How does Russian propaganda work, and what makes it so effective?
The basic principle is universal and focuses on dissonances and discrepancies in the power structure of target countries, combined with the positive representation of one’s own ambitions.
The key techniques to achieve these goals are not “fake news” or “disinformation” – which can be refuted – but a skillful choice of topics, aspects and interview partners. As one doesn’t promise neutral journalism, the audience doesn’t expect it, either.
This approach is most effective when an incoherence or incompleteness of Western reporting can be proven and as a result confidence in the Western media system as a whole can be shaken – consider slogans and formats such as “Question More” or “The Missing Part”.
While seemingly progressive, the overarching strategic goal is to provide media support for Russian foreign policy – in peace as well as in war. This can be observed particularly well in volatile diplomatic relations, for example with countries such as France, Israel, Turkey or the US.
For Western critics from a wide variety of political backgrounds, such a programme – for information or even as a platform – is quite attractive. Western media, on the other hand, find themselves in a serious dilemma: should they accept, ignore, or combat Russian-sponsored criticism?
The alleged Russian social media operations to influence foreign elections, however, remain unproven. Moreover, in 2018 a consulting firm tasked by US Congress with the evaluation of these operations was itself caught faking a “Russian botnet” in order to manipulate a US senate election.
Western projects on Russian propaganda:
Published: November 2018