With internet access, citizens in non-democracies are often able to diversify their news media repertoires despite government-imposed restrictions on media freedom. The extent to which they do so depends on motivations and habits of news consumption. This article presents a qualitative study of the motivations and habits underlying news media repertoires among a group of digitally connected university students in authoritarian Russia. Interviews reveal awareness and dissatisfaction vis-a-vis the 'propagandistic' nature of state-controlled news content, resulting in a preference for using multiple different sources - including foreign websites and 'non-official' citizen accounts - to build a personal understanding of what is 'really' going on. The article then examines how the students make sense of conflicting narratives about international affairs which they encounter in state and non-state sources. Paradoxically, low reported consumption of distrusted, 'propagandistic' state television is often accompanied by reproduction of the overarching strategic narrative which state television conveys.