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Russia Generated New Narratives to Justify Genocide of Ukrainians

After the act of terror in the Crocus City Hall music venue in the Moscow suburb on March 22, 2024, Russian propaganda began, in the well organized and targeted manner, to groundlessly accuse Ukraine of committing this crime. Even the fact that the Islamic State terrorist group being out of any relation to Ukraine and Ukrainians took credit for this incident has not stopped the propagandists. 

Several major narratives are being used by the Russian propaganda to give reasons for these accusations: 

  • ISIS terrorists who committed an act of terror in the Moscow suburb were recruited by the Ukrainian intelligence service; 
  • These were Ukrainians who committed an act of terror in the Moscow suburb but pretended that this was the ISIS.  
  • Ukrainians are terrorists, and the act of terror in the Moscow suburb is a next step in the war unleashed by them; 
  • The British intelligence service committed an act of terror against the civil residents of Russia using Ukrainians; 
  • Ukraine carried out a terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb with the US assistance; 
  • Ukraine has transferred the war to Moscow, having committed a terrorist attack there; 
  • Ukrainians have been cherishing terrorism since 2014, and the terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb is a logical follow-up of this practice; 
  • The terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb is a Ukrainians’ revenge on civilian Russians for the Russian army acts in Ukraine; 
  • Ukraine finances Islamic terrorists; 
  • Ukraine is a terrorist country.  

Russian high officials and investigation bodies have started an official dissemination of these unrounded charges, 

For instance: 

On March 23, 2024, addressing to the Russians, Russian “President” Vladimir Putin claimed that terrorists who had committed the terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb were moving towards the Ukrainian border where their accomplices had been waiting for them. 

On April 5, 2024, the RF Investigative Committee released a statement asserting that photos of Ukrainian national symbols had been found (as it was said) in the terrorists’ mobile phones. It was also claimed in the press-release that the found data might prove a connection between the terrorist attack and the “special military operation” being carried out by Russia in Ukraine.  

On March 26, 2024, Aleksandr Bortnikov, Head of FSB, said that Ukraine had been implicated in the terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb.  

On April 3, 2024, Nikolay Patrushev, Secretary of RF Security Council, claimed that the terrorists who had committed the act of terror in the Moscow suburb might be “tracked” to Ukraine that was “under the US influence”. 

Leading national TV Channels and information platforms of Russia have been involved in communicating these statements, for instance: 

  • Top Russian information agencies: RIA NOVOSTI, TASS, INTERFAX 
  • The most popular national Russian online media, as KOMMERSANT, IZVESTIYA, VEDOMOSTI, KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA 
  • Public and private broadcasters as VGTRK, RUSSIA TODAY, SPUTNIK Radio, NTV, and other TV and Radio broadcasting companies, with a wide audience on the RF territory.  

In addition, the Telegram channels of famous Russian TV presenters and influencers, who have hundreds of thousands of subscribers, have contributed to disseminating these narratives and appeals. Not only speakers’ quotes but also purposefully produced images, so called “memes”, have become communication tools. For example, such an image was posted on the Telegram channel of Sergey Karnaukhov, one of the Russian TV presenters, who has 140,000 subscribers. 

These narratives communication was also supported by VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, Russian social networks, popular Russian streaming, and search platforms as Rutube, Yandex, Dzen,  

All these charges are not backed with evidence and intended to manipulate the emotions of Russians to incite more and more hatred towards Ukrainians. All these statements have become a new channel to justify calls for genocide of Ukrainians, and to permit morally the commitment of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the territory of Ukraine.  

To incite to international crimes commitment, the Russian propaganda has been using such narratives:  

  • As response to the terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb the Ukrainian sovereignty must be razed; 
  • Ukraine has carried out the act of terror in the Moscow suburb, and now Ukrainian cities must be destroyed as revenge; 
  • Ukrainians are terrorists, so there can’t be any negotiations with them; 
  • No empathy for Ukrainians, they are collectively responsible for the terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb; 
  • To “free” Kharkov and Kiev1 from terrorists, a nuclear bomb must be dropped on these cities; 
  • Ukraine must be destroyed because it commits acts of terror in Russia and against own citizens; 
  • Ukrainian cities must be razed because terrorists must not be treated in humane way; 
  • Russians must join the army en masse to exact revenge upon Ukraine for the terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb; 
  • All leaders of Ukraine and all prosperous people in Ukraine must be killed so that the Ukrainian terrorist state disappear; 
  • Kharkov must be destroyed block by block, only terrorists have remained there, “normal” people left it for Russia long ago. 

In addition, the Russian propaganda has started using widely an earlier cooked narrative that Ukraine is the USIL terrorist state. The USIL acronym is explained in Russian as “the Ukrainian State of Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv”. This manipulation is based on the word play because USIL in Russian sounds almost similarly to the Islamic State acronym of ISIL.  

Such comparisons produce additional negative associations in the Russian people conscience that should subconsciously connect Ukrainians with aggressive Islamic terrorists. After the terrorist attack commitment, the “USIL and ISIL mean the same” message has been popularized in the air of Russian TV channels and on the pages of the Russian media.  

Popular TV presenters, public figures, governmental officials, and influencers who earlier were consistent in calling for genocide of Ukrainians, have enthusiastically got into communicating these charges and new calls. 

These narratives were communicated by: 

  • Andrey A. Medviediev, a TV presenter, and a member of Moscow City Council; 
  • Armen S. Gasparian, a radio presenter, writer, blogger; 
  • Dmitriy G. Yevstafyev, a policy analyst; 
  • Sergey S. Karnaukhov, a TV presenter; 
  • Yakov Y. Kazakov (Kedmi), a military expert; 
  • Sergey A. Kliuchenkov (Mardan/ Leleka), a TV presenter; 
  • Yevgeniy N. Priliepin (Zakhar), a writer and a public figure; 
  • Margarita S. Simonyan, a TV presenter; 
  • Olga V. Skabieyeva, a TV presenter; 
  • Vladimir R. Solovyov, a TV presenter. 

All this activity is actively in progress and is taking place in parallel with a substantial intensification of shelling and bombing of civil facilities in Ukraine that may be associated with the “response” to the terrorist attack in the Moscow suburb. 

For instance, on April 4, 2024, the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office found out an inscription “For Crocus City Hall” on the fragment of the Russian UAV that attacked the civil facilities. Crocus City Hall is the name of music venue in the Moscow suburbs where the act of terror was committed on March 22, 2024. 

In addition, the Russian Ministry of Defence states that the number of people willing to join the Russian Armed Forces and to exact the revenge for the terrorist attack has increased. 

On April 3, 2024, the Russian Ministry of Defence reported a substantial increase in the number of volunteers who wanted to contract to the Russian Armed Forces, in Moscow and other Russian cities. According to the Ministry, up to 1700 persons come every day to the enlistment offices, and most of volunteers indicate a wish to revenge for the victims of the terrorist attack that took place on Marh 22, 2024, in the Moscow suburb, as a major motif.  

The CHRG analysts think that notoriously false accusations of Ukraine of committing the terrorist attack are a purposeful governmental policy. Charging groundlessly Ukrainians with carrying out a brutal act of terror against civilians provides the Russians with additional motivation and moral permission to wage an aggressive war and completely eliminate Ukrainians as nation. 

The main purpose of such accusations is to justify the complete elimination of the Ukrainian people, to become an additional reason for a new escalation wave in the aggressive war in Ukraine, and to increase the number of Russian Armed Forces volunteers who, under the influence of a new wave of hate speech against Ukrainians, are enthusiastic in joining the army under contract.  

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