Accepting the truth can be scary for anyone, but in the case of pro-Kremlin disinformation, one observes a wholly uncompromising obsession with avoiding the truth. Take Crimea, for instance. The pro-Kremlin media continually repeat claims that this illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, after a farcical “referendum,” was performed democratically and according to international law. It wasn’t: the illegal annexation of Crimea remains a violation of international law, no matter how often or how hysterically you attempt to lie about the truth of what happened. Or take the case of the Russian diplomats expelled from Germany in response to the killing of Georgian citizen Zelimkhan Khangoshvili: the Russian state media reacts with its customary strategy “Deny Everything,” despite solid proof from German police that the killing “was carried out either on behalf of state agencies of the Russian Federation or those of the Autonomous Chechen Republic, as part of the Russian Federation.”
This is arguably one of the Kremlin’s most enduring and fundamental phobias. EUvsDisinfo has published several articles about Russian authorities’ attempts to shut down dissent and control the media. Examples can be found here and here. And read the stories of the Russian journalists who refuse to be silenced!
Few things are scarier for the Kremlin than owning up to its mistakes or wrongdoings. Whether it be dubious diplomatic and imperial moves in the past, contract killings, attempts to artificially improve results in sport or disastrous decisions on the battlefield – the Kremlin simply cannot (or rather will not) accept any factual evidence or historical documentation that attests to its culpability. Admitting fault is simply too scary a prospect for the Kremlin men.
Few fears are more manifest in the pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts than the fear of not being wanted, loved, and appreciated. Around 350 cases in the disinformation database are about “Russophobia” – a concept based on the perception that Russia is irrationally underappreciated and often outright despised, without any legitimate justification for these attitudes. This week, we see how “Russophobia” is used to explain NATO’s actions against Russia, Lithuanian politics, and Western journalism.
Protests, grassroots movements, and civil society – from the Kremlin’s perspective, few things are scarier than a potential challenge to its power. This is why any form of civil mobilization is portrayed as “inauthentic” and organized from above by “evil elites”: for example, that the West has launched a second wave of color revolutions to weaken Russia’s and China’s influence, just as the Anglo-Saxons instigated the Civil War in Russia a hundred years ago. Almost 500 cases in the database are devoted to the idea that any public protest – be it in Hong Kong, Ukraine, Bolivia, or Venezuela – is simply the result of scheming outside forces.
This fear is closely related to demophobia and allodaxophobia. It manifests as a deep-rooted fear of pluralism and dissent. Anyone who questions the authorities must be an agent of chaos and destruction; an instigator of revolutions. There can be no questioning without conspiracy. Freedom of religion can be nothing else than a US scheme to eradicate Christianity.
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish student who started the School Strike for Climate, has been a source of the Kremlin’s fears for several months. Ms. Thunberg’s “war on white men” is really boiling the blood of the Kremlin spin-doctors. Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets are repeating the same exact claim for the second week now.
Kremlin-owned Sputnik’s Arabic services attempt to describe the Lugar Lab in Georgia as a laboratory for modifying viruses and diseases, thus repeating a story that has been debunked dozens of times since it first appeared in early 2016. It was a lie then, and it has remained just as untrue since.
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- Why is the Pro-Kremlin Media Afraid of Greta?
- Whataboutism at its Best
- Fighting the Disinformation Virus: Georgia Edition
- Why are the Dutch demanding to shut down the EU’s only anti-propaganda service?
- The EU’s “concentration camps” in Ukraine: A сase of proactive disinformation
- This week’s pro-Kremlin disinformation: bears and drugs and climate change
- Singular turns plural in Russian media to fit Kremlin’s narrative
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