The war in Ukraine in the eyes of Russian independent media

17 April 2015

The war in the eastern Ukraine has turned into a humanitarian catastrophe. There is no food, no money, no jobs. Thousands of people have already been killed in the conflict. Participants of the International Journalism Festival in Perugia had a chance to hear the first-hand report on the situation from the journalists, who have just returned from the conflict zone.

“This is a very weird conflict. I feel that both sides in fact have no desire to fight each other. – says Timur Olevsky, a correspondent of independent Russian channel TV Rain. – People that fight on the both sides of the conflict are practically neighbors. All the military operations are run in Russian. This war was about to stop many times, but there was always a third power that kept it going. And I feel that this role was mostly played by the Russian government, Russian weapons and aggressive propaganda of the Russian media. During my trips to the conflict zone I have found out that every group of the separatists has a Russian military consultant”.

Today, after a year of fighting, people on the both sides of the conflict are obviously angry at each other, points out Pavel Kanygin from the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta: “I remember how it was a year ago, at the time of referendum in Crimea: I saw many local citizens who were agains the revolution, but they were obviously not soldiers and had no weapons. Today I rarely see local people fighting in the eastern Ukraine, most of the people I met recently had been recruited in Russia”.

Despite of the temporary peace agreement, the war goes on, and civilians are the first to suffer, underlines Marina Akhmedova, a correspondent of the magazine “Russky Reporter”: “It is a humanitarian catastrophe: people have nothing to eat. Seniors have not received any money for month. We must think of the ways to stop it. Official sources talk about 5000 victims, but when I was in the eastern Ukraine, I had the feeling that there are much more people killed in this conflict”.

All the participants of the discussion admitted that propaganda is one of the most powerful weapons of this war.

“Russian and Ukrainian media use a lot of very offensive terms while describing this conflict. This terms make people feel as if combatants are not humans. It makes it easier to kill them”, says Marina Akhmedova.

The impact of this aggressive propaganda can be seen on the example of Crimea – Ukrainian territory, which has been annexed by Russian Federation a year ago, says Mumin Shakirov, a correspondent of Radio Svoboda: “A year ago most of the people in Crimea were glad to become Russian citizens. But now they have to face a lot of problems, such as the increase of prices. Some people, however, didnt want to change their citizenship, so they have turned into foreigners in their own countries. First of all they have to receive a residence permit, which a complicated and time demanding process. It is also much more difficult for them to find a job. Finally, they often face a quite aggressive reaction of other people, who see them as traitors”.

Adilya Zaripova