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148x210 inform front-eng_07-11-2016

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Информационный фронт Кремля - англ.

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148x210 inform front-eng_07-11-2016

  1. 1. THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies 2016 Valentyn Badrak, Dmitry Kozlov
  2. 2. irst of all, it must be noted that the Kremlin’s informa- tion weaponry is an ancient one, which makes it both highly refined and highly dangerous1 . Russia’s tradition of creating effective indoctrination methods, or, to use a modern term, of carrying out successful information operations, dates back to its active «Gathering of Lands» periods. Those methods were always aggressive, «Jesuitical» in nature, aiming to sub- due nations and to force their leaders into pro-imperial decision-making. The most ambiguous and psychologi- cally destructive period for any person living within the empire’s territory was the time of creation and rise of the So- 1 Here and elsewhere we refer to the mental and psychological aspects of information wars, ex- cluding the technical aspects and actual cyber warfare. viet history, during which the Kremlin school of information warfare tough- ened up and gained practical experi- ence of combining cynical indoctrina- tion with the state’s powerful repressive and penal system. For Ukraine, this pe- riod was particularly symbolic, because imperial Moscow, in its effort to mold the typical Soviet person into an obedi- ent and suggestible cog in the machine, reached an apogee in the methods it chose, and resorted to genocide of the Ukrainian people. Understanding the specifics of how modern Russia’s information policy is shaped and implemented, the experts of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) have always kept Russia’s information opera- tions against Ukraine on their radar. In May 2002, Ukraine voiced its intention for Euro-Atlantic integration, and the very next year, Moscow started an open The Highlights of Russia’s Information War F Valentyn Badrak, Director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies
  3. 3. 3INTRODUCTION and systematic subversive war aimed at destroying the Ukrainian state. Since then, the tasks of CACDS expanded to include regular research into the meth- ods and principles of the Kremlin’s information sabotage. Unfortunately, during all periods of Ukraine’s mod- ern history, its higher military-political command would either be too lenient towards the actions of Russia’s sabo- tage system (presenting that leniency as multi-vector, balanced politics); fail to include information resistance in the key defense priorities; or actually play into the hands of the Kremlin’s masters. A look into current state of resistance to Russia’s information aggression shows that Ukraine is not the only country in a vulnerable position. In fact, almost all Central and Eastern European coun- tries, even NATO members, turned out to be unprepared to counteract Russia’s persistent and centripetal propaganda machine. At the same time, we must give credit where credit is due: many expert and analytical organizations, as well as individual authors, had looked deeply into this problem, and their ef- forts resulted in a considerable body of material that can be used as a founda- tion for the national information se- curity system. Among such works we would like to point out Ukrainian Men- tality by Alexander Strazhny (2008), In Search of the Universum (2011) and The Refounding of Ukraine (2013) by Oleg Romanchuk, Information Wars (2000) and Propaganda and Counter-Propa- ganda (2004) by Georgiy Pocheptsov, The Kremlin’s CSTO Project: Imple- mentation Results and Conclusions for Ukraine by Dmitry Kozlov (2016), and A Year of Russian Mythology by Ser- gey Borschevsky (2016). A number of Russia’s information operations against Ukraine in 2006-2008 was analyzed (in a fictionalized presentation) by this pa- per’s author, in the book Eastern Strat- egy (2011). Further seminal works that analyze the results of Russia’s in- formation attacks include: articles by Oleg Pokalchuk, writer and social psy- chologist; Putin’s Hybression: the Non- Military Aspects of New Generation Wars (2016), a report by the Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XXI,” directed by Mykhailo Gonchar; the multifaceted research and publications of the Center for Russian Studies; as well as the mul- tipart thesis Donbass and Crimea: the Price of Return published by the Na- tional Institute for Strategic Studies and edited by Vladimir Gorbulin. One way or another, experience with Russia’s war of extermination against Ukraine, especially in 2014-2015, shows that our national information security system has just begun forming, and the specially created Ministry of In- formation Policy is still far from fully understanding the mechanisms for in- formation resistance. Because of this, Ukraine’s retaliation is purely defensive, a “response after the blow.” It goes with- out saying that this position is not going to result in victory or yield any advan- tage on the information front. On the information battlefield, the advantage belongs to the side with more dynamics and creativity, not the one that prepares a response after spending some time to decipher the enemy’s elaborate gambits.
  4. 4. 4 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT Thus, any national information security system we discuss must include struc- tures or departments dedicated to intel- ligence, counterintelligence, informa- tion processing, and actual information operations. In modern hybrid warfare, the most popular approach to date is to imitate political unrest and rallies, in order to cover them in the media in a specific light and impose a biased view of events. “Let’s look at spring of 2014, when movement of the Ukrainian army was being blocked: for example, at the Olk- hovaya station. Our APCs would arrive by rail, get taken off platform trains and sent to Krasna Talakivka at the border. Who went out to protest that: old men and women? No, activists of Party of Regions. Who got paid for it.2 ” Events like the one described by the former member of Party of Regions are perfect for creating TV shots, news reports, and articles. Mass distribution of specially prepared content affects almost all fo- cus groups. Switching TV pictures has long become standard practice for Rus- sian media. The proverbial front page of the 2014-2016 hybrid warfare was dominated by irregular paramilitary units: armed civilians and Russian spe- cial forces without insignia brought in for combat operations. Those images fueled the media imagination, while the picture and narrative varied depending on the edits provided by special services and political technologists. 2 As reported by Vladimir Landik, former member of Party of Regions, http://censor.net.ua/n391367 The past two years of Russia’s war against Ukraine evidence the need to create information security structures that would ensure quick response with- in certain departments (as appropriate for each department’s nature of work), and create a platform for public-private partnership in ensuring information security. The latter, importantly, must include a correct mechanism for inter- action between the state and the media, with provisions for handling sensitive information and for media participa- tion in specialized information and psy- chological campaigns or operations. Naturally, to construct one’s own national system, one must thoroughly study the relevant system used by the enemy. In the course of this research, the CACDS suggested to divide in- formation operations (IO) by type of communication channel, with an un- derstanding that these channels can be used in the most elaborate of combina- tions, up to and including massive in- formation attacks on all fronts simul- taneously. With this in mind, we suggest sin- gling out the following types of IO for research and comprehensive analysis. 1. Information provocations and mis- information on the part of Russia with the use of non-government structures or media3 . 2. Information operations carried out by Russian scientific, research, and academic institutions. 3 Considered official, as they are typically provided with comprehensive support, monitoring and direc- tion by Russia’s special forces, and therefore, the state.
  5. 5. 5INTRODUCTION 3. Information and psychological operations carried out by official structures, including top state offi- cials. 4. Information operations following special events and provocations in- volving Russian enforcement (army) units. 5. Information and psychological op- erations and provocations with the involvement of specially prepared civilian groups. 6. Information and psychological op- erations carried out by foreign poli- ticians or public figures (“opinion leaders” for specific focus groups). 7. Information and psychological op- erations carried out at the level of international organizations and in- ternational conferences. 8. Information and psychological op- erations via specific communica- tion channels: books, films, specially constructed TV shows, and exploi- tation of memorials and favorable images of the past. 9. Information and psychological op- erations based on the creation and promotion of ratings. 10. Large-scale comprehensive infor- mation and psychological opera- tions carried out by artificially cre- ated “opinion leaders.” The war is not over, and many nega- tive trends are still picking up speed. The Kremlin’s information front is open for business and active. Therefore, it makes sense to study our enemy’s tac- tics and strategy, and enable ourselves to make preemptive strikes.
  6. 6. he title of the first propa- ganda theoretician known to humanity rightfully be- longs to Plato. In his famous dialogue in The Republic, this Greek phi- losopher used a brilliant allegory, the so- called “cave myth” to describe the basics of modern propaganda technologists, back in the 4th century BCE. It paints a picture of people forever imprisoned in a cave, their only ideas about the true nature of things gleaned from the vague shadows cast by torches held by puppet- eers behind them. This is a very acute description of a collective consciousness subjected to calculated influence by mas- ters of deception and manipulation. Plato’s ideas received a new and sin- ister interpretation in the 20th century, when the rise of technology and media enabled information dictatorship on a previously unseen scale. In 1921, Ameri- can journalist and political commentator Walter Lippmann, winner of two Pulitzer prizes, first described how public opinion is formed with the help of the media, and created the original stereotype theory that is still considered classic in the West to- day. The theory can be summarized as fol- lows. A person’s capacity for knowledge is limited: no individual can know every- thing and be absolutely informed, because their environment is far too complex and changeable. To overcome the world’s di- versity, one summarizes one’s knowledge of it into categories. These categories are fictions, stereotypes, and elements of a pseudo-environment that a person uses to adapt to their actual environment. Consequently, a person’s behavior is their response to the stimuli provided by the pseudo-enviroment, not the real one. Stereotypes are grouped into ste- reotype systems, which are presented as Vladimir Putin’s Shadow Theater T Dmitry Kozlov, Head of the CACDS Personality Analysis Laboratory
  7. 7. 7INTRODUCTION daily customs, beliefs, teachings, social institutions, etc., up to and including the stereotype known as “social reality,” one that encompasses all stereotype systems. The world that we have to interact with as individuals remains outside of our grasp. A human is not an omnisci- ent deity that can perceive everything at a glance, but a product of evolution that can only grasp a “sufficient por- tion of reality to manage his survival, and snatch what on the scale of time are but a few moments of insight and hap- piness.” Each individual can only have good knowledge of a small portion of reality, becoming a specialist or an expert only in some specific, narrow fields. An art- ful and trained manipulator with the necessary resources can take advantage of this limitation of perception and of the human inability to grasp reality in its fullness. Lippmann’s seminal works dedi- cated to propaganda and manipulation of the public consciousness were pub- lished between the two world wars, and used by the totalitarian regimes that rose in Europe and Asia at the time. Those regimes went on to control the mass consciousness on previously un- seen scale, using the new technological potential of the cinema, radio, and press to create strikingly convincing pictures of reality. Those pictures were distorted and illusory, but no less believable for it. The rise of propaganda in totalitar- ian states of the 1930-40’s was interrupt- ed by their quick collapse. However, the propaganda machine continued grow- ing in the USSR, and Western political leadership became concerned by the degree of Soviet leaders’ influence on the public opinion in the West. The start of the Cold War resulted in a physical arms race combined with a similar race in the information field. The Western world had to create counter-measures to Soviet propaganda, yet because of their values, they did not start out with the means to properly “play dirty” in response. The USSR’s collapse was met with massive optimism on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and with a hope that the era of massive propaganda was truly over, and large-scale brainwashing was left to the handful of small and isolated pariah states like North Korea. However, the events of 2014 and Putin’s aggression against Ukraine raised the following question for the first time after the fall of the Berlin wall: are the bad old times coming back? Today, considering the great advances in information technolo- gies, propaganda operations are taking on a new, previously unseen scale. The history of Russian propaganda spans centuries. Total information con- trol and state influence over the masses are an integral part of Russia’s history, aspects that were true for every stage of its statehood. However, never before had information operations been this artful, this innovative, and this broad in scope. That is mainly because modern propaganda technicians have at their disposal the historic traditions of the Tsarist and Soviet regimes, combined with the brief and unprecedented exist- ence of independent Russian media that emerged during the late Perestroika and Boris Yeltsin’s administration.
  8. 8. 8 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT The direct origins of today Russia’s grandiose mass consciousness manipu- lation system are buried in the USSR’s historic finale. For many decades, the Soviet state’s ruling party invested co- lossal resources into maintaining, de- veloping, and aggressively imposing a Leftist Communist narrative, both within their country and outside it. Doubtlessly, the ideas of a utopian, uni- versally egalitarian society did not van- ish after the Soviet Union’s collapse; this ideology has always had and will always have its advocates. However, the era of unprecedented promotion of the Marx- ist narrative in the masses was over, and the former socialist states were swept up in a perfect storm of the Western narra- tive – a liberal, capitalist ideology that had been carefully constructed during the Cold War to counteract the threat from the east. Unfortunately, the eu- phoria brought by the collapse of totali- tarianism soon gave way to the fear of economic collapse, unwieldy reforms, and the plummeting quality of life that affected the overwhelming majority of former Soviet citizens. Despite the lack of ideological pressure, the Rus- sian population clearly associated their hardships with the government’s active pro-Western information policy. Ac- tive discussions sparked up in the soci- ety, debating what the year 1991 really meant. That marked the birth of a new powerful narrative that would remain dormant for a while: a revanchist, na- tionalist, and totalitarian ideology that refuted former Marxist ideas in favor of the more amorphous “traditional val- ues.” For a while, this paradigm was one of many, and far from being a dominant one, especially in the circles of key deci- sion influencers. However, everything changed when Vladimir Putin came to power. Anyone familiar with the current Russian leader’s biography would be highly naïve to believe that Vladimir Putin is a true believer in the ideas that de facto comprise Russia’s current state ideology. During the first years af- ter his “ascension to the throne,” Putin had been using the pro-Western liberal narrative inherited from Yeltsin’s elite, which he was also a member of. The “strong ruling hand” rhetoric was sprin- kled over that narrative only sparingly. Yet the new leader was constructing a rigid, authoritarian-like power vertical and centralizing political and economic leverage – and a new ideological base was needed to support those efforts. The key element of Russia’s modern ideological paradigm is the figure of its leader. Today, thanks to the efforts of political technologists, Vladimir Putin’s personality is tied to so many load-bear- ing structures in Russia’s state ideology that his removal from the system of coordinates would cause an immediate collapse. Peter Pomerantsev, a British journalist who had worked in Moscow television for 9 years, once called Putin “a media fiction” and “the first President created entirely via the media.” That is not a gross exaggeration. However, the path towards the creation of this fiction was complicated, rocky, and multi-level. To understand the structure of the grandiose illusion constructed around Putin today, we must turn to its ori-
  9. 9. 9INTRODUCTION gins and to the period when there still existed a real person, rather than the media fiction. Upon his arrival at the Kremlin, Putin found an existing team of political technologists that had pre- viously worked with Boris Yeltsin. A testimony to the quality of that team’s work is the fact that in the three years preceding Putin’s appearance in the political arena during the 1996 presi- dential election, they had successfully run Yeltsin’s campaign and ensured his victory, despite the economic collapse and the massive public disappointment in the president and the government. Media promotion of the new head of state was hardly a challenge, since any comparison to the retiring Boris Yelt- sin would throw things into perspec- tive. Focusing on the VVP [Vladimir Putin’s] persona, PR technicians started constructing “add-ons” for those traits that the public found attractive. Their success is impressive, not least because in today’s world, it would be hard to find a less charismatic leader than the Rus- sian “father of the nation.” The “strong ruling hand” my- thologem became the first link in the ideological chain. The political technol- ogists inherited by Putin from his prede- cessors could not have ignored the most obvious differences between the Krem- lin’s old and new masters. First of all, Pu- tin’s lack of bad habits and active lifestyle favorably contrasted him from the pre- vious president. During the early years of Yeltsin’s rule, his drunken stupor and eccentric stunts were cleverly used to present him as being “close to the peo- ple” and “loyal to tradition.” A decade later, this narrative had worn thin and started properly irritating the public, who associated their president’s inepti- tude with the general chaos and ruin in the country. Against that background, a sober and fit figure capable of clear and comprehensible speech looked extreme- ly favorable, and was strongly promoted through all of the still-limited resources of the media, both state-owned outlets and those close to the state. Later on, as the propaganda machine grew stronger, Putin’s power and health were further mythologized. Even pop music was used to that end, with the hit single One Like Putin by the band Singing Together (a clear allusion to Walking Together, one of early quazi-Komsomol pro-Putin projects). Subsequently, the mythical image of the “Warrior Putin” who rode horses topless, flew bomber jets and hang gliders, dove to find amphorae at the bottom of the sea, and performed other legendary deeds, became an or- ganic part of the general aggressive and militarized ideology. It also took on a life of its own as Internet memes, which might have been ironic, but not always anti-Putin in spirit. Putin’s advertised physical strength and fitness correlated well with another image – a “strong hand” that would save the country from collapse. The oligarch circles of the Yeltsin era agreed that cen- tral power had to be strengthened, un- derstanding how fragile their position was made by the rampant separatism and another economic crisis of the late 1990’s. The oligarch-sanctioned change of the president-shaped “store front” co- incided with a new strategy that aimed
  10. 10. 10 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT to connect the president’s figure with centralization and improved govern- ability of the regions. The country was shaken by a number of terror attacks in Moscow and the fighting in Dagestan, while the new leader’s harsh response, so different from Yeltsin’s peaceful and vague position, struck a chord with the public masses, exhausted by all the real and imagined insults to their national dignity, and eager for revenge. These sentiments and their potential did not escape the creators of the up-and-com- ing propaganda machine. The new full-scale campaign in Chechnya, curtseys towards the army, promises to “waste the terrorists in the outhouse” and to “finish what has been started” provided for Putin’s skyrock- eting popularity and the growing con- cern in the liberal community, which, while not yet feeling much pressure on the media and civil liberties, suspected that a crackdown was on the way. The oligarchs, who did not expect such met- tle from the seemingly shiftless “foot soldier,” were also concerned by Putin’s staff games, which aimed to reinforce his individual rule and redistribute fi- nancial flows and benefits towards “his own.” When Putin’s political technolo- gists start taking his “strong arm” image to such new levels as “conqueror of oli- garchs” and “exterminator of gangs,” the financial elite, who at the time owned a giant segment of media space, tries to mount a belated defense. Private media outlets, mainly the biggest private TV channel NTV, owned by the oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky, start putting a strongly negative spin on their coverage of the government’s policies. Putin prepares to strike back, and in April 2001, essentially national- izes NTV. The “NTV case” put a start to the mass governmentalization of Rus- sian media. Content broadcast by state- owned media loses its critical bite, but is still far from today’s never-ending wor- ship of Putin Almighty. The president’s figure is ready to become the consolidat- ing core, but the elites have not reached consensus yet. Opposition oligarchs of the Yeltsin era are still putting up a des- perate fight, and the fledgling regime’s financial resources are insufficient to provide for its serious ambitions. This is where Putin receives un- expected help from the economy. The 1998 financial crisis, the brunt of the blame for which fell on Yeltsin’s admin- istration, gives way to a rebound in real economy on a scale unseen since the Soviet times. Rising oil prices give a fur- ther boost to the rebirth, already made fast by the low starting point. In other post-Soviet countries that also experi- enced active growth during this period, the importance of economic factors to that turnaround was more or less ob- vious. In Russia, the court’s political technologists make full use of the co- incidence between Putin’s accession to the throne and the economic improve- ment, firmly tying the president’s figure to the improved quality of life in Rus- sia. Putin’s popularity skyrockets again, and the regime’s increased amounts of resources allow him to become bolder and more aggressive. In the subsequent years, up to the ear- ly 2000’s, Putin makes short work of the
  11. 11. 11INTRODUCTION most stubborn and influential oligarchs; some go to jail, while others are forced to leave the country or accept the new rules. The process of concentrating the key in- dustries around Putin comes with politi- cal centralization, and the accompanying suppression and subjugation of regional elites. Ongoing economic growth, drop- ping crime rates (mainly due to the end of the capital redistribution era), harass- ment of some of the oligarchs, who never garnered sympathy from the public – all these things outshine and cancel out the depravity of the new state capitalism system, the subjugation of the media to the state, and the monstrous corruption among the new elite. During this time, the propaganda remains concentrated exclusively on Putin’s person; the time of Soviet-impe- rial mish-mash with a side of “spiritual tenets” has not come yet. Outside of their media fiction of a president, politi- cal technologists are satisfied with the amorphous notion of “multi-national Russia” – which, nevertheless, is already starting to “rise from its knees,” mainly thanks to the army revival. The subsequent mythologization of Putin’s image is supplemented with his special service past. Through the efforts of the Kremlin magicians, a perfectly average KGB officer, who had served in Dresden (not in Berlin, like some of his more successful colleagues) and was not credited with any particular heroics, turns into a veritable super agent a-la James Bond and Jason Bourne com- bined. The liberal agenda that clearly linked Soviet special services to terror, repressions, and suppression of any manifestation of non-conformity is left in the past, and any remnants of it are being thoroughly washed out of the public mind. The dominant concept is one that equates Putin and Russia. Later, it was succinctly phrased by Vyacheslav Volodin, one of the agitprop’s supreme commanders, first deputy head of the Presidential Administration and do- mestic policy curator: “Attacks on Putin are attacks on Russia” and “Today, there is no Russia without Putin.” By 2008, which marked the end of Putin’s second term, the ruling para- digm was running out of steam. Every- one had gotten used to Putin; the once- sensational fight against oligarchs was only a brief mop-up of the undesirables in favor of confidants; and the Chechn- ya conflict, once the biggest driver of the president’s popularity, turned out to be drawn out and bloody. The latter, though eventually settled by carefully constructing feudal relations with one of the local clans, ceased to yield any more political dividends. The unprecedent- edly high oil prices and the correspond- ing highest revenues in Russia’s history were no longer viewed by the public as something extraordinary. Plus, the growth of those revenues started being hindered by the fundamental problems of the “Putinomics,” which was incapa- ble of innovative development. At the same time, the Kremlin was having more and more problems re- specting the unspoken societal agree- ment that had existed between the public and the government all the way through Putin’s rule: the sacrifice of civil and political liberties for prosperity and
  12. 12. 12 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT increasing income. This is when the rul- ing caste finally looks towards the vast potential of the conservative, primeval- ly chauvinistic ideology, some elements of which had already been used in the years past, and which the society was ready for, now that most of the media space had been cleared of opposition. Together with his team, Vladislav Surkov, an exceedingly skilled and talent- ed PR technician, creates the ideologeme of “sovereign democracy,” a cleverly cu- rated collection of Soviet, imperial and foreign autocratic clichés (see more in Russia After Putin: Plausible Models by Valentyn Badrak, Dmitry Kozlov, CACDS publication, 2015). This highly versatile creative thinker and former theater enthusiast was the first to solidify the state ideology, take it to a grandiose scale, and determine the methods of im- posing it on the public. Compared to the later “Volodin-style” agitprop, Survkov’s methods were much more elusive, soft, and insidious. They included engaging in debate with the liberal-democratic camp, incorporating a controllable portion of it into the government, and taking certain liberal concepts on board. Essentially, the entire presidential term of Dmitry Medvedev can be con- sidered a propaganda campaign of sorts. Medvedev’s figure and his pro-liberal and pro-Western gestures meant to be a contrast against Putin’s neo-conservative course and serve as a lightning rod for any failures. In this regard, Putin success- fully stepped into the shadows right at the time of the global recession. All fail- ures in overcoming that recession were attributed to Medvedev, while the “non- stick” Putin rested on the laurels of his military campaign in Georgia, the first “small victorious war” since Chechnya that became a powerful propaganda tool. The war against Georgia and the con- frontation with the West provided the first opportunity to successfully use the “besieged fortress” imagery, with the “fa- ther of the nation” acting as its savior and defender. However, in those years, Russia was spared today’s levels of bigotry by an unexpected explosion in oil prices that re-enabled the simpler, familiar and ef- fective methods of controlling the public. By dumping some of the oil super-profits into the real economy and social servic- es, welfare was increased, and the public kept happy. The next challenge for the propa- ganda machine came in the form of 2011 parliamentary elections and the 2012 presidential campaign, when Pu- tin’s return to presidency enraged the liberal community and resulted in mass protests. The raging protest movement highlighted the weak sides of the “Surk- ov-style” propaganda that flirted with the opposition and the liberals. Surkov’s failure to find any acceptable form of coexistence between the regime and the real, active opposition resulted in a change of tack to a hard, anti-liberal rhetoric. Failing to make the regime even mildly attractive for the relatively educated and liberal-minded middle class, Putin gave up on it. Disdainfully, he considered that social group “tooth- less” and incapable of active violence, so he chose to throw in his lot with the tri- umphant rabble, once and for all. Thus came a large-scale reorganization of the
  13. 13. 13INTRODUCTION propaganda staff under Volodin, who took over from Surkov; in reality, that reorganization was in the works even before the Bolotnaya Square protests started (see later chapters for more de- tails about the current structure of the propaganda machine). Putin’s second ascension to the throne heralds further transformation of the propaganda. After fully evicting political opposition, the regime can af- ford to be more open and aggressive. Specters of the enemies, external ones (the omnipresent United States, the de- structive liberal values, etc.) as well as domestic ones (traitorous opposition, State Department agents, etc.) are paint- ed more clearly; science and education receive more pressure from the church; military panache and saber-rattling reach new heights. Overall, Volodin’s agitprop becomes more primitive and brutish than Surkov’s, reflecting Putin’s success in clearing the political field of all threats, and therefore, eliminating all checks and balances. Strangely enough, none of that helps. Putin’s popularity is slowly sinking, and no propaganda effort can overcome the main problem: economic stagnation, which came in place of the post-crisis growth and which prevents the govern- ment from simply buying the support base again by increasing budget transfers. However, the biggest threat to Putin’s government was apathy. By 2014, the share of Russian citizens who felt am- bivalent about Putin exceeded the share of his supporters and enemies. For soft autocracies, that is business as usual; the apathetic electorate continued dili- gently voting for Putin, accepting him as a constant that guarantees the status quo. Yet Putin understood that in real- ity, he could guarantee nothing, and any shake-up of the oil prices would destroy the apparent prosperity painted by the mellifluous state-owned media. In that case, despite all propaganda efforts, his apathetic voters can easily end up in the camp of the regime’s adversaries – which can emerge from Putin’s own clan. The only salvation in case of such economic cataclysm would come from explicit and unambiguous actions by some enemies of Russia, which could be interpreted as aggression. Since no-one in the world was going to start any aggression against Russia, such action had to be provoked. As a result, propaganda became reminiscent of a drug addict that keeps upping the dose when the previous one no longer has the desired effect. The time has come to turn up the heat again. These thoughts have been brewing in the heads of Putin and his political technologists for a while – but the vic- tory of Ukraine’s Maidan gave them a real boost. Putin saw that the “tooth- less” urban middle class can have mus- cle when united with nationalists, a pas- sionate social group capable of violence. At the time, Russian nationalists had as little love for Putin as liberals, thanks to his migrant-friendly policy and colos- sal financial preferences granted to the north Caucasus. That meant they had to be thrown a bone, and fast. Thus the Ukrainian gamble began. The subsequent spectacle was staged and performed brilliantly. The annexa- tion of Crimea, which to the nationalists
  14. 14. 14 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT was sacrosanct as a “lost land,” earned exultant loyalty on the part of most nationalist groups. The ecstatic state- owned media spurred on the public, who were already euphoric over Russia’s first forceful expansion of its borders since 1945: a clear evidence of its revived military and political might. Against this backdrop, the media space grows even more saturated with images of Soviet and imperial past, carefully selected dur- ing Putin’s rule, until it reaches its apogee in Victory Day celebrations that become reminiscent of some primeval cult’s ec- static pagan ritual. The contrast of to- day’s greatness and the Yeltsin era shame is exploited freely and unrestrictedly. Meanwhile, the fact that Putin is Yeltsin’s successor who had granted the latter full immunity against any persecution, is ful- ly erased from public consciousness. The public does not spot this inconsistency. It also fully accepts the fusion of Soviet and Russian imperial imagery, despite the two eras being polar opposites and entirely irreconcilable,. Ever since the mid-2000’s, Putin has employed the revanchist narrative, which interpreted the USSR’s collapse as a conspiracy, a CIA operation, and a na- tional indignity that must be avenged. Now, it is taken to new heights. The col- lapse of global oil prices, which is unre- lated to anything done in Washington, Putin’s media readily interprets as “ret- ribution for Crimea,” and thusly pre- sents to the general public, who have to bear the brunt of the resulting econom- ic crisis. Predictably, the public does not rebel – but actually sheds its earlier apa- thy and consolidates around the figure of its national leader who inspires sup- port, sympathy, pride, and admiration. Putin is at the center of the ideology again: as an invincible, brilliant strate- gist, an anchor without which the coun- try would immediately be lost in the geopolitical storm. The media fiction of Putin as an “icon of anti-Americanism” and the conqueror of global injustice has expanded beyond the post-Soviet territory. Putin’s grandiose spectacle proved extremely successful, and most Russians, without their knowledge, be- came the prisoners from Plato’s allegory, watching shadows on the cave wall. It seemed that the goal had been achieved. However, herein lies a trap for Pu- tin. The patriotic ecstasy worked up by the agitprop is a powerful, but short- lived drug. New and higher doses will be required more and more often. A mere year after the Crimea euphoria, the “national leader’s” sky-high popu- larity ratings were starting to lag again, and the Kremlin resorted to the opera- tion in Syria to prevent that. What fur- ther actions will be required to keep up that high bar? On what scale will Putin’s shadow theater stage its next performance? And will the propaganda machine handle these new challenges, considering that behind the growing panache is still an ineffective kleptoc- racy, essentially a banana state? Is the agitprop machine as good and smooth as Putin imagines it? To answer those questions, we will have to take a closer look at the inside workings of the Rus- sian propaganda structures. That will be covered in the following chapters.
  15. 15. nformation provocations and injection of false information have always been an important function of Soviet special services. During the Cold War, and during the growth of aggression in modern Russia (2003–20161 ), information traps were most frequently created as part of an informational- psychological leverage strategy, where provocations and misinformation played a central part2 . It is worth noting that in all types of Russia’s information warfare, information provocations and injections of false information are aimed at three audiences: Ukrainian, Russian, 1 Counting from the first act of aggression con- cerning the Tuzla island conflict (2003), where an armed confrontation was entirely possible 2 Considered official, as they are typically provided with comprehensive support, monitoring and di- rection by Russia’s special forces, and therefore, the state and Western. One must also remember that Russian special services and information front specialists prepare different sets of content with distinct features that cater to their intended audience. Since the start of military aggression, this type of information-psychological operations reached a previously unseen scale and assumed elaborate forms that have been adapted to our technological age. Many specialists and journalists have pointed this out. At the root of special operations that use misinformation or prepared information provocations is always the fear professionally instilled in a certain audience by soldiers of the information front. Take an operation that has already been dubbed a “classic act of sabotage” by European specialists: the ruthlessly staged acts of violence in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve 2015, supposedly committed by asylum seekers. The time and content were Information Provocations and Misinformation on the Part of Russia with the Use of Non-Government Structures or Media1 I PART I SubversiveWarfareTechniques and Methods
  16. 16. 16 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT chosen perfectly. (Hundreds of reports of the event ran under headlines along the lines of: “Mass rapes of women in Cologne: the police report over 80 victims.”) The spiraling European problem was brilliantly exploited in a way that would make the public think that from now on, large cities aren’t safe enough to relax and unwind, even on major holidays. Apparently, even the police can’t help! Dmitry Zolotukhin, advisor to the Minister of Information Policy, believes that Russian special services conducted a successful operation in European cities on New Year’s Eve, laying a foundation for a deep and prolonged crisis3 . Russian media, naturally, spread the event far and wide, spicing it up with dozens of heart-wrenching stories they had constructed. Efforts aimed at the Ukrainian audience were organized somewhat differently. Russian information coverage of the Ukrainian Revolution of DignityfollowedbyRussia’sintervention into Ukraine, the so-called “Russian Spring,” came as a real shock to the primarily peace-minded Ukrainians. The amount of lies, aggression, and hatred that poured from the Russian media as if from a cornucopia was unprecedented and even forced many 3 D. Zolotukhin, Information Wars in the Modern Context. Abstracts of International Forum on Crisis: Communication and Content Safety in the Context Putin’s Russia’s of Hybrid-Messianic Aggression. – Kyiv, Military Institute of the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University, 2016. p. 125. Ukrainian public figures to address Russians4 . Naturally, specialists raised every alarmaboutthistypeofwarfare.Fromthe very start, the aggressor in the Russian- Ukrainian war resorted to total and absolute misinformation. “Goebbels, the master of misinformation, used to say that the more atrocious the lie, the more it is likely to be believed. Technology is being used to create an alternative information reality – a reality that people who only watch Russian TV live in. All of this is being superimposed on the well-known psychological technology known as the spiral of blackout. When people exposed to one- sided event coverage start having doubts (e.g. “This can’t be right”; “War is bad”), they still cannot muster the courage and strength to offer any resistance if they are entirely surrounded by people who think in similar one-sided terms. This is true not just for Russians, but also for a significant share of Crimeans. It also meshes well with a whole number of myths manufactured by the Russian media. For example, remember the alleged crowds of refugees at the eastern border of Ukraine? That video was shot during a market weekend when Ukrainians were going to Poland, and Poles were visiting Ukraine.” That 4 Yana Primachenko, Russia’s Information War Against Ukraine: In Search of the Origi- nal Source  – Zerkalo Nedeli Ukraine, N39, 16.10.2015, http://gazeta.zn.ua/history/rossiys- kaya-informacionnaya-voyna-protiv-ukrainy-v- poiskah-pervoistochnika-.html
  17. 17. 17 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS was a summary voiced by Alexander Chekmyshev, head of the Equal Opportunities committee. Injections of fake and provocative ideas have been practiced long before RussiabeganitsoccupationofUkrainian territories. A typical example of that was the infamous article “Operation Clockwork Orange” by Igor Dzhadan, a Kremlin-aligned political technologist5 . Aiming to frighten the Ukrainian public and discredit the Ukrainian army, the article painted an almost science fiction scenario of the occupation of Ukraine. The article itself was a carefully planned information-psychological operation, implemented as far back as 2008. During the war unleashed by Russia in 2014, misinformation was used extensively, spread primarily through state-owned media. Victoria Romanyuk, deputy chief editor of StopFake.org believes that information manipulations and fakes formed an important part of Russia’s strategy during its active occupation of Crimea and war in Donbas, and were used to achieve military and diplomatic objectives6 . In 2014-2015 alone, StopFake.org specialists collected 5 http://www.russ.ru/pole/Operaciya-Mehanicheskij- apel-sin 6 V. Romanyuk. Defamation of the Ukrainian Army as a Russian Propaganda Narrative. Abstracts of the International Forum on Crisis Communica- tion “Communication and Content Security in the Context of Putin’s Russia Hybrid Messianic Aggression”. – Kyiv, Military Institute of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, 2016. P131. over a thousand Russian propaganda publications and materials. Romanyuk says that misinformation can even be categorized into several types, and certain provocative stereotypes are being repeated in different variations. The particularly dangerous ones are: “Ukraine is a failed state,” “Coup d’etat in Ukraine,” “Ukraine is a fascist state,” “Russia is not an occupant, but protecting her own.” Researchers also point out multiple information provocations staged through Russian media to undermine the Ukrainian army and present it as unprofessional. A prime example of that took place on August 4, 2014, when Russian media reported that Ukrainian soldiers and border guards who had moved to the Russian Federation’s territory after battles near Krasnopartyzanivka, Luhansk region, supposedly dropped their weapons, deserted from the Ukrainian army, and asked for asylum in Russia. The deputy chief editor of StopFake.org points to dozens of such reports published by Izevstiya, Rosiyskaya Gazeta, and Lifenews. Referencing the 2016 study by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (“Fog of Falsehood: Russian Strategy of Deception and the Conflict in Ukraine”), Romanyuk noted that the Security Council of Russia had even initiated research to prevent a “romantic revolution stereotype” and avoid emergence of a manageable crowd in Russia. This alone showcases the level on which the Kremlin approaches its tasks on the information front. In her article,
  18. 18. 18 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT the deputy chief editor of StopFake. org concludes that Russian propaganda does not simply “distort content by creating artificial myths and notions, but actually inverts values and ethics.” For another vivid example of blatant falsehoods used to stupefy the Russian society: on the same day, two channels, Russia-1 and NTV, aired different pieces of footage showing the same person, which resulted in him being presented as a Right Sector ally and a Russia sympathizer at the same time. The star of both “sensational” pieces was Andrey Petkov, an ethnic Russian and German citizen. The story aired by NTV showed one Mr. Petkov, resident of Germany, bringing EUR 500,000 to Ukraine to support the Right Sector. “I brought money for Maidan, 500 thousand euro. I ordered 50 uniforms,” says Mr. Petkov to NTV journalists. At the same time, Russia-1 one showed an entirely different side of Petkov, mentioning neither his German roots, nor his support of the Right Sector, nor his EUR 500,000 donation. In the Russia-1 piece, Petrov speaks out against the Ukrainian government. “On April 7, Andrey came to the central square, as usual, to openly announce his displeasure with the new government’s actions,” says the commentator. Moreover, Russia-1’s footage shows a St. George’s ribbon tied around Petkov’s bedpost. The use of such methods indicates that Russia already has a mass consumer of information, whose level of critical thinking is too low to properly comprehend the real events. In addition to that, the generation of journalists formed during Putin’s rule of Russia does not make a distinction between information and propaganda. They are ready to knowingly create similar blatantly false reports to serve Russia’s ruling ideology. The most striking piece of fake information that was quite successfully implanted in the mind of an average Russian citizen was the idea that “the war in Ukraine is waged by the USA and NATO.” A close look at Russia’s information influence shows that a number of methods are currently being used. For instance, there is a whole industry dedicated to the use of fake footage and photographs lifted from other reports. Among the most prominent cases were photographs of “Slavyansk” allegedly on fire after bombing by Ukrainian forces (the real photo was from a fuel train crash in Quebec in 2013); and a photo of a young girl wounded by militants in Syria, several years before Russia’s war against Ukraine, which Russian media presented as a victim of the shelling on the Donetsk Airport7 . Fake witnesses were also frequently used in Russian media footage to speak about 7 These events are described in more detail in the article “Pseudo-events in Information Wars” by I. Parfenyuk, Associate Professor of the department of public relations and advertising. I. Parfenyuk, Pseudo-events in Information Wars. Abstracts of the International Forum on Crisis Communica- tion “Communication and Content Security in the Context of Putin’s Russia Hybrid Messianic Aggression”. – Kyiv, Military Institute of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, 2016. P77-78.
  19. 19. 19 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS events that never happened: such as the story about a boy and his mother, who was supposedly tied to a tank and dragged across a square in Slovyansk. Edited footage was also used to create false reports, such as the one claiming that the Right Sector’s leader, Dmitry Yarosh, won the presidential election. Starting from March 2014, misinformation by the Russian media became a constant accompaniment to any war events. Every piece of information, however absurd, would be spread around Russian channels like wildfire. One report that caused a great stir featured footage of the Shehyni checkpoint on the border between Ukraine and Poland with the voiceover claiming that, “Over 140 thousand people have crossed the border [into Russia] during the past two weeks alone. Those refugees are coming from the southeast of Ukraine, as well as its central and western regions.” Interestingly enough, this video was later deleted, replaced by different footage replaced with the same voiceover. This showcases a certain internal competition among Russian TV channels to see which one is best at filling the orders coming from the Kremlin or special services. Videos like this were aired not only by Channel One, but also by Russia 24 – the latter decided to take a look at the sea border as well. The following report by Anna Sorokina is a real master class on creating news where there isn’t any: “Administrations of villages located close to the port [author’s note: port Caucaus on the Chushka Spit, Krasnodar Krai, Russia] keep an undisclosed list of addresses of local residents who are ready to receive and house refugees. The list was compiled preemptively, even though no refugees from Ukraine or Crimea have arrived here yet.”8 During the occupation of Crimea, the UkrainianMinistryofDefensefrequently had to refute false Russian reports about the situation on the peninsula: such as the claim that the Ukrainian Navy frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy supposedly hoisted the Russian flag, or a report claiming that Ukrainian military were leaving their units in a mass desertion from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Unfortunately, such reports would often reacheventherelativelyimpartialRussian media – for instance, the story about the liberation of military servicemen in Crimea, originally reported by RIA Novosti, was subsequently rebroadcast by Dozhd and Lenta.ru. This avalanche of misinformation prompted Ukrainian journalists and IT professionals to create websites for monitoring and analyzing fake news, the most renowned of them being the previously mentioned StopFake. org. Among their most prominent materials is the investigation into the armed conflict staged (!) in Simferopol specifically for Russian TV. A large body of evidence has been collected and systematized to record the facts of deceitful broadcasts on Russian TV. 8 Anna Sventakh. The NSDC Says that Information Security is at the Top of Today’s Agenda, Den, N39, (2014)
  20. 20. 20 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT Due to the rampage of misinformation through Russian national channels, the heads of Ukrainian media groups even addressedtheheadsofRussianmediainan open letter. Telekritika notes that Anna Bezlyudna(InterMediaGroup),Vladimir Borodyansky (StarLightMedia), Fedor Ogarkov (Media Group Ukraine), and Alexander Tkachenko (1+1 Media) demanded objective reporting from Konstantin Ernst (Channel One), Oleg Dobrodeyev (VDTRK) and Vladimir Kulistikov (NTV). In the interests of full disclosure, we must note that Ukrainian channels, especially Inter and Ukraine Channel, also received requests to stop heating up conflicts and fueling tensions. The latter two channels were frequently used to play into the hands of the enemy state: for example, Inter blatantly advertised the 2016 Cross Procession, an anti-Ukrainian event designed by Russian special services. On multiple occasions, the Security Service of Ukraine also addressed fake news and provocations. For instance, on August 4, 2014, the SBU requested Ukrainian internet associations to block websites spreading information that “promotes war, national hatred, and dismantlement of Ukraine’s statehood or territorial integrity.” The letter containing the request listed at least two dozen portals registered in Ukraine. The department of counterintelligence protection of national information security interests requested to block such websites, regardless of where they were registered, in Ukraine or abroad. Dissemination of rumors is another aspect of provocation. Case in point: rumors about poor outfitting of the Ukrainian military and lack of provisions at units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine proved particularly effective. Specialists also note that panic-infused rumors serve to create regional dissent: as such, a wave of anti-mobilization protests has swept western Ukraine. Protests reached the highest point in Zakarpattia, where the FSB’s old agent network has become active again. Rumors of a mass draft and immediate dispatch to the front line caused a great stir throughout that region. Experts in special service operations insist that the “women’s riot” in Zakarpattia was purposefully staged by Russian agents. A measure of confirmation for that comes from the protest’s coverage by Russia Today (the channel’s journalist was spotted in Zakarpattia at the time). Since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine, its ITAR-TASS agency turned into the headquarters of information provocations. For a typical example, we turn to the ITAR-TASS report of September 27, 2014, according to which, “throughout the largest cities in the southeast [of Ukraine] … residents of Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Odesa, Zaporizhia, Kherson, and Mykolaiv took to the central streets and squares of their cities, demanding that the government in Kyiv stops supporting the war against the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. According to the rally organizers, over 5,000 people came out to voice their protest against the Ukrainian government’s policies.” Needless to say, such reports would be immediately touted by other media, including privately owned ones.
  21. 21. 21 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS In response, the only thing the Ukrainian media could do was refuting the myth: “A Russian information agency reported on mass rallies and “peace marches” against combat in Donbas, which never took place in reality.” Unfortunately, messages like that can only be directed at the Ukrainian audience, because Russian readers would rarely read any rebuttals. Moscow, on the other hand, could broadcast their message to both Russian and Ukrainian audiences. Misinformation created by Russian special services or structures controlled by them was just as fit for the internal consumer, that is, the Russian public. Many experts keep reminding us that Russia had declared an information and psychological war on Ukraine. To name one: when speaking on Channel 5, Grigory Perepelitsa, Director of the Institute of Foreign Policy Research with the Diplomatic Academy, noted that “we’re seeing an open war rhetoric on Russian TV. De facto, this is an active information war, with the goal of imposing a deeply negative view of the European course on Russian and Ukrainian public alike.” To this, we can add that the Russian Federation became increasingly more active in occupied regions. In June 2016, Lilia Kislitsina, people’s deputy of the Kramatorsk City Council, pointed out the growth of propaganda in Donetsk, combined with the ban on Ukrainian media and national symbols: “as many as five (!) local channels were launched in that region over two years.” Itisalsoworthnotingthataftergetting hit by sanctions, Russia also stepped up its activity in the West, forcing a whole number of states to organize a system for repelling Russian attacks. That was especially relevant for former socialist countries. At times, provocations even proved psychologically effective. Back in November 2013, the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania started an inquiry prompted by the message published by the BNS agency, which stated that Russia may start organizing information attacks and spreading misinformation about the Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite9 . Russia’s style and rhetoric were also obvious from the Russian-Turkish conflict after Turkey’s air defense systems destroyed a Russian bomber plane. As soon as the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed a letter to Putin, voicing his regrets about the shot-down plane (needless to say, that address was the result of lengthy diplomatic effort), Russian media obediently spread a distorted message that claimed that the Turkish president actually apologized to Putin for the incident. Despite this report being refuted by Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s press secretary, the distorted information had successfully reached Russian viewers. As tensions between Russia and the West rose due to the former’s war against Ukraine, lateral counteraction to Russian provocations and misinformation has become more important. Volunteers and grassroots 9 Interfax-AVN, November 8, 2013
  22. 22. 22 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT professional associations have become increasingly effective in this regard. For instance, journalists of the popular French channel Canal+ dismantled the report of the Russian propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov, aired by Russia 24. Kiselyov’s Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week) show was dedicated to French Eurosceptics’ protests “against the influx of migrants.” RFI reported that the voiceover was superimposed on footage of French protests against new labor laws, entirely unrelated to Eurosceptics. In addition to the footage of protests, the aired story included comments by French citizens, starting from protesters and ending with Bruno Le Maire, former French Secretary of State. The voice-over translation, which drowned out the original speeches, was incorrect. The journalists tracked down the people featured in Kiselyov’s show and played the videos for them. All of them said that the Russian TV heavily distorted everything they had said, sometimes going as far as to translate their words to exactly opposite meanings. To name a few: the woman quoted as saying she had lost her job because three migrants were hired in her place, was actually saying that she had retired, and did not mention migrants at all. The young woman who, according to Russian propagandists, called to close borders and forbid more migrants from entering France, claims she had said the exact opposite, and called the above translation of her words a lie and an insult. Finally, Bruno Le Maire, who, according to the Russian TV’s “translation,” was calling for France to closely cooperate with Russia, told the French journalists that his “response” in the video is a compilation of separate phrases, grossly distorted and out of context. Situations like these are countable in hundreds, prompting experts to believe that Russia’s modern-day propaganda is more dangerous than its Soviet counterpart during the Cold War (this was pointed out by Washington Post, among others). Die Welt reported that Germany was stepping up its fight against Russian propaganda. Russia itself admitted that its propaganda efforts were the most effective in the Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary, as previously reported by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, referencing Western special services intelligence. In the rating of propaganda recipients, Great Britain, Estonia, and Denmark were named as the least susceptible to Russian misinformation10 . Ukrainian experts speak about the attempts of Russian propagandists and information provocateurs to entrench a number of dangerous ideological “fake clichés,” which are used in different circumstances and on different target audiences11 . According to the former 10 http://zn.ua/WORLD/francuzskie-zhurnalisty- razoblachili-lozh-propagandistskogo-telekanala- rossiya-24-214127_.html 11 Volodymyr Ohryzko. Russian Information and Propaganda War: Selected Methods and Counter- measures. Den, 10.08.2015, http://day.kyiv.ua/uk/ article/svitovi-dyskusiyi/rosiyska-informaciyno- propagandystska-viyna
  23. 23. 23 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and the current Head of the Centre for Russian Studies Volodymyr Ohryzko, the following ideas are being promoted: • the Russian national minority is being oppressed and persecuted, in Ukraine as well as in the West; • the West considers Russia their enemy and wishes to limit its influence in the international arena; • the USA and other Western countries were behind the color revolutions in several post-Soviet countries, and those revolutions were anti-Russian in nature; • being a “superpower,” Russia is “entitled” to its own sphere of influence; the post-Soviet space is the “objective” choice of such sphere; • Russia is the stronghold standing up to modern-day fascism; “fascism” is represented by everything labeled as anti-Soviet and anti-Russian; • Westernindividualismisdestructive, while the collective form of public consciousness corresponds to the traditional Russian mindset; • the Russian Orthodoxy is the only true religion; the morals in the West are in decline; Europe is turning into “Gayrope”; • the alternative to “Gayrope” is the “Russian world.”
  24. 24. egardless of their ownership status, every field of science in Russia is under strict governmental control. OperationsbyRussianscientific,research, and academic instructions include, first of all, correction and rewriting of history, as well as analytical support for information and psychological influence projects. In Putin’s Russia, pandering to state interests with imperial ambitions is being done on a massive scale. The major guideline for Russian pseudo- science is to oppress the neighbor- ing states and to reinforce Moscow’s imperialist view of history. Using the formal authority of science, the Rus- sian state thus exerts consistent in- fluence on the consciousness of the Russian people, on the neighboring countries, and even on international political leaders – by imposing ideas that are beneficial for the Russian gov- ernment and interpreting events to fit the picture of an empire experiencing a renaissance. Even long before Russia started waging an active information war against Ukraine, its pseudoscien- tists were working hard to turn Russia into some paragon that all modern so- cieties and governments should aspire to. The ashes of General Denikin were returned to Moscow; Admiral Kol- chak was the centerpiece of a patriotic blockbuster; and Stalin was called an “effective manager” in textbooks (to vindicate the Stalinism slaughter, the books cynically point out that Stalin supposedly won the Second World War). Russia, just like the Soviet Union, believes that 1945 marked the “liberation of Europe,” and such hor- rendous events like the 1932-33 Ho- lodomor Famine and genocide of the Ukrainian people are being gingerly referred to as “Stalinist terror against grain-producing areas” (the term sug- gested by local scientists). Essentially, Moscow prepared a fairly solid foun- dation to fight against the neighbor- ing countries. Instead of further detailing a truly humongous block of distorted history, let us turn our attention to some of the summaries prepared by actual objec- tive scientists: for example, Alexander Strazhny in his book Ukrainian Men- tality1 or Yury Fedorov in “Hybrid” War a la Russe2 . For Ukraine, it was 1 A. Strazhny. Ukrainian Mentality. – Kyiv, Podo- lina Publishing House, 2008 2 Yuri Fedorov. “Hybrid” War a la Russe. Kyiv, Bi- znespoligraf Ltd., 2016 Information Operations Carried Out by Russian Scientific, Research, and Academic Institutions R
  25. 25. 25 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS an indisputable problem to be on the receiving end of the consistent follow- up by Russian institutions, including active efforts made by influence agents in quasi-scientific fields. For a clear example, we can turn to an article by Vladimir Kornilov printed in the pro- Russian weekly publication 20003 . In the article, titled “Poltava vs. Konotop: Lies vs. the Thruth” (27.07.2009),4 Ko- rnilov gives a detailed and “scientific” explanation of why celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Poltava bat- tle is relevant for Ukraine, while cel- ebrating the 350th anniversary of the Konotop battle is entirely absurd. The very fact that Russian historians are in- volved in the discourse on this subject shows that this situation was an infor- mation-psychological operation of the Kremlin against Ukraine. We should also emphasize that an imperial presentation of history is crucial for Kremlin to show its enti- tlement to Ukraine in the future. This also explains why, when Yanukovych came to power, Moscow immediately wished to create a joint history text- book (and generally become closer with Ukraine in all spheres). To this, Ukrainian historian Igor Girich (M. Grushevsky Institute of Archeog- raphy and Source Studies with the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) said that on the mentality level, “a joint Russian-Ukrainian text- 3 See also the article “The Battle of Konotop – a New National Myth” (2000, 21.03.2008), and hun- dreds more similar pseudohistoric publications. 4 http://inosmi.ru/world/20090727/251045.html book sends the message that Ukraine is Russia.”5 At the heights of confrontation, Russian pseudoscientists, at the special services’ command, went as far as to announce that the Ukrainian language does not exist at all, and neither do the Ukrainian people, who are simply part of the Russian people (Strazhny and Fe- dorov describe this in detail). This is exactly why most Russians don’t view Ukrainians and Belarusians as separate people, but consider them a part of a single whole, which is suppos- edly united by common spiritual values. To support this idea, Putin’s earnest servants are capitalizing on the “joint foundation” of Russian Orthodoxy and the common descent of the three modern nations from the Old Russian nation, which dates back to the Kyiv Rus. Russian researcher Yury Fedorov believes that “within the cognitive and philosophic paradigm of the triune na- tion concept, the idea of Ukrainians’ national self-identification and their re- sulting wish for national independence was – and still is – viewed as something absurd, perverse and unnatural, some- thing that has no right to exist.” However, let us return to the mili- tary phase of relations between Ukraine and Russia. On March 20, 2015, a symptomatic event took place at the International Centre for Policy Studies in Kyiv: a roundtable titled “How to Win the In- formation War.” The event’s title alone reflects the degree of Russia’s informa- 5 http://www.zn.ua/3000/3150/70739/
  26. 26. 26 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT tion pressure on Ukraine. During the round table, the ICPS Chairman Vas- ily Filipchuk made a shocking state- ment: Russia is financing lobby groups in key world countries, and actively works with international PR companies, spending between USD 1.4 and 4 billion on international propaganda every year. Professor Georgiy Kasyanov, Head of the Contemporary History and Politics department of the Institute of History of Ukraine, explained the new challenge posed before Ukraine: the new influx of pseudoscientific ideas, introduced by Russian quasi-scien- tific structures, special services con- trolled institutes, research facilities, and even regular academic universi- ties. “Russian historians, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations, started systematically constructing a certain narrative using the names of Bandera, Shukhevych, etc. and historic dates associated with them. The terminology they use – fas- cists, punishers, Banderites – is not new. As a result, when we, Ukrain- ian scientist, arrive in the West, we often end up in a situation where we’re forced to explain something we shouldn’t have to: that we are not Na- zis, not fascists, and so on.” Here lies the true danger of Russian pseudosci- ence: the police state has turned it into bona fide scientific terrorism! To add to the above, we should note that during Ukraine’s “multi-vector policy” stage, Russian structures at- tempted to directly influence Ukrain- ian scientists; then, once the war against Ukraine was started, the focus on influence moved to Europe. Moreo- ver, Russia traditionally sends their scientific personnel to international forums, including official events. To demonstrate how the Kremlin provides scientific support to promote its offi- cial ideology, let us think back to the international (official) OSCE forum in Berlin, in April 2015. Among the 23 member countries present, the Russian delegation was the biggest, second only to that of Germany, the host country; of the six Russian delegates (includ- ing the Russian ambassador to the OSCE), two were members of the sci- entific community, representatives of educational and research institutions. To put this into perspective, there was only one more representative of an aca- demic institution among the delegates: a member of the Belarusian delegation. This approach is typical for Russia, be- cause “scientist” delegates allow them- selves to refer to historic events during their presentations, demonstrate the involvement of science in the making of government decisions, and “explain” to foreign diplomats the potential con- sequences of certain steps they may be considering. On the other hand, if they go overboard in any of their speeches, official Russian representatives can al- ways disclaim that any such statements are only personal opinions of the scien- tist in question. Scientists in Russia have strictly regulated functions: just like in Impe- rial Russia, and then in the Stalinist and Soviet times, the ideological machine of today’s Russian science is geared to- wards denying Ukrainians any mani-
  27. 27. 27 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS festations of nationalism. The scien- tific support for the imperial mission relies on such methods as: criticizing independent nation building; imperial interpretations of history; and presen- tation of alternative, always dubious, data. The best-known example from contemporary history would be the blatant statement made by Putin at the 2008 Bucharest NATO summit: that, supposedly, “17 million Russians live in Ukraine.” Needless to say that this num- ber, like many others, was fabricated by “Russian scientists.” Just like the USSR back in the day, Russia is creating war myths. Starting from 2014, they have become a par- ticularly useful tool employed by Putin to boost his public popularity. Working out an effective mechanism for cultivat- ing and mobilizing such popularity was very high on the Kremlin’s agenda. At the same time, Russia’s new approaches to warfare, which were used first against Georgia, then in Crimea, Donbas, and Syria, became the centerpiece of Mos- cow’s domestic and foreign policy. The impact of war on the Russian public consciousness can hardly be overesti- mated. Even the “memories” of WW2 are still being used to maintain national unity. Seeking legitimization through a mythological interpretation of war was typical for the Soviet government and remains true for the current Russian authorities. This is where an army of decorated scientists becomes truly in- valuable. People with title like “researcher” or “scientist” are often granted special au- thority as spokespersons, like in the case of Putin’s advisor Sergey Karaganov6 , who authored quite a number of distinct publications in 2006-2010, when Rus- sia was aiming to suppress Kyiv’s desire to join the NATO Membership Action Plan. That is the same Karaganov who in 2009, while working as deputy direc- tor of the Institute of Europe of the Rus- sian Academy of Sciences, said the fol- lowing about the war in Georgia and the prospect of a Russian-Ukrainian war: “I hope that Tbilisi’s attack on South Os- setia and Russia’s response to it will be- come a useful episode, from a historic perspective. The victims of this conflict – Osettians, Russians, Georgians – may not have died in vain. Russian troops gave a decisive military response to the idea of NATO’s endless expansion, which, if unchecked, would have almost inevitably resulted in a large-scale war – not in Georgia, but in Ukraine, almost in the middle of Europe.”7 During the presidential term of Vik- tor Yushchenko, Karaganov attempted to intimidate potential NATO members, but during the latest war, he turned his attention to Europe. After the Warsaw NATO summit (July 2016), Karaganov pulled off a powerful information-psy- chological operation using his interview with the German newspaper Spiegel (July 12, 2016), in which this Russian scholar directly threatened war against the Baltic countries. Namely, when an- 6 Putin’s personal advisor, deputy director of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sci- ences since 1989, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy 7 http://www.zn.ua/1000/1600/67678/
  28. 28. 28 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT swering the newspaper’s question about the reasons for concentration of NATO troops in Baltic countries, Karaganov said, “Can you even imagine what’s go- ing to happen to these troops in case of an actual open confrontation? They rep- resent your symbolic assistance to the Baltic countries, nothing more. Should NATO initiate aggression against a country with the nuclear arsenal of our size, you will suffer the consequences.” Notably, Spiegel does not mention any “war” in Georgia or Ukraine, but re- fers to a “crisis” in both these countries, which indicates that Europe remains incredibly restrained, even on the level of opinion leaders and the media. It ap- pears that they consider it dangerous to even admit that the Russian-Ukrainian war is real. In Russia, the “scientist” title is often replaced by one of a “researcher,” thus raising a horde of henchmen who are prepared to play along with any risqué tune. To accomplish specific goals, the Kremlin often nurtures entire organi- zations, which provide follow-up for certain sensitive projects that require laying some groundwork or implant- ing certain ideas in the public mind. In cases like that, the key is to cleverly cre- ate a number of “opinion leaders” with artificial social authority (which is very easy when the media is entirely under government control: show someone’s face on the screen, and they will move on to make landmark statements). The distinguishing feature of such organi- zations is their niche specialization, which, combined with the abundance of information they receive from the government, puts them in a whole dif- ferent league compared to journalists. For a typical example of a masterpiece of fake, look no further than Igor Ko- rotchenko, chief editor of the National Defense magazine. During the artificial peace and “brotherhood” between Rus- sia and Ukraine, he spoke out strongly in favor of developing cooperation be- tween the two countries (particularly in the military-industrial complex). Then, in the trying time for Ukraine that came right before the 25th anniversary of its independence, he displayed levels of Ukrainophobia that shocked even the Russian audience. On August 11 alone, Korotchenko tweeted that,8 “Ukrainian camps that train terrorists to murder Russian citizens are legitimate targets for a missile strike! Do not negotiate with Kyiv, just let the international com- munity know that we will do what the US does. Before striking on Ukrainian terrorist camps in self-defense, Rus- sia should just warn the UN Security Council – and go for it!” Statements like these need no com- ment. Their purpose is to convince the public mind that war is necessary, no matter what degree of absurd Russia sinks to in the process. Various propaganda programs also receive the scientific treatment, such as promotion of the Russian language and literature outside Russia. Ac- cording to official data, financing of the “Federal target program “Russian Language” in 2016-2020 increased threefold compared to the previous 8 11.08.2016,https://twitter.com/i_korotchenko?lang=ru
  29. 29. 29 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS program of this type,” reaching RUR 6 billion [USD 96 million.] Russia openly uses academic institutions to spread anti-Ukrainian views, essen- tially preparing the public for war. In early August 2016, several students and professors of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations reported that their English reading materials frequently mention “the Ukrainian junta,” instructors are fired for “unpatriotic” articles, and students frequently tattle on their instructors . At many foreign language classes, the students are given blatantly propagan- dist texts that claim that flight MH-17 was shot down by Ukrainians, that the government in Kyiv is fascist, and that democracy is a Western invention that is harmful for Russia. One of the in- stitute’s instructors said: “The MSIIR perfectly fulfills its mission to initiate students into the discourses and nar- ratives with which the Ministry of For- eign Affairs operates. The students are taught the realpolitik concept, which is meant to justify geopolitics and geo- political rhetoric. In other words, the MSIIR teaches the students the aca- demic language that could be used to validate the state’s foreign policy. How- ever, the MSIIR falls short on prepar- ing students for critical understanding of that foreign policy, and does not teach them to challenge it, to think, to ask questions.” In other words, Russia’s higher educational institutions are be- coming more and more reminiscent of Soviet ones during the Cold War era. In a fascinating development, Rus- sian science is still trying to take very devoted care of Ukrainian science, even during the war. In the summer of 2016, a conference took place in oc- cupied Crimea, and it was attended by Ukrainian scientists. The same year, in early June, Yalta saw the 10th Interna- tional Scientific-Practical Conference “Russian Language in a Politically Cul- tured World.” It was attended by experts from the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Serbia, Jordan, Greece, USA, China, and… Ukraine. The Ukrainian delegation consisted of instructors from the Dnipropetrovsk National University, Zaporizhia State Medical University, Zaporizhia Nation- al University, and the National Peda- gogic Dragomanov University. Without doubt, special purpose scientific personnel will always be in demand: for as long as the Russian government needs to justify its exter- nal aggression and explain wars waged with the sole objective of creating myths about Russia’s enemies. Analysts note that the political class’ support of Russia’s current government strongly depends on the Kremlin’s ability to maintain the current level of political mobilization. This means that preven- tive and victorious wars against imagi- nary enemies besieging Russia will con- tinue, and may heat up further.
  30. 30. nformation wars of the 21st century created an unprec- edented situation in which virtually the entire popula- tion of a combatant country is taking part in the war, and each active citizen becomes a soldier and an integral part of the confrontation. In the past, gov- ernment leaders and top state managers made decisions and gave instructions, but in this millennium, they have trans- formed into real participants of the larg- est (or the highest-profile) information and psychological operations. While Ukraine remained inexplica- bly pacifist and ignored Russia’s infor- mation attacks, a political information campaign would be staged against it roughly every year. These campaigns would be dubbed by the media as “gas war,” “sugar war,” “cheese war,” “meat war,” “chocolate war,” etc. Moscow would also provide constant reminders about the presence of its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. In connection with that, Kyiv would be presented with peculiar para- digms, which it never provided any re- sponse to. Among them is the Kremlin’s well-known statement originally voiced by Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russia’s am- bassador in Ukraine: that supposedly, the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s mission in Crimea is to serve as a “guardian of Ukraine’s southern borders.” Hierarchy has always played a cru- cial role in Russia’s information-psy- chological operations against Ukraine. As time passed, certain Russian officials or public figures would systemically and cyclically undermine Ukraine in one way or another. Needless to say, there is a big difference between the anti- Ukrainian speeches made by the Mos- cow mayor Yury Luzhkov in Sevastopol, and Vladimir Putin’s program speech at the 2008 Bucharest NATO summit. Yet both special operations follow the same pattern and fit into the same tapestry: the Kremlin’s actions are linked, first of all, to the recipient. The Moscow mayor was appealing to the Crimean residents, while Putin, Prime Minister at the time, was basically threatening the Western world and voicing his territorial claims to Ukraine. Putin actually carries out frequent information and psychological influ- ence stunts in person, and he has suc- cessfully trained his staff to play along, much like servants and jesters of old would mimic their overlord. On April 4, 2008, at the Bucharest NATO sum- mit, Putin claimed that Ukraine is nothing more than a conglomerate of Information and Psychological Operations Carried Out by Official Structures, IncludingTop State Officials I
  31. 31. 31 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS different territories previously owned by its neighbors, that the bulk of these territories’ population is Russian, and that Ukraine’s wish to join NATO may threaten its territorial integrity. Using the Moscow rhetoric honed to perfec- tion during the Soviet times, Putin not- so-subtly hinted at Russia’s plans to di- vide Ukraine along ethnic lines. Here is the most prominent exam- ple: “…In Ukraine, one third are ethnic Russians. Out of forty five million peo- ple, in line with the official census, sev- enteen millions are Russians. There are regions, where only the Russian popu- lation lives, for instance, in the Crimea. 90% are Russians. Ukraine, in the form it currently exists, was created in the Soviet times, it received its territories from Poland – after the Second World War, from Czechoslovakia, from Ro- mania. Then, it received huge territo- ries from Russia in the east and south of the country… If we introduce into it NATO problems, other problems, it may put the state on the verge of its existence. I want that all of us … real- ize that we have there our interests as well. Well, seventeen million Russians currently live in Ukraine. Who may state that we do not have any interests there? South, the south of Ukraine, completely, there are only Russians.” (Putin, 2008)1 Russian experts offered the fol- lowing comment on Putin’s speech: 1 Here and further on, quotes from “Hybdir” War a la Russe by Yury Fedorov. – Kyiv, Biznespoligraf Ltd., 2016 “This part of Putin’s speech at the NATO summit clearly demonstrated either his incompetence or his wishful thinking, because his number of eth- nic Russians in Ukraine was grossly overstated. There aren’t seventeen million Russians in Ukraine – rather, seventeen percent of Ukraine’s popu- lation are Russian. The share of Rus- sians in Crimea cannot be 90 percent – according to the 2001 census, it was just over 58 percent. However, even more scandalous was Putin’s remark at the closed session of the Russia- NATO Council also held in April 2008. Speaking to the US President George Bush, Putin said, “You have to understand that Ukraine isn’t even a state! What is Ukraine? Part of it is Eastern Europe, and most of its ter- ritory was a gift from us!” (Allenova, Kheda, Novikov, 2008). Putin works hard to solidify the myths developed by his pseudoscien- tists. Yury Fedorov prevents several of the president’s quotes as proof of that. When speaking in Kyiv in July 2013, not long before the invasion, Putin appealed to the following myth: “On this spot where we’re standing, at the Dnieper font, a choice was made for the entire Holy Rus, and for us all. Our common ancestors who lived on these lands, made this choice for our entire nation. “For our entire nation” – as I say that, I know that we certainly understand today’s reality, and that there is a Ukrainian nation, a Belaru- sian nation, and other nations, and we respect all this heritage, but we also have a foundation of our shared spirit-
  32. 32. 32 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT ual values, which make us one nation.” (Putin, 2013)2 Then, on April 17, 2014, Putin an- nounced his intention to annex not only Crimea, but the entire southeast of Ukraine: “The area called “Novorossi- ya” (“New Russia”) even back in Tsa- rist era  – Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa – was not a part of Ukraine. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920’s by the Soviet government. … They were conquered by Potemkin and Catherine the Great during a well-known series of wars. Novorossiysk was the center of that territory, hence the name of the region: Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for a number of reasons, but the [Russian] people remained.” (Putin, 2014) Essentially, Putin himself has never stopped using any occasion to person- ally attack and hurl insulting comments at the Ukrainian nation. One statement caused a particular stir: on December 16, 2010, when speaking to Russians on air, Putin said that Russia would have won the Great Patriotic War even without Ukraine. Former president of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko said that the Russian Prime Minister’s statement about his country’s allies in the fight against fascism was humiliating to a na- tion that was Russia’s “trench brother.”3 During times of particular tension, Putin often carries out personal infor- mation-psychological operations aimed at Western leaders. His preferred for- 2 As cited above 3 Interview with TVi channel, 21.12.2010 mats include speeches at international organizations and interviews to popu- lar printed media. However, recently the Kremlin’s master started borrow- ing more creative methods from other people: for example, from the respected US billionaire George Soros, whose fa- vorite method to “talk to the world” is to write open letters, articles, or books. On May 27, 2016, Putin signed his name under an article for the Greek news- paper Kathimerini, before his official trip to Greece (it is unknown whether he writes his own content like Soros, or uses an army of helpers, akin to Soviet Secretary Generals). In the article, Pu- tin “reminded” the Athens about the crucial part that Russia had played in Greece’s independence. Why under- mine Greece’s position? Putin’s manipu- lations aim to drive a wedge into NATO and the EU, to ultimately get the West to relax the sanctions, and to push through the election in the occupied eastern re- gions of Ukraine while the West unoffi- cially acknowledges Russia’s ownership over the annexed Crimea. Stunts like this are often performed in parallel with the official negotiation pro- cess, sometimes helping to ease some ten- sion or change the rhetoric. In the above case, despite the statement by Donald Tusk, President of the European Coun- cil, that sanctions against Russia would be continued, France took an overly soft and careful stance, and its President Hol- lande admitted that “Russia has made sig- nificant steps” to fulfill the Minsk Agree- ments. The response on the part of the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was predictablypro-Russian:onMay28,2016,
  33. 33. 33 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS he criticized the West’s sanctions against Russia as being unproductive. Official functions are most frequent- ly used to make speeches, statements, or hold negotiations. Let us remem- ber the holiday prayer to celebrate the anniversary of the Kyiv Rus baptism, which took place on July 27, 2013 on the Saint Vladimir Hill in Kyiv. The prayer was held by the Moscow Patriarch Kirill jointly with Mitropolit Vladimir, arch-priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). Also taking part in the prayer were 9 out of the 15 arch-priests of Orthodox church- es worldwide, who came to Kyiv for that purpose. The next day, July 28, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate held a cross procession to celebrate the same anniversary: after the service in St. Vladimir Cathedral, sev- eral thousand faithful, led by the Patri- arch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, walked to Saint Vladimir Hill to hold a prayer. After the prayer, Putin, who was visiting Kyiv, met with the Ukrainian president, and suggested that they discuss cooperation in the security sphere. Amusingly, the official sources said that the two presi- dents’ meeting lasted all of 15 minutes. After his meeting with Yanukovych, Putin met with the participants of the “Ukrainian Choice” round table, which was organized by his kum [godfather of his child] and supporter Viktor Med- vedchuk. This round table allowed Pu- tin to take stock of the pro-Russian forc- es in Ukraine and personally take part in their preparation. For this follower of the KGB tradition, the round table was definitely a more important event than his meeting with the Ukrainian head of state. The media reported that dur- ing the round table, the Russian presi- dent spoke of the benefits that would arise from integrating the Ukrainian and Russian economies. Translated, this means that he made some suggestions on how to best present to Ukraine the idea of unprecedented rapprochement with Russia. During the same visit, the Russian president had the time to visit the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, where he and Patriarch Kirill, jointly praising the Ukrainian-Russian friendship, present- ed awards to bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patri- archate. If we view these events through the prism of a personal information- psychological operation, we can see that during his short time in Kyiv Putin, act- ing with silent approval of the Ukrain- ian government, effectively influenced the government itself, a well-formed contingent of political influence agents, and, by way of conferring with the sub- ordinated church, the masses. In September 2013, ZN.UA pub- lished a document titled “On the Set of Measures for Involving Ukraine in the Eurasian Integration process.”4 The author of the article reasoned that the very existence of such a document sug- gests that the Kremlin’s propaganda in Crimea may intensify and become more precise. “If one carefully listens to the Russian president’s advisor Sergey Gla- zyev talk about Ukraine’s European in- 4 Valentyna Samar. “Will Russia Open a Crimean Front?” Zerkalo Nedeli, September 6, 2013
  34. 34. 34 THE KREMLIN’S INFORMATION FRONT tegration and the ungrateful Ukrainian oligarchs, one may think he is actually reading out from the “Set of Measures,” the author writes. The article points out the support that Moscow has been giving to a num- ber Russian compatriot organizations, conferences, round tables, and youth engagement events. On August 9, 2013, the Moscow House cultural center held a round table titled “Crimean Youth in Eurasian Integration Processes,” at which Vyacheslav Svetlichniy, the newly appointed Consul General of Russia to Simferopol, essentially announced the shift in Moscow’s priorities related to supporting pro-Russian organizations in Crimea. The Consul General stated, “Our next task is to ensure that these or- ganizations cooperate smoothly and are better coordinated. For this, we place high hopes in the youth, youth organi- zations, and young leaders.” Notably, the aforementioned Set of Measures, in the section titled “Meas- ures to Increase the Dependence of Ukraine’s Economy on Russia,” contains a separate item dedicated to the creation of a Russian-Ukrainian Crimean Devel- opment Corporation, with the intention to subsequently create similar corpora- tions with Russian capital in other re- gions of Ukraine. The author of the arti- cle emphasizes that Sergey Glazyev was involved with putting Crimea in special focus of the information-psychological machine. State officials are also often used in operations aiming to probe or in- timidate. Intimidation at the official level is carried out through repetition of certain ideas, sometimes by differ- ent people. For example, the state- ment about Moscow’s plan to locate Iskander-M short-range ballistic mis- sile systems in Kaliningrad region – it was repeated by various officials ever since 1998, when discussion of the first wave of NATO expansion had started in earnest. On June 25, 2016, this idea was once again brought up by Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov, Head of the State Duma Defense Commit- tee and former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The reason behind that is simple: preparation for the NATO summit on July 8-9, 2016. Plus, in this particular case, several in- terrelated events may be relevant. In 2009, an important warning came from Yury Scherbak, prominent Ukrainian writer, civil activist and diplomat (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine). In his article “Ukraine as a Failed State: Myth and Reality” (Den, N83, May 21, 2009), he analyzed the interview of Sergey Karaganov, one of Russia’s “semi-official figures” and Head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy of Russia. In that interview, wonderfully titled “Needless Monsters: the Desovereignization of Ukraine,” Karaganov, an “experienced agent of Russia’s neoimperial policy” indicated that occupation of Ukraine by Russia is possible Russia. Below are excerpts from the interview, accompanied by Yury Scherbak’s analysis: “— Does the current situation in Ukraine put it at risk of becoming a failed state?;
  35. 35. 35 SUBVERSIVE WARFARE TECHNIQUES AND METHODS — We are talking about a state bank- ruptcy. Is desovereignization applicable within any boundaries? Would it be possible to introduce an external ad- ministration?; — Are the expert circles discuss- ing, even covertly, what to do in a situ- ation like the one our western neighbor Ukraine is going through right now? For instance, it is possible that events escalate uncontrollably, as demonstrat- ed by the gas pipeline issue(!). In his answers, Karaganov makes a conclusion about “passive desovereigni- zation,” that is, the loss of sovereignty as defined by the nation’s, society’s and state’s ability to govern themselves. The political scientist then slips out of the academic tone and starts daydream- ing: “If we’re talking about Ukraine and Moldova – since those are the two states that currently merit the most concern(!)  – then perhaps Russia and the USA could talk about a kind of joint responsibility(!)…” Karaganov’s answer to the last ques- tion – can Ukraine be allowed to fail – is decisive: “No. We have no right to do that(!)… We cannot leave matters unat- tended. However, I don’t see any way for Europe to write Russia a blank check for occupying Ukraine, whether entirely or partially. Then again, Russia would be unwilling to have ungoverned territo- ries right at its borders… Thus, Russia will not let anyone become overly ac- tive…” Just as with many other provocations and statements by Russian officials, the Ukrainian government’s response to this was unacceptably mild, short-sight- ed and lacking substance. To a degree, that was a harbinger of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s affairs.
  36. 36. ll of Russia’s military opera- tions, whether in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, or Ukraine, have been accompanied by large-scale information campaigns. In general, information-psychological op- erations are a mandatory support for military operations. Their purpose is varied: from simple cover-ups, to spe- cific explanation of certain viewpoints to a wide audience. However, they are always used to camouflage military ac- tivity by diverting or dispersing the re- cipient’s attention. Since the very start of contemporary relations between Ukraine and Russia, the latter has widely used such informa- tion-psychological operations to pursue its interests in the global armaments market (Ukraine, being a competitor in the post-Soviet market sector, would be consistently discredited, usually after certain steps made by special services: for example, to interfere with the con- clusion or fulfillment of a contract). However, in spring 2002, after the National Security and Defense Coun- cil of Ukraine officially announced a course for European integration, Russia stepped up its activity to a whole new level. The 2003 conflict around Tuzla Is- land is believed to have been provoked by Alexander Tkachev, governor of the Krasnodarsk Krai – but it would be hard to believe that such an undertaking had not been thoroughly prepared by Rus- sian special services and approved by the Kremlin. As tensions rose, Russia resorted to a vast arsenal of influence, using virtually all forms of information- psychological operations. That included misinformation, like the statement of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it was time to break out the 1971 map and check question of ownership over Tuzla. Common intimidation was used as well: Voloshin, head of the Russian Presidential Administration, made a presumptuous and irresponsi- ble statement that, “Ukraine should be satisfied that it still has Crimea. We’ll drop a bomb if we have to.”1 Then, to divert attention from the matter, Vik- tor Chernomyrdin, Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, said, “Why stir things up? Nothing’s happening in Russia.” To Rus- sia, the Tuzla incident was more just than a chance to question the legitimacy of existing documents: it was a realistic test to see how Ukraine would respond to claims against its territory. Russia’s efforts to escalate the situation included 1 https://iq.hse.ru/news/177753718.html Information Operations Following Special Events and Provocations Involving of Russian Enforcement (Army) Units A

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