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‘I see this as atonement’ Journalist at Komsomolskaya Pravda publishes at least ten anti-war articles on the publication’s website
On the evening of February 11, at least ten articles discussing the invasion of Ukraine, the treatment in prison of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, and other actions by Russian authorities, briefly appeared on the website of pro-Kremlin publication Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP).
Headlines of the now deleted articles included:
- “Crimea is Ukraine. Russia must return the peninsula.”
- “Russia has become a victim of occupation by the Putin regime”
- “The Russian Federation committed crimes in Bucha, Izyum, and Hostomel”
- “Peace does not come because of Putin: Zelensky signed an order banning talks with Putin personally”
- “Torturing Navalny: how Russian prisons treat political prisoners”
At least some of the articles opened with the words: “This material is not approved by the editors of Komsomolskaya Pravda, it is aimed at exposing the lies of the Kremlin regime, headed by the bloody dictator Putin and his gang of cynical thieves among the authorities, who have committed genocide against the peaceful nation of Ukraine.”
At least one of the articles contained a link to Meduza — specifically, to an explainer published in Russian about why Russian mobilization didn’t officially end, despite statements to the contrary by the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense.
All the articles were posted by KP news editor Vladimir Romanenko. Prodolzheniye Sleduyet, an independent online news outlet associated Novaya Gazeta, published an explanation by Romanenko, in which he says that he is 24 years old and is against the war, but that he had to take the job at KP in September 2022, because he needed money.
Romanenko said that he posted the articles as a protest to mark the anniversary of the start of the war, and that he copied the materials into the Internet Archive himself so that they could be found after they were deleted from the KP website. Romanenko’s texts were removed from KP within 10 minutes, and the production editor wrote to Romanenko that she “didn’t expect this,” blocking him on Telegram.
The journalist called his actions “atonement.”
I decided to time my statement to coincide with the [anniversary of the] beginning of the war: during my shift, I just uploaded to the site articles talking about the crimes of the Russian authorities and army in Ukraine. About the number of civilian victims. About how many people the Russian army has actually lost in this war, and how much money Putin is throwing at the war. I wrote them all myself, based on official data from Ukrainian authorities, Russian independent outlets, and Western media.
For me, a step like this is a leap into the abyss. I’m looking for some kind of work, I don’t have much savings left. But I see this as atonement. Ending up unemployed I think is fair payment for the fact that I lied.
I ask for the forgiveness of the people of Ukraine for participating in all this. My statement shows that even among those who write propaganda, there are people who oppose it. I expect employees of other pro-Kremlin media outlets will notice my actions.
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