The media in Russia has followed the Kremlin’s and President Vladimir Putin’s orders and refrained from denouncing the invasion since the start of the brutal conflict on Ukrainian soil. At the same time, any independent media organizations that dared to voice criticism faced an abrupt closure, and some journalists even found themselves detained in the nation’s jails. Today, a well-known state media organization in Russia has made a daring move for the first time.
One of the most well-known news organizations in Russia, RIA Novosti, aired an article last Tuesday with the headline “We did not expect this,” which featured interviews with war veterans who expressed their frustration over, among other things, not receiving the compensation President Putin had promised. Since the start of the conflict in February 2022, the Russian news agency has adhered to Kremlin policy. This is because the parliament recently approved a new law that imposes a 15-year prison sentence for publishing false information about the Russian military.
The invasion was only permitted to be referred to as a “special operation” in the media during this time, as did the RIA news agency in the report it broadcast. The Kremlin, it seems, did not enjoy reading the rest of the story or the troops’ testimonials. Putin pledged that the state would pay compensation in the amount of three million rubles for each soldier who is injured, and said that “it is our duty to support the families of the wounded soldiers.” However, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a list of requirements that the injured soldiers must meet, in order to receive the required compensation, in the special article, which was cited by the news agency.
After three months of training, Krasnoyarsk resident Sergey Abramov was assigned to fight in the Donetsk region before the end of 2022. Sergey bravely spoke with the RIA news agency and revealed that he had been taken to the hospital after being injured by a shell. Notwithstanding his injury, he claimed, the Russian Ministry of Defense refused to compensate him; as a result, he appealed to the military prosecutor’s office. Human rights advocates have expressed their disapproval of the fact that Putin’s presidential order diverges from the statement made by the Ministry of Defense a few weeks later, as highlighted by RIA in the story.
After fighting in the Zaporizhia region in the summer of 2022, another soldier claimed to have suffered a head injury. Afterwards, he received a letter from the Russian military prosecutor’s office stating that since “this is not an injury but a disease,” he is not eligible to receive public compensation. Moreover, RA claimed that these soldiers had been “exploited” and highlighted other soldiers who had criticized the state’s handling of the conflict.
As previously indicated, the Russian media typically does not criticize the conflict in Ukraine. A strange occurrence occurred during a Channel One broadcast in Russia in March of last year when Maria Obsyannikova, a channel employee, interrupted the newscast with a banner calling for an end to the violence in Ukraine. It read, “They are lying to you here. Stop the war! No war! Don’t trust the propaganda.” After that, the transmission was cut off, and she was reportedly taken into custody.