Traditions of propaganda in the present Russian Federation are rooted into the Soviet history of 20th century. Bolsheviks needed it to keep their absolute power over the Soviet nation and present explanations of atrocities to their people. Successes of Hitler’s propaganda machine before and during the WW2 were inspirational for the chief Soviet rulers, and they implemented a lot of brainwashing techniques in the USSR. After collapse of the Soviet Union, that propaganda machine wasn’t destroyed, but put on hold both in security circles and media.
Geopolitical ambitions of the ex-KGB propaganda agent Vladimir Putin called the Soviet-style propagandists back to work – to build up what he understands under “the Russian world”. Elder generations of propagandists taught the next one, which is familiar with 21st century communication channels and technologies, including the Word Wide Web.
As it often happens, any innovation is good in hands of ‘good guys’, but becomes awful if ‘bad guys’ use it for not decent purposes. For example, if they need a war.
Here’s the list of the comprehensive journalistic investigations which expose the Kremlin-directed propaganda against Ukraine:
- “The Kremlin’s Troll Army” by The Atlantic (August 12, 2014)
- “Russia’s Top 80 Lies About Ukraine” by Julia Davis (Updated on July 12, 2014)
- “Documents Show How Russia’s Troll Army Hit America” by BuzzFeed (June 2, 20014)
- “The Opinion-Makers: How Russia Is Winning the Propaganda War. Part 1” by Spiegel (May 30, 2014)
- ‘Zombie Revolution” by Slate (May 22, 2014)
- “Pushing the Kremlin Line” by Newsweek (May 20, 2014)
- “Lie Does Not Hurt – A Russian Journalist Testimonial” by Snob (May 5, 2014)
- “The readers’ editor on… pro-Russia trolling below the line on Ukraine stories” by The Guardian (May 4, 2014)
When I worked as a newscaster on the Ukrainian Novyi TV in 2000-2004, I saw how anonymous Russia-based commentators together with pro-Russian locals and journalists massively posted anti-Ukrainian and personal abuses on the station website’s forum. The station’s chief editor Ihor Kulias and general manager Alexander Tkachenko treated that unprecedented commenting as a “freedom of speech” doing nothing to limit troll’s activities. As it became obvious now, ten years ago it was one of the first online campaigns of the Kremlin propagandists against Ukrainian journalists, but majority of media managers in Ukraine took the Kremlin side.
As soon as Ukrainian media appeared in the Web, pro-Kremlin commentators started bombarding their comments sections, in particular on the Ukrainska Pravda political news website. Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis in November-December 2013, many of Ukraine’s online media temporarily suspended options of commenting.