That’s the question many of us have been asking ourselves since the Russian propaganda attack on the Euromaidan began.
With the contested ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, the information confrontation, like the military situation, has intensified. The Russian press has simultaneously and repeatedly labeled the new Ukrainian authorities homosexuals, Islamic extremists, nationalists, Nazis, heretics, anarchists, and schismatics, supported by drunken, drug abusing Western mercenaries. This campaign seems heavy-handed and lacking in sophistication to an outsider, but does it work in Russia and Ukraine?
The most honest answer is, of course, we can’t be sure either way, but we do know the Russian press, especially television, which is the preferred source of information for most Russians, is mostly state-run or owned by Kremlin allies. The Internet is much more diverse, but TV is still the dominant, most trusted medium for most Russians (although the margin is slipping). So chances are that with such an information environment at least some of the stuff the press is throwing is sticking.
**UPDATE** The Internet became a little less diverse in mid March as Kremlin ally and owner of popular online news site Lenta.ru fired the site’s long serving editor over a link to an interview with a Ukrainian far right politician and replaced her with the editor of a pro-Kremlin website. The new leadership has since announced that they will decrease political coverage due to readers’ “lack of interest” and, instead focus on business and economic reporting. Russia used the infamous Black List law that to do what critics feared would happen–carry out political censorship, blocking opposition websites grani.ru, kasparov.ru, and ej.ru for carrying “banned content” (calls to participate in unsanctioned protests). Famous opposition anti-corruption crusader Aleksey Navalnyy’s blog was blocked for alleged violations of his two month house arrest.