How Russian Propaganda Machine Works
2015 February 10
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A view from the Baltics, circa August 2014, where you really can see Russia from your porch. You should read the entire article, but I'll include this part of it for reasons that should be obvious.

Nine methods of propaganda

Theory states that propaganda covers the entirety of measures directed at one target. In other words the target is the society of Lithuania, which is attacked on all fronts through sports, religion, culture, media, science and other spheres.

There are nine key methods of propaganda, but they are strongly interrelated.

1) First is the creation of an image of the mystical ‘they’ or enemies. In this case the tendency of people to think in dualistic categories is exploited: we/they, good/bad, friend/enemy. The majority of people think of themselves and their friends as ‘the good guys’, thus those who talk, think or act differently naturally become ‘the bad guys’. A whole vocabulary is created in this way on how to call the good guys and how to call the bad guys.

For example, in order to stress the ‘badness’ of the Ukrainians loyal to Kiev the Kremlin calls them fascists, while calling separatists self-defence troops. In other words, it is alleged that the separatists legally protect themselves from the attacking Ukrainian military forces. Therefore separatists are the good guys to Russia whole the soldiers of the Ukraine are enemies.

To stress the affiliation of separatists to the ‘bad guys’, Ukraine calls them terrorists. The Western media choose a more conservative name of pro-Russian fighters or simply separatists.

‘We see the reign of nationalists, antisemitists. The representatives of the mass media saw one governor chained in cold in winter and tortured. What it this? Democracy?,’ this was said about the protesters in Maidan in the famous speech after the occupation of the Crimea by Vladimir Putin.

2) The second important method in propaganda is inclusion of religion. It is an attempt to strengthen the mystical differences of ‘them’ or enemies. Let’s say the President of Russia Putin has lately become likened to the protector tarsi of Christian values, who associates the West with corruption, spread of homosexuality and disdain of family values.

However the Ukrainians, who are Orthodox as the Russians are called a ‘brotherly nation’ as the main goal of Putin, as claimed by his former advisor Andrej Illarionov is to create a Russian world uniting all Russians, Russians speaking people, people who lived in the Russian empire or the Soviet Union.

3) The third method is pollution or saturation of all possible channels of information with own truth. If the Lithuanians are called fascists, then it is repeated all the time: from Soviet films where Lithuanian actors played Nazis, to television footage about January 13th or novel heroes. Putin has also repeatedly said that Lithuania and Poland train fighter for the Ukraine – and everybody fighting the separatists are fascists.

4) The fourth method is projection of bad deeds onto the opponent or application of own faults to the others.

An example could be the kidnapping of election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Slovyansk then controlled by separatists. The Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin called sending observers a provocation by the West and essentially blamed the West itself, though the kidnappers were pro-Russian separatists.

When the separatists likely shot down the Malaysia Airlines airplane in East Ukraine, the same Churkin blamed the Ukraine for a plane shot down in 2001 in the United Nations Security Council.

5) One more effective method of propaganda is rewriting of history or interpretation of historical events in a favourable light. For example, Lithuania faces statements that it should be thankful to the Soviet Union dictator Joseph Stalin that during occupation of Lithuania in 1939 he also joined the Vilnius region the object of contention between Lithuania and Poland.

Historical wars are also fought by Lithuania with Belarus, which treats the history of the Great Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) as its own and does not leave any room there for Lithuania. Belarus historians even have two terms ‘Lithuanian’ and ‘Litvin’. The first are said to be the descendants of the residents of the Lower and Upper Lithuania, while the second are the descendants of the residents of GDL, who were renamed in the tsar Russian to Belarusians. In other words the real Lithuanians are Belarus people according to Minsk.

6) Propaganda uses confusion or an attack on the opponent which cannot be refuted by counterarguments.

The speeches of the leader of the Russian Liberal-Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky could be an example. On April 18 he confronted a journalist from news agency Rossija sevodnia. When asked whether there should be an answer to the Ukrainian decision to apply sanctions to Russians wishing to enter the country, he started to insult the woman.

‘What sanctions? We should act differently, gently! Where are those fools, come here!’, the politician addressed his party colleagues.

‘And you, journalist, come here! I will order and you will come over and start raping her violently... Christ resurrected! He really resurrected! Christ resurrected! He really resurrected!’, screamed Zhirinovsky, though later he publicly apologized.

7) Propaganda unavoidably employs populism, when the society is told what it wants to hear. Let’s say Putin calls the Ukrainians a brotherly nation with which they will never go to war, though at the same time he supplies separatists with guns.

8) The eighth method is finding the scapegoat. In the Ukraine the scapegoat is the Right Sector, oligarchs, Russia is also allegedly harmed by the West by sticking their nose everywhere.

9) Finally, everything is crowned by purposeful confusion of meanings. It is not accidental that Russia always calls its soldiers in conflict zones peace corps – in Transnistria, Crimea, South Ossetia, Abkhazia. In the same manner during the occupation of the Crimea, it was claimed that Russia is trying to save the Russian speaking residents of the Crimea from fascists, though in the opinion of the West it is a clear violation of international legal norms without any grounds.

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© 2015 Andrew Aaron Weisburd