By Jenny Hill
The Kremlin denies it all: the footage of bodies lying in the streets in Bucha, the mass graves and the terrible testimony of witnesses. And state TV parrots the narrative.
Since evidence of apparent Russian atrocities emerged from the settlements around Kyiv, programme editors have gone to extraordinary lengths to discredit the reports as a fabrication, a lie concocted by Ukraine and the West.
To switch on Russian TV has, for weeks now, been to step into a weird parallel universe where glossy presenters and well-dressed pundits chronicle a successful “special military operation” in Ukraine. There is no war, just heroic Russian soldiers defending the motherland while taking care to avoid targeting civilians.
The horrific images from Bucha have been broadcast, but viewers are told that the gruesome scenes were staged by Ukrainian officials, with help from the West.
“This was done by professionals, probably British. They’re the best in the area of information operations,” said commentator Gevorg Mirzaryan. “[They know how] to place the bodies correctly, do everything correctly, create a nice picture for the necrophilic Western consciousness.”
Talk show host Olesya Loseva even suggested that the town of Bucha had deliberately been chosen because President Joe Biden had recently used the word butcher to describe Vladimir Putin, so “for Americans this word should be clear”.
It is a classic Kremlin tactic in the face of such accusations – deny, dismiss as fake and, if possible, blame someone else.
Some outlets, including pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, have published reports accusing Ukrainian troops or militants of being behind the killing of civilians in Bucha.