Russian Pirates Twist Facts in Pirated Version of US TV Show to Push Kremlin Propaganda on Mariupol
Russian pirates have found a new battleground to amplify Kremlin propaganda – American TV shows. In a pirated version of “The Morning Show,” they distorted dialogue to frame the Azov Brigade for actions they did not commit in Mariupol.
Despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Apple TV+ continued to operate in Russia. However, when the third season of “The Morning Show” tackled Russia’s war in Ukraine, it was not officially made available in Russia. This provided an opportunity for Russian pirates to step in.
In the altered episode, a character’s line about Russians bombing the city was changed to accuse the Azov Brigade of shooting civilians on the streets. This manipulation is a classic example of Russian propaganda, an attempt to shift blame away from themselves to those who resisted them in Mariupol.
As Yuliia Fedosiuk, Deputy Chair of the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders, points out, this tactic aims to distort the truth, making good seem evil and vice versa. Such manipulation has serious consequences, as it influences public opinion, including that of the Russian population.
The Mariupol Drama Theater bombing on March 16, 2022, saw Russian forces target a building with “children” written on its rooftop and surroundings. Despite Russia’s denial and claims that the Azov Battalion was responsible, independent investigations, including one by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), refute these allegations.
The Azov Battalion, initially comprising some far-right volunteers, became a target for Russian propaganda. However, independent media describes the formation as one of Ukraine’s more motivated fighting units.
The devastating bombing campaign reduced Mariupol’s population from 400,000 to a mass grave. Azov Battalion members were among the last defenders of the city, ultimately surrendering after an 80-day siege.
Recent trials in Moscow of Azov’s prisoners of war have accused them of “terrorism” and “sedition.” Meanwhile, Russian state TV continues to push Moscow’s narratives about the war in Ukraine, categorized by a UN investigative team as potentially inciting genocide. Russian internet pirates operating in the same vein remain relatively unnoticed.
This disturbing manipulation of media underscores the ongoing information warfare surrounding Russia’s actions in Ukraine. As the world navigates this complex landscape, it becomes increasingly crucial to distinguish truth from propaganda.