Russian blogger Roman Antonovsky.
Russian influencers are profiting from their war posts, a BBC investigation found.They say they can make big returns from advertising revenue with posts on Telegram.Some bloggers are also using the platform to criticize Russian military mistakes.
Pro-Russian war bloggers are making big returns from advertising revenue by posting content on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, an investigation by BBC News found.
The “Z bloggers” spend their days sharing videos on Telegram of everything from drone strikes to cryptocurrency adverts, and many businesses are attempting to cash in on the market by targeting the bloggers’ rapidly increasing audiences, per the report.
Telegram has become a key platform for Russians following Putin’s decision to cut off access to other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. That’s led to a booming advertising market where top influencers can earn an earn equivalent to Russia’s average monthly wage of almost $700 in just one post, according to the BBC report.
“Telegram is big enough to be a world of its own. It’s like Borges’s Library of Babel: there’s the good, the bad, the grey, the uncertain. It’s [another] contested space in a real war between Russia and Ukraine,” Andrew Wilson, a professor of Ukrainian studies at University College London, told The Times.
One blogger called WarGonzo, who has more than 1.3 million followers on Telegram, told the BBC that he could make close to $2,000 for a single post.
The presence of Russian influencers on the frontline has at times provided crucial intel on the situation in the war, showing what it’s like in the Russian trenches.
But some bloggers have taken to using the platform to voice criticism about military blunders and setbacks.
“It’s time to punish the commanders who allowed these kinds of things,” wrote Maksim Fomin, a pro-Russian blogger, after successful Ukrainian counterattacks.
WarGonzo once even accused the defence ministry in Moscow of “openly trying to dodge the blame” after Ukraine attacked Makiivka, the BBC also reported.
This criticism of authorities is what makes the bloggers stand out from the usual, tightly controlled state updates on the progress of the war.