As the reality of the Vladimir Putin’s Crimean land grab sinks in, the most alarming aspect of it all is not the ease with which Russian troops seized the peninsula, but the way the Kremlin mobilized Russian public opinion behind its agenda.
The meme propagated by Russian state-controlled media – that Kyiv is controlled by a bunch of fascists and terrorists who pose a threat to Russians in Ukraine-- is preposterous: the Euromaidan movement has its unsavory far-right elements, but its political aims are still broadly liberal - less corruption, blind justice and more economic opportunity for all. The shocking thing is that a vast majority of those who depend on Russian state media for their information clearly believe the Putin-generated alternative reality, and are wholeheartedly supporting the Crimean incursion.
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Justin Burke is the executive editor of Eurasianet.