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Donbass Devushka and me

In the beginning there was Perun. He referred to there being Russian “mil-bloggers” on Telegram. For those who don’t know Telegram is essentially Twitter without “community guidelines”. Seeing as I was on Telegram following Ukrainian “mil-bloggers” it didn’t seem such a great leap to include a few of their Russian counterparts. Coz balance is really good isn’t it?

I eventually found 3 Russian mil-bloggers to follow. The first I found was Donbass Devushka. This was maybe a couple of months ago.

And now she’s hit the headlines.

It is claimed that she claimed to be a Russian living in Luhansk when in fact she is an ex-US Navy sailor living in Washington state. I never saw this claim; at least not on the Donbass Devushka – DD as I shall now refer to her – channel. Jake Broe has a good video about this.

It is claimed that she solicits donations ostensibly for Russians affected by the war and the donations have not reached any Russians, affected by the war or otherwise. I cannot recall seeing any such solicitation. If solicitation there be it certainly isn’t a regular occurrence. And anyway, where would you prefer money donated by gullible pro-Russians to end up?

It is claimed that she was the first person to publish images – doctored images no less – of the US intelligence documents which have been such a big story in the last couple of weeks. I don’t recall seeing any such post. If it were posted and I didn’t see it there are good reasons why I might not have done. DD has a bad case of blogorrhea. Every day she – I say “she”, she claims the channel has multiple authors – posts something like 170 entries. Getting through that takes time. It is not helped by a bug in Telegram for Mac which means that page down doesn’t work. Fortunately it is helped by another bug in Telegram for Mac which from time to time will skip 50-100 entries.

Not that it matters much. Even if I had seen it I wouldn’t have paid a great deal of attention. The published images don’t look like an intelligence assessment to me. Colour! Flashy fonts! Large pieces of paper! In an intelligence document! Get away! And, anyway, I wouldn’t have had the skills to make sense of it.

So, if I managed to miss the big story what did I learn from following DD? A few things. I should point out that from the very beginning I was very sceptical about the things she said. I rapidly came to the conclusion that the channel was pure Kremlin propaganda. There was at no point any departure from the Kremlin line or criticism of Russia or Russian performance in the war. I was more interested in what sorts of stories she was promoting and what arguments she was making. Anything unverifiable – like a headling-grabbing intelligence report – I mostly ignored. So, a list:

  1. The “Ukrainians are Nazis” is an incredibly important line for the Russians.
  2. Syria – for some reason – is a big deal to the Russians
  3. …as is the idea of a “multi-polar” world
  4. Russia uses drones. Fewer than Ukraine but the best quality footage I have seen is Russian.
  5. While Ukrainians refer to their enemy as “orcs”; the Russians refer to their enemy as “Khokhols”
  6. There are occasional claims of Ukrainian brutality

How’s about that for an anti-climax?

13 comments to Donbass Devushka and me

  • Khokhols is indeed a Russian epithet for Ukrainians and what it actually means is a certain kind of haircut synonymous with Ukrainian Cossacks.

  • Paul Marks

    War attracts scammers.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Perry – the haircut made famous in the Hollywood film “Taurus Bulba” (1962) with Yul Brunner (from Vladivostok) and Tony Curtis (from Brooklyn).

    A rather sanitised version of Ukrainian history – with the atrocities committed during the great Cossack revolt (revolt against Polish rule) carefully edited out.

  • Intelligence reports are typed in Courier at 10 characters per inch, and the fancy ones in MICR-A.

    Maybe they’ve changed since my time, but since Hollywood still has all scripts written in a very set format decided in 1911 I don’t think so.

    Just my $0.02, or £0 -/4 for you pre-decimal Brits.

  • Phil B

    Once again, I am reminded of that cartoon showing a dog sitting at a computer and telling his companion “On the internet, no one knows you are a dog”. Or, in this instance, not a Russian and not in Russia. “She” might not even be a biological female (leaving out the 79 – and counting – made up genders).

  • William O. B'Livion

    It is claimed that she solicits donations ostensibly for Russians affected by the war and the donations have not reached any Russians, affected by the war or otherwise. I cannot recall seeing any such solicitation. If solicitation there be it certainly isn’t a regular occurrence. And anyway, where would you prefer money donated by gullible pro-Russians to end up?

    I would prefer, whether I agree with the cause or not, that funds solicited for a particular group of people benefit them in the way that the person collecting the funds indicated they would be. I also have not one spec of animosity towards the Russian lower and middle classes as they have limited to no ability to influence their leadership.

    I know that *many* of them are hurting because of the decisions of a handful of tyrants, and if someone had a pipeline to get assistance from the west to those people, and those people knew it was coming from the west, it would not be a bad thing.

  • William O. B'Livion

    A rather sanitised version of Ukrainian history

    Hollywood, especially at that time, sanitized a LOT of things because (a) you don’t want people throwing up in the movie theaters, (b) they had to pass censors and (c) they wanted butts in seats, and very few people like to watch the sorts of depravity that men will levy on people they no longer consider “fellow men”.

    Read “The Forgotten Highlander”, and then watch “The Bridge over the River Kwia”.

    We sanitized the behavior of hte Japanese AND the Germans in WWII. Well, except for the extermination camps. That was a bridge too far.

  • Chester Draws

    I believe “orcs” are the Russian military, though I am willing to be corrected.

    Ukraine has a fair number of derogatory names used for Russians in general, but “katsap” is a good traditional one that they still use. (No-one is quite sure why, but something to do with goats, probably).

    I followed a few Russian Telegram channels in the early days, back when they had actual news and varying interpretations. Putin has leaned on them to all get into line now, and they are just boring. The only interesting bits are when they propose outlandish possible lines of attack (such as one imminent attack that was across hilly terrain at 90 degrees to any roads — quite insane).

  • I believe “orcs” are the Russian military, though I am willing to be corrected.

    You are entirely correct.

    And you are also correct about the pro-Russian Telegram channels. I no longer bother with them as they really don’t say anything interesting or insightful any more.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes William – Hollywood does sanitise some things, but it also exaggerates other things.

    For example, showing Ukrainians slaughtering all the Jews they could find would not have gone down well with Ukrainian Americans, and it would also have complicated the story, rather than have a straight forward story of a struggle against the Polish Crown – Polish Americans did not seem to complain much (as far as I know) because it was fairly clear that the message of the film really was that independent (private property owning) Ukrainian farmers should be supported against an oppressive state – and that state, in 1962, was the Soviet Union (and there was still resistance going on in 1962 – just as there was in the Baltic States).

    On the other hand a film about Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy) doing such things as rescuing a young black boy from being beaten by a black man and taking the young lad into his family (till the boy was taken away by Union soldiers – most likely to die) would not do in a modern film.

    No I do not support slavery – and Jefferson Davis owning one slave who was also his top manager (the man he sold his plantation to after the war) does not change my opposition to it.

    History is complicated, because people are complicated – one can make films showing that people are complicated (not simple goodies and baddies) and a lot of people would want to see such films, but they are not the films that modern Hollywood Corporations want to make – they (the corporations – not the potential customers, modern Hollywood could not give a damn about what customers want to see) – modern Hollywood corporations, like corporations generally, want to make crude propaganda films, television shows and other “products” – telling people what we must think, and savagely attacking anyone who thinks differently on any matter.

  • Rob Fisher

    Did you listen to any of her podcasts? The ones with the fake accent and all?

  • Patrick Crozier

    I caught about 10 seconds of one and thought “she sounds very American.”

  • Paul Marks

    There was a lady working for the Pentagon who specialised in pretending (pretending on line – via computer) to be an Islamic leader.

    The lady was not a Muslim and had no background in the Middle East – but she managed to understand the culture so well that some Islamic fighters believed that she was a he, and that they they were following the words of a great Islamic scholar and military thinker.

    Things did go well for those Islamic fighters who believe the American lady.