In the early morning of June 6, the first reports of serious damage to the Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine appeared. The alarming news was that a flood catastrophe was imminent. However, the Moscow-appointed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontyev, loudly denied the information about damage to the hydroelectric power station. "This is nonsense! Everything is good, everything is good everywhere. Everything is fine everywhere in the city, everything is calm and peaceful," Leontyev told the Russian news agency Ria Novosti. At 6:08 a.m. his statement was released.
At that time, video footage of floods of water pouring over the collapsed dam was already circulating on the internet. Even the so-called "war correspondents", propaganda mouthpieces loyal to the Kremlin, were already able to report at 2 a.m. about a "possible attack by the Ukrainian armed forces" on the dam. The hydroelectric power station was destroyed, reported the Telegram channel "Military Correspondents of the Russian Spring" at 2:18 a.m.
While the mayor of the city, which is located directly on the dam, wanted nothing to do with a catastrophe, the self-appointed war correspondents were already naming the culprits.
However, Leontyev quickly realized that this did not go together. A short time later he also said: "Around 2 a.m. there was a series of multiple attacks on the Kachowka hydroelectric power station", in which the valves were destroyed. "As a result, water from the Kachowka reservoir began to flow uncontrollably downstream," he told reporters.
According to him, surface structures were destroyed. At that time, however, he did not see a need to evacuate the residents of Nowa Kachowka. Although Leontyev had only recently known nothing about a problem at the dam, he was now firmly convinced that he could identify the cause. "I would like to emphasize once again that this is a very serious terrorist attack," he said.
He repeated the same words a few hours later on the morning edition of "60 Minutes". Contrary to its title, the show is broadcast twice a day for around five hours on the state broadcaster Rossiya 1. The moderator Olga Skabeeva is one of the most ardent propagandists and advocates of Kremlin politics. "We are receiving maximum alarming news from the Kherson region," she announced around 12 p.m. Moscow time. "Insane pictures. The water level has already risen by ten meters. The city of Nowa Kachowka is practically flooded, if you can believe the pictures. Swans have appeared in front of the local administration building," she commented on the corresponding pictures from the city on the dam.
"Ukrainians staged an act of terror and destroyed the massive building of incredible proportions built by 12,000 Soviet citizens in the 1950s," Skabeeva said.
"What Ukraine did there is equivalent in effect to the use of a tactical nuclear weapon," added her studio guest Igor Korotschenko. He is introduced to the audience by Skabeeva as editor-in-chief of the magazine "National Defense". He is also a member of the Public Council of the Russian Defense Ministry, a colonel in the reserve and a permanent guest of Skabeeva. "This is a war crime. The strike was carried out with a Ukrainian volley gun, probably of the Alpha type," he declared just hours after the disaster unfolded.
"The city is under water," explained the mayor of Nowa Kachowka, who was in the studio and presented the flooded square to his administration. Leontiev also knew how to report: "Tonight's events are a fact and they represent the culmination of the barbaric act of terrorism that has been carried out since last summer. The Kochowka dam has been shelled since last summer. We had one day , where the dam was hit by 70 Himar projectiles," he apparently rattled off the Kremlin's handout. "It's a terrible act of terrorism," he kept repeating - a phrase that Kremlin propaganda quickly adopted and corresponds to the official course.
The words came from the mouth of a man who had proclaimed only a few hours earlier: "Everywhere in the city everything is fine, everything is calm and peaceful." But, as expected, that won't be revealed to Russian viewers.
"It is obvious that the Ukrainian armed forces are behind the act of terrorism," Skabeeva repeated the given narrative just to be safe. However, the Western media would immediately accuse Russia and Putin "without waiting, without information, and even without video recordings". Above all, Skabeeva was bothered by the appearance of the "Bild-Zeitung", which had dared "to put the name of our country on the front page," the propagandist chafed.
In fact, the quality of the reporting in the "Bild" newspaper is often questionable. But a propagandist who, ten seconds earlier, dared not only to speak of an act of terrorism, but also to name those responsible, is not a qualified critic.
But what Kremlin propaganda is allowed to do, nobody else is allowed to do in Skabeeva's imagination. "The manual is well known - and to be honest it makes you sick: Russians blew themselves up. Russians shot themselves. Russians destroyed themselves," he shot she continued against the "Bild" - without understanding the absurdity of her words. Because she and her propaganda colleagues have been claiming for nine years that Ukraine is shooting, destroying and blowing itself up. However, Skabeeva escapes the paradox – as well as the fact that not everyone works according to a manual like she does.
But while Skabeeva knows how to keep her studio under control like a tamer, her colleague Andrej Norkin from the NTW broadcaster regularly loses control. This happened in the last edition of his program "Mesto Wstretschi" ("meeting point"). "Even if there is no need to remind you, let me remind you: the Ukrainian armed forces have been shelling the Kakhovka dam since last summer," Norkin agreed in unison with the Kremlin's propaganda. "Unfortunately, we are helping the Ukrainians," interjected former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov. "I'll read you something in a moment," he announced and dug his cell phone out of his pocket.
Already suspecting something bad, Norkin tried to intervene: "What kind of stupid smartphone do you have there? Turn it off. Probably an iPhone too," the moderator poisoned. But Fedorov was undeterred and read: "The destruction of the Kakhovka dam in the Kherson region gives the Russian armed forces a military-tactical advantage". The quote comes from none other than the Moscow-appointed governor of the Kherson region, Volodymyr Saldo, who has controlled the Russian-occupied territories since April 26, 2022. "With such statements, we ourselves are working in favor of Ukraine."
"Isn't it obvious who the destruction of the dam is for?" Co-moderator Ivan Trushkin tried to turn things around again. But suddenly there was also opposition from the political analyst Viktor Olewitsch. "The term crime was used here. This is by no means an isolated case. During the Second World War we blew up the Istra reservoir," he recalled. "Was that a crime? No, it wasn't a crime. The Soviet army benefited from it in the defense of Moscow at a critical moment in November 1941. That was kept secret for a long time. (...) But it wasn't crime", Olewich made a daring claim. So if Russia now benefits from the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, there would be nothing wrong with it, he ventured even further. "If that's good for us, why is that bad?"
The moderators obviously went too far. They panicked and tried to interrupt him. Another studio guest joined the doubters. Alexej Leonkov, who is introduced as a military expert: "Blowing up this dam is not easy. You can't do that with a projectile. You need a large amount of explosives that have to be positioned in such a way that in the event of an explosion, the amounts of water falling on the Push the locks, do the rest," he said, contradicting the Kremlin's official version. "The explosion tears the first cracks, the rest is done by the water," he explained the principle. "There was no explosion on the surface." The dam was built to withstand any attack from above. "During the fighting, the dam was not damaged by the shelling," Leonkov postulated. Divers must have planted the explosives to cause such destruction.
But the dam is under Russian control. The Kremlin cannot and will not admit to an operation by enemy divers in occupied territory. The two moderators of the show, who now wanted to ban three guests from the mouth, also know this. But the official version also went against the grain of Alexei Naumov, a member of the Russian Council for International Affairs. "The dam is designed for a nuclear war, friends! What an impact from the outside!" he exclaimed.
"I don't even understand what's being shouted here anymore. It's pure madness for you," Norkin finally interjected and heralded a pause before his guests could get themselves further into trouble - and above all himself.