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Who are the 5 Russian propagandists accused of hate crimes against Ukraine?

by Chris York June 8, 2024 2:17 AM 4 min read
Russian propagandist and television presenter Vladimir Solovyov seen during Vladimir Putin's annual meeting with the Federal Assembly, on February 21, 2023, in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)
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Several Ukrainian human rights groups have submitted a report to the International Criminal Court (ICC) detailing alleged hate crimes perpetrated by Russian propagandists against Ukrainians.

The report, prepared by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, and an undisclosed Russian NGO, focuses on hate speech violations under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

Volodymyr Yavorsky, program director at the Center for Civil Liberties, said it was "important for the ICC to show that this is a crime."

"Because now it is presented as freedom of speech, that they [Russians] are not doing anything wrong, that they are just expressing their opinion," he said. "This presentation is one of the important steps that shows that this is 'freedom of speech' that leads to tens of thousands of crimes."

The five Russian propagandists in the report are:

Vladimir Solovyov

Sixty-year-old Solovyov is one of Russia's most famous TV personalities, and has hosted the show "Evening with Vladimir Solovyov" on the state-owned TV channel Russia-1 since 2012.

"Once a critic of Kremlin policies, broadcaster Vladimir Solovyov now shills for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policies," the U.S. Embassy in Georgia wrote in a March 2022 profile.

In 2008 he said that anyone who started a war between Russia and Ukraine would be a criminal, but 14 years later he was fully behind the Kremlin's full-scale invasion.

"When a doctor is deworming a cat — for the doctor, it’s a special operation, for the worms, it’s a war, and for the cat, it’s a cleansing," he said in July 2022.

He's been paid handsomely by the Kremlin for his work – he owns several villas but two were vandalized shortly after the launch of Russia's full-scale invasion.

Italian authorities seized property belonging to Solovyov totaling $8.7 million in 2022 following the imposition of EU sanctions.

In 2022, YouTube took down Solovyov's channel on the platform as it violated the company's guidelines.

Margarita Simonyan

Simonyan is the editor-in-chief of Russian state-controlled media channel RT and has long been a central figure in the Kremlin's propaganda machine.

Since 2022, the 40-year-old has been sanctioned by the European Union, the U.K., Ukraine, and Armenia.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced on April 1 that she had been charged in absentia with promoting genocide and other crimes against Ukraine.

On public television appearances since the full-scale invasion, Simonyan has made countless inflammatory statements about the need for an escalation of Russia's war.

"Nobody is fighting against Ukrainians! We’re liberating Ukraine!" she said on Feb. 27, 2022. "No one is bombing peaceful Ukrainian cities!"

Dmitry Kiselyov

Kiselyov is the head of Russian state media group Rossiya Segodnya.

"Kiselyov's conspiratorial, almost coquettish grin and over enthusiastic hand gestures have made him a recognizable staple of Russian television," an Associated Press (AP) article said when he got the job in 2013.

"But it's his toxic cocktail of punditry and sensationalism that has gained him his reputation as one of Russia's most famous – and reviled – news anchors."

Since the launch of Russia's full-scale invasion, he has on several occasions threatened Western nations with the threat of nuclear weapons.

He's also infamous for his homophobia.

"I think they should be banned from donating blood or sperm, and if they die in a car crash, their hearts should be burnt or buried in the ground as unsuitable for the continuation of life," he said in 2013.

Dmitry Medvedev

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev regularly makes headlines for his rants on social media, most recently describing President Volodymyr Zelensky as a "legitimate military target" and threatening to use nuclear weapons against the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Ukraine if Moscow loses all occupied Ukrainian territories.

Medvedev had previously portrayed himself as a liberal but has become one of Russia's most aggressive pro-war hawks since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in 2022.

"The existence of Ukraine is fatally dangerous for Ukrainians," he wrote in January of this year.

"They will understand that life [with Russia] in a large common state, which they do not want very much now, is better than death. Their deaths and the deaths of their loved ones.

"And the sooner Ukrainians realize this, the better."

Olexander Scherba, Ukraine's former ambassador to Austria, described the post as "Russia’s most genocidal statement so far."

Sergey Mardan

Mardan is a blogger for the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda and often appears on Solovyov's talk show where he regularly justifies Russian aggression against Ukraine.

In July 2023, the SBU accused him of calling for the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

"From the very beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, he publicly supported the aggressive war against Ukraine and justified the war crimes of Russian occupiers," it wrote.

"In one of his live broadcasts, Mardan proposed to create concentration camps for residents of the temporarily occupied Ukraine who resist the [Russians]."

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