Hate speech in the printed media of Donbas on both sides of the frontline (media monitoring)

Hate speech in the printed media of Donbas on both sides of the frontline (media monitoring)


Media environment of the Donetsk region has undergone transformation and changes as a result of hostilities and the actual division of the region into 2 parts, which has led to a corresponding division of mass media.

On the territory controlled by Ukrainian government the professional media sphere is formed in the absence of the regional centre, recognized by both the authorities and the citizens. Formally, the administrative centre, where the regional administration is located, is the city of Kramatorsk, but many regional institutions are located in Mariupol, the second largest city in the Donetsk region. In particular, regional department of the Security Service of Ukraine and the National Police of Ukraine are located in this city. There is no single administrative and economic centre around which regional editions could be formed. Naturally, city newspapers are more focused on local events than on regional ones.

Regional periodicals that have left Donetsk are experiencing difficulties due to a gap in connection with their traditional readership, a contraction of the advertising market, the lack of an extensive distribution system and the move-related problems. As a result, the circulations of these printed media have significantly decreased, and some newspapers stopped issuing (e.g. The Vecherniy Donetsk).

At the same time, there is a separate track of the media on uncontrolled territory of the Donetsk region. They are diverse and are represented by many editions.

Some of them are established by the Ministry of Information of “DPR” organization. The influence of this structure on all editions is very noticeable. Some issues of various newspapers are accompanied by identical photos of the “DPR” head Oleksandr Zakharchenko and by the same thesis.

These two environments are not just parallel; they often represent the views and the assessments of just one of the parties of the conflict - the party of the side where they actually belong and work on. The pressure, threats and blatant power game on the part of Russia-backed representatives of self-proclaimed government, made it impossible for Ukrainian journalists to work on the uncontrolled territory and significantly impeded the ability to obtain reliable information therefrom.

In the environment of hostilities, this situation leads media to the use of hate speech. The phenomenon is detected in the Russian, “DPR” and sometimes in the Ukrainian media. Hate speech does not contribute to stopping the conflict and overcoming its consequences.

“Donetsk Institute of Information” conducted a research in order to study this phenomenon range in the print media of the Donetsk region on both sides of demarcation line.

In the course of the research, the contents of 4 large editions issued on the uncontrolled territory were processed: Novorossiya, Donetskoye Vremya (“Donetsk Time”), Golos Respubliki (“Voice of the republic”), Donetskaya Respublika ("Donetsk Republic").

The editions to study the content were taken of 3 weeks-time. Novorossiya, Donetskoye Vremya and Donetskaya Respublika are issued once in a week, and Golos Respubliki - 3 times, therefore 3 issues of this edition on each week of the study were processed.

When summarizing the research results, of 184 pages of the “DPR” editions which were taken and processed, only 131 pages contained the content suitable for research (without insertions, ads, crossword puzzles, horoscopes, television programs and other similar content).

According to the results of the research, it was found that, in general, 34 of the processed content contained publications with signs of hate speech, which is 25.95%.

Four printed editions issued on the territory of the Donetsk region controlled by the government were taken: Donbass, Priazovskiy Rabochiy (“Azov Worker”), Donetskiye Novosti (“Donetsk News”) and Znamya Industrii (“Banner of Industry”). 3 issues of each edition were taken for the research.

The total number of pages is 228, 141 of which contained no ads. Signs of the hate speech were detected on 3 pages, which are 2.13%.

Media of an uncontrolled territory overview

Novorossiya: there is no information about the public edition circulation, but it can be estimated at 5 thousand copies. The newspaper is private. Its editor-in-chief Dmytro Dezortsev is a deputy of the “DPR” People's Council from the Free Donbas group (controlled by Pavlo Gubarev).

The materials of the newspaper are extremely rich in signs of hate speech - 59.26% of the pages processed. All scans of the studied issues contained signs of hate speech. Publications of this public edition stand out even against the other “DPR” editions, going beyond the boundaries of the “red tape” hate speech in the “DPR” militaries appeals, or in the statements of the organization leaders.

A typical method for this public edition is the use of mangled Ukrainian words: “indie-pendent1, “pantryotic power2, “not-dead-yet3 and extremely hostile statements regarding certain social and political groups of Ukrainian citizens: “Ukrainian monkeys in tuxedos”, “boasted heroes”, “consciouSS4, “jarheads5, “veteruns6,  and addressing the Ukrainian state as an institution – “a defective under-state”.

An example of the editorial in the March 23 issue scan, named “The clouds are gathering over the Dnieper”: “Recently, our Head has made a point that the Dill-land7 will be done in a couple of months. After reading this my soul rejoiced of course, but there is a question arising all at once: and what is the prerequisite for such a wonderful event?”

An example from the column “readers' letters”: “If only dills8 break out there, we will observe a wild slaughter. All Russians will be massacred...”

Donetskoye Vremya, the declared circulation is 8 thousand copies. The founder and publisher is “State Enterprise Republican Publishing House ‘Donbass’”. Editor-in-chief is Volodymyr Nikolayev. The public edition cover both socio-political and entertainment topics.

The publications are not so saturated with the hate speech as Novorossiya publications, but they are still numerous: 13.64% of the processed pages of the public edition contain such materials. The newspaper pays much attention to non-political issues. Usually the political-related publications bear the examples of hate speech signs.

Traditionally, the main subjects are accusations of Ukrainian authorities in launching “genocide”, “killing civilians” and in commitment to the ideals of Nazism. Such allegations taken separately may not bear signs of hate speech, but be a personal opinion, although in this case the use of semantic markers makes them the real signs of hate speech.

An example of the publication in the March 8 issue, named “Brute face of ‘Soloveyko’9 redoubt”: “Let the fascist bastards do not doubt: we will resist ... wooden stake and moldy crypt for the descendants of hit squads and police goons! That’s the appropriate place for the undead”.

An example of the publication in the March 8 issue, named “His military history”, an interview with the Border Guard Service of “DPR” employee:

“I can’t help having witnessed artillery shelling by the Ukrainian terrorist armed gangs.

Donetskaya Respublika newspaper is the official public edition of the pro-government civic movement “Donetsk Republic”, which is its founder. Editor-in-chief is Maksim Isayev. The circulation is 100 thousand copies. 33.33% of the processed pages of the public edition bear signs of hate speech.

The public edition is connected with the “DPR” authorities and has an official status, so in spite of the high saturation of its materials with signs of hate speech, for the most part, mostly templates are used here, which have become almost official in “DPR” for the last three years: “Ukrainian punishers”, “Neobanderist criminals10.

 An example of the publication in the March 16 issue, named “War and Ecology”: "Ukrainian punishers with an enviable regularity shell DFS (Donetsk filter station) with artillery fire."

An example of the publication in the March 16 issue, named “Neobanderist criminals - to the prisoners’ dock”: “It's time for Russia to put Neobanderist criminals on the prisoners’ dock.”

Golos Respubliki  is the official public edition of the “DPR” organization, it publishes information on tenders. The founder is the “DPR” Ministry of Information, the publisher is the State Enterprise “Republican Publishing House ‘Donbass’”, editor-in-chief is Stanislav Shatalov.

The signs of hate speech were recorded only in the first issue, it can be attributed to the “official” hate speech. In 7.14% of the public edition pages, the signs of hate speech are detected.

An example of the publication in the March 7 issue, named “Europe wakes up”: “To recognize the Ukrainian media the criminal information division that provide informational camouflage of the putsch and genocide.”

An example of the publication in the March 7 issue, named “Aleksandr Zakharchenko: ‘We cut all ties with Ukraine’: “They have learnt to jump on Maidan in 2014, and now let them learn to live without light, heat, and soon without food, without salaries and without pensions.”

Media of the territory controlled by Ukrainian government overview

For the research of the situation in the print media, 4 print editions in the Donetsk region territory controlled by Ukrainian government were processed. Two of them are ‘displaced newspapers’: Donbass (“Donbas”) and Donetskiye Novosti (“Donetsk News”) and the other two are city newspapers of Mariupol and Kostyantynivka.

In total, 228 pages were processed, the content of 141 of which was suitable for research (without insertions, ads, crossword puzzles, horoscopes, television programs and other similar content).

According to the results of the study, it was detected that, in general, 3 of them contained publications where hate speech was used, which was 2.13%.

There are some peculiarities of this region’s media; despite the proximity to the combat zone the level of attention to the hostilities is low, with the greater focus on the topics of assistance to the affected civilian population.

Priazovsky Rabochiy (“Azov Worker”) - the Mariupol newspaper, which declares to have one of the largest circulations in the Donetsk region - more than 40 thousand copies. The founder of the public edition is “CJSC Gazeta ‘Priazovsky Rabochiy’” (controlled by Rinat Akhmetov ‘s “SCM” company). The editor-in-chief is Mykola Tokarskiy.

Mariupol is located close to the demarcation line, so the public edition pays some attention to the hostilities, but this, for the most part, is the ATO headquarters’ information. There is also political advertising.

An example of the publication in the section “ATO” in the March 17 issue, named “Shelling of Gnutovo outskirts”: “ ‘At 15:00 on Wednesday, as a result of militants shelling of the village of Gnutovo outskirts, 6 houses were damaged there’, the chairman of the Talakov's council Vyacheslav Salagov said yesterday morning.”

No signs of hate speech detected.

Znamya Industrii (“Banner of Industry”) is Kostyantynivka city newspaper. Its founder and publisher is “LLC Vozrozhdeniye Donbassa”. The editor is Gennadiy Chubenko. Circulation is about 10 thousand copies.

The newspaper mostly focuses on local topics. During the study, hostilities issues were brought up in the context of a local resident death reports who participated in the anti-terrorist operation.

An example of the publication in the April 19 issue, the publication named “For Bravery” on the funeral of the killed: “Poems about the war sounded especially penetrating. Teachers, schoolchildren and Oleksandr Ponomaryov’s colleagues could hardly hold back tears.”

There are complementary materials related to some local officials. An example of the complementary publication in the April 5 issue, named “Vladymyr Marynych: ‘Thanks to the veterans for the preservation of traditions’”: “With tears, the veterans remembered the Marynych’s words that he treated each of them as his own parents, and would continue to help them in problem solving”.

No signs of hate speech detected.

Donetskiye Novosti weekly newspaper (“Donetsk news”) is the regional periodical that has left Donetsk. The founder of the public edition is “Editorial office of the newspaper ‘Donetsk News’ Ltd.” The General Director is the editor-in-chief Rimma Fil. The claimed circulation is about 4500 copies. The actual owner of the public edition is Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov.

The periodical publishes a lot of news and articles on the activities of the newspaper’s owner Rinat Akhmetov’s charity fund. The public edition editor Rimma Fil is at the same time the coordinator of the humanitarian centre of Akhmetov’s “Dopomozhemo” Foundation. Publications are devoted to the problems of the internally-displaced persons.

An example of the publication in the March 23 issue, named “Month of the Humanitarian Centre blocking”: “I want to address those who are on the Ukrainian territory. People, we are hostages here, and we have nowhere to go, my mother is bed-bound,” weeps out Gorlovka resident.

No signs of hate speech detected.

Donbass is a regional newspaper that has left Donetsk. The founder is “LLC Gazeta Donbas”. Editor-in-chief is Oleksandr Bryzh. The claimed circulation is about 3500 copies. The public edition more often than other media that were subjects of the research, publishes materials on the hostilities. The signs of hate speech have been detected here. In most cases, its source is not the journalist, but the publications characters or statements of the institutions which the newspaper publishes. In general, the signs of hate speech were detected at 7.69% of the pages of the public edition.

An example of the publication in the March 10 issue, named “Spring Aggravation and the Hague Advance”: “The rashists suffer from spring aggravation of the ‘Russian world’. Thrashing like crazy...” (head of Donetsk Regional military-civilian administration Pavlo Zhebrivskiy).


Signs of hate speech are detected in the print media on both sides of the demarcation line. However, the “DPR” processed public editions use this speech much more often. At present, these are just isolated cases on the territory controlled by Ukrainian government.

The absolute leader in using hate speech is Novorossiya edition. Its material is extremely saturated with this. The publications of the “DPR” organization claiming to have an “official” status use such speech much less and formally.

The research was prepared by the “DPR” public organization with the support of the German non-profit MiST organization.

List of the sources processed:

  • Donetskaya Respublika (“Donetsk republic”) newspaper: 09/03/2017, No.9 (99), 16/03/2017, No.10 (100), 23/03/2017, No.11 (101)
  • Donetskoye Vremya (“Donetsk time”) newspaper: 8/03/ 2017, No.9 (74), 15/03/2017, No.10 (74), 22/03/2017, No.11 (76)
  • Novorossiya newspaper: 31/03/2017, No. 130, 16/03/2017, No. 131, 23/03/2017, No. 132
  • Golos Respubliki (“Voice of the Republic”) newspaper: 07/03/2017, No.16 (107), 14/03/2017, No. ı18 (109), 14/03/2017, No. ı20 (111)
  • Donbass (“Donbas”) newspaper: 10/03/2017, No. 10 (22780), 17/03/2017, No. 11 (22781), 24/03/2017, No. 12 (22782)
  • Priazovskiy Rabochiy (“Azov Worker”) newspaper: 10/03/2017, No. 27 (20324), 17/03/2017, No. 30 (20327), 24/03/2017, No. 33 (20330)
  • Znamya Industrii (“Banner of Industry”) magazine. 04/05/2017, No. ı14 (14971), 12/04/2017, No. ı15 (14972), 19/04/2017, No. ı16 (14973)
  • Donetskiye Novosti (“Donetsk News”) newspaper: 09/03/2017, No. 10 (1280), 16/03/2017, No. 11 (1281), 23/03/2017, No. 12 (1282)


1 “Indie-pendent” (independent; in Ukrainian: “самостійна” - “samostiyna”)

2 “Pantriotic government” (patriotic government; in Ukr.: “патріотична влада” - “patriotychna vlada”)

3 “Not-dead-yet" (mocking reference to the line of the Ukrainian anthem “Ukraine is not dead yet”; in Ukr.: “щеневмерлики” – “schenevmerlyky”)

4 “ConsciouSS” (conscious citizens; in Ukr.: “свідомі” – “svidomi”)

5 “Jarheads” (wearing pans on their heads, mocking reference to Ukrainian Maidan where people jokingly protected their heads against securities truncheons; in Ukr.: “кастрюлеголові” – “kastrulegolovi”)

6 “Veteruns” (veterans; in Ukr.: “витірани” – “vytyrany”)

7 “Dill-land” (mangled name of the Ukrainian state implying that its population are “dills” - “ukropy”. This nickname sounds similar to “Ukrainians”; in Ukr.: “Укропія” – “Ukropia”)

8 “Dill” (in Ukr.: “укропи” – “ukropy”, supra note7)

9 “Soloveyko” (nightingale; here: an implication to “Nachtigal”, battalion of UPA during the WWII; in Ukr.: “Соловейко”)

10 “Neobanderist criminals” (an implication to Stepan Bandera, Ukrainian nationalist of the WWII times)