Putin’s hold over Russian region tighter than ever

Compared to Soviet times and the propaganda used then, the current Russian media is exaggerating more aggressively. Putin has grabbed control of Russia, and he will not back down.

For example, Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot charged by Russia with the aided murder of two Russian journalists, now in the hands of Russian authorities, is facing trial, with a verdict to register sometime this week.

Savchenko was attempting to take her wounded comrades away from the battlefield when she was abducted by militants of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Luhansk on June 17, 2014, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

According to Russian authorities, however, after fighting in the eastern region, Savchenko decided to cross the border disguised as a refugee.

While authorities were checking her documents, they discovered “Savchenko is a suspect in the criminal case related to the murder of Russian journalists,” reported Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee.

Evidence has been brought up by Savchenko’s legal team to disprove the Russian authorities’ claim, but nothing has changed.

This is clearly proof of Putin’s hold over the region and his stubborn attitude toward the requests of other countries.

Additionally, the Ukrainian people have started social media movements supporting her release, and she has become a national hero.

The European parliament has condemned the actions of Russia toward the pilot. The U.S. and Britain have also condemned these actions, but Putin has not yet properly addressed these concerns. Obama and Merkel have called for her release.

The issue here is not simply in the justice system, as many have already predicted that the outcome will be the decision of the Kremlin. The issue lies in the way Putin is using prisoners to get what he wants.

Recently, Mark Feygin, a Russian lawyer who is defending Nadiya, said “Savchenko is being offered as an example of a cynical Ukrainian officer obsessed with murdering civilians in the east … the Kremlin has decided to play a diplomatic game with the west – using her as a pawn.”

This is not at all surprising. Putin has made himself a reputation of disregarding international laws and civil norms.

The greatest problem is propaganda. As any good leader would, Putin knows very well that the power lies in the people. It is interesting to note that his propaganda agenda has not changed much since Soviet times.

Russian propaganda declares “the violence in eastern Ukraine is all Kiev’s fault, that Ukraine is crawling with Russia-hating neo-Nazis and fascists, and that it’s the U.S. government which is fueling the crisis behind the scenes, while Russia tries to act as peacemaker,” according to an article from BBC.

In June, Russia’s public approval hit 89 percent, and thanks to propaganda, the ratings won’t be going down any time soon.

Current Russian propaganda is in no way different than Soviet propaganda during the Cold War, and while the Cold War did not include armed conflict, Russian actions with Ukraine do, and civilians are still currently dying in the war zones.

“The coverage relies on the scale of lies and the elimination of other sources of information,” according to an article from The Economist.

Apart from exaggerating and promoting events that go on inside Russia, the Russian media also distorts ongoing events west of the Russian border.

For example, let’s take a look at the current case with the Ukrainian pilot on trial. Savchenko is clearly a Ukrainian hero and a figure that a large part of the Ukrainian population looks up to.

The Russian media, however, has called Savchenko a “killing machine in a skirt” and “Satan’s spawn.”

“[Nadiya] has obviously been turned into a zombie and has a very negative attitude to all Russia-related things,” according to Rossiya 1 TV News, a Russian state-run channel.

The current court case is a further step to prove that Russia refuses to conform to civil norms and international laws. It is up to the leaders of the larger countries to decide what will be done to prevent Putin from taking back the countries of the Russian region.

Bogdan (Theo) Mynka is a freshman studying music from Kharkiv, Ukraine. He can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of the Office of Student Media.