwhile, Lavrov did not lose time and agreed with Guatemala on not being the first to deploy weapons in space...
Putin's name is now far from topping the popular list in terms of the number of references. It is the president of the neighboring country, Petro Poroshenko, who brazenly pushed down the Russian leader
Here, in Russia, many are literally sitting there counting how many times any of the foreign leaders pronounced the word "Ukraine" during the United Nations GA session. They seem to be really jealous and frustrated about the fact. Of course, Russian propaganda journalists might not like what they see so they focus all their "talent" on criticizing the president of another country. In Russia, it is safe, and for some reason honorable, to do. Only few can afford to scrutinize the work of the Russian leader, so most news stories in Russia have by and large turned into an endless "international panorama."
This panorama show portrays Ukraine as an enemy that must be destroyed, at the same time for some reason calling it a "brother." The lower-level target is to maintain control over the occupied Crimea and Donbas. Incidentally, the leaders of the state claiming it's "getting up from their knees" don't care too much about turning these territories into the environmental disasters zones.
Regardless of the name, such approach to the work of the Ukrainian president and other Ukrainian officials will prevail. The Kremlin will only be satisfied with "Gauleiters" helping Moscow resolve the "Ukrainian issue." For example, it was no accident when Russian senator Konstantin Kosachev publicly speculated what he would do if he became head of Ukraine. His suggestion is: surrender to the Kremlin...
Such attention to the incumbent president of Ukraine is not surprising. This personalized information campaign stems from the fact that since Poroshenko took office, the Kremlin has not fulfilled a single task on Ukraine.
All their success stories are exclusively a result of military force, such as the capture by the Russian army of the Ukrainian city of Debaltseve in Feb 2015, immediately after Putin signed the Minsk agreements. There has been no recognition of the Crimea annexation, or the "civil war" in Donbas. And neither has there been the rise of the status of the Russian language or the desired federalization of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine's course towards NATO and the EU is viewed as non-alternative.
Such attention to the incumbent president of Ukraine is not surprising. This personalized information campaign stems from the fact that since Poroshenko took office, the Kremlin has not fulfilled a single task on Ukraine
Moreover, despite all those "Rotterdam+" formulas, impotence in terms of setting up the work of anti-corruption agencies, and dragging reforms, the state of Ukraine has become stronger. Further military successes of the Russian Federation in Ukraine are possible, but not obvious. This would cost tens of thousands of lives of those who are "not there." Actually, this is why, from time to time, Russian talking heads publicly speculate on the topic of "dropping a nuke on Kyiv." This is a sign of real impotence.
Russian TV can mock as much as they want the latest U.S. gift to Ukraine in the form of two patrol boats that are far from being new, but the fact remains: more and more U.S. weapons are being supplied to Ukraine every year. And the Russians don't find it funny to be confronted with those weapons somewhere in Syria. And neither do they find it funny in Ukraine.
The Kremlin laid its ultimate hope on the Ukraine elections. But who said that the new president of Ukraine would fulfill the Russian wishlist?! Not every Ukrainian politician is ready to flee from the capital of European Ukraine to Russia's distant Rostov.