Serbia: Kiev sends media instructions on ‘correct terminology’

After cleaning up its own media landscape, Ukraine resorted to censorship of the Serbian media: the Belgrade editors recently received a manual that stipulates that only formulations approved in Kiev should be used in articles.

The Ukrainian embassy in Belgrade has already confirmed to the press that a list of “correct” expressions, narratives and names sent to media outlets in Serbia is genuine and was created on the orders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kiev. The Serbian daily newspaper Novosti explained the representatives of the embassy to the English-language manual:

“It is a recommendation that we sent to the media to use the correct terminology in their coverage of the war in Ukraine.”

Synchronization: How the Federal Government Controls the Anti-Russian Narrative

Synchronization: How the Federal Government Controls the Anti-Russian Narrative

According to data from RT Balkans the e-mail was sent to all print and electronic media in Serbia on April 27th.

According to instructions from the Ukrainian embassy, ​​reporters should use “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine” instead of speaking of a crisis, conflict, war or even a “Russian war in Ukraine”. Another guideline states that “unprovoked full-scale military invasion” should be used instead of “military special operation”.

The Pentagon, as well as several US and UK media outlets, are already using this terminology, but it is unclear whether they adopted it at the “recommendation” of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry or if it was the other way around.

The email hit Serbian newsrooms after the US and EU urged Belgrade to stop Russian broadcasters like RT Balkans and sputnik to censor or ban and to crack down on “Russian narratives” about Ukraine. While some Western media in Serbia are already using Kyiv’s preferred language, some journalists took offense at the embassy’s efforts to censor its reporting.

The deputy editor of the magazine PečatFilip Rodić, shared for example Novosti with:

“Who are they to tell someone how to work or how to write? If they think they can censor the whole world, that’s utter madness.”

There was also no explanation as to why the document sent to the Serbian media was entirely in English. Some of the politically banned terms in it – “Ukraine” for example – are completely meaningless in Serbian, whose grammar has no articles. Also, Serbian is a phonetic language that does not spell, so insisting on using Ukrainian spellings for place names – Horlivka and not Gorlovka, Kharkiv and not Kharkov, Mykolaiv and not Nikolayev, etc. – also makes no sense.

German media have come to the Goebbels


German media have come to the Goebbels

In some places, the document seems to confuse the official narratives with the recommended wording. For example, it calls for using “Ukraine’s legitimate efforts to clear Crimea, which is part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory within internationally recognized borders” instead of “Ukraine’s attacks on Crimea.”

The government in Kyiv has for years insisted on using expressions and place names it prefers, for example by forcing “Kyiv” on English speakers. The prominent Ukrainian activist Aliona Shevchenko, who founded the association Ukraine DAO — raising money for weapons and for nationalist units like the Azov regiment — went so far as to explain last month that language plays a “crucial role” in hybrid warfare because “it creates a mental map in our heads that we use ‘to make sense of what’s happening’. “One of the best ways to support us is to use Ukrainian-influenced terminology,” said the activist, who is known for collecting and spreading fakes about alleged crimes by the Russian army in Ukraine.

More on the subject – “Acts of political cleansing”: How the journalist Patrik Baab lost his teaching position

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