First, the EU Parliament recognized Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism and a state using terrorist means". Then there was another word that made the Kremlin propagandists' hearts sink into their pants: tribunal. The events of the last few days of November triggered a new phobia on Russian state television. It's about the fear of The Hague.
Last Tuesday, the G7 states announced that they would "determine the responsibility of criminals in a due process based on the rule of law in order to hold them accountable to the greatest possible extent". Russia must pay for its crimes, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, "including the crime of aggressive war against a sovereign state."
A procedure before the International Court of Justice in The Hague is difficult in the current legal situation. In the case of Ukraine, the court only has jurisdiction over wars of aggression if the attack comes from a contracting state. But Russia is not one of them. And yet: the thought of The Hague also triggers thoughts of one's own demise. And this suddenly creeps into the constant propaganda soundtrack. But as always, nothing is a coincidence with the propagandists.
It all started with the mother of all propagandists, the notorious boss of the notorious station RT: Margarita Simonyan. She denied her compatriots, who are afraid of The Hague, any understanding. The same goes for those who didn't give a damn what one might think of them "there". For Simonjan, the "there" is always in the west.
"You have to be afraid of losing; afraid of embarrassing yourself; afraid of betraying your own people. If we manage to lose, The Hague expects every street cleaner to sweep the cobblestones behind the Kremlin walls," explained she swaggered in Vladimir Solovyov's nightly broadcast. The magnitude of the catastrophe that would await Russia in the event of a defeat is unimaginable. "We can't lose," Solovyov quickly interjected. "Exactly," agreed Simonyan.
"There will be no The Hague at all if it comes to that: the whole world will then lie in ruins," added Solovyov - outwardly completely calm himself.
Solovyov likes to repeat Putin's words, which have already become proverbial. "We go to heaven as martyrs, but they just die," the Kremlin boss once said. We - that's the Russians. You - that's everyone else. Above all the hated West. The verbal atomic baton is nothing new for the propagandists. What is new, however, is that your own population is being taken hostage - and quite openly.
Because what does a whole world in ruins mean? That also means a Russia in ruins. It is clear that the Kremlin does not intend to disintegrate into radioactive ash. But it is drummed into Putin's subjects that the collapse of the regime would also end in catastrophe for them. No life without Putin. That's the motto.
This record is also played in Olga Skabeeva's studio. In the program "60 Minutes" she expressed the "unspeakable": the thought of a possible defeat of Russia. Even if the word defeat isn't mentioned, the Kremlin has finally erased it from the propagandists' vocabulary.
"We won't allow that," Skabeeva began on her show last Wednesday. "We don't even say it. But let's just imagine: something happens and our country cannot achieve victory. Then the accusations are leveled against everyone, without exception. Regardless of whether you are in the Russian Federation or not. Those outside the borders are likely to just be arrested outright - whether someone is an accomplice of the Putin regime or just walked by. We'll all be the culprits! That's why we assume: At stake the existence of the country as well as the existence of every single Russian citizen is at stake. And our life, carefree life as it were, is also at stake!"
Skabeeva could not have been clearer: If Putin loses his bloody game, it will mean the end for all of Russia. The propaganda not only holds the entire country hostage, it also places collective blame on the population for the Kremlin's crimes. Above all, it is the carefree life of Skabeeva and her like-minded people that is at stake.
Their solution to the problem: "To ensure that there are no tribunals in The Hague, no prosecution, no reparations, no compensation, we have to screw up the fighting so much, squeeze and squeeze it so much that they ask us for a ceasefire or peace negotiations," she explained, drumming syllable after syllable into her audience.
The signs point to one thing: a new wave of mobilization. The propaganda is already preparing the ground. The tenor of the last few weeks has been that the so-called "special military operation" must be escalated to the next level. After all, the existence of all Russians is at stake. And the simple minds who are bombarded with propaganda 24/7 will believe it. One or the other will even voluntarily go to war for Putin, imagining that the Sword of Damocles of The Hague is already over his head.
The propagandists wisely conceal the fact that the street sweepers behind the walls of the Kremlin will undeterred be able to continue sweeping the cobblestones - even after Putin and his circle of power are no longer there. Unlike the propagandists themselves. In order not to end up in the dock of an international tribunal, they are prepared to burn 140 million of their countrymen alive.