The Kremlin has shown Yanukovych to audiences for a third time – not at a Rostov-on-Don press conference but on the Dozhd TV channel. What surprises this time is not the ex-president’s statements, for they are traditional: the Kyiv government is unlawful, bandits are roaming the city’s streets, I would have saved Crimea, Ukraine needs a referendum, the presidential elections are illegitimate, I never ordered snipers to fire… This is what the Russian leadership is saying officially.
“Russia is showing that it has an instrument to influence Ukraine, called ‘legitimate president,’” Oleksandr Sushko, director of the Euro-Atlantic Cooperation Institute, comments to The Day. “This is a loophole that allows the Russians to call into question almost the entire political process in Ukraine. It is an attempt to delegitimize all that has been going on in Ukraine since February 21 and to justify military actions and the annexation of Crimea.”
“It is also information for domestic Russian consumption and for influencing the Ukrainian public,” the expert continues. “Moscow wants to show that Yanukovych still exists and can be used the way it suits them. The ultimate objective of Russian policies is to question legitimacy of the May 25 elections. It is the No.1 goal. And, for example, the referendum theme only shows that Yanukovych speaks as dictated by the Russians.”
While it is quite clear about the origin of Yanukovych’s statements, the “broadcasting venue” causes a surprise. It is the opposition channel Dozhd which the democratic public of Russia and Ukraine used to defend so much from governmental pressure. So will the ban of Russia’s top TV channels in Ukraine be of any use if the “advanced” Dozhd is becoming a mouthpiece of the Kremlin?
“This is a ploy of sorts to use not a very well-known mouthpiece of the Kremlin but some other TV channel which has the reputation of a more independent source,” Sushko says. “I can hardly imagine that Yanukovych will be allowed to appear on central Russian TV channels. This also defines his status. He is given platforms which most of the Russians consider non-prestigious but sufficient for airing certain messages in the media.”