A photo published by the Security Service of Ukraine purports to show Wagner Group mercenaries at an unidentified location. (ssu.gov.ua)
Kremlin Ideologists Go All Out To Romanticize Vicious Wagner ‘Private Military Company’ – OpEd
By Paul Goble
Just how horrific Kremlin propaganda has become is obscured by two things. On the one hand, it is so over the top in its absurd claims that most observers in the West don’t cover it; and on the other, it so often is employed to put a smiley face on truly horrific individuals and groups that most prefer not to cover it at all.
That is unfortunate because it has the effect of obscuring both what the Russian population is subjected to and what the Russian powers that be intend, and so it is useful at least on occasion to wade into this swamp and call attention to just how deep and murky it has become.
A new article by Anna Stroganova, a journalist for RFI’s Russian Service, provides a useful correction by exploring how far Kremlin propagandists are going to “romanticize” the Wagner “Private Military Company” in order to attract more people to its ranks (rfi.fr/ru/россия/20221209-как-российские-пропагандисты-романтизируют-образ-чвк-вагнера).
Even though mercenary groups like the Wagner PMC are illegal under Russian law, even though the group has been recruiting criminals to fight in Ukraine, and even though its units have been identified as responsible for crimes of war and crimes against humanity, Russia Today and other Kremlin outlets have been celebrating it has noble and heroic.
Stroganova gives examples ranging from online posts to songs to television programs that suggest the Kremlin has ordered a full-scale propaganda campaign to boost the image of the Wagner group and obscure its illegalities both from the onset and in Ukraine. Such efforts must be challenged lest these messages dominate thinking in Russia and in some circles in the West.
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .