Analize / RTS is conducting a sophisticated pro-Russian campaign

Excerpt from the Demostat analysis of the media scene in Serbia two years after the beginning of the war in Ukraine

At the moment when war rages in Ukraine, two years after Russian invasion of the country, and when tectonic changes are happening in the world in terms of geopolitics, in Serbia, which has been in the process of joining the European Union for years, the dominant narrative is anti-Western and pro-Putin, the majority public opinion is decidedly pro-Russian, and in Europe, Russian propaganda is most dominant precisely in our country

RTS is conducting a sophisticated pro-Russian campaign

Analize / RTS is conducting a sophisticated pro-Russian campaign

Excerpt from the Demostat analysis of the media scene in Serbia two years after the beginning of the war in Ukraine

At the moment when war rages in Ukraine, two years after Russian invasion of the country, and when tectonic changes are happening in the world in terms of geopolitics, in Serbia, which has been in the process of joining the European Union for years, the dominant narrative is anti-Western and pro-Putin, the majority public opinion is decidedly pro-Russian, and in Europe, Russian propaganda is most dominant precisely in our country

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Demostat | Beograd 15. Mar 2024 | Analize

The pro-Putin and anti-Western narratives are promoted through all government-controlled print media, which openly spread Russian propaganda and disinformation. We are talking about pro-government tabloids (such as "Informer", "Srpski telegraf", "Alo", "Kurir"), but also newspapers with a long history and established reputation, though later ruined, such as "Politika" and "Vecernje novosti".

Almost all televisions with a national frequency ("Prva," "Happy," and "B92"), as well as many online portals in Serbia, spread Russian propaganda. An exception to the aforementioned rule, to a certain extent, is TV Pink, which in February 2022 was pro-government and pro-Russian in terms of its reporting tone, but now, two years later, that tone is both pro-government and predominantly pro-Western.

The program of media public service, Radio Television of Serbia (RTS), in its informative programs, favors Russia in a sophisticated way, without naked propaganda, but with a clear bias. In the news program, affirmative reports in favor of Moscow are promoted, and RTS journalists have only recently begun to sporadically use the term aggression.

In the cultural and educational program, sophisticated Russian propaganda is recognized, manifesting itself through Russian series, weekend prime-time films at 9 p.m., and Russian themes from the Second World War.

The situation on other national frequencies is even more stark.

Biased reporting in favor of Russia is most noticeable in the morning programs on television with a national frequency, where the guests openly settle accounts with the West and take the side of Russia.

Disinformation and fake news created in the Kremlin are elaborated, interpreted, and spread by journalists and analysts to whom these media give space. Those televisions are by far the most watched, and many Serbian citizens do not have the opportunity to get information from other sources.

TV Happy even rented out a large part of its program by making it available to Russian propaganda through certain secret commercial agreements (examples are the TV shows "Aktuelnosti" and "Posle rucka").

The Russian propaganda is stripped to such an extent that the programs of the Russian state television are used in the broadcasts because the programs from the Russian state televisions Russia 1, RT, and Zvezda TV (military channel) are dubbed into Serbian or subtitled. After that, guests in the studio, Serbian analysts, strengthen and affirm that narrative. These shows run every day in prime time and have a significant viewership.

Russian propaganda is also clearly read in the pro-government tabloids, which, at the beginning of Russias aggression in Ukraine, announced that Ukraine had attacked Russia.

And while the European Union banned the broadcasting of the Russian media RT and Sputnik on the territory of EU countries at the beginning of March 2022, with the explanation that they represent the Kremlins tool for spreading disinformation, propaganda, and support for Russian aggression, the official position of Serbia is that it does not join the sanctions against Russia. Sputnik has its correspondent in Belgrade and broadcasts news in Serbian. The Russian state television RT launched a portal in Serbia in mid-November in 2022.

Serbia was used as a so-called flow boiler, but also as a base from where Russian propaganda is spread depressively towards the whole of Europe.

There is a justified suspicion that the Sputnik program is broadcast in other languages from Serbia. Bearing all this in mind, it is clear why out of all Sputnik newsrooms in the world, their Belgrade newsroom is the most successful in percentage by all parameters.

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