This handout photograph released by The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry on Jan. 2, 2019, shows officers taking part in a rescue operation two days after a gas explosion rocked a residential building in Russia’s Urals city of Magnitogorsk.

Photo by AFP

In late 2019, many Internet users started noticing that the Russian state media was increasingly describing gas explosions as “gas pops” in news coverage — even when the incidents caused major damage to life and property. In fact, the number of “gas pops” mentioned in news reports jumped from a few dozen stories in early 2017 to thousands of such reports by January 2020. Meduza’s sources in the presidential administration and Russia’s security agencies say this is the result of a targeted policy to introduce more “favorable information conditions” meant to avoid a public panic when reporting gas explosions.

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