Winter is coming, but it's not time to move to Russia

What a strange propaganda video tells us about cross-border movement of cultural memes in a divided digital world.

People at Red Square in central Moscow, in front of St Basil’s Cathedral, on July 19, 2022. PHOTO: AFP
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In recent days, the phrase "winter is coming" has been haunting me. That is partly because, like millions of others, I have started watching House Of The Dragon, the prequel to Game Of Thrones, which had these ominous words as its tagline.

But there is a second reason. I recently watched a video on YouTube that aims to persuade English-speaking viewers to move to President Vladimir Putin's Russia because, well, "winter is coming". The 53-second film makes its pitch by highlighting the alleged attractions of Mr Putin's country. "Delicious cuisine, beautiful women, cheap gas, rich history, fertile soil, cheap electricity, ballet, cheap taxi," a voice solemnly notes as images, including several of beautiful women, flash past.

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