The Kremlin has prepared a new manual on how propaganda should talk about the war. We have read it. The “special operation” should be compared with the baptism of Russia, and Putin with Alexander Nevsky


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View of the Holy Trinity Church in Mariupol through the damaged glass of the bus. April 2022

The Kremlin “recommends” to state and pro-government media outlets — as well as systemic politicians — to draw parallels between the war in Ukraine, the baptism of Russia, and the Battle of Neva.

The theses that these three events are very similar in essence are contained in two manuals prepared in July by the presidential administration (AP) of the Russian Federation. Both are at the disposal of Meduza.

The invasion of Ukraine in them is explained by the actions of the “collective West”, which has been attacking Russia for almost a thousand years in order to divide it and seize the resources of the country, as well as to destroy the Orthodox faith.

Fight against the atheists

The preamble to the last manual reads (according to Meduza sources close to the Presidential Administration, the leaders of the propaganda media received it in the second half of July):

Baptism became the basis for the strengthening and unity of the Russian state for hundreds of years to come. The Orthodox faith teaches compassion, love for one’s neighbor, and tolerance for others. These values ​​formed the basis of Russian civilization and allowed Russia to unite hundreds of peoples. Today, representatives of all the peoples of Russia have once again rallied in opposition to the atheists and the defense of traditional values ​​and the right of their children to live in accordance with them.

It also says that the adoption of Orthodoxy helped to unite the “scattered Russian lands” and create a state whose defining value was “tolerance”.

The document then asserts that, like the baptism of Russia, the war in Ukraine lays the “state foundations” of the country – as well as “the foundations of Russia’s development for centuries to come.” The authors (they are not listed in the document) assure that this is due to the “cohesion of society” around the army and the “strategic course of the president.” “Russia has again become capable of fulfilling its mission to protect the oppressed,” the text says.

At the same time, at the beginning of the war, the Kremlin proposes to blame the “collective West”, which is confident in the “own exclusivity”, as well as the “inferiority” of the Orthodox.

The conflict in Ukraine was provoked by the hands of Western countries, which transferred weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine was supposed to become a springboard for an attack on Russia. The strategic goal of the collective West has not changed in relation to Russia for several centuries – it is the containment, weakening, dismemberment and complete destruction of Russia – this is how the authors of the training manual “recommend” to talk about the causes of the war.

One of the goals of the “special operation” in the document is proclaimed “the fight against atheists”, who are described in the text as “rapists, robbers and murderers”, who “believed in nothing – and believed that this freed them from any moral obligations to other people.”

The Kremlin proposes to call the Ukrainian military such “godless” as well. Propagandists are invited to tell that they “sacrifice and commit ritual murders”, and also use women and children as “human shields” (however, the state media tell since the beginning of the war).

“For Ukronazis, there is no morality, they do not reason in such categories and are real atheists. They are not afraid of the punishment of God for their atrocities. Many of the Ukronazis are open Satanists and followers of misanthropic cults,” such theses are advised to be voiced in the presidential administration.

Separate publications with such a message have also already appeared among propagandists. For example, RIA Novosti in early June published material with the title “Goat Face. Satanism and the occult have become the ideology of the Ukrainian national battalions.”

📄 Dear readers! You can now download a PDF version of any Meduza article. The file can be sent via messenger or email to your loved ones – especially those who do not know how to use a VPN or who clearly do not have our application. And you can print and show to those who do not use the Internet at all. More about it here.

preemptive strike

Even more analogies are found in the Kremlin between the war in Ukraine and the Battle of Neva. These theses are listed in the AP manual, which was prepared in early July (in the middle of the month, the anniversary of the battle that took place in 1240 is traditionally celebrated).

Can you remind me what this battle is?

First, the authors of the document explain that the “collective West” has been trying to split Russia for many centuries. The manual also explains what the “collective West” is. According to the Kremlin, at various times this “collective West” was: the Teutonic Order, Sweden, the Commonwealth, Napoleon’s empire, the Third Reich and NATO.

All of them professed the same tactics – to turn against Russia “the peoples living near its borders.” Here, the authors draw a direct analogy with the “collective West”, which “pumped” Ukraine with weapons and deployed a “network of biological laboratories” there (“Medusa” in detail took apart this propaganda thesis).

However, according to the training manual, all Western attacks end the same way: “The society unites around the national leader and, demonstrating courage and heroism on the battlefield, repels the invaders.” The Kremlin “recommends” the pro-government media and systemic politicians to note that this allegedly happened both after the victory in the Battle of the Neva and after the start of the war in Ukraine (although there is no reliable data on this).

What do the Kremlin think about Putin?

One of the chapters of the document is titled “Strength in Truth!”. These words attributed Alexander Nevsky, but the chronicles say that the prince uttered a completely different expression before the battle: “God is not in power, but in truth” (and this quote is also in the text from the Kremlin).

“There was truth behind the Russian soldiers – they defended their home and therefore the victory could not but be ours,” the authors of the document write. The paragraphs about the “special operation” do not say anything about protecting the house, but it is mentioned that the Russian soldiers are also “confident that they are right, because they continue the work of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers – they finish off Nazism.”

The Kremlin notes that now the West (as before) wants to destroy Russia for the sake of the resources it needs. But these resources themselves have changed, the authors of the manual note. If earlier it was the population itself, now the West needs minerals:

The consumer society that has developed in the West requires a lot of resources. The West ran out of its own resources several centuries ago. This was the cause of colonialism and neo-colonialism. The West says directly that Russia has too many resources for one country and therefore it must be divided.

With all these arguments, propagandists should lead readers and viewers to the thesis that the war in Ukraine is a “preemptive strike.” This thesis is already used and pro-government media, and Putin himself.

“The leadership of Russia and personally Vladimir Putin did not allow an attack on Russia. The decision was made to start [специальной военной операции]which made it possible to avoid a repetition of June 22, 1941, with the invasion of Nazi troops into the territory of Russia, ”they compare the actions of the Kremlin and the Soviet leadership (apparently not in favor of the latter).

Meduza has already found several publications that use theses from manuals. So, text “” is entitled “The Baptism of Russia and a special operation in Ukraine: what do they have in common?”. And there are paragraphs in it, simply copied from the Kremlin “allowance”. For example, it is said that “Russia has again become capable of fulfilling its mission – to protect the oppressed.” It also tells about the struggle of Russia with the “godless”.

Similar text appeared and on the pro-government FederalPress website. And about the similarity of the Battle of the Neva and the “special operation” wrote pro-Kremlin Regnum.

According to two Meduza sources close to the Presidential Administration, the Kremlin is now trying to find “models” that could explain to the Russians the reasons and goals for the invasion of Ukraine. “The longer the operation lasts, the more questions people have: why is this happening at all? What are the goals?” one of Meduza’s interlocutors explains.

History-linked manuals are one of the attempts at such an explanation. Meduza’s sources did not rule out that similar documents with instructions about other historical events would continue to appear: “The intrigues of the collective West can be found everywhere.”

Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov, as well as Regnum, FederalPress, and, did not respond to Meduza’s requests at the time of publication.

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Andrey Pertsev

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