In a last-ditch attempt to defend the outgoing U.S. President Donald J. Trump, Russian-speaking participants in the recent mob at the Capitol flooded the airwaves of the Kremlin-controlled Russian state television. They claimed that the pro-Trump insurrectionists were merely “peaceful demonstrators” and blamed “antifa” for the violence that took place in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
Russian state media propagandists and their mouthpieces apparently didn’t get the memo that even the Republicans no longer pursue that false narrative. Congressman Kevin McCarthy spoke on the House floor ahead of a vote on Trump’s second impeachment and asserted: “Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that.”
But the truth never stopped the Kremlin’s propaganda networks from continuing to disseminate a convenient fable. Russian-speaking eyewitnesses were shown intermittently—or some might argue interchangeably—with clips from Fox News, featuring Tucker Carlson, Marco Rubio and other Trump apologists. Appearing on state TV channel Rossiya-24, two Russian-speakers living in the United States were identified as “those who participated in the events” on Capitol Hill and later took part in numerous shows on Russian state television. Anchor Stas Natanzon asked Elena Nikitskaya of Greenville, South Carolina and Alexander Schneider of Boston, Massachusetts whether they’re facing persecution in the United States for supporting Donald Trump.
Sitting in front of a large flag that said, “Trump 2020: No More Bullshit,” Schneider expressed his belief that Trump supporters are being unjustly oppressed. Nikitskaya joined the grievance chorus and described the alleged persecution of pro-Trump individuals as “tyranny.” She made a flurry of appearances on various Russian state media outlets and told Russia’s Channel One that all followers of Trump in the United States live in fear.
Nikitskaya’s YouTube channel, replete with various conspiracy theories, gained notoriety after she posted a video of marching towards the Capitol and opined that Trump’s followers would take Washington, DC in a matter of minutes if their leader gave an order to do so. Nonetheless, in her subsequent videos and multiple media appearances, the blogger conveniently—and baselessly—blamed omnipresent “antifa” for storming the Capitol. She claimed that the police opened up the barriers and invited “peaceful protesters” like herself to enter in, trying to set them up: “It’s as though the followers of Gestapo and Dr. Mengele decided to organize this tyranny against the people.” At the same time, Nikitskaya denied ever entering the Capitol and, if so, could not have possibly witnessed the events she had described.
Nikitskaya complained of being hounded with threats of legal repercussions from callers who said that after watching her videos, they’ve reported her to the FBI. “It’s scary to be surrounded by so many vile people,” she grumbled. Nonetheless, the blogger expressed her intent to participate in future protests and demonstrations “to save our country from the usurpers of power.”
Miami blogger Steve Doudnik appeared on Russian state TV news talk show 60 Minutes, sitting in front of a U.S. flag emblazoned with the photo of Donald Trump and the logo of his presidential campaign. On his way to the event, surrounded by dozens of other Russian speakers, Doudnik proudly exclaimed: “Our team is moving towards Washington, DC. We’re ready, Russian speakers don’t surrender! Everyone here can confirm this. We’re for our president. I hope we will defeat those bastards.” On his way back to the hotel on the evening of January 6, with Nikitskaya by his side, Doudnik said: “We didn’t see any antifa or BLM [Black Lives Matter]” and added: “We’re very disappointed. When the Capitol was taken, if Trump was there, there would have been a revolution.”
However, during his subsequent state TV appearance, Doudnik denied taking part in the violent events of that day. He claimed that the police allowed “antifa” to break the windows, enter the Capitol and take selfies inside. He disingenuously asserted that having broken into the Capitol, “antifa” subsequently left and innocent Trump supporters “entered the trap,” solely because they were “invited” to come in and the doors were already open. Having described this surreal scenario, Doudnik proceeded to clarify that he was nowhere near the Capitol and found out what supposedly happened from fellow pro-Trump participants staying in the same hotel. He expressed hesitation to participate in any future marches or protests, fearing “arrests and repressions.”
Irina Raskina, another pro-Trump marcher who traveled from Los Angeles to Washington, DC told 60 Minutes that the storming of the Capitol “was an obvious set-up” and described herself as “the victim who was tear-gassed.” Nervously drinking water, Raskina blamed “the left” and “antifa” for storming the Capitol and asserted that she had no plans to participate in any other marches or protests. The co-host of 60 Minutes Olga Skabeeva followed up to reinforce the official propaganda line: “Let’s reiterate it one more time: Biden provoked the people to storm the Capitol in order to blame Trump?” “Isn’t that right?” chimed in host Evgeny Popov. Raskina hesitated and stammered, seemingly realizing the outlandish message she was expected to deliver. She reluctantly went along with a suggested shtick, unconvincingly blaming President-elect Joe Biden, his assistants and phantom “elements of the left” for the pro-Trump insurrection.
Back in the studio of 60 Minutes, Konstantin Zatulin, a member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, speculated that the storming of the Capitol was a “fake,” created by the Democrats to set up Trump for another impeachment. Other panelists had a hard time not rolling their eyes, uncomfortably grimacing at such a ludicrous suggestion—because earlier during the same show Zatulin conceded: “Just between us, elements of incitement were obviously present in Trump’s behavior.”
The uncomfortable truth is hard to swallow, because on the reverse side of the coin, the thought of a violent mob storming the Kremlin or Russian parliament is not something that Russian President Vladimir Putin or his mouthpieces could ever attempt to praise or justify. Nonetheless, Trump remains the Kremlin’s top choice for America’s president—now and in 2024—therefore, the other side must be blamed for his crimes and misdemeanors.
Moscow’s full-throated defense of Trump is not based on affinity or admiration. His scandalous persona, appearance, ignorance and subservience to Putin have been mercilessly mocked and kept on full display by Russian propagandists throughout the duration of his tumultuous presidency. While Trump himself may be loathed or derided in Russia, his misdeeds are deeply valued, having caused incalculable harm to the United States of America. The blow that Trump’s false claims have dealt to public trust in U.S. elections is a highly coveted prize that has been long pursued by the Kremlin. Internal turmoil caused by the outgoing U.S. president’s relentless attempts to stay in power damaged America above and beyond the Kremlin’s wildest dreams.
Appearing on 60 Minutes, Deputy of the Russian Duma Alexei Zhuravlyov rejoiced that America could no longer be viewed as the paragon of democracy and openly stated that spilled American blood is viewed as a good thing, not only by him personally but also by the majority of his constituents. Zhuravlyov later noted: “They talk about us interfering—we’d be glad to interfere, but what’s the point? What they’re doing to themselves, we couldn’t even come up with.”
“Well done, Trumpushka,” laughed state TV host Vladimir Soloviev during his show, The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, making fun of the fact that Trump is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice during his one term in office. “It’s too bad that Americans haven’t been watching our program,” Soloviev said during another broadcast. He reiterated predictions that have been made on his show over the years: “Trumpushka will destroy your America.”