Repression Universities

Journalism departments hit by “storm Z”: military officers and former prisoners joined in teaching students

In the third year after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, journalism faculties and media departments at all universities in the country changed their policies. The transfer of experience to novice journalists from military officers, Z-bloggers and even former prisoners has become regular and widespread. At UrFU, a regular series of such meetings was launched and conducted directly by the dean, and at the Higher School of Economics, a female military correspondent from Channel One was invited to the first such conversation. T-invariant studied the most notable examples of new policies in the country’s journalism departments in the context of a long war.

“Well, now we need to close the ranks and march in step…,” this is how a former teacher at the Institute of Media at the National Research University Higher School of Economics reacted to the news about the visit of military correspondent Maryana Naumova to student journalists. On May 16, 2024, an employee of Channel One became a guest of the “Flying” project from the Media Institute. A report on the event appeared on the university website on May 20 (more photo and video).

“This is the first invitation from military officers to student journalists at HSE; there have been no such meetings before and I don’t even remember such conversations,” the interlocutor told T-invariant.

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However, large regional universities are so far showing the greatest activity in new practices in training future journalists. T-invariant studied how military officers and Z-bloggers now teach the craft to the younger generation.

Daniil Tulenkov, former stormtrooper of the Storm Z squad at a meeting with UrFU students Photo: VKontakte account of Ivan Nekrasov

When you walked into the wrong door

The most notable example of the new policy is the department “Faculty of Journalism” of the Ural Federal University (Ural Federal University). Here, the initiator of the turn to “educating future journalists” was the leader, Ivan Nekrasov. He organized and personally carries out the project “Military Correspondents at the Faculty of Journalism of UrFU”. At one of the last meetings, a former prisoner stormtrooper from the “Storm Z” detachment, and now an aspiring writer and military correspondent, Daniil Tulenkov, shared his experience with student journalists. Judging by numerous photo reports, they listened to a former prisoner, mostly girls from the initial courses.

Students of the project “Military Correspondents at the Faculty of Journalism of UrFU”. Photo: VKontakte account, Faculty of Journalism, UrFU

“Today the writer Daniil Tulenkov spoke to the students of Publishing. He wrote the book “Storm Z” while being a member of the prisoner assault squad of the same name, where the mortality rate, according to Daniil, exceeded 50%. He reflected complex emotions in the Telegram channel. Daniil compared this interest to gladiatorial fights: will this fighter survive six months or not? Survived.” – wrote Nekrasov on his VKontakte page. The publication URA.RU, which was headed by Nekrasov before becoming dean, named article about Tulenkov “Sverdlovsk convict businessman won fame in the Northern Military District by talking about the “Zelensky point.”

Meetings began and are held regularly in 2024, however, it is curious that the start of the personal special project of the head of the journalism department was preceded by the appearance of Ivan Nekrasov in a video from a police raid at a sex party in Yekaterinburg. The video with Nekrasov’s slurred remarks on the police camera was published on February 19, 2024 in the Mash telegram channel. This event was presented in the media as scandalous and became part of an information campaign that began with the memorable “almost naked party” of Anastasia Ivleeva with the subsequent “correction” of caught celebrities who “simply walked into the wrong door.”

Military correspondent Platon Mamatov (right), Dean of the Faculty of Journalism of UrFU Ivan Nekrasova (left). Photo: VKontakte account of Ivan Nekrasov

Ivan Nekrasov found the “right door” a month after the scandal. He announced about the start of the project “Military correspondents at the Faculty of Journalism of UrFU” on March 22, 2024. “Continuing the path to educating military officers at the Faculty of Journalism, we are opening a project of the same name,” Nekrasov wrote on his page. The first guest of the students became “National Military District veteran, PR specialist, author of the Telegram channel “How I went to war” Platon Mamatov.”

Ivan Nekrasov read but did not respond to T-invariant’s message asking him to comment on his project and new practices in teaching student journalists. However, according to the available interviews with Nekrasov, one can see the evolution hero. After entering the right door, he gave a long interview to a local publication, where told, which “brings up future Gilyarovskys, Levitans and Sobchaks, writes fairy tales.” In this interview, released immediately after the ill-fated sex party, Nekrasov answers the question: “The last few days: what were you thinking about, what were your observations, insights?” – like this:

I thought about the security of the country, the peace of mind of students and my employees, ISIS* and the North Military District. Journalists, like doctors, are extremely resistant to emergency situations. And unbearable emotions, if they do appear, I process into creativity

Military correspondents instead of Urgant

The very discussion about the importance of meetings between student journalists and military officers and Z-bloggers began back in 2023 with a scandal at MGIMO. Let us recall that in November 2023, Deputy Dean Yuri Kobaladze resigned from the Faculty of Journalism of MGIMO. According to media reports, the reason was invitation to Ivan Urgant to speak to students and then a fuss erupted in Z-circles with a demand to invite military officers to the journalism department instead of Urgant. According to rumors, Kobaladze did not listen to these persistent wishes and chose to quit.

At MGIMO itself, organizational conclusions were made immediately. November 23 in the diplomatic forge of personnel a teleconference took place with military journalist, special correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda A.I. Kots, organized by the patriotic project of the Student Union “From Heart to Heart” with the support of the Office of Educational Work.” After this, there were no others willing to go against the grain among the staff of the country’s journalism departments.

In the winter of 2023 – spring of 2024, news about meetings with military correspondents appeared literally every week. At the Kuban State University, “military correspondents of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta” told to students of the Faculty of Journalism about your work.” Military correspondent Alexander Kots conducted “workshop” with student media of the Russian Federation and the countries of the former USSR. Howlnkor Vasily Tsymbal told to student journalists of Novgorod University “about the intricacies of the profession.” Synergy University actively advertises its course, developed jointly with leading military officers (see impressive landing). However, military officers are already independently creating their own schools and even receive presidential grants for them.


What are Storm units?

Storm Z and Storm V are military units made up of prisoners who are drafted into the war with Ukraine. Here is an example of news about members of these units who can be read in the media. “Sentenced to 25 years in prison for cannibalism and a series of murders, he was released on parole from the colony and fought in Ukraine as part of the Storm V penal battalion.” “The cannibal Dmitry Malyshev went to war to “fight” sex education in school and gays. A dismemberer from the Volgograd region went to the front with him.”

Student of the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University Stepan Antropov

Of course, occasional meetings between military officers and young journalists from regional universities took place in 2023. Thus, foreign military officers working in the Donbass and occupying a pro-Kremlin position, spoke to students of the Faculty of Journalism of Voronezh State University. Military correspondent Poddubny talked via video conference with students of the Faculty of Journalism of the Kazan Federal University. Military correspondent Perevezentsev came to the future journalists of Mordovia.

The journalism department of Moscow State University stands apart. Back in the fall of 2022, there was a loud scandal associated with the firm position of two students who publicly condemned 3rd year student Stepan Antropov, who staged a kind of performance on Mokhovaya: appearing at the faculty in a T-shirt with the letter Z, he waved the flag of the self-proclaimed LPR. The civil position of the students stirred up the hive of the Z-community, and under their pressure Dean of the Faculty of Journalism Elena Vartanova, first demonstratively, with a public meeting students were expelled, and then held round table of military correspondents. Then the parties agreed on further cooperation and even decided to strengthen the work of the Moscow State University journalism department in training military journalists (such a course was occasionally taught at the faculty in previous years). Since then, over the past almost 2 years, there have been no more public meetings with military officers and Z-bloggers, and no mention of restarting the course could be found.

Meeting with military officers at Voronezh State University. Photo: VSU VKontakte account

“Zits-chairman” and “commissioner”

Military correspondent Maryana Naumova, who came to the meeting at the HSE Media Department, has not only been the host of the program since 2022 “We are alive” on Channel One, but also a star of women’s powerlifting. In a publication on the HSE website, she shares her memoriesI know how she and her father (also a powerlifter) began traveling to Donbass in 2014. The news about this is eloquently called “If women had not come to the front, our men would have become callous…” A first-year student shares his emotions from the meeting: “I was especially touched by Maryana’s memories of the stories of the victims. This meeting turned out to be very useful for me, because I once again thought about working as a military correspondent, but I realized that I needed to weigh all the risks.”

Students of the Institute of Media of the National Research University Higher School of Economics at a meeting with military correspondent Maryana Naumova. Photo: telegram channel of the Institute of Media of the National Research University Higher School of Economics

According to T-invariant’s interlocutor, who worked at the faculty for a long time, with the beginning of the war the situation at the HSE Institute of Media “changed radically,” but “military correspondents and even more so this whole Z- There was no hurry to invite the public.”

— The new policy does not come from Mackevicius: he doesn’t seem to care about all this, he himself doesn’t appear there every week. This all comes from his deputy Eduard Bondarenko: he is a perfect commissioner. Pure comrade major. And, of course, the employees rushed out after talking with him. His policy is simple: we agree on everything and everyone, Crimea is ours and the rest is also ours. Our task is to educate students, not teach them,” says T-invariant’s interlocutor.

The biography of Eduard Bondarenko truly reflects the spirit of the times. Having worked for more than 10 years in the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs, he transited through work at the oil company Lukoil and after leading positions in the information service of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company and MIA Rossiya Segodnya, and ended up as deputy director at the Institute of Media at the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

—Mackevičius is a charming TV presenter. He didn’t even conduct large meetings and meetings, but only opened them. He’ll say some joke and that’s it. And Bondarenko watches the situation and what other universities are doing and repeats it, explains the former teacher.

Military correspondent Maryana Naumova. Photo: telegram channel of the Institute of Media of the National Research University Higher School of Economics

Generation Z

T-invariant’s interlocutors record that applicants who came to leading journalism departments to study with teachers who understand the importance of independent journalism are already preparing for graduation. Young people who began their professional journey into journalism under total propaganda and anti-Western rhetoric in all official Russian media and who came to the faculty not for the sake of “liberal” masters and practitioners and not for the sake of “freedom of speech” are making themselves known more and more actively. “This summer we will be enrolling the third such course,” notes a teacher at the Institute of Media at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, who also wished to remain anonymous.

However, HSE student journalists do not stand out much for their militarization and commitment to Z-ideology, unlike, for example, students of the Faculty of Humanities, where the backbone of the official student Z-organization of NRU comes from HSE “White Raven”. T-invariant previously wrotet hatthe university administration did not not only supports this organization, but also finances its initiatives, and includes it in official delegations to major forums, for example, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The situation is similar at Moscow State University: the most prominent student Z-organization of the university and all of Russia – “SPO MSU” – gathered not at the journalism department, but at the law faculty. However, if the administrations of educational institutions continue to actively invite military correspondents and stormtroopers with their brutal images and pseudo-trench truth to meetings with aspiring journalists, the situation may well change, and journalism departments across the country will quickly begin to churn out faithful bearers of the worst traditions of Soviet journalism.

Text: Edited by T-invariant


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