From the first days of protests in Belarus, riot police have been regularly detaining Russian journalists in the crowds of protesters. Of course, they were released pretty quickly. For example, as was the case with Semyon Pegov, the guy who had earlier traveled across the occupied Crimea and Donbas as a war correspondent for LifeNews, and now heads the WarGonzo Telegram channel, spreading fakes and manipulations under the supervision of the GRU military intelligence. Or as was the case with a GRU officer working under the cover of Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist, Dmitry Steshin.
However, this week on Tuesday, as protests simmered, Komsomolskaya Pravda reporters Maria Eleshevich, Svyatoslav Zorkiy and Nikita Navedenkov were detained but not released. They are now being accused of coordinating the mob, staging and filming provocations.
In fact, the journalists working for the Russian Komsomolskaya Pravda were doing two jobs at the same time: fulfilling their professional duties and working for the GRU.
And to be honest, there's nothing surprising here. The profession of journalist in Russia has long ceased to exist in its true form. It has long become a homunculus, a systemic appendage of one or another security agency. The last real journalist in Russia died in 2006. On October 7 that year, Anna Politkovskaya was killed along with the entire Russian journalism as such... In principle, just like on February 27, 2015, the Russian opposition was killed along with Boris Nemtsov on a bridge by the Kremlin.
It was since the mid-2000s that a pool of pro-government media has begun to shape up in Russia. During this period subdivisions of current and future journalists began to form under the supervision of variouos government agencies - the GRU military intel, the FSB security service, the SVR foreign intelligence, and the foreign ministry...
In fact, every Russian journalist, depending on the degree of their importance, has one or another level of affiliation with the power bloc. Therefore, when in 2014, herds of Russian "independent" journalists, seeking refuge in a land free of Vladimir Putin's dictatorial regime, dramatically flooded Ukraine, I was watching this in horror. Ukraine has allowed into its territory tens, hundreds of potential media saboteurs. That's not counting our own internal enemies of integrity and independence operating in the information domain.
But back to the Russian special-operations journalists…
In fact, the incident with the KP journalists is another evidence of who handles the controlled chaos in and around Belarus. After all, while such figures as Dmitry Steshin, Semyon Pegov, Maria Eleshevich, Svyatoslav Zorky, Nikita Navedenkov, and many others supervise the process from the inside, people like Alexander Kots, another KP journalist with the GRU shoulder straps, influence the process remotely. In particular, he is the author of a fake report about the allegedly "special SBU operation", foiled as a result of a "leak", against the Wagner PMC mercenaries who were eventually detained in Belarus.
Russian journalists have created loads of fake stories about the events unfolding in many countries. They were repeatedly caught spreading lies, even those journalists who refer to themselves as "independent" and "liberal". Also, they were even exposed as those in contact with or hired by intelligence services.
For example, Dmitry Ermolaev, editor-in-chief of the Federal weekly Rossiiskiye Vesti and concurrently co-chairman of the Eurasian Popular Front (JNF), the Anti-Bandera Movement, as well as handler of the Polish "nationalist and Russophobe" Tomasz Maciejczuk, is a career officer with the Russian SVR foreign intelligence agency.
It was this tandem that invented a neo-Nazi organization Misanthropic Division, which was initially a hoax but later emerged in real life after receiving funding and is now often mentioned in Russian propaganda in the context of the narrative about "blooming" fascism in Ukraine.
By the way, Dmitry Ermolaev's cover was hilariously blown when a result of an interagency conflict, hundreds of addresses of SVR employees' apartments leaked through the Moscow mayor's office. Among them was the apartment of the "impartial" and "most honest" editor-in-chief of the Federal weekly Rossiyskie Vesti, Dmitry Ermolaev, who resides in the SVR-contracted multi-storey building on Akademika Anokhina Street.
We can go on indefinitely, digging deeply into Russian journos, revealing their different-level contacts or affiliations with security and intelligence agencies.
Unfortunately though, it's difficult for the international community in the world where people tend to trust journalists, who are seen as watchdogs of democracy, to realize that a Russian journalist is first and foremost a saboteur, secondly a propagandist, and thirdly someone who will be used by government in situations like that unfolding with Belarus protests (for example, to coordinate protests)… But they will never be the ones who they are actually supposed to be according to international standards of journalism.
Although, given that they have certain ranks in line with their government affiliation, they perform exactly the functions they are tasked with. Ten hut!