War bloggers emerging as new power players


By Bidisha Saha: In the contemporary era of war, military bloggers or millbloggers have set a trend, which is misused by the top leadership to spread propaganda. But some recent events also indicate that their demands often stem from personal gain and confusion. A Recent reports ISW, a Washington-based think-tank, on November 20 discussed the growing influence of the milblogger (military correspondent or voenker) community in Russia despite critical comments on the conduct of the war.

MilBlogger community

Amid growing hostility in the Russian media space, the Milblogger community has emerged as an authentic mouthpiece for the war. Over 500 blogs From 24th February the dedication to the war began. Nationalist and pro-war ideologies strongly influence narratives of war blogged by the community. And their close ties to the armed forces have given them a distinct voice that is seemingly superior to the Russian MoD (Ministry of Defense).

In contrast to Kremlin-sanctioned representation on state television, the outspoken Millblogger community has been colorless in its accusations of battlefield failure. The Kremlin (a Russian fortress city) has shown a lot of tolerance towards the Millblogger community due to restrictions on traditional outlets, including foreign media.

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These military correspondents employ Telegram, VK (European social network) and Youtube to publish self-authored content informally in a very casual tone. Their assessment of the war is autonomous and not dependent on information from the Russian Defense Ministry. Most of their sources work from the frontline or within the Russian armed forces, enabling them to form assessments based on first-hand accounts.

Conflict with the Russian leadership

As indicated by their commentary on the war, most Millbloggers have been unabashedly critical of Russian military leaders, with some directly blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia’s continuation. military failure In Ukraine.

A prominent military blogger with nearly half a million followers on Telegram, Grey_Zone shared a letter A Russian military commander has been condemned for an attack on Pavlivka on November 2. It accused army chiefs of using troops only as “cannon fodder” and of throwing Russian troops into a poorly planned and “incoherent” attack. It even questioned the feasibility of the Pavlivka campaign. Consequently, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) rejected demands.

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In a rare statement, it said that less than one percent of the brigade had been killed and less than seven percent wounded, and that instead Ukrainian forces had suffered heavy losses. However, the Russian MoD’s public response to the Milblogger missive indicates that the milblogger community has “significant leverage” in shaping the MoD’s interactions within the information space.

“Discussions regarding the widespread failure of the Russian military establishment have spread beyond the microblogger information space and are increasingly coloring social dynamics. The Russian MoD’s failure to properly address these systemic problems and their root causes will likely exacerbate these social tensions throughout the war,” ISW reportsAn American think-tank.

Wargonzo claims

Russian military blogger Semyon Pegov, creator of the pro-war Telegram channel Varganzo, announced its existence “hit-list”, reportedly originated from the Russian MOD on October 14. Pegov accused Russia’s MOD of “individual generals and military commanders” of creating a list of bloggers whom the ministry wants to prosecute for discrediting Russia’s conduct of the war. The original post received 2.8 million views. His post sparked a discussion about censorship among prominent pro-war bloggers. But just one day after that, he said His statement is the opposite.

Semyon Pegov at the Avdivka front on October 29 (source: Telegram @wargonzo)

Putin’s Electoral Favor for Millbloggers

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin protected the bloggers from MOD attacks and protected their freedom even as he continued to increase repression and censorship across Russia.

Following War Gonzo’s claim, the MOD’s attempts at censorship were publicly condemned by millbloggers, who gave their normal war coverage. Apparently, they are protected President Putin’s support who commented on the importance of transparency and accuracy in war reporting.

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Putin also preached Some recognized Millbloggers hold government positions, possibly in an effort to secure the group’s loyalty and reach the nationalist constituencies they speak to, ISW reports. Alexander Coates, a correspondent for a daily Russian tabloid newspaper and blogger with over half a million followers Engaged November 20 as a member of the Russian Human Rights Council.

Earlier, he also met some prominent Millbloggers and invited them to his engagement speech. Putin continues to “double down on support for Millblogger’s freedom of reporting”. According to ISW’s analysis, Putin realizes that the Kremlin and the MoD have “lost” the trust of Russians and must now rely on the pro-war voices of bloggers, which nationalist Russians perceive as authentic, to hold on. Support for the extended sacrifice he is demanding.

“Riber” investigation

In early October, the threat of a Russian nuclear war began to linger in the minds of the Western media when a social media video circulated in which a Polish analyst An armored vehicle belonging to the 12th Main Directorate of the Russian MOD, which is responsible for transporting nuclear weapons, has been detected.

This has been added Putin’s speech On 30 September annexing four oblasts of Ukraine, he declared these areas to be Russian territory and threatened to “defend our land with all the forces and means at our disposal”, implying that if Russia were to use nuclear weapons against Ukrainian forces they would The occupation threatened to end, creating an atmosphere of tension. Military analysts calmed the situation after several days of convincing the public that it was not about preparing for an imminent nuclear attack.

The The original source of the video A pro-war telegram channel, found on Raibar. the hour Also managed to find out the identity of one of the creators of the channel – “a political strategist, a representative of the old elite” – his name is Denis Shukin. He was also a former employee of the press service of the Russian MoD

Screenshot of the video posted on Telegram on October 1 (translated from Russian) (source: Telegram: @rybar)

Ryber continues to insist that he has many pro-Russian subscribers in Ukraine who help the channel collect data. But manufacturers gather the bulk of information from high-quality monitoring of social media as well as open-source data analysis tools (OSINT).

Bell also reported that Ryber’s Telegram following grew to more than a million followers in September and October amid counterattacks in eastern and southern Ukraine and the partial mobilization of Russian troops.

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The cause of the growth of the Millbloggers community

According to Brand analysis, a Russian statistics agency, reported that the number of daily active users on Telegram increased by more than 58% after the banning of Facebook and Instagram, which are recognized as extremist organizations. The growth of users on Telegram and the increasing number of mileblogging channels indicate that Russians do not trust the MoD’s official narrative and have consequently shifted their interest to raw and unbiased reporting.

Latest developments

The Russian government is increasing its control over Russian information space said By a Russian Milblogger. He also commented that it “looks like a kitten as opposed to a rhino” compared to Western “think tanks” and “independent media”.

21 November, Russian news outlet merchant It has been reported that the Russian State Duma will introduce a bill regulating online “recommendation” algorithms before the end of 2022. This will allow the government to block certain algorithms and prevent manipulation by digital platforms. “Social networks, video hosting, online movies, search engines, marketplaces and other services fall under the subject.”

something Russian Millbloggers responded to the speculation and said that such “recommendation algorithms” create an “information bubble” around us that makes it difficult for countries to spread propaganda due to the prevalence of privately generated information.

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