How Russia is using Telegram channels to prepare occupied territories for a “reunification”

As soon as the Russian troops launched their offensive on February 24, another offensive took place in the media. Within a few days after the full-scale invasion, Russian propagandists created dozens of information channels on Telegram – one of the most popular messaging services in Ukraine – to prepare the population of southern Ukraine for Russian occupation. Using the already available pro-Russian media resources, they broadcasted a message of hatred for Ukraine and gratitude to Russia. In cooperation with the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, launched a research series studying the use of Telegram channels in the newly occupied territories of Ukraine.

One of the features of these Telegram channels is that their content is focused on narrowly local issues. Reposts from Russian news media and other sources of official propaganda make up less than 5% of the channels’ content. Additionally, instead of creating a single massive official channel, the occupiers created a network of small ones. They have only a few thousand subscribers each, but they repost content from each other and create the illusion of diversity of opinion, the popularity of pro-Russian views, and thus promote pro-Russian messages even more effectively.

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