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Why nothing will dent Vladimir Putins soaring popularity at home

Neither western sanctions nor claims of Russias involvement in flight MH17 influence its citizens, who live on a diet of state propaganda

There is a satirical cartoon doing the rounds online in Russia that depicts a figure slouched in front of a television set, both the screen and the anonymous viewers brain filled with identical swirls of bewildering electronic static. Drawn by Russias finest political cartoonist, Sergey Elkin, it is at once a powerful portrayal of the stupefying influence of Kremlin-controlled TV and an indication of why neither increasingly harsh western sanctions nor international allegations of Russian culpability in the destruction of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are likely to damage Vladimir Putins soaring popularity at home.

Dubbed the zombie box by opposition-minded Russians, state-run TV is perhaps Putins most valuable weapon, a tool for manipulating public opinion without even the pretence of objectivity. Indeed, Dmitry Kiselev, the controversial TV presenter appointed by Putin to head Rossiya Segodnya, Russias main state news agency, has declared media objectivity to be a myth. Russia needs our love, Kiselev told journalists at the Moscow-based agencys headquarters earlier this year.

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