Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Over The Top Russian Video Tries To Scare Russians To Vote


As much as the press touts Putin’s popularity, there is a real fear that voters will stay away from the voting booths, come 18 March, invalidating Putin’s assured win with numbers not worthy. The fear is he will win regardless of how they vote.

Opposition journalists believe the video was produced by either President Vladimir Putin’s campaign team or the government-controlled election committee.

This over the top video is being used to pressure Russian citizens to vote. Racist, homophobic, xenophobic, it exploits personal phobias which are common in Russia to frighten them to the voting booths.

‘Cast your ballot or find a gay man in your bed!” Various forms of pressure are being applied to get Russians to vote in their presidential election amid opposition calls to stay home on polling day.

Here RFE/RL hosts the videos with subtitles and advertises it on Twitter. The original, of course, is entirely in Russian without the subtitles.

From the Guardian:

Video seeks to boost turnout at presidential election by playing on homophobia and xenophobia

Russians who don’t vote in next month’s presidential elections risk seeing their country transformed into a gay-friendly state where people in their 50s are eligible for military conscription, a homophobic and xenophobic viral video has warned.

The three-minute video, which features professional actors, was uploaded to social media on Friday and Saturday and has been watched by millions of people. The actors say they do not know who ordered the video.

The video is set on 17 March, the eve of the presidential election, and starts with a middle-aged man mocking his wife, who wants to set an alarm clock to get up and vote. “As if they won’t elect someone without you,” he says.

He then falls asleep and dreams that a military official, flanked by two soldiers, including a black man, attempts to conscript him into the army. “I’m 52,” he protests. “Excellent. The conscription age has been increased to 60.”

He then goes into the kitchen, where a tattooed gay man sits filing his nails. “Who’s this?” he asks his wife. “I’m a gay on a homestay,” the man tells him, after which his wife reminds him that under a new law, Russian families are obliged to take in gay people who have been abandoned by their partners.

Shocked, the man rushes into the toilet, where an intercom says “toilet time is restricted”. In the tradition of classic horror films, he apparently wakes up, only to find himself in bed with the gay man. He then wakes up for real, and urges his wife to come with him to the polling station “before it’s too late!”

Opposition journalists believe the video was produced by either President Vladimir Putin’s campaign team or the government-controlled election committee. The Kremlin is eager to see a big turnout to underscore Putin’s legitimacy. Alexei Navalny, the opposition figurehead, has been urging Russians to boycott the election, which he says is rigged. Putin’s campaign slogan is A strong president. A strong Russia.

Meduza, an opposition website, accused the video’s producers of trying to scare Russians into voting by playing on widespread homophobia and xenophobia.

Putin’s nominal rivals at the election include Pavel Grudinin, the Communist party candidate, and Ksenia Sobchak, a liberal journalist who has spoken out in favour of LGBT rights.

Sobchak called the video an “incitement to hatred” against members of Russia’s beleaguered LBGT community. “In my opinion, we can laugh about anyone. About Hitler and about gays. But to expose LGBT people to a threat in a homophobic country, this is no joke.”

A spokesperson for Russia’s election committee said it had nothing to do with the video. A spokesperson for Putin’s election headquarters was not immediately available for comment.

Advertisements