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Meet the star Russian propagandist known as the 'iron doll of Putin TV,' whose escalating rhetoric has shocked the West

Rogue Valley

Ruscism = Russian fascism
DP Veteran
Apr 18, 2013
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Meet the star Russian propagandist known as the 'iron doll of Putin TV,' whose escalating rhetoric has shocked the West


Russian propaganda team of Olga Skabeyeva and Yevgeny Popov.

Of all the Russian TV propagandists who have pushed Kremlin talking points about the war in Ukraine, perhaps none has drawn as much attention in Western media as Olga Skabeyeva. Her nicknames include "propagandist-in-chief," Russian state TV's "special operation forces," and the "iron doll of Putin TV." In recent weeks and months, Skabeyeva has delivered wild, fervent rants on the government-owned TV channel Russia-1. She has thundered about the Russian military's struggles on Ukrainian territory, fabricated claims about Western leaders, and spread a baseless conspiracy theory that the Ukrainian army was responsible for the massacre of hundreds of civilians in Bucha. Skabeyeva is just one of many voices on Russian state media who has distorted facts and misled the public about the war in Ukraine. But experts say her escalating rhetoric is indicative of an important shift in the way the Kremlin speaks about its actions, and could be a harbinger of what's to come. She's a "monster," according to Vasily Gatov, a Russian media researcher and visiting fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.

Skabeyeva's words are no accident, says Sarah Oates a professor and senior scholar at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Russian propagandists rarely go off-script, wax poetic, or exhibit any creativity at all in their descriptions. Oates said it's highly likely that Skabeyeva received her "World War III" talking points directly from the government itself. "This moment shows a shift in acceptable state rhetoric, because she's a mouthpiece for the state," Oates said. "Anything she says is reflective of the official Kremlin line." She continued: "Invoking World War III is extremely problematic because we know that Putin has threatened nuclear weapons, and we don't really know where Putin's ambition stops." Experts said Skabeyeva is a divisive figure in Russian society. Though she is highly influential among loyal viewers of Russian state TV, many Russians — particularly younger ones who get their news from a variety of sources — dislike and distrust her intensely. Gatov likened Skabeyeva's reputation to that of the American Fox News host Tucker Carlson, a highly polarizing figure in American media who draws attention from both fervent supporters and enraged critics. "She is, to some extent, very similar to Carlson's popularity. A controversial, scandalous person who polarizes," Gatov said. "Complete denial and basically relying on a 1940s anti-Nazi rhetoric is not going to work in the long term. It's just not," Oates said. "Russians aren't idiots."

Skabeyeva (Skabeeva) and husband Yevgeny Popov have been hosting the state-run television propaganda talk show 60 минут (60 Minutes) since 2016 on Russia's Channel 1.

They are Russian-state puyveyors of propaganda, disinformation, and conspiracy, and widely watched in Russia.
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