A guide to Russian propaganda. Part 1: Propaganda prepares Russia for war

2016/05/05 • Analysis & Opinion

The Russian propaganda machine produces endless streams of fakes and manipulative stories. While at times they may seem outrageous or silly, they are far from being random. Russian propaganda for both domestic and foreign audiences follows techniques that stem from Goebbel’s times. Ultimately, it is a weapon of war. In our series A guide to Russian propaganda, we examine how propaganda works, and how one can avoid falling for it.

In our first series, Propaganda prepares Russia for war, we use Kseniya Kirillova‘s classification of strategies of Russian propaganda for Russians, and illustrate it with disinformation episodes gathered by EU Stratcom’s Disinformation Review (we would like to thank Oleksandr Nykonorov, Pavlo Spirin, East StratCom Network, StopFake, and others for their excellent work in monitoring Kremlin disinformation.)

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. Below are examples of propaganda and an explanation of the role they play in influencing the Russian population.

Graphic by Ganna Naronina

Graphic by Ganna Naronina

In our second part of this series, A guide to Russian propaganda. Part 2: Whataboutism, we explore one of Russia’s #1 propaganda strategies – whataboutism, which allows to deflect any criticism of Russia by saying “what about…”

Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Lev Havryliv

    Excellent analysis. The Russian state propaganda apparatus is massive, relentless, and thoroughly mendacious.

    Goebbels would have been proud of it. It has taken propaganda and disinformation to new heights.

    Fortunately more and more people are seeng it for what it is. A tool to keep the Putin mafia regime in power.

  • Quartermaster

    At present, the only military threat against Russia is what it is creating for itself.

  • Archibald_Bomwitz

    Just remember that sooner or later Fact and Fiction will collide and when that happens Fact will always preavail! Putin needs an outside threat to maintain his power. And he knows that he can’t win an all out war against the West. A war would also mean that he would risk losing his power. He has apparently realized that he made a very big mistake with attacking Ukraine and that he is in trouble at home. And that is the reason that he collected all troops that are responsible for internal security under his personal command. He has also purged the army of some thirty generals because he could not trust them to give the order to shoot at Russian citizens. It was in fact the reluctance of the generals to shoot at their own people that ultimately derailed the coup d’etat in August of 1991. You can say many things about Russian generals but only very few of them would be ready to shoot at protesting Russian civilians.

    And the West should keep up the pressure on Putin because sooner or later he will be removed by internal forces.

  • Alex George

    It only works for so long when people are starving and young men are coming home in wheelchairs or body bags.

    Especially when Russia doesn’t do anything to support its wounded veterans.

  • TEA_PARTY_UNTOUCHABLES

    Yuri Bezmenov (former kgb) Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society

    talks about the Hollywood useful idiots and how easy it was and is to manipulate the Hollywood idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!