Imagine if the Japanese had ‘merely’ surrounded Pearl Harbor in 1941, invaded with 30,000 soldiers, issued ultimatums to American troops, took over US ships, beat up international journalists, bulled through a ‘referendum’ under military occupation and finally, annexed Hawaii… Can anyone seriously doubt these actions would likewise have been considered an act of war by FDR and the United States?
In addition to armed military occupation and loss of territory, Ukraine has been deluged with Russian ‘news reports’, studio talk shows, blog and Youtube sites which knowingly present fake and untrue stories. There are three target groups for Russian disinformation: their own citizens, low-information Ukrainians, and the uninformed world opinion. Their unprecedented feverish rhetoric continues to openly advocate a breakup of the Ukrainian state and stokes widespread paranoia.
In late March, Kyiv attempted to block just four of the most duplicitous Russian TV channels: ‘Russia 24’, ‘RTR-Planet’, ‘1st Channel’ and ‘NTV’. (Even so, in Donbas only one provider agreed to suspend broadcasting, in Luhansk and Crimea, none.) Still, Moscow is now playing the victim, crying that ‘Ukraine is suppressing free speech!”
‘Suppression’ of Free Speech ?
But what Russia really means by that is that they fear their propaganda monopoly will come to an end. In eastern and southern Ukraine there are vast regions where the only source of news is Russian state TV channels. There is no BBC, there is no Radio Free Europe, no European or Ukrainian TV.
Every nation has rational restrictions on ‘expression and free speech’. Both the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (as amended in 2010) and the Ukrainian Constitution (1996) affirm the right to freedom of expression, hold opinions, and receive and impart information without interference by public authority. But both documents also state these rights carry with them ‘duties and responsibilities’, and anticipate possible restrictions on freedom of expression “… in the interests of national safety and territorial integrity”.
Difficulties for Western observers
The more interesting question is why did the West immediately downplay this natural duty and responsibility for self-preservation of every nation? And why in general is the Western media such an easy prey for Russian disinformation?
Regarding the Crimean ‘referendum’, no reporter brought up the fact that diversity does not equal divisiveness. No one mentioned that diversity and tolerance make the world go round, and are a source of pride to the United States. Instead, there was a rush to the lowest common denominator, a return to an ethnically-pure Russian tribal emotion. No one questioned how other ethnically-pure experiments like the Nazi Aryans or East Timor had ended up. And no one wondered if the Western media might not be racist in assuming Eastern Europe cannot and should not try to embrace diversity the same way as in the West.
By any standard, Ukraine had already embraced an enlightened and encouraging policy towards all minorities within its territories. All nationalities practice their own language and culture, but are unified and consider themselves Ukrainian. Yet the big disinformation phrase repeated over and over was that Ukraine is ‘deeply divided’.
Moscow’s cynical exploitation of Western values
We try in the West to be non-judgmental and tolerant. We hold truth and fairness as ideals, and any slightest pre-judgement is frowned on. We also believe all men are equal and assume everyone shares basic values. We are taught to believe if people act in an unacceptable way, then it must be something in their upbringing, or the system has failed them (perhaps we have provoked Russia in some way??) .. any other excuse… but never that Putin and Russia could have made a conscious choice to be the way they are…We’re all essentially the same, right?
Well, what a shock it was for the West to see those masked and silent ‘little green men’ with no insignias appear in Crimea. Of course, we could not rush to judgement; they might not be Russian forces after all! But why o why did they not even answer our questions? The enlightened West is now at a loss when confronted with Stone Age behavior. (One CNN reporter actually tried to ask one of these green men – “so, where are you ‘guys’ from?”)
These aliens roughed up and beat up reporters, turned back all the Human Rights and other international observers, while Moscow cynically swore it had no troops in Crimea. (When at first Kyiv said there were 15,000 invading troops while Russian sources claimed 6,000, most of our media threw up their hands and claimed both sides were lying.)
The West has a problem wrapping its head around the possibility that Russia might just have a completely anti-democratic philosophy and that there are governments and people out there that just flat out lie (without blinking an eye), as a matter of course. Putin’s ratings have climbed to 74% and 43% of Russians are convinced “fellow Russians are truly threatened by bandits and nationalists in Ukraine and that only Russian troops can save them.” But few Westerners reach the conclusion that the Russian system is in some way fundamentally different.
And just who is behind all this successful agitprop blitzkrieg? Meet the new Head of the International Information Agency RT (Russia Today)…
Dimitry Kiselev, the most powerful person in Russian TV
Putin’s and Kiselev’s message is truly frightening.
In a 1/30/2014 interview with CBC TV Kiselev revealed Moscow’s fascist vision and goals: extreme authoritarianism and social engineering, Russian Messianism, behavior manipulation and mind control:
“Our job is to create values, not to reinforce values like in the West, and there is nothing more important than TV in Russia today… At the present time, there exists a vacuum of values in Russia… for some the Soviet past was good, for some the Tsarist past was good, and Russia has still not recovered from the end of the USSR … but our people have no tradition of self-governance, and unfortunately you can’t build a civil society without citizens… our tradition is a strong leader… Solzhenitsyn wrote elections are not democracy… free press is not democracy… we must create a new Russian Culture.”
All future social engineering will be controlled by master planners:
“we need a national reflection through TV, goal oriented and creative… as opposed to the internet which only drags people down… TV is the great formative effect on the Russian character, TV is the substitute for Dostoyevsky and the great Russian literature.”
And yet, this country that KIselev claims can only be ruled by an authoritarian ‘strong leader’, this country that Kiselev assures us has ‘no traditions of self-governance or democracy’, this very same
“Russia is the jewel of the world’s civilizations, we are the spiritual ornament of the world!”
The Moscow dictators have thought of everything. Note how Kiselev proposes to solve Russia’s ‘demographic problem’ when answering a question about gay persecution:
“We have a ‘rather soft’ penalty – only $150 for promoting homosexual values among young under-agers…” This was in response to an earlier statement over the state owned Russia One TV network when Kiselev slammed gay communities: “…imposing fines on gays is not enough… they should be banned from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts … should be buried in the ground…” (In February, Kiselev also had insinuated that the US Marine’s Iwo Jima monument looked like some gay guys having sex.)
Putin’s crackdown on the Russian media and elimination of any opposition has left Kiselev at the top of the heap. He is watched by millions, but his influence over all propaganda is incalculable. His anti-gay remarks were met with overwhelming studio audience applause.
Putin’s Disinformation Machine
Putin moved quickly in 2012 to place his media under a stranglehold. State-owned enterprises are now more than 50%. Putin’s pal Yury Kovalchuk has bought out a powerful media empire consisting of five television stations, the daily ‘Izvestia’ newspaper, three big tabloids and the radio station ‘Echo Moscow’.
Russia consistently has ranked as a “not free” state for political rights and civil liberties, while even under the worst abuses of the Yanukovych regime, Ukraine has placed higher (‘partly free’ category):
Freedom House 2012 Report: “The return of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency ushered in a new period of accelerated repression. Since his inauguration in May, Putin has moved in a calculated way to stifle independent political and civic activity, pushing through a series of laws meant to restrict public protest, limit the work of NGOs, and inhibit free expression on the internet. The regime also forced the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to end its work in Russia, and has severely hampered the ability of foreign broadcasters to reach the Russian audience. At year’s end, in retaliation for a US law imposing visa and asset restrictions on Russian human rights abusers, Putin signed a ban on the adoption of Russian orphans by families in the United States.”
Putin’s Ally in Ukraine: Viktor Medvedchuk
And in Ukraine itself, Putin has a reliable “fifth column” in Viktor Medvedchuk, oligarch (net worth in 2008 – $460 million) and chairman of the pro-Russian political organization ‘Ukrainian Choice’. (He has been placed on the US and Canadian sanctions list over Crimea.)
Significantly, Putin is also the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter. Medvedchuk himself is no stranger to the dirty world of disinformation. In 2004, he was reportedly involved in funding a staged demonstration to discredit Viktor Yushchenko’s candidacy for President. Medvedchuk’s ‘Ukrainian Choice’ party most recently campaigned against EU by distributing these light boxes in the Kyiv metro:
Specific Examples of Russian Disinformation:
Disinformation themes have included fake accounts of ‘looming humanitarian crises’ of non-existent 675,000 Russian refugees fleeing Ukraine, purposely misidentified locales, scare stories of ‘neo-Nazis/fascists, chaos and lawlessness in Ukraine, etc.
Below are just a few of the hundreds of fake stories manufactured by Russian TV and media:
‘Russia One’ TV – “Two Berkut Police martyrs burned alive in Lviv”:
‘Russia One’ TV broadcast an audience studio program called “The Evil Spirits of Maidan: the Mystery of a Ukrainian Pogrom”. A ‘guest’ from Dnipropetrovsk testified that two Berkut police were “burned alive in Lviv for refusing to kneel and apologize” for their violence against civilians in Kyiv. ‘Russia One’ used footage from a fire four days previous to the incident, which had no relation to anything. The Berkut police (who had been disbanded by the new government because they murdered civilians) were hailed ‘spiritual heroes and martyrs’, and the program hosts took full advantage to also portray Ukrainians as “anti-Russia” and having “dreamed up the idea of a Kyiv Patriarchate” (this to resounding studio applause).
‘Russia 24’ TV – “Russian refugees barely escaped lynch mobs in Ukraine”:
‘Russia 24’ TV aired a news program about “The First Refugees from Ukraine to Ulianovsk, Russia”. This one was scripted like a soap opera serial. The Latartsev family (husband, wife, daughter, four suitcases and their two Yorkshire terriers with ribboned hair) was joyfully greeted with flowers at the train terminal by the ‘Humanitarian Aid’.
Mr. Latartsev (described as an engineer) and Mrs. Latartsev provided colorful interviews:
“people are dying from these ‘clowns’ in the Right Sector… they rob innocent people at night… please help us, dear fellow Russians! …the Banderites and their ‘Gauleiter of Western Ukraine’ Sasha Bily terrorized our city… chaos, anti constitutional upheavals.. fascist youths from Western Ukraine are starting up self-governing “lynching tribunals”… Black Hundreds have lists of victims and are systematically hunting everybody down… we had to hide with relatives… at the point of a gun they stole our car… they come at night with automatics… we can’t sleep… dear God, please help… we’ve lost everything… all we have left is our lives!”
Following their histrionic testimony, a journalist for TRK “Ukraine” Roman Sukhan wrote:
“Roman Latartsev was married to one of my cousins. Six years ago he abandoned his wife, student-son, and a sick dying mother in their tiny one room apartment. He found a lover with two kids and they all relocated to Kyiv where he worked as driver for oligarchs, she as nanny-cook. Then after a stint in Crimea they returned to Rivne and raised dogs for sale. Latartsev was a member of Party regions and stole 20,000 hrv . Before their trip to Russia, the Latartsevs robbed the former husband of his new wife at gunpoint of $6000 US . His true son is a loyal officer in the Ukrainian army and ashamed for his father.” (Independent journalists from STB TV interviewed many residents in Rivne and confirmed Sukhan’s account.)
YouTube – “Horrors of Banderites and Hitlerjugend in Kyiv”:
A YouTube video from November 27 2013 showing exuberant young Drohobych (a smaller city west of Lviv) students attending a meeting for Euro-integration was later recycled as an event in Kyiv over 500 km away, and proof of the “horrors of Banderites in Kyiv” and an example of Ukrainian “Hitlerjugend”.
Russian ‘SMI News’: “Czech Parliament refuses to support sanctions against Russia”
Online Russian SMI News reported Czech Parliament refused to support sanctions against Russia. This was checked on official Czech Parliament site and found false.
Russian ‘ORT’ TV – fake story with false photo:
‘Russia 24’ TV – Fake story with false photo:
Russian bribe offer for fake internet information:
The community “Typical Kyiv” was offered 3000 Russian Rubles to publish fake information for increasing the minimal income tax for physical entities from 15% to 20% due to increased defense expenses.
Moscow’s history of lies: How Russian ‘historians’/disinformation propagandists camouflaged Moscow’s barbarian origins
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the principality of Moscow (Finn + Tatar ethos) destroyed all their neighboring cities like Novgorod, Pskov and Tver, and slaughtered their Slavic populaces with older and much more advanced cultures – all with the help of the Golden Horde from Sarai.
Moscow’s Russian Orthodox Church prayed for the Khan, issued anathemas on anyone who opposed the Tatars (!) and even made saints out of the Tatar-subservient Alexander Nevsky and Dimitry Donskoy, who terrorized and decimated their own peoples. (Small wonder so many Orthodox Church officials were actually KGB officers during the Soviet era.)
“Saint” Alexander Nevsky is widely held responsible for the 250 year long slavery of Russia to the Golden Horde. He betrayed his own brother to the Khan, plundered and killed all towns in the Rostov-Suzdal areas, was an unprincipled intriguer, traitor and butcher.
Established by Catherine II at the end of the 18th century, the Imperial Historical Commission set about to twist and rewrite Russian History to claim a direct line to enlightened Slavic Kyiv, create a fictional hero in Alexander Nevsky as founder of Moscow, and also to establish a ‘God-given right to consolidate all the age-old lands of Russia”.
After centuries of Moskovian subservience to the Golden Horde in Sarai, Ivan III swore on his Bible in 1473 to be a subservient vassal to the newly emerged power, the Crimean Tatar Khanate. The Crimeans became protectors of Moscow’s despots and their soldiers helped Moskovites further brutalize and commit unspeakable horrors on their neighbors. Russian historians never liked to remember how this Tatar nation which once ruled and shielded them, were gradually subdued by Moscow, relocated from their lands as a sign of ‘thanks’ and practically exterminated by the Soviets.
Notice that ‘saving the Crimean Tatars’ did not surface among any of Moscow’s current pretexts for ‘saving Crimea’.
By Adrian Bryttan, March 30, 2014