Putin Hailed as Humanity’s Savior as Kremlin PR Machine Kicks In
Putin Hailed as Humanityâ€™s Savior as Kremlin PR Machine Kicks In
Jake Rudnitsky 1 day ago
Vladimir Putin may have caught the US and its allies off guard by striking Syria, but his propaganda machine was ready.
“A hundred dead terrorists,” a news presenter on Russia’s No. 2 network announced early Thursday, just hours after the bombing of what Putin has called “evil-doers” began. She then cut to a correspondent in Syria who lauded the precision of the strikes as aerial footage of the attacks supplied by the Defense Ministry aired.
Over on Channel 1, the most-watched station, a parade of politicians, analysts and religious leaders - both Christian and Muslim - rolled by justifying the use of force on both legal and moral grounds.
“This is more than just military strikes against Islamic State,” said the editor of National Defense magazine, Igor Korotchenko, after parliament unanimously authorized the use of force on Wednesday. “We are protecting the values of humanity and taking a stand against the most extreme forms of obscurantism and terror.”
Even the leaders of the opposition parties in parliament, which is dominated by Putin’s United Russia, were brought in to explain why it’s better to fight terrorists over there than here at home.
© AFP Photo/Pool/Yuri Kochetkov Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives for a meeting of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the Kremlin in Moscow on Thursday.
’World War III’
Someone, after all, has to clean up the mess the US created in the Middle East, which threatens the fabric of civilisation, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the flamboyant head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, told Channel 1.
“Russia is halting World War III,” he said.
Ever vigilant against the very real threat of blowback from jihadists, officials and media outlets went to great lengths to stress that Putin’s fight is against Islamist extremists and not against the religion itself.
Russia has a Muslim population of about 16 million, the most in Europe, and has fought two wars against Islamic separatists since the Soviet Union disbanded in 1991.
One by one, the heads of Russia’s predominately Muslim regions, including Tatarstan, Chechnya and Dagestan, appeared on Channel 1 to voice approval for the Syria campaign, as did the country’s chief mufti, Talgat Tadzhuddin.
“This directly affects Russia, it’s our southern border,” Tadzhuddin said. “When your neighbor has a fire, you must get involved to help reestablish peace and quiet.”
Putin’s gambit in Syria will serve as a distraction from Russia’s economic woes now that the euphoria from annexing Crimea from Ukraine last year has worn off, according to Andrei Kolesnikov, an analyst at the Moscow Carnegie Center.
“These strikes are primarily intended for domestic consumption,” Kolesnikov said. “The images of bombs falling are world-class and they’re intended to show Russia as a world power.”
And that’s exactly the message Russia’s largest television networks, all controlled by the Kremlin, are delivering.