Staunton, February 23 — Russian lies have been a constant feature of the Moscow media scene since the start of Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in other parts of Ukraine. Most of them have been so extreme that they call attention to themselves and are easy to show are false.
But as Moscow’s involvement in Ukraine has continued and as ever more Russian specialists have become involved, Russian propaganda has become in part more complicated, combining truth and falsehood in ways that simultaneously make it more effective with its various target audiences and more difficult to unmask.
In a commentary on NR2.com, Kseniya Kirillova considers five current themes of Russian propaganda and shows how each of them combines some truth and much falsehood and also how complicated it can be for many to separate the two in order to understand what is going on.
First, increasingly Moscow outlets assert that “Russia always supports the government which exists in a country but the US supports the opposition and tries to bring it to power by means of bloody revolution.” That isn’t the case in Ukraine, and it hasn’t been the case in many other countries as well, Kirillova points out.
Second, these outlets say, “’agents of influence of the US are present in the system of power of Russia.” If one judges by the consequences of their actions and assumes that the US wants to destroy Russia, it might be possible to say that Putin is US Agent Number One because of all he has done to “destroy his own country.”
Third, and in the latest update of the Soviet response to criticism by saying that Americans are “lynching” blacks, Moscow outlets like to raise the question: “And what about the revelations of Snowden?” To be sure, Kirillova says, Snowden’s actions sparked “an enormous number of international scandals.”
But in reporting them, Russian sources ignore Russian cyberattacks on other countries, including Germany, Ukraine, and the Baltic states in order to leave the impression and with some success that all the problems in this area come from one side. That simply is not the case as any unbiased observer can see.
Fourth, Russian sources continue to claim that “the US organized the Maidan in Ukraine.” It is true that the US supported the Maidan but it certainly didn’t organize it. The Ukrainian people did. No outside force no matter how powerful could have done what they did – unlike in the Donbass where Moscow really did organize things.
And fifth, Russian outlets claim that “Russian NGOs financed by the US allow themselves to do too much.” One must see this either as “an open lie” or those who hear it must acknowledge that Moscow-finances NGOs in Europe and the US “allow themselves much more than ‘too much’” and are not restricted in what they do in contrast to NGOs in Russia.