According to him, the results that the Russians will announce will be obviously false. But that doesn’t matter to them, they force others to accept them as fact, says Snyder, who has been studying Russian history, Russian thought and state propaganda for a long time. He wrote several books, the last of which, The road to unfreedom became a bestseller in the Czech Republic as well.
Western politicians refused to recognize the alleged referendums in advance. In the media, it took the name “pseudoreferendum” (English sham referendum), or “illegal referendum”.
However, Snyder writes that both of these terms are misleading because they imply that some kind of voting is taking place. For the elections, it is necessary to prepare the appropriate infrastructure, find commissioners, reserve rooms, inform people about them in advance. The occupiers did nothing of the sort, they informed about the “referendums” only a few days before they started.
Russian propaganda works by telling a lie that everyone knows is a lie, and then forcefully showing that there is no alternative but to live as if that lie were the truth
“Even if the Russians really had the voting infrastructure, which they don’t, and even if they intended to let people in the occupied territories vote, which they don’t, they couldn’t do it. They couldn’t do that because they don’t actually control the entire territory or any of the regions they claim to be voting in,” Snyder writes.
For these reasons, the historian proposes the term “media exercises”, which could be roughly translated as “media gymnastics” or “media exercises”.
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They already have the results. Everyone knows it
Snyder explains: “At a certain point, the Russian media will simply announce something like 97 percent of people in the Donetsk region want to join Russia, 96 percent in Luhansk, 86 percent in Zaporozhye, and 80 percent in Kherson.”
The results of this supposed vote will be sucked out of your finger. “They are already stored in a file,” he points out.
His explanation of why the Russians would report such obviously nonsensical results is well worth reading. According to him, they do it on purpose. “Russian propaganda works by telling a lie that everyone knows is a lie, and then forcefully demonstrating that there is no alternative but to live as if that lie were true,” Snyder writes.
This is how elections work in Russia as well, none of the population actually believes that it would be a real vote and real results.
A pseudo-referendum on joining Russia has begun in the occupied parts of Ukraine
According to Snyder, the “media gymnastics” performed by the Russians in the occupied territories are “ridiculous, but not funny.”
“And what about the more than 100,000 civilians the Russians killed in Mariupol? How should we think about their voices? And what about the more than three million people Russia forcibly deported, many of whom are now in camps?” asks the historian.
It resembles the mass graves that Russian occupiers leave behind in areas they claim to liberate from alleged “neo-Nazis”.
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“When Russia says that the vast majority of Ukrainians want to join Russia, they are saying that Ukrainians like death pits, that Ukrainians like rape, that Ukrainians like torture, that Ukrainians like deportations, that Ukrainians like exterminating their cities ,” he continues.
He concludes his text by calling on the world to consider these so-called referendums, in his words “media gymnastics”, as “part of Russia’s war crimes and nothing more”.