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Russia’s culture minister calls for new ‘patriotic Internet’ to combat Western spin

The Russian national flag flaps in the wind during previews ahead of the Russian Formula One Grand Prix at Sochi Autodrom on Oct. 9, 2014 ,in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

MOSCOW—Russia’s culture minister is calling for a “patriotic Internet” to combat Western spin and win the “war for the minds” of Russians.

Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin were among the signatories to a statement the Russian Military-Historical Society posted to its Web site Tuesday warning of a “new blitzkrieg” against Russia – “and thus against the truth,” as the statement explained. Both officials later promoted it via their Twitter accounts.

The statement calls not just for a patriotic Internet, but patriotic radio and television, books, exhibitions and video games. Such pro-Russian media are necessary, the statement’s signers argued, “to speak in support of the president’s policy and go on the ideological offensive on all fronts.”

“We must consolidate the state and society based on the values instilled by our history,” the statement reads. “We need a patriotic trend in the public consciousness.”

Such sentiments might seem par for the course in a country that has recently taken steps to limit dissent on the Internet, hamper the ability of independent media to broadcast over the airwaves, and introduce new patriotism curriculums in schools.

But this statement in particular seems to have been inspired by recent comments by the Ukrainian prime minister about “the invasion of the Soviet Union” into Germany and Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk made the comment in an interview to a German television station last week. He later said that he had been referring to the Soviet Union’s occupation of Ukraine and East Germany, along with various other parts of eastern Europe that ended up behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

Many Russian outlets, however, accused him of trying to rewrite history and being a Nazi apologist.

The memory of World War II, and the approximately 27 million Soviets that died defeating Nazi Germany, is sacrosanct in Russia. Building on  Yatsenyuk’s comments, the military historical society’s statement now warns that history is repeating itself, 70 years after that victory.

“A new war, a war for the minds, is being carried out with the same ruthlessness as our grandfathers had to fight against in Sevastopol, Stalingrad and the Battle of Berlin,” the statement read.

"We cannot succumb to the carelessness of Europe, where the chant "I am Charlie!" is drowning out the Ukrainian army's artillery strikes against the peaceful cities of Donbass," the statement also added. "A strong army is the best guarantor of peace."