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How the Russian media tries to undermine Ukraine

Earlier this month, in a small village in western Ukraine, a group of political pranksters gathered to declare self-government and fly the country’s yellow and blue national flag upside down as new symbol. The small group of misfits, led by a former plumber named Anatoly Balakhnin, has been ignored by most Ukrainians; only Radio Liberty reported on the meeting, noting that 10 people had attended. Yet across the border, in Russian media, the new group was declared an “alternative state” and presented as an example of how Ukraine was supposed to deal with “separatism issues” in its western regions.

It has been almost seven years since the Ukrainian revolution Maidan exhausted its pro-Russian president, and since the separatist republics of eastern Ukraine declared themselves independent from the governance of Kiev in a bloody war that continues to this day ‘hui. More than 13,000 people have died and nearly 1.5 million people have lost their homes since 2014. Russia has waged a propaganda campaign alongside its military campaign, to strengthen its power inside the former Soviet republic and foment dissent against those who would see Ukraine reunited with stronger ties to the West.

Part of that effort is to hang on to all traces of separatism and go bankrupt. As such, Balakhnin and his group of misfits in Verkhnya Rozhanka are the latest to be anointed as threats against Kiev by the pro-Kremlin media.

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