Here is an original idea to bring the real truth to the Russian people

This is an open letter sent to the governments of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Ukraine as well as to some Canadian newspapers.

Pravda is the Russian word for truth. Unfortunately, Russians no longer hear the truth about Vladimir Putin’s senseless invasion of Ukraine. Reportedly, only 4% of Russians reject his lies about Russian soldiers who saved Ukrainians from a “neo-fascist” government. As long as Putin enjoys such massive support, his unprovoked aggression can continue.

Western democracies want to stop the terrible destruction of Ukraine but are frustrated that military intervention could trigger World War III, a disaster worse than the current Russian onslaught. Faced with these realities, the democratic world seems unable to prevent the destruction of Ukraine.

There may, however, be another option, a truly new venture. This option rests on the reasonable premise that if the Russian people knew the truth, they would force an end to the carnage.

With independent and social media suppressed, it’s time for a massive spread of honest information. Lacking other options, it’s time to bring pravda to the Russian masses in an unconventional way. Done massively, it would surely turn most Russians against Putin and his relentless carnage in Ukraine.

Western governments, led by the United States, should flood the major cities of Russia with perhaps 40 million copies of a 20-page glossy booklet graphically illustrating the raw truth. At least 10 pages should describe the horrific destruction of homes, schools, hospitals and other civilian targets. There should be moving images of an injured pregnant woman being carried on a stretcher, bloodied old people hobbling through shattered streets, children crying, wounded in agony, incredible crowds of refugees and bodies mutilated thrown into long trenches. The horrible reality, with maps, must be shown.

Russians would also discover that Volodymyr Zelenskyy was elected with 73% of the vote in 2019 and that Ukraine was a stable democracy before the unprovoked Russian attack.

Several pages should detail the attack with the number of victims. There should be statements from heads of neutral governments, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, UN leaders and testimonies from captured Russian soldiers. Experts would have no trouble compiling a disillusioned dossier.

The cost, at perhaps $5 a copy, could be as high as $200 million, plus shipping, much less than current military aid. Due to the urgency, the presses could print in several countries.

Would the Russians believe in such a deluge of pravda to counter Putin’s propaganda? Many would. They are hurt and puzzled. Why did hundreds of companies suddenly leave Russia? Why are millions of Russians losing their jobs? Why is inflation suddenly soaring? Why has the ruble become almost worthless internationally? Why did Putin muzzle independent media? Why are so many body bags brought to Russian families? The Russians would find out why and most would believe.

The huge challenge is to get the copies to the Russian people. Western technology would surely find a way. It’s easier than reaching for the moon. Some coastal cities, including St. Petersburg and Vladivostok, may receive the truth from drones launched from international waters. Maybe drones could reach inner cities. Perhaps high-flying planes could deliver the truth. Perhaps satellites could be used. Whatever the methods, the urgent need is for the truth to be widely disseminated in major Russian cities simultaneously, preferably while Zelenskyy is still in power and before China lends its support to the last aggressive but tottering world dictator.

Since no one seems to have a better option, the time for mass pravda has come.

John H. Redekop, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.

Irene B. Bowles