A Russian propagandist’s reading list and what it means

Theme 1: The Nature Of Russianness

Russia’s position with regards to Europe, especially western Europe, has always, for at least for the last two hundred years, been a topic of interest for Russian thinkers and artists and those who write about them. It is arguably not accidental that Simonyan’s first post on her new channel was a quotation from one of the fundamental works dealing with this question, namely Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Here’s the quotation:

Theme 2: Russia the Peaceful

If the first post is Tolstoy, the second is an anti-war poem by Robert Rozhdestvensky which I can’t find an English translation of. The thing to note is that it’s anti-war, and not the first time Simonyan has brought it out. Indeed, a couple of days before 24 February, when Putin announced the ‘special military operation’, she read it on Solovyov’s show, in the context of discussing the supposed ‘genocide’ eastern Ukraine, where the latter teared up and said “they say that the generals want to fight least of all, because, unlike politicians, they know what it leads to”

Theme 3: The Nature of the Provocation, WW2 Redux

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the implicit presentation of Ukraine. We’ve seen plenty of material from the second world war. Others arguably flesh out the role the war plays in the Russian ideology. Consider Ehrenburg again:

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