In other parts of the app, silence spread through normally vocal reports. So did more conventional propagandists like Margarita Simonyan, editor of the state news network RT. Simonyan was once a supporter of Prigozhin and his Telegram account was quiet on Saturday. your explanation? She was on a cruise on the Volga. But parts of the new generation of Telegram influencers were also silent. The anonymous Veteran Notes account, which has 320,000 subscribers, was not posting when the rebellion began Friday night — due to circumstances “unrelated” to the Wagner rebellion, the account said, without giving an explanation.
“We have noticed silence from some military bloggers representing both sides in the past few months,” said Kateryna Stepanenko, a Russia analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank.
For Wagner-related accounts such as Call Sign Bruce, maintained by an independent war correspondent Alexander Simonov, the period of rest came later. After a burst of excitement during the mutiny, which shared Prigozhin’s testimonies and photos from Rostov-on-Don, the city where Wagner briefly took control, the pace of the posts slowed. Simonov has not posted anything since Monday June 26th.
Until now, these military bloggers have been united by a shared nationalism, eager for Russia to win the war in Ukraine, and have had an unusual freedom to criticize government decisions. In early June, several Telegram influencers attended one Public meeting with Putin For the first time, they confronted him with questions like: Why do talented people in the military struggle to get to the top? And why do soldiers not receive payments for destroyed tanks?
But this willingness to criticize could be in jeopardy, say experts. As Prigozhin seemingly With the transition to Belarusian exile, military bloggers have lost a high-profile ally who was willing to speak openly about military failures in Ukraine. But long before the Wagner mutiny, self-censorship began to creep in within this group, says Stepanenko. “Rybar used to talk for a long time about how the Russian Defense Ministry sucks,” she says. “Now the account mostly publishes situation reports from the battlefield.” The failed Wagner uprising threatens to accelerate this trend, she adds. “It could lead to some military blogs deliberately censoring themselves to ensure they don’t look or sound like Prigozhin.”
These bloggers were useful to the Kremlin, says Ian Garner, a historian and Russian propaganda researcher. They represent a new mix of citizen journalism and propaganda. “You give the impression that ordinary people are really enthusiastic about the war,” he says.
But there are signs that Putin wants to bring that about Voenkory in line. The June meeting was likely an attempt to show bloggers that they are valued and respected, Garner says. “It was part of a broader attempt to bring this ragged and disparate network of information warriors and front-line troops under the control of the Defense Ministry and the state.” Prigozhin’s mutiny may have inadvertently added leverage to this endeavor.
This new generation of Telegram influencers will be painfully aware that if Putin turns against them, he already has the tools to crack down. In March this year, Moscow tightened its censorship laws, meaning anyone who “discredits” the army could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Till May, 80 people was prosecuted under the new rules, according to human rights group OVD-Info. So far, the law has only been used against bloggers who are against the war– not those who support it.