No amount of lies can hide the truth for long.
This is the lesson that the dictator Vladimir Putin learned this week, after journalists and hackers defied draconian measures to censor the truth about the bloodthirsty war he had launched on Ukraine on Feb. 24.
On Monday, two Russian journalists appeared to post at least 30 articles criticizing the invasion, which Putin has hidden behind the euphemistic “special military operation.”
Each article posted on the pro-Kremlin news site Lenta.ru, started with the same plea under the headline: “Disclaimer: This material is not approved by the state, therefore the Presidential administration will delete it… In other words: TAKE A SCREENSHOT URGENTLY before it’s deleted.”
The articles were taken down almost immediately after they were published—but not before the world, and presumably many Russians–took notice.
In the articles, journalists Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova accused Putin of launching one of the bloodiest wars of the 21st century and said Russian defense officials were lying to relatives of those killed on the Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet flagship that was sunk by Ukrainian missiles.
“Putin and his circle are doomed to face a tribunal after the end of the war,” Polyakov and Miroshnikova wrote. “Putin and his associates won’t be able to justify themselves or flee after losing this war.”
Polyakov and Miroshnikova, both business editors at Lenta.ru, later issued a statement after their articles were published.
“Putin is a paranoid dictator,” they said. “Putin must go. He started a senseless war and is leading Russia into a ditch.”
Polyakov and Miroshnikova rejected the government line on Russia’s invasion and accused Putin of lying about his intentions in Ukraine from the start.
“Putin repeatedly lied about his plans for Russia in Ukraine, naming one goal at first then a completely different one.” They pointed to Putin’s call for a “liberation of Donbass,” “de-Nazification,” and the “demilitarization of Ukraine,” as examples of what they describe as hastily put together justifications for a needless war.
The Russian parliament passed a law in early March criminalizing what it considers to be falsehoods about Russia’s war in Ukraine, punishing such offenses with jail time of up to 15 years—so Polyakov and Miroshnikova have understandably fled Russia.
The duo appeared to sign off from Lenta.ru saying, “We’re looking for work, lawyers and probably, political asylum!”
“Don’t be afraid, don’t be quiet,” they continued. “Resist! You are not one, you are many! The future is yours!… Peace to Ukraine!”
Meanwhile, Russians tuning into broadcasts of Putin’s Victory Day parade in Moscow were met with a message they have never seen on state-controlled TV.
Russian satellite television menus were hacked, leaving viewers with program schedules that told them Putin’s war on Ukraine left them with blood on their hands.
“You have the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of dead children on your hands,” said one slogan.
“The TV and the authorities are lying. No to war,” said another. The anti-war slogans also appeared on cable television.
No amount of lies and cover-ups will suppress the truth. Over time, even those who have been brainwashed will come to realize the crimes that have been committed in their names.