World Bulletin / News Desk
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are being actively advised by people close to the Kremlin on how to conduct a "propaganda campaign" against Kiev and the West, German media reported Thursday.
In what it called the "Donetsk-Leaks", investigative television programme Frontal21 and newspaper Die Zeit said they had obtained "10,000 emails" from the inbox of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic's information minister Elena Nikitina, shared online by pro-Ukraine activists.
Moscow has always denied that it provides support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, but the documents demonstrate the opposite, the reports said, showing "advisors" working directly with the rebels.
"The advisors are clearly close to the Kremlin or the presidential administration of Vladimir Putin," they claim.
Respected news weekly Die Zeit dedicated a two-page spread in its Thursday edition to the leaks, reporting that the advisors work for pro-Putin organisations including the "Centre for the political situation", or directly for the Russian presidency.
Several documents bear notes reading "report for Moscow" or the initials "AP" -- Russian shorthand for "presidential administration".
One 44-page document dated August 2015 explains that the Ukrainian government must be described "like a junta" while Moscow should be painted in a "positive" light.
"The support lent by Moscow to the republics" declared by separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk "must be depicted", if possible with examples such as "a grandmother knitting socks for Putin" or "children painting portraits" of the Russian president.
In its Tuesday evening broadcast, Frontal21 showed what it called "staged" images of a Russian aid convoy in eastern Ukraine being greeted from the roadside by young people waving large Russian flags.
"Ukraine is deliberately undermining the Minsk accords" agreed in February 2015, reads one of the leaked documents cited by Die Zeit.
"All articles on Ukrainian infractions must contain this idea," it continues, adding that both the separatist republics and "the Russian Federation support the respect of the accords and Ukraine is against it."
Ukraine has been wracked for two years by conflict between the Kiev government's forces and pro-Russian separatists.
The violence has so far claimed more than 9,600 lives.