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The newspaper uses a video game to smuggle the truths of the Ukrainian war to Russian citizens

A Finnish newspaper is using a video game map to pass information about the war in Ukraine to Russian citizens, bypassing Moscow’s propaganda and censorship.

“Since we have been very concerned about the situation of freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Russia, we decided that it might be possible to find some new channels to provide the Russian audience with reliable and independent journalism, for example on the situations in Ukraine”, Antero. Mukka, editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat, told Retuers.

Helsingin Sanomat, the country’s largest newspaper, has struggled to circumvent Russian media restrictions and decided to get creative as it also appeared to mark World Press Freedom Day, which fell on May 3.

“Because the Russian government has de facto suppressed its domestic press and blocked access to foreign media,” Mukka said, “Counter-Strike has remained one of the rare channels that allows us to communicate independent information to Russians about actual events of the war.”

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The document created a map for the multiplayer first-person shooter game Counter-Strike, which is incredibly popular in Russia. The level, which is based on a war-torn Slavic city, contains a secret room where the newspaper published images and text detailing abuses by the Russian military in Ukraine.

The map is called “de voyna”, a reference to the Russian word for war, which is banned in reference to the conflict in Ukraine, which Moscow maintains is a “special military operation”.

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The newspaper even said that Russia has blamed the Ukrainian army for the atrocities in Bucha and claimed that the Russian army has done everything possible to help the population. The UN Human Rights Council opened an investigation into possible war crimes by the Russian military in Bucha.

“If some young people in Russia, just for this game, think for a couple of seconds what is happening in Ukraine, it is worth it,” said Mukka.

Because the game allows the user to create and add their own content and upload it, Mukka said the document created the level without asking permission from Valve, the game’s developer.

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Mukka said the Russian government does not associate video games with the media, creating the perfect outlet for the paper’s mission. Russia has also not closed access to Counter-Strike servers.

“Ordinary Russians know virtually nothing about the war crimes and atrocities against civilians committed by the Russian military,” Mukka said, according to PC Gamer.

“One of the most moving stories in the secret room is about a Ukrainian man who went to the store,” he explained. “While he was there, Russian troops killed his family in a missile attack.”

“The secret room built into the game is meant to force Russian players to face what’s really going on in the Ukraine war.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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