Donald M. Bishop, Quotable: Euromaidan Press on Russian foreign and domestic propaganda (article and video), publicdiplomacycouncil.org; see also.
Sunday, September 4th 2016
“Russian propaganda for Russians has a very different tone than the stuff the Russian state serves up to foreigners.” This key insight was elaborated in May 5, 2016, article in Euromaidan Press, “A guide to Russian propaganda. Part 1: Propaganda prepares Russia for war,” The article drew on Kseniya Kirillova’s list of seven propaganda strategies, supplemented by lists of “disinformation episodes gathered by EU Stratcom’s Disinformation Review.” The article also introduced a video. Here are a few bullet points from the full article:
- Russian propaganda for Russians has a very different tone than the stuff the Russian state serves up to foreigners. This is partially because they serve very different purposes.
- The Russian state lacks the ability to coerce foreign populations (well, outside of occupied territories) and therefore propaganda is mainly a tool of division. Russia tries to persuade western audiences about Russia’s reasonableness, create grassroots or even political lobbies for pro-Russian positions, or sometimes just confuse people and muddy the waters about key issues.
- Russia’s rulers use propaganda in Russian to direct their populace, squash dissent, and instruct them in the core political beliefs that Russia’s rulers find most useful.
- One of most useful ideas they push on their populace is a particular Russian form of anti-Americanism. The use of anti-Americanism may be partly the result of Cold War propaganda, but even if the Russian people totally forgot their Soviet indoctrination, Russia’s current rulers would probably use the same idea. As America is the most powerful nation on earth with a tremendous amount of cultural influence, it is the perfect candidate for the role of the villain in paranoid nationalist propaganda.
- 1) To weaken critical thinking . . . . More often than not, Russians are slipped a veritable cocktail of emotions intended to block the very ability to think during the time it takes to process the information. Examples are the horror of war, pity for the victims, fear that can reach proportions of panic, and the dread of an impending military threat.
- 2) To create an image of the enemy . . . . The importance of the evil, powerful, crafty enemy in Russian domestic propaganda cannot be understated. This enemy justifies the immense reach of the Russian state into Russian civil society (how else to defend against the vast American conspiracy?) . . . . There is a joke about an American Republican who moves to Russia. He says: “When I lived in America, I thought President Obama was a feckless do-nothing who was weak on Russia. Now I’m in Russia watching Russian TV, and it turns out that Obama is an anti-Russian strategic genius with influence everywhere!”
- 3) To link all internal problems to external factors . . . . The supposedly all-present enemy can be used to deflect criticism away from Russia’s rulers. Problems and political opposition are caused by external conspirators.
- 4) To emphasize the consolidation of society in the face of a military threat . . . . Russian propaganda exaggerates the importance of preparing for a supposed war with the West. Of course, this means that anyone pro-Western is a potential 5th column.
- 5) To create the image of Vladimir Putin as the only leader capable of withstanding the military threat . . . . Commentators have called the cult of personality surrounding him to “exceed Stalin’s by every measure.” The endless militaristic dangers and threats shown to be emanating from all directions create the need of a strong leader that will save the populace from the impending catastrophe. In reality, it is Russia that invaded Georgia and Ukraine, and which is supporting aggression in Ukraine with weapons and personnel for Russian-backed separatists in Donbas. Despite these facts, Russian media manages to cover events in a light which make Russia appear as the victim and not the aggressor.
- 6) To prepare for the inevitable hardships of “wartime”
- 7) To create an image for the West of a united Russia ready for war . . . .