On Thursday, famed global action film star Arnold Schwarzenegger released a video that went viral on all social media platforms. In the video, Schwarzenegger played on his popularity in Russia in an attempt to reach Russians and provide a counter to the state-controlled propaganda surrounding the invasion of Ukraine by Putin’s military. The video, recorded in English, was accompanied by both English and Russian subtitles.
The video was a very effective one for all that watched it as the conservative Schwarzenegger has been able to show a more personal side in the handful of video messages he has made over the past couple of years to reach people. Speaking to his own childhood experiences amongst men and women who felt the economic and psychic crush of lost wars and Nazi affiliations, Arnold been able to impart empathy to his messages, while still standing very firmly on the side of democratic freedoms and people’s rights to think for themselves.
The only question was whether or not Schwarzenegger’s message would make it through Russian censorship.
As was reported yesterday, the “President of Russia” Twitter account only follows 22 accounts, one of which is Arnold Schwarzenegger. The video was posted to Twitter, as well as YouTube and Instagram. Right now, many of those social media services have been blocked by Russian authorities, but the social media service Telegram is not.
According to the Associated Press, Arnold’s video went out on Telegram and was viewed more than a half-million times. Lev Shlosberg, an opposition party Russian politician, told the BBC that "Arnold Schwarzenegger has a unique ability to talk to anyone with persuasion, respect and on equal terms. Wits, power, and justice. Have a listen. Think about it. Understand." Shlosberg was hopeful that the Russians who saw the video would see that Schwarzenegger was not promoting mindless Western propaganda in this circumstance—a position that many Russians (and Americans for that matter) hold for most Western media.
Anton Gerashchenko, also on Telegram, works as an advisor to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. The Associated Press reports that he spread the video, along with a Russian voice-over, to his more than 385,000 followers. He also told anyone watching the video who has relatives or friends in Russia to try and get them the message in Schwarzenegger’s statement. Speaking of Putin and his media machine, Gerashchenko wrote that the Kremlin’s “propaganda is blown to smithereens when super famous people all over the world speak with one voice: ‘No to war!’”
The nine-minute video, which can be seen below, highlights the destruction and loss of innocent lives connected to the war. It also zeroes in on the idea that this war has very little to do with the people of both Russia and Ukraine, and more to do with Russia’s oligarchy and the politics of control. "This is not the Russian people's war."