Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, suggested that the state-controlled media is promoting the dangerous warfare like it is “pet food”.
“On TV channels here, nuclear war and nuclear weapons are promoted as if they’re advertising pet food.”
“They announce: ‘We’ve got this missile, that missile, another kind of missile.’
“Why do they say this? So that people here are ready.”
Muratov – who has been vocal about his support for Ukraine – explained that uncertainty over what will happen next continues to linger in the air.
He said: “Two generations have lived without the threat of nuclear war.
“But this period is over. Will Putin press the nuclear button, or won’t he? Who knows? No one knows this.
“There isn’t a single person who can say for sure.”
He noted that Russia is still portrayed in its own media as a peaceful nation, cornered into extreme action by its enemies – Ukraine and the West. This is clear from the snippets of Russian media shared by journalists such as the BBC’s Francis Scarr.
Muratov claimed that people in Russia have been “irradiated by propaganda”, but warned that “everyone is susceptible to it, not just Russians”.
He also praised the younger generation, claiming that out of those who have not already fled Russia are “categorically against what is happening in Ukraine”, pointing to the thousands of arrests against Russians who have protested.
Muratov explained: “I am convinced that as soon as the propaganda stops, this generation – and everyone else with common sense – will speak out.”
He added: “I hope that this generation will outlive me and Putin.”
He and his top officials have repeatedly suggested that, if the West oversteps and becomes too involved with Ukraine’s war effort, Russia would not hesitate to escalate the conflict.
One of his aides, Nikolai Patrushev, said that Russia has a “modern unique weapon capable of destroying any enemy” only earlier this week.
Putin has suggested that he would station tactical nuclear weapons in the neighbouring country (and one of Russia’s few remaining allies) of Belarus.
The situation is also becoming increasingly tense because fighting near the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia – the largest in Europe, now controlled by Russia – is escalating.
The UN’s top nuclear official Rafael Mariano Grossi has warned that as military activity ramps up, in the area “every possible measure and precaution should be taken so that the plant is not attacked and can be protected.”
In a veiled dig at Russia, Grossi added: “This is a nuclear power plant. It is not a military base. It should never be a military base.”