Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video message to the Russian people seeking to dispel disinformation on the Ukraine invasion has already gone viral – racking up more than 28 million views on Twitter alone – and it seems to be reaching its desired audience in Russia as well.
Russian opposition figures have been sharing the video on Telegram, the encrypted social media platform that’s one of the few remaining channels for those inside of Russia to get uncensored information.
"I’m speaking to you today because there are things going on in the world that are being kept from you, terrible things that you should know about," Mr Schwarzenegger says in the clip, adding, "Ukraine did not start this war, neither did nationalists or Nazis…This is not the Russian people’s war."
In the video, the Austrian-born actor and former California governor also recounts how he grew up idolising Russian bodybuilder Vury Vlasov, and how Mr Schwarzenegger’s father, a Nazi, was a broken and disillusioned man after fighting at Leningrad in World War II.
"The strength and the heart of the Russian people have always inspired me," the actor continues. "That is why I hope that you will let me tell you the truth about the war in Ukraine."
The clip, which has been seen more than 669,000 times on Telegram, has been re-shared by Russian figures.
"Arnold Schwarzenegger has a unique ability to talk to anyone with persuasion, respect and on equal terms. Wits, power and justice. Have a listen. Think about it. Understand," opposition politician Lev Shlosberg wrote in one post.
Liberal journalist Anton Orekh praised the video on Telegram, saying it was one of the few messages to Russians that was free of “Russophobia.”
“We are outcasts in the world ... Arnold is one of the few people who addressed Russians not as savage orcs, but as good people who have lost their ways," Mr Orekh said.
The actor said he’d heard from fans in Russia who had seen the video.
“I want to thank every single one of you who shared this video. I have heard from fans in Russia so I know it is breaking through. Keep pushing,” Mr Schwarzenegger wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Just how far the video has traveled within Russia is hard to gauge – the Kremlin has restricted access to most mainstream social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Vladimir Putin, whom Mr Schwarzenegger addresses directly in the video, may have also seen the message.
The actor is one of few similar figures followed by both the official Russian- and English-language Twitter accounts of the Kremlin.
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