Participants in Russia's protest movement against Vladimir Putin on Friday expressed fury at a film aired on a federal channel, claiming it used false evidence and smeared demonstrators.
The film, called "Anatomy of a Protest" aired late Thursday on the NTV channel, one of Russia's popular networks broadcast nationwide, claiming the opposition gave people money and biscuits to attend rallies and waged wars on the Internet.
Combining jerky secret-camera footage, washed-out faces of some of the speakers and an ominous narrative, the 36-minute film also claimed the opposition is after a bloody revolution without popular support.
"This film is not the first nor the last," said head of the liberal party Yabloko Sergei Mitrokhin. "It's in the style of pure Soviet propaganda, of totalitarian propaganda."
NTV -- nominally private but owned by the media arm of state gas giant Gazprom -- has previously made similar specials about the opposition, claiming they were foreign spies.
"It will have an effect on a certain part of the population that has no other source of information," Mitrokhin told Agence France Presse, alleging that the film was made on "direct orders of the Kremlin."
The film claims among other things that opposition leader Alexei Navalny hacked into the social networking group for fans of U.S. series "Friends", renaming it "Navalny's Army" in an attempt to claim he has a wide following.
The film even angered one of the speakers in it, a well-known Putin supporter and magazine editor Valery Fadeyev.
His magazine Expert called it a "cheap propagandist work directed against Russia's opposition" and vowed never to collaborate with the channel again because of misuse of the editor's comments.
NTV on Friday claimed that its website briefly went offline due to a hack attack connected with the film. It said the attack had angered some of the "vast number of people" who had watched it on the Internet.
Several Russian bloggers renamed the channel's three-letter Russian acronym to read "Violence. Stupidity. Lies." while activists began preparing for a Sunday protest near Moscow's TV tower, where the NTV offices are located.
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