RT’s director of broadcasting, Anton Krasovsky, triggered global outrage when he suggested drowning or burning Ukrainian children and made hideous statements about Ukrainian grandmothers, who he alleged would gladly pay to get raped by Russian soldiers.
During the same interview with sci-fi writer Sergei Lukyanenko, Krasovsky insisted that Ukraine should not be allowed to continue to exist in its current form but should remain solely as a tiny sliver of land where people would only be allowed to raise pigs. Krasovsky mockingly clarified that when he says “pigs,” he doesn’t mean Ukrainian women. He mused that in a tiny remnant of Ukraine, women would be forced to wear “vyshyvankas” (traditional embroidered shirts) and flower crowns at all times.
Krasovsky’s vile insistence that any Ukrainian children who complain about being occupied by Russia should be drowned or burned alive prompted condemnation from Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and the editor in chief of RT itself, Margarita Simonyan, who said the state-controlled broadcaster was suspending Krasovsky. Nonetheless, in the two days since Simonyan has seemingly started to lay the groundwork for his potential reinstatement.
Simonyan repeatedly retweeted and reposted on Telegram various versions of Krasovsky’s lukewarm “apology,” none of which were directed at Ukrainians. On the contrary, even his “apology” had the same genocidal stench as the words that caused the uproar in the first place. Krasovsky complained of unwittingly erasing the boundaries “between our righteous deeds and evil... between us and them.” He claimed to be suffering for the children on both sides and that it was his dream that there would be no more deaths. Krasovsky failed to mention that the brutal war was unleashed and prolonged by Russia, whose withdrawal is the only thing that will immediately stop the horrific human toll from growing.
Krasovsky added: “I’m an idiot. I’m not asking you to forgive me, I’m asking you to understand me. To understand me, a fool. I’m at fault before my friends, comrades, my RT colleagues, before all mothers who were horrified to hear those words... I always wanted to be better than the enemy. My country wanted to be better than the enemy. I’m a fool who mixed good with evil. I screwed up.”
Krasovsky’s apologies to his RT colleagues didn’t address the fact that the interview was pre-recorded and edited before it was released. It was publicly available for two days before being translated into English, to the shock and dismay of the global community.
RT apparently had no objection to the commentary and reacted only after it prompted a global outcry. In a way, the situation is reminiscent of an incident in 2014, when an episode of an RT show called Truthseeker contained deliberate disinformation and sick fantasies, falsely alleging that Ukrainian troops “literally crucify babies in seized towns, force mothers to watch.” The show was taken down only in response to international censure.
Now, in an apparent attempt to get her followers to sympathize with Krasovsky, Simonyan has been peppering her Twitter feed with statements about her own experiences on the front lines, stating that war hardens people and it can be surprisingly easy to lose your humanity. Applying those statements to Krasovsky would be a bit of a stretch, since the war is entirely of Russia’s creation and he is not fighting on the front lines but engaging in genocidal fantasies from the comfort of RT’s studio.
Appearing on the state TV show The Evening With Vladimir Solovyov on Tuesday, Simonyan said: “In our culture, the Russian culture, the Orthodox culture, there are mandatory things, if we relate to the Christian faith and this culture. Specifically, it is not simply recommended but required of us to forgive one who repents. Anton has asked for forgiveness many times, made a video where he called himself a fool and an idiot, and tried to explain why he said what he said. For me, my religion is the sole imperative, the only benchmark for words and deeds.”
Simonyan is not the only one defending Krasovsky. Writer Zakhar Prilepin, who visits the occupied regions of Ukraine often and makes frequent appearances on state TV, complained about the unduly “harsh” and judgmental reaction to Krasovsky’s suggestion that Ukrainian children should be drowned or burned. RT commentator Egor Kholmogorov agreed with Krasovsky’s offensive commentary, remarking that any Ukrainians who call Russian troops occupants—like the children mentioned in the video—should indeed be killed.
Political scientist Mikhail Shpir took aim not only at Krasovsky’s accusers but at the head of RT herself. Recalling Simonyan’s comments that she would rather die in a nuclear war than to accept Russia’s defeat in Ukraine, Shpir noted that both Russian and Ukrainian children would perish in such a scenario. He wrote on his Telegram channel: “What’s wrong with what Krasovsky said? Why can [Margarita] Simonyan say it, but he can’t?”