A Peculiar Russian Export
The Dezinformatsia Affair - Chapter 1
We shall begin this series of inquiries, a romp actually, into this peculiar Russian export with a brief look at Russian generated disinformation in Russia itself, and its immediate neighbors.
Unfortunately yes, Russia is at war with the West. But as you probably know, this war is one that is carried out with lies and deceit in front of computers, on social media and suspicious or vulnerable news outlets. A war where people rarely get killed directly, unless they are deemed traitors to the motherland.
In that case, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the quintessential KGB dirty trickster, will send his trained assassins to the very ends of the earth to kill and make an example of them.
Even if they are as far as, say, London or Salisbury. Putin said in 2010:
“Traitors will kick the bucket, trust me.”
- Vladimir Putin
A taste of Russian Exports
If you have found yourselves happily insulated from the brute force of Russian pseudo-journalistic дезынформа́ция, you weren't aware of these well known factoids about the following geopolitical entities.
So here's a taste :
World Jewish Congress recognizes Crimea as Russian.
The US blocks humanitarian aid in Syria.
The UN called the Ukrainian army occupants and announced that they do not want to invest money in the “Ukraine government’s open mouths”.
Ukraine among countries with highest level of organized crime.
Ukraine is full of Nazis.
In 1939, Finland attacked the Soviet Union first.
The danger of radioactive pollution with Ruthenium-106 came from Romania, and not from Russia.
Sweden is almost in a war-state. The immigrants have taken over the lead of the country. The criminality is so high that police officers are afraid to serve.
“Europe will become Muslim”, “Islamization of Europe is inevitable”, “Islamic Caliphate in Europe: Why Muslims will replace Christians in the EU”.
Former Romanian president Băsescu believes that more than half of Moldovans need to be beaten.(?)
… and, of course :
American secret laboratories spreads new diseases in Georgia.
All of the preceding tasty morsels of dezinformatsia were, of course, subsequently debunked. But most of you probably haven't heard any of these fascinating tidbits because you don't live in Russia or, more generally, Europe. This is where citizens are bombarded, through Russia's overwhelmingly state-controlled media and their information hackers, with a slew of strange and telling “facts”, especially about their very mean, awful, insidious, warlike, barbaric, degenerate, incestuous and reprehensible neighbors and the West in general.
Russian a little rusty?
We, and Google Translate, can help. The title of the video is “Horror. The legalization of incest in Europe.”
Those among you who can understand both German and Russian must be scratching your heads very hard after watching this, because the headlines pictured in the video are often saying the contrary of what the voice says. The footage presented has not much if anything at all to do with the purported legalization of incest but, for good measure, some of the headlines shown have been cherry picked from known, unreliable right wing activist and Russia-oriented publications such as the Fria Tider, that specialize in “alternative” right-wing dezinformatsia.
It is extremely refreshing to see that the video's veracity is very heavily denounced in Russian Cyrillic script in the YouTube comments section below the video. There's HOPE!
We all believe very strongly that incest IS horror, of course, and incest IS indeed prohibited everywhere in the EU countries, but the Russian government's efforts to demonize the rest of the world have taken this issue quite a few levels above reality. All that you have seen here was but a sampling of the fabrications fed not only to the Russian everyman on a daily basis, but also to the whole world through Mother Russia's various international “legitimate” press agencies and its army of paid trolls who covertly inundate the world's social media outlets daily with lies. Make no mistake about it : the uninformed, gullible and willfully ignorant individuals of every nation are the prime, ready and available targets of this veritable cascade of lies, for Russia's arms of dezinformatsia now circle the globe.
Effects and goals
Mission Accomplished! as Dubya would have said, because for all those who will not look beyond the intent of those messages and the lies they carry, incest has indeed been legalized in Europe!
At best, those choice targets of dezinformatsia are being made suspicious of the world around them, suspicious especially of those countries where they could enjoy a better life. This makes them more docile to, and accepting of, the systemic lieocracy in which they live.
At worse, they are being primed for war.
Georgia, Ukraine, where will Russia's tanks tear up the asphalt next?
It certainly has maneuvered to control Montenegro's politics, and told Albania of its plans to build a military/navy base on one of its islands in the Adriatic in order to expand its international reach and take control of that body of water, China style.
Maybe Macedonia, another one of its old Yugoslavian dependencies, that now seems progressive enough to shed the very last remnants of Russian influence. Russia has already poured lots of rubles into its fight to divide this country, stir unrest and cause all kinds of mayhem, using paid agitators and a very strong dezinformatsia campaign in its bid to claw it back into its Yugoslavian nineteen eighties fold.
What makes it worse for Russia is that Macedonia seems ready to change its name to North Macedonia in order satisfy Greece's demands and join NATO. One more country joining NATO really rankles Russia and, since the new name for the country has been put to a referendum, it has pulled out all the stops to get it rejected by the Macedonian people. Mr. Zoran Zaev, the Macedonian prime minister, reached an agreement with Greece in this matter and even expelled a Russian diplomat in retaliation for this country's misbehavior. Greece expelled two and refused entry to two more.
Oleg Shcherbak, the Russian ambassador to Macedonia, then warned that if it came to a war between Russia and NATO, Macedonia would be squarely in its sights as a “legitimate target.”
Journalism in Russia
“The primary role of the Fourth Estate, the media, is to act as a lie detector, and that – more than courts – acts as a deterrent to politicians. Do papers behave? Not always. Russia had a century of Pravda – that means “truth” in English.”
- James Cusick, The Independent
So, we know that Russia is NOT a healthy environment for reliable reporting. The broadsheet paper Pravda is owned by the communist party and, since 1912, has always toed the party line.
Reporters Without Borders, in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, ranks Russia at 148 out of 180 countries, with the first place occupied by Norway and that last place occupied by North Korea. The Committee To Protect Journalists tells us that thirty-eight journalists were murdered in Russia between the years1992 and 2018. Twenty-five of those were killed between 2000 and 2018.
The year 2000 happens to be when Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin began playing musical chairs between the presidency and the prime ministership with Dmitry Medvedev, in a mockery of the democratic process. The last elections that put him again in power were, as Russian dissident and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov put it, a charade.
If Putin did not directly order all those people killed, which seems self-evident but unprovable as of yet, he certainly “created the atmosphere” where his opponents were killed, as one somewhat obstinate Western journalist put it.
No discussion of journalistic freedom in Russia can be complete without at least mentioning the incredible courage of those who work for the Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper which investigates critically, thoroughly and in-depth everything that Putin wants to keep hidden. As a result of their work, six of Novaya Gazeta's journalists were killed by “the atmosphere” since 2001.
The Novaya Gazeta, and other incredibly courageous and independent news outlets, journalists and individuals searching for the truth and exposing all the lies and corruption, show the true mettle of the Russian people.
Disinformation or dezinformatsia?
Disinformation is certainly not a uniquely Russian problem. Indeed :
"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near."
- Chinese general Sun Tzu, in The Art of War
… and that was almost three thousand years ago. But, with the advent of the Internet and social medias, Putin's henchmen recently opened up vast new vistas in Putin's weaponization of information.
Joseph Stalin himself came up with the term dezinformatsia. He invented it by modeling the Western word disinformationto the way Western words would ordinarily be Russified, as dezinformatsia, to make it seem like it was a Western concept all along. So, in a way, the very word itself is dezinformatsia.
We must reluctantly admit : good one, Stalin. For the purposes of these articles, we'll now use his word, dezinformatsia,in his honor.
Also in old Joe's honor, we shall henceforth use the Russian word KOMPROMAT for "compromising material, damaging information about a politician or other public figure used to create negative publicity, for blackmail, or for ensuring loyalty.” No biggie here, the American press already uses it.
The Russian expression for assassinations are Mokroye Delo (wet affairs). Don't make us use that!
Two can play at this game, Vlado...
But what now?
Who knows exactly how Western states will react to this Russian onslaught of dezinformatsia? Who knows if their response will be effective, or if there will be grave side effects to the remedies?
This writer believes that one of Al-Qaeda's most profound and unseen accomplishments has been, since 9/11, to push us all closer to becoming a police state. More than ever before, everything is now in place for the West to slide into some Orwellian nightmare.
So, with this in mind, the question begs itself : Will Western governments be able to put in place mechanisms that will effectively constrain Putin's symphony of lies without eroding our fundamental personal liberties and balkanizing us into opposing ideological groups, ready to rip each other's throats out?
Because after all, that's exactly what Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the quintessential KGB dirty trickster, wants...
EU vs Disinformation main page
Putin only “created the atmosphere” where his opponents were killed :