By Matthew Wilson - Filter Mag

After two months, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has directly caused unknown tens of thousands of deaths, with widespread evidence of war crimes committed by Russian forces. With no end in sight, further devastating impacts range from the displacement of millions from and within Ukraine to the prospect of global food shortages.

Another casualty of war, as they say, is truth.

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes a lot of accusations against Volodymyr Zelensky that are demonstrably and outlandishly false. These attempts of a despot to justify war include the offensive absurdity of calling the Jewish president of Ukraine a “Nazi”—which scholars have dissected, and which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has just exacerbated—together with bombast and censorship aimed at rallying nationalist sentiment in Russia.

Less recognized is the deep social stigma Putin seeks to mobilize when he labels Zelensky and the elected leadership of Ukraine “drug addicts.”

The Russian word narcoman (literally “narcomaniac”), somewhat like the term “junkie,” evokes criminals willing to do anything for a fix—impoverished, deranged and immoral agents responsible for the decay of society.