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I Watched Russian TV So You Don’t Have To

By Olga Khazan

10 Mar 2022 · 5 min read

In Russia’s version of the war, Russians are liberators, Ukrainians are Nazis, and the West is full of mendacious hypocrites. To turn on Russian TV news is to enter a parallel universe, one where even the word war is forbidden. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has now blocked or restricted any other sources of coverage, so this is the only version of the world most Russians see.

To get a sense of what Russians are told about the war, I fired up Russian state TV for a few hours a day over the past week from my laptop. Though the state-run news channels do include purportedly on-the-ground news reports, much of the action is on talk shows, which are “where the more extreme or nationalistic narratives are pushed,” Sarah Oates, a political-communication expert at the University of Maryland, told me.

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