Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

“Let Slip the Dogs and Cats of War”: Turning Propaganda Memes Against Their Creators

Our spoiled and beloved pet cats will breakfast on Russian bullfinches, cooked up in traditional Ukrainian sour cream and dill, because we are a Junta you fear and loathe!

Anonymous expert analysis. 

Seldom do I get to chuckle as much as I do when reading this particular expert’s analysis and writing.  I have permission to share. Enjoy! 

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The Russian mass media propaganda campaign launched against Ukraine in early 2014 had several key foci, all of which were intended to turn the Russian public, the Russian diaspora globally, and ethnic Russians and Ukrainian native Russian speakers against the post-Maidan government in Kiev, and Ukrainians in general.

One of these was the meme that Ukraine was the victim of a Nazi or Fascist coup d’etat in Kiev, organised by the Obama Administration, the Agency in Langley, George Soros and other icons of Western Liberalism, which is in the world of Russian propaganda memes, an unimaginable evil the intent of which is to destroy all things good in Mother Russia. The label of “Fascist Junta” continues to be applied to the Ukrainian government in Kiev, and even recently Lavrov referred to Kiev as the “fascists”. The meme of Nazis or Fascists continues to be generously applied as a smear against anybody or anything that threatens Putin’s “Chekist [KGB]” regime, most recently Navalniy for his anti-corruption campaigning.

The  “Juntameme was quickly appropriated by Ukrainian militias and military, who stuck Junta themed shoulder patches and labels to their BDUs.

Another meme propagated by the Russians was the notion that Ukrainian militias were actually NATO mercenaries, mirroring the Russian covert invasion force in Donbas, a large fraction of whom were Russian mercenaries recruited from the Russian Army, or straight off the streets. The claims of a “NATO Legion” were quickly exploited by the Ukrainian militias and military, who produced shoulder patches to attach to their BDUs.

Possibly the most absurd of the propaganda memes the Russians produced was the fake news story about Ukrainian schoolchildren being organized into hunting parties to kill Bullfinches. This will not make sense to a reader from the West as the Bullfinch is simply another European songbird. But in Russia, the Bullfinch is a national symbol, and seen by many Russians as its national avian. So killing Bullfinches is simply something completely abhorrent to any red-blooded truly patriotic Russian. Who could possibly be so unimaginably evil to even think about killing Bullfinches, and especially as they are a symbol of Russia and a much beloved and cute bird.

The crucified boy and two slaves. Top-10 fakes of the Russian propaganda / ГОРДОН

The “Bullfinch killer” meme became the theme of many Ukrainian satires and jokes about Russians and Russian propaganda. Presidential advisor Yuriy Biryukov would joke on his Facebook page about “snacking on Bullfinches”. A paper mache statue of Putin holding a wounded Bullfinch was made. the Bullfinch meme produced immense blowback in Ukraine as it was seen by all as totally absurd, and a reflection on Russian public gullibility if not plain stupidity. Russians as “dumb and dumber, all in one meme.

Ukraine Today: Putin’s propaganda mocked in new Ukrainian monument | KyivPost

Motivating Russian mercenaries in Donbas became an issue, once the Ukrainian military started to inflict serious losses on the Russian proxy force. The losses, often in excess of 10 Russians killed for every Ukrainian lost in action, led to rumours being propagated that Russian EPWs would be killed and their organs harvested, to discourage surrender or desertion. Some Russian EPWs then objected to hospital treatment when wounded for fear of being chopped up and sold for spare parts in the global organ market.

To insult and demonise the Ukrainians, the Russians quickly adopted derogatory names and labels for the Ukrainian military, these including  “Khokhol”, the Cossack/Viking pigtail haircut, and “Ukrop” or Dill, a mangled contraction of Ukrainian, which also reflects also Ukrainian fondness for seasoning all manner of foods with dill fronds. The “Khokholmeme was soon reflected in various shoulder patches with stylised Cossack portraits, while the “Ukropmeme was reflected in a range of “Ukrop” themed shoulder patches with dill fronds or blossoms depicted, and one volunteer militia unit calling itself “Ukrop”. The message was simple – yes we are dill eaters and proud of it.

This, of course, brings us to the cheeky photomontage of a pussycat about to feed from a 500 gram tin of food. It was posted on the website in 2015.

The label on the tin is a fusion of three Russian propaganda memes.

Zavtrak Khunty – Junta Breakfast
Snegiri s ukropom – Bullfinches with Dill

Contents: bullfinch meat, dill, sour cream, salt.

This is of course not only a play on the “Junta”, “Bullfinch killer”, and Dill memes, but also playing on Ukrainian fondness for smothering foods in sour cream, and the national fondness for cats.

Message to a Russian reader? Our spoiled and beloved pet cats will breakfast on Russian bullfinches, cooked up in traditional Ukrainian sour cream and dill, because we are a Junta you fear and loathe!

Message to a Ukrainian reader? Look how contemptible, gullible, clueless and gutless you Russians really are!

The lesson for Russian propagandists is a simple one here: be very very carefully of what you wish for, and what you say!


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