The Kremlin Decided to Tell the Russians That the Disaster at the Kakhovskaya Hydroelectric Power Station is Not the Most Significant

State-run and Kremlin-loyal media did not receive clear recommendations from the presidential administration on covering the catastrophe at the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station (usually, such “manuals” appear almost immediately after any high-profile events). Two sources in major pro-government publications told Meduza about this.

According to them, the propagandists were not even told what exactly should be named as the reason for the destruction of the dam. “You don’t need to pedal, but you don’t need to hush up either,” is how one of Meduza’s interlocutors describes the general approach of the pro-government media.

State TV channels and online propaganda media really differed in their assessments of what happened. Moreover, more often than not, the main Russian channels did not even put the Kakhovskaya HPP as the opening topic of their news releases.

For example, in the daytime edition of Vesti (TV channel Rossiya 1) on June 8, the first story was about how Russian troops allegedly “successfully repel” attacks by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.The flooding of the Kherson region in the program was called “flood, which followed  the Ukrainian shelling of the Kakhovka dam. In the evening issue of Vesti, history repeated itself: first, the catastrophe at the hydroelectric power station was recognized as a “barbaric action” of Ukraine, after which the correspondents of the program announced that there was a “flood” in the Kherson region (NTV uses the same word ) .

In one of  the news releases on Channel One, the story about the disaster turned out to be the fourth in a row. It was preceded by: a story about an ” international  forum of education ministers”; news about Western weapons allegedly destroyed at the front ; as well as a story about the detention of a “Kyiv agent” in Donetsk. Channel One does not particularly focus on the causes of the disaster. The hydroelectric power station is called “attacked” there, but it is not reported exactly how and who attacked it.

All state channels (as well as propaganda Internet media) pay the most attention to how the occupying authorities allegedly successfully organized the evacuation of residents of flooded cities and villages. This is not true. Meduza said that in reality, Russian officials completely failed the evacuation – and at least in the first day after the disaster they interfered with those who tried to escape on their own.

As an employee of a state-run publication who spoke with Meduza emphasizes, viewers and readers of the pro-government media were told at the same time how “Russia saves and helps” and “Ukraine fires at those whom Russia helps.”

Meduza’s source, who is close to the presidential administration (which is where the so-called training manuals for the pro-government media are compiled), explains that for the time being “it’s not advisable to stress the causes [of the disaster].”

“Officially, the president points to Ukraine, [Russian Defense Minister Sergei] Shoigu says that Ukraine did it, Dmitry Peskov also makes such statements. It’s enough. And it is better to focus on the positive, including so as not to unnecessarily frighten people. The standard mining mechanism,” he assures, calling the destruction of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station “essentially a natural disaster.”

Meduza’s interlocutor adds that the disaster at the hydroelectric power station is an “important event,” but it allegedly “does not stand out” against the general background of what is happening in the war: “Different things are happening in the NMD zone. So far, the death toll is not even dozens” (the total number of deaths is unknown; volunteers suggest that we can talk about hundreds of people).

This attitude towards what happened on the part of representatives of the Russian Federation is also confirmed by the reaction of the occupying authorities to the catastrophe. They reacted to the destruction of the dam only hours later, declaring that a “major evacuation” would not be required. By the evening of June 6, officials  reported that the plan to evacuate residents was still “drawn up” – however, those “who show a desire to evacuate” allegedly turned out to be “few”. All this time, people themselves tried to save themselves and their neighbors from flooding (in some news programs on federal channels, propagandists said that those who were hiding from the water on the roofs of houses simply refused to evacuate).

Even the head of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, Alexander Kurenkov, did not go to the flood zone – he  delegated the trip to his deputy Anatoly Suprunovsky (there is already evidence that his subordinates do not allow volunteers to save those who still remain in flooded houses).

Nevertheless, Sergei Kiriyenko, deputy head of the presidential administration of Russia, went to the occupied part of the Kherson region . According to two Meduza sources close to the AP, Kiriyenko was obliged to do this because he is the “Kremlin curator of Donbass”: “This is his area of ​​responsibility, in such cases he should be on the spot.”

Neither the Kremlin nor Kiriyenko himself has yet spoken critically about the failed evacuation by the authorities, as well as the death of people (and animals) in the Kherson region. A Meduza source close to the presidential administration assures: “Evacuations on the line of contact cannot be organized without a hitch.”

Source : Meduza

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