Shared Messages of Pro-Kremlin “Alt-Info” and the Russian Mainstream Media around the Ukrainian Crisis

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On October 24th, 2022, in parallel with the launch of Russia’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, the local TV broadcaster “Alt-Info” switched to a state of emergency broadcasting. While discussing the developments in Ukraine, the hosts of “Alt-Info,” who also serve as the leaders of the pro-Kremlin “Conservative Movement” party, voiced statements sharply in support of Russia, aiming to justify the Kremlin’s hostile policy. At the same time, much like the Russian propaganda media, the “Alt-Info” hosts have been underscoring Russia’s military superiority in the conflict.

During the monitoring period, from February 24th to March 1st, “Myth Detector” identified two categories of messages disseminated by “Alt-Info,” one of which was directly related to Ukraine and focused on cultivating Russia’s advantage in the war; The second was about Georgia’s position in this situation and its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. These messages are as follows:

Ukraine Georgia
    1. The West abandoned Ukraine
6. Georgia should expect the same fate as Ukraine
2. The West makes two brotherly nations kill each other 7. Opponents of the government are trying to drag Georgia into war; they must be neutralized
3. The Ukrainian people have no will to fight Russians 8. In order to avoid the war, Georgia has to join the ‘3+3’ format and change its foreign policy direction.
4. Russia has a clear advantage, while Ukraine only wins the information war 9. Euro-Atlantic integration is not worth engaging in a military conflict
5. Russia does not target civilians 10. Only liberals and LGBT activists support Ukraine

Notably, in certain cases, the messages voiced by Alt-Info were in line with the narratives of Russian propaganda media channels and their leaders.

Message Alt-Info Russian Sources
The West makes two brotherly nations kill each other/The Ukrainian people have no will to fight Russians Shota Martinenko Российского военно-исторического общества; АТН: Новости Беларуси и мира; Новости Первого канала:
Russia has a clear advantage and carries out the operations effortlessly Giorgi Kardava, Shota Martinenko Мария Захарова; Минобороны РФ; Первый канал: 
By spreading disinformation, Ukraine is winning the information war Giorgi Kardava, Shota Martinenko, Zurab Makharadze АТН: Новости Беларуси и мира; Vesti.ru; Russia 1; первый канал
Russia does not target civilians Giorgi Kardava, Shota Martinenko Первый канал; Сергей Шойгу:
  1. The West abandoned Ukraine

In parallel with the hostilities, “Alt-Info” leaders argued that the West, particularly NATO and the European Union, were limited to voicing encouraging messages in the direction of Ukraine, while in practice, the imposed sanctions are ineffective, and the West has no desire to provide weapons and military equipment to Ukraine; According to “Alt-Info,” the most problematic factor for the West is not to allow the conflict to be spread on its territory.

Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info: “We have been talking about this for so long – European support will be as follows: You will be told that NATO will not back down and its expansion will not be hindered, but because of that make Russia attack you and all the support you will get is the hope that military action will not spread in Europe.”

Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “The fact is that they left Ukraine, and I mean in practical terms. The West will impose sanctions on Russia, but it will not completely agree whether to disconnect Russia from SWIFT and destroy this “North Stream 2” or not. It is certainly not helpful for Ukraine, as Ukraine expected real effective support.”

Zura Makharadze, Alt-Info: “Is Europe really by our side? And I quote: “German Minister of Economic Affairs Robert Habeck said that despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany does not plan to supply weapons to Ukraine.”

2. The West makes two brotherly nations kill each other/ The Ukrainian people have no will to fight Russians

According to “Alt-Info,” Russians and Ukrainians are brotherly nations, so neither side is interested in war and bloodshed. Moreover, the hosts claim that part of the population of Ukraine welcomes the Russians and sees in them a way out of the liberal agenda.

It is important to emphasize that the Kremlin media and its satellites are also actively appealing to the common history of Russia and Ukraine. For example, in his address to Zelenskyy, Ramzan Kadyrov noted that Russians and Ukrainians are brotherly peoples who share a common history, religion and values, hence the current events are only a mass Russophobic hysteria provoked by Western countries. Similarly, according to the Russian military-historical community, the Russian and Ukrainian peoples have one history, one culture, one blood and one memory.

The information spread by the Russian First Channel also coincides with “Alt-Info’s” narratives. According to “Новости Первого канала,” Ukrainian soldiers drop their weapons en masse and tell Russian soldiers that they are one people and the war makes no sense. According to Russia 24, Russian troops have taken control of a military base of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Kherson region. However, the Ukrainians did not even try to defend the facility, they just left everything and fled.

Alt-Info Russian Sources
Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info: “Yes, Putin is the brother of the Ukrainians and I will explain to you something important, we must understand that the Russians are the brothers of the Ukrainians, the Russians and Ukrainians were allies, and if someone attacks the Ukrainians, the Russians will fight for the Ukrainians, be sure of this. Russians will fight for Ukrainians as if they were protecting themselves, unlike the Americans, who say, ‘Hey guys, I cannot intervene now, and you look after yourselves.” Российского военно-исторического общества: “В наших душах нет ненависти и злобы к украинскому народу, и мы верим, что у подавляющего большинства украинцев – нет ненависти к русским. Потому что мы одной истории, одной культуры, одной крови, одной памяти! Не верим, что эта ненависть может стать основой сознания европейцев и американцев, определяющей отношение к России и многонациональному российскому народу.”

[Russian Military-Historical Society: “There is no hatred and malice towards the Ukrainian people in our souls, and we believe that the vast majority of Ukrainians have no hatred towards the Russians. Because we have one history, one culture, one blood, one memory! We do not believe that this hatred can become the basis of the perception with which the Europeans and Americans would determine their attitude towards Russia and the multi-ethnic Russian people.”]

 

АТН: Новости Беларуси и мира: “ Беларусь не впервые выступила площадкой для мирных переговоров: пока братские народы бьются друг с другом — изначальные зачинщики только от этого выигрывают.”

[ATN: News of Belarus and the World]: “This is not the first time Belarus has acted as a platform for peace negotiations: as long as the fraternal peoples are fighting each other, the original instigators only benefit from this.”]

Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info: “People welcome Russians in the streets directly [footage], a large part of the people celebrate the Russians and say, ‘Come in, and we don’t want this idiotic, pro-Western adventure […], These people belong to one nation and share one religion. What, who will resist? On the contrary, half will move to the other side. “ Новости Первого канала: “военнослужащие украинской армии складывают оружие, говоря «мы — один народ»; и как бандиты из так называемых нацбатов берут людей в заложники, устраивая огневые позиции в жилых домах.”

[First Channel: “Ukrainian troops drop their arms, saying “we are one people”; and how bandits from the so-called national battalions take people hostage, setting up firing positions in residential buildings.”]

3. Russia has a clear advantage and carries out the operations effortlessly

According to Alt-Info, Russia has a clear material, technological and human advantage in the armed conflict, which is confirmed by the consistent success of its military operations. According to them, the Russian side is acting strategically in the conflict, has planned all possible steps and can easily make up for the loss, which is not the case for Ukraine, which, despite small successes, will soon run out of resources.

Information about the obvious advantage of the Russian side in the war is also actively spread in the Russian propaganda media. Russian President Vladimir Putin himself and mainstream Russian broadcasters have reported on minimal casualties on the part of Russia in the war and successful military operations.

Vladimir Putin: “The special military operation is being carried out according to the plan, in strict accordance with the schedule. All assignments are completed successfully.”

Alt-Info Russian Sources
Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “How can one stop large Russian tank convoys, when they are completely in control of the airspace?! … All key command points have been destroyed. The Ukrainian army is practically disorganized … It is just a matter of time; sooner or later, this small clash and obstacle will be overtaken by such a large military vehicle.” Мария Захарова: “Продолжает осуществляться [на Украине] специальная военная операция вооружённых сил РФ. Как это было заявлено руководством РФ идет строго по намеченному плану.” 

[Maria Zakharova: “A special military operation of the Russian armed forces continues [in Ukraine]. As it was stated by the leadership of the Russian Federation, it is proceeding strictly according to the plan.”]

Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info: “Russia is moving forward, even in terms of its reserves, there is not even a comparison. In case of bigger losses, the Ukrainians can no longer replenish, and the forces that are fighting now are on the verge of exhaustion … communications, supplies, are physically less … Is it a blitzkrieg? Under the conditions of modern warfare, what you now see can be called a blitzkrieg because it is now an effective direct march without resistance.” Минобороны РФ:Российские военнослужащие проявляют мужество и героизм в ходе выполнения боевых задач специальной военной операции. К сожалению, есть погибшие и раненые наши товарищи. Но наши потери многократно меньше уничтоженных националистов. И потерь среди военнослужащих украинских вооруженных сил.”

[Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation: “Russian servicemen show courage and heroism in the course of carrying out combat missions of a special military operation. Unfortunately, there are casualties and wounded among our comrades. But our losses are many times less than the destroyed nationalists and the servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces.”]

Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info: “What we are looking at today, the Russians are not doing anything stupid, they have a written plan, they know how to make strategic moves like now we have to go here, from there, and we have to land, if we land this land, then our parts must come from here. They do not have fuel problem; its soldiers are not exhausted, because they are large in numbers and if one part that is exhausted, and the other part steps in. Ukrainians do not change, as they do not have enough soldiers, and they are already exhausted.” Первый канал: Российские военнослужащие наших Вооруженных сил в ходе выполнения задач специальной операции проявляют высочайшее мужество и смелость, демонстрируя мастерское владение своей специальностью и боевой техникой. Успешное продвижение российских войск в рамках специальной операции по демилитаризации Украины усиливает истерику США и других стран НАТО. ”

[First Channel: “The servicemen of our Armed Forces, in the course of carrying out the tasks of the special operation, show the highest motivation and courage, demonstrating mastery of their specialty and military equipment. The successful advance of Russian troops as part of a special operation to demilitarize Ukraine intensifies the hysteria of the United States and other NATO countries. ”]

Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info, February 28th: “Everyone who has more or less insight, including the EU, understands that stepping in is pointless. Where should they enter? In 2-3 days, Ukraine will not exist like this at all. Capitulation will take place in about a week. Where should they enter?!”

4. By spreading disinformation, Ukraine is winning the information war

According to Alt-Info, with the support of the West, Ukraine is successfully manipulating the information environment and creating a false image for the international audience, as if Ukraine successfully manages to deter the Russian attack and does significant damage to the Russian side. The hosts of “Alt-Info” claim that the Ukrainian government is deliberately spreading disinformation, organizing provocations and trying to demonize the Russian side. The presenters also note that the Russian media lags behind in this regard.

Allegations that the Western media is creating an information vacuum around the Ukraine conflict and portraying Russia as an aggressor are being actively disseminated by Russian and Belarusian media outlets and Facebook pages. For example, the Belarusian “ATN: Новости Беларуси и мира” claims that the information war is aimed at targeting the minds and hearts of people, while special teams trained by NATO specialists are constantly distorting news, facts, history and violating the ethics of all rights. The Russian-language edition of Vesti.ru notes that the information war on the Internet is growing, which is reflected in the creation of an information vacuum by pro-Ukrainian forces. The story prepared by Russia 1 confirms that Ukraine is actively spreading disinformation about the course of the war in order to antagonize the population and the international community by Russia. According to the Russian First Channel, one and a half million false information disseminated by Ukrainians in one week was revealed, noting that the Ukrainian side is using the 2014 footage en masse and attributing the events of 2022 to them.

Alt-Info Russian Sources
Zurab Makharadze, Alt-Info: “The Ukrainian side was actively spreading information that they had inflicted so much damage on the Russian side that the Russians could not physically move forward … In my opinion, this statement is not true… What was done to the border [by the Russians] is not included in full. Therefore, to say that the reason for the suspension is that the Russians no longer have any troops, that they Ukrainians killed so many, to put it mildly, is an exaggeration.” Новости Первого канала: “Интернет наводнен предвзятой информацией о событиях на Украине. Только за неделю мониторинг ресурсов выявил почти полтора миллиона фейков. Среди фейков сообщения о ЧП, минированиях, эвакуациях, а также фальшивые цитаты, которые приписывают историческим деятелям.”

[First Channel News: “The Internet is flooded with biased information about events in Ukraine. In just a week, our monitoring revealed almost one and a half million fakes. Among the fakes are reports of emergencies, mining, evacuations, as well as fake quotes that are attributed to historical figures.”]

Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “Media and politicians funded by the US, who keep people in an information vacuum all day long, say that now the attack is going in the direction of Moscow and not vice versa. That Russia is losing in Ukraine and not the other way around …” Айсуна олчонова, ВЕСТИ.ru: “Информационная война в Интернете набирает обороты. Алтайские блогеры сообщили о попытках подкупа и предложениях делать посты в поддержку Украины. Цены при этом варьировались от 10 тысяч рублей за пост до 50 тысяч рублей за сторис.”

Aysuna Olchonova, VESTI.ru: “The information war on the Internet is gaining momentum. Altai bloggers reported bribery attempts and offers to make posts in support of Ukraine. At the same time, prices ranged from 10 thousand rubles per post to 50 thousand rubles per story.”]

Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “Of course, the propaganda of the Russian side lags behind significantly. Well, in fact, the Ukrainian side wins the information war for objective reasons … There is a conflict on the territory of Ukraine, therefore, every civilian can take a picture of one blown tank, but from 3 angles, and then this information is spread by the Ukrainian side.”

Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info: “This is Ukrainian data, which will not be reliable … With this data, 7 planes, 7 helicopters, 24 tanks and 20 armored vehicles were shot down. Even if the numbers were correct, the number is still insignificant while talking about the war of this magnitude.”

Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “It seems that they are painting the situation in such a way that Russia is paralyzed in Ukraine, it cannot move forward, which is … a complete lie. The rate at which Russian military formations advance is about 80-100 km per day. There is a pace of peaceful march according to the military strategy…”

5. Russia does not target civilians

Alt-Info hosts and members of the Conservative Movement, Giorgi Kardava and Shota Martinenko, have argued that Russia only intends to destroy military facilities and tries to ensure that all this is done without harming peaceful civilians.

Notably, the message disseminated by “Alt-Info” is also in line with the information spread by the Russian media that the Russian units are trying their best to destroy only military facilities and to prevent attacks on civilians. For example, according to information released by the Russian First Channel on March 6th, the Russian army is not occupying Ukraine, taking all measures to protect the lives and safety of civilians. Russian media outlets note that the strikes are carried out only on military targets with special precision weapons.

Alt-Info Russian Sources
Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info: “Now in the case of the Russians, if the Ukrainians place their weapons in residential areas, it is difficult to attack there, because Russians avoid bombing residential areas and have to enter by physical force…” Сергей Шойгу: Российская Армия не оккупирует украинскую территорию. Принимает все меры для сохранения жизни и безопасности мирних жителеи. Подчеркну, что удар наносится только по военным объектом и исключительно высокоточным оружием.

Shota Martinenko, Alt-Info: “Now in the case of the Russians, if the Ukrainians place their weapons in residential areas, it is difficult to attack there, because Russians avoid bombing residential areas and have to enter by physical force…”

  1. Georgia should expect the same fate as Ukraine

Alt-Info members also used the situation in Ukraine to instill fear in the Georgian population, arguing that if the country did not immediately sort out relations with the Russian Federation, Georgia would soon share Ukraine’s fate.

Zura Makharadze, Alt-Info: “Yes, we must cooperate with Russia so that what happened to Ukraine does not happen to us. Yes, we say exactly that!”

Zura Makharadze, Alt-Info: “I would like to address our supporters, neutral observers, who look at both sides. What has been found out during these two days is the following: Either we do what we [Alt-Info] say, or here, in the background, what is happening next to me [the events in Ukraine] is happening in Georgia. There is no more alternative. “

  1.  In order to avoid the war, Georgia has to join the ‘3+3’ format and change its foreign policy direction.

Speaking about the events in Ukraine, “Alt-Info” host Zurab Makharadze noted that there is a high probability that the events in Ukraine will occur in Georgia as well; therefore, the Georgian government should immediately join the 3 + 3 format, which implies an updated format of cooperation among 6 countries in the region (Russia, Turkey, Iran, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan). (Facebook link is no longer available).

Notably, members of “Alt-Info” have been advocating joining the ‘3+3’ format in the past as well. For more details, see the article of “Myth Detector:”

At the same time, according to the host of Alt-Info, when Russia puts Georgia in front of a choice, the US puppet government should not be in power in Georgia, as it is in Ukraine now.

Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “Russia will come to us and tell us, now I am done with Ukraine, what are you doing now?! Who are you for, what do you want? Here, in this moment, we need to talk to Russia as equally, not to have a US puppet government here, as it is now in Ukraine, because at that time, Russia would talk to Georgia differently, much more unprofitably.”

  1. Euro-Atlantic integration is not worth engaging in a military conflict

Against the background of the ongoing processes in Ukraine, “Alt-Info” also discussed the future prospects of Georgia and insists that Georgia must renounce European and Euro-Atlantic integration, as this step would be a precondition for Russia to start a war. Notably, “Alt-Info” hosts have stressed that membership in the European Union and NATO is of no value to them.

Irakli Martinenko, Alt-Info: “Why should we fight?! Why should a normal person fight for integration into the Euro-Atlantic space?! People who would fight for that are stupid! Gosh, it’s very simple, a conservative person would not want to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic space…”

Irakli Martinenko, Alt-Info: “Integration in the West and the Euro-Atlantic space is not a fascinating in any way! Why should I fight at all for gay activism and some depravity?!”

  1. Opponents of the government are trying to drag Georgia into war, they must be neutralized

While discussing the rallies in support of Ukraine, “Alt-Info” hosts noted that they were organized by anti-state forces, which ignore the security of the country and want to involve Georgia into a military conflict.

Zura Makharadze, Alt-Info: “The situation in the country is  as follows: Either Georgia is going to end up in a large-scale war or a dozen of people should be neutralized and someone may think that we are very strict, but in the interests of Georgia, the traitors of our homeland should be taken care of.”

Irakli Martinenko, Alt-Info: “It will be absurd to talk about something on behalf of Georgia, unless the country is liberated from traitors who commit treacherous acts of trying to engage us in war when the whole earth understood that it does not make sense to engage in war and end up with very fatal consequences.”

Irakli Martinenko, Alt-Info: “Through this great propaganda, attention was diverted to the fact that the Ukrainian people have already won and Georgia should be involved in the winning war!” There exists a narrative that the war has already been decided in our favor and now to see the opportunity from here to get involved.”

Irakli Martinenko, Alt-Info: “Something simple is happening, some gay activists are calling on the country to start sanctions against Russia now and the Prime Minister is saying that we cannot do it because of our national interests. Well, those are indeed our national interests. This is mathematically calculated that we cannot do specific things.”

  1. Only liberals and LGBT activists support Ukraine

While discussing the pro-Ukraine rallies in Georgia, “Alt-Info” hosts reiterated that the majority of the population that took the streets are liberals and LGBT activists who have no sense of patriotism and will leave the country in the face of the enemy. “Alt-Info” noted that this part of the people is mobilized by actors and organizations funded by the United States and the European Union and does not express the position of the Georgian nation.

Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “Even in Georgia, the rallies that were held in Tbilisi to stop Russia; what was the main mass?” Gay activists, liberals, pro-Western forces and partisans … For people of this kind, Georgia is not a homeland. For such people, homeland is collective Europe. They hate Georgia. They have one wish – to escape from here and live somewhere in Amsterdam, and if they are given the opportunity to fulfil their dream, if Georgia can be sacrificed for that, what is the problem?”

Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “Through this experiments of LGBT propaganda and everything that has happened to us, that is, LGBT activists, some feminists, Giga Makarashvili and this whole zoo, today we are preaching about the love of the homeland. On starting or not starting the war…”

Giorgi Kardava, Alt-Info: “Libertasts [Liberals + pederasts], who are ordinary LGBT activists, why are you talking about the homeland, patriotism?! LGBT activists who establish a liberal agenda, why do you speak in terms of patriotism when you are going to hand over the country without a fight?!”


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