Russia and Azerbaijan, rich in gas, have used their natural resources to disguise their highly criticized policies. Both countries have launched military engagements against their neighbors filled with numerous war crimes, such as the targeting of journalists and executions of civilians and POWs alike.

Nevertheless, the ruling autocrats of Russia and Azerbaijan, Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev, respectively, have attempted to whitewash their crimes by bribing journalists while simultaneously persecuting them.

Where Russian “journalists” have taken part in fighting in Ukraine and incited genocide, Azerbaijan has attempted to bribe journalists to hide the cultural erasure of Armenian heritage in the Karabakh region.

Russian “Journalists” are Actively Taking Part in Combat Operations

During the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Kremlin has put out obituaries and complaints of Russian journalists killed by the Ukrainian army (ZSU). Moscow hides the active role their “journalists” play in the fighting.

On July 24th, Russian media claimed a “journalist,” Rastislav Zhuravlev, was killed while embedded with the Russian military. Zhuravlev has been embedded and has taken part in active fighting since 2014. Rastislav was killed by cluster munitions while directing UAV engagements, and his history of carrying rifles alongside the Russian military has been heavily documented.

Moscow has embedded known military bloggers to stoke ethnic hatred while promoting genocidal rhetoric against their neighbors. One such figure was Vladen Tatarsky, who actively fought in the Donbas region in the earlier stages of the war and operated armed drones during the carpet bombing of Mariupol.

During Putin’s “annexation” ceremony last year, Tatarsky was invited, in which he proclaimed, “We’ll defeat everyone, we’ll kill everyone, we’ll rob everyone we need to.” In poetic irony, Tatarsky would be ultimately killed by a bomb embedded in a trophy during one of his speaking events in Saint Petersburg in early April.