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It is now known that after the outbreak of war in Ukraine the Duma passed several laws to limit press freedom in Russia which, if violated, can lead to prison sentences of up to 15 years in prison. Almost all independent media in the country have been closed or suspended, and Moscow has banned citizens from accessing social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as many international media sites. For all these reasons, most Russians do not know what is really happening in Ukraine. Among the international newspapers no longer accessible in Russia there is also the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomatwho then decided to try to reach Russian citizens by creating a secret room inside the Counter-Strike video game, still accessible online (THE SPECIAL ON THE WAR IN UKRAINE).
What is Counter Strike
Counter-Strike is a first-person online “shooter” video game, where the player sees the game environment through the eyes of his own avatar. It is one of the most famous in the world and is very popular in Russia – he explains Helsingin Sanomat -, especially in St. Petersburg and Moscow: about 4 million Russians play there, mostly young men. The structure of the game is not complex: there are two teams, the terrorists and the counter terroristseach round lasts two minutes then the players switch roles until the winner is declared.
The secret room of Helsingin Sanomat
As he explains Helsingin Sanomat, the Counter-Strike game environment is called a map: when you start you choose a map from the existing ones, or you can create your own. And it is within the maps that you can do what the Finnish newspaper has decided to do, that is, create a secret room. Helsingin Sanomat asked two designers to build a map that recreated a Slavic city, within which to place the secret room reachable only after your character is dead, because that’s when the avatar can fly or walk through walls for a few moments.
Where is the secret room and what is inside
The room is hidden near a monument of eternal flame, which is very common in Russian and Ukrainian cities because it is a WWII memorial. “On the Counter-Strike map of Helsingin Sanomat, the flame has a different reason – specifies the newspaper – The Ukrainian and Russian villages are quite similar. The aim is to show the Russians that the terrors of war are taking place in places that seem very familiar to them.” Above the door to the secret room is a light, then stairs leading to the dungeon: “First, the player sees a wall with a title. Next to the title is a map showing how many civilian targets in Ukraine the Russians have hit – he explains Helsingin Sanomat – Another wall shows a news story about the Bucha massacre. As the player gets close to the images, he or she hears a Russian voice-over on the radio telling them what the images are about: Ukrainian civilians murdered by Russian soldiers.” Not only that: “Another piece of news concerns a Ukrainian man named Yuriy Glodan. He went out to do the shopping, and in the meantime a Russian missile killed his family. The reporter of Helsingin Sanomat Katriina Pajari and photographer Rio Gandara met Glodan in Odessa in May 2022. The story of the Glodan family has never been told to the Russians.” Finally, also information on the Russian victims of the conflict: although the estimates are very variable due to the opaque news, the number entered by Helsingin Sanomat in the secret room it is 70 thousand.