This article was written for the Unz Review
A special ‘thank you!’ to my Director of Research, Scott, for providing me with the background info for this article
Everything we were told about the Soviet Union turned out to be a lie,
but everything we were told about the West turned out to be true
In May of 2016 I wrote an article for the Unz Review entitled “Counter-Propaganda, Russian Style” in which I tried to show the immense difference between the old, Soviet, approach to propaganda and counter-propaganda and the approach taken by the Russian authorities today. The main difference was this: if the Soviet went out of their way to prevent western propaganda from reaching the Soviet people, the Russians are nowadays doing the exact opposite: they are going out of their way to make sure that western propaganda is immediately translated and beamed into every single Russian household. What I propose to do today is to share with you a few recent examples of what Russian households are regularly exposed to.
By now, you must have heard about the CNN report about how the evil Russkies used Pokemon to destabilize and subvert the USA. If not, here it is:
In Russia this report was in instant mega-success: the video was translated and rebroadcasted on every single TV channel. Margarita Simonian, the brilliant director of Russia Today, was asked during a live show “be truthful and confess – what is your relationship with Pokemon, do they work for you?” to which she replied “I feed them” – the audience burst in laughter.
The Russian Pokemon was just the latest in a long series of absolutely insane, terminally paranoid and rabidly russophobic reports released by the western Ziomedia, all of which were instantly translated into Russian and rebroadcasted by the Russian media.
One of the techniques regularly used on Russian talkshows is to show a short report about the latest crazy nonsense coming out of the United States or Europe and then ask a pro-US guests to react to it. The “liberals” (in the Russian political meaning of this word, that is a hopelessly naïve pro-western person who loves to trash everything Russian and who hates Putin and those who support him) are intensely embarrassed and usually either simply admit that this is crazy nonsense or try to find some crazy nonsense in the Russian media (and there is plenty of that too) to show that “we are just as bad”. Needless to say, no matter what escape route is chosen, the “liberal” ends up looking like a total idiot or a traitor.
In my May 2016 article I mentioned several examples of particularly heinous and offensive foreign characters which are regularly invited to the Russian talk shows including rabid Ukie nationalists, arrogant Polish russophobes and, last but not least, US reporters working in Moscow. To balance out these truly repugnant characters, mentally sane and credible foreign guests are also invited, typically from southern Europe (France, Italy, Spain). So the typical “guest matrix” ends up looking like this:
|Good guys||Bad guys|
|Supported by||Southern Europeans||Ukies, Anglos, Germans|
This is a formidable propaganda technique for a number of reasons. For one thing, it joins the internal and external russophobes at the hip in a kind of “guilt by association” which forces them to try to help each other which, if course, only makes them all look even worse (their negative traits reinforcing each other). There is not need to label anybody as “traitor” when the people in question do a great job placing that label upon themselves when they try to explain away all the crazy and hateful anti-Russian nonsense the western Ziomedia constantly spews. An average Russian who hears a Russian liberal explaining that the “Russian Pokemon” story might be based in reality immediately wonders how much the CIA pays this SOB to say that kind of nonsense. But here is where this is getting really cute:
It ain’t the CIA paying that liberal – the Russians are doing it themselves!
A few days ago a major article appeared in the newspaper Komsomolskaia Pravda (yup, they kept that old and, frankly, silly sounding name which translates to “Truth of the Communist Youth League”) which revealed that some of the most offensive guests on Russian talkshows are paid a lot of money to spew their anti-Russian propaganda. Here are the top paid guests:
- Viacheslav Kovtun (Ukraine): 500’000-700’000 rubles (about 8’700 to 12’000 dollars) each month
- Michael Bohm (USA): 500’000-700’000 rubles (about 8’700 to 12’000 dollars) each month
- Iakub Koreiba (Poland): no less than 500’000 rubles (about 8’700 dollars) each month
According to the KP investigators, these guys have legal contracts and they pay Russian income taxes. So this is all very legal and quite pluralistic to boot: the only people who can seriously accuse the Russian government of trying to crack down on the opposition, pro-western political parties or anti-Putin ideas are folks who have have absolutely no factual knowledge about Russia *at all*. Either that, or they are deliberately lying. And that includes the vast majority of the western political leaders (in the USA and in Europe) who are now scrambling to increase the budgets of the traditional western propaganda outfits such as VOA/RL/RFE or who want to create new propaganda outlets to “bring the democratic message to the Russian people”. In reality, the Russian people are fed a daily dose of western propaganda (aka “democratic message”) courtesy of the Kremlin, and that is something which the imbeciles in power in the West can’t even begin to imagine, nevermind deal with.
What is becoming increasingly evident is that western propagandists simply don’t understand the world they live in, especially the US Americans. Think of it: all the major countries involved in WWII had their own propaganda machine which was targeted exclusively at their own population and which was almost never seen by the other side. Likewise, during the Cold War, the frankly stupid people in charge of the Soviet propaganda machine spent immense resources trying to block the western propaganda from seeping in from under the Iron Curtain. As for the Soviet propaganda in the West, it did have a measurable effect (just look at the influence of various Communist Parties in Europe during the Cold War), but never enough to beat the base appeal to hedonism and consumerism promoted by the best and most effective branch of the western propaganda apparatus: Hollywood.
Nowadays, this has dramatically changed and the Russians understood that much better than anybody in the West: in the age of the Internet and satellite TV you cannot target your message solely at a domestic audience, nor can you prevent the other guy’s propaganda from reaching your own domestic audience. The Americans are still operating as they did in the mid 1970s: they target their biggest propaganda efforts at the domestic audience as if the entire world was not carefully parsing everything CNN and the rest of them have to say, and they believe that the West is only unpopular in Russia because of “Putin’s control of the media”. It would be impossible to be more out of touch with reality than these people. The truth is that about 80% or more Russians support Putin precisely because they are exposed to the western propaganda machine and its message on a daily basis.
How is that possible?
For one thing, the Russian counter-propaganda is not aimed at some isolated group of people, but is essentially the same, be it on RT or Sputnik broadcasts for foreign audiences or on the main Russian TV channels. The Russian propaganda effort is global and internally consistent.
Furthermore, and at the risk of sounding like a Russian propagandist myself, I would say something which is quite evident, but still hard to believe: the Russians have no need to lie, their propaganda is fundamentally truthful, fact based and logical. There is no Russian equivalent of the Pokemon story. And when the western leaders demand that Russia withdraw her forces from the Donbass, the Russians have no need to make up some convoluted story about how the Russian military is in the Donbass but that these forces are as invisible to the observer on the ground as they are invisible to the satellites in space. The Russians don’t have any need to lie about their operations in Syria because what they say they are doing there and what they are actually doing there is one and the same: liberating Syria from Daesh. I could multiply the examples, but my point is simple: unlike their US American counterparts, the Russians are not engaging in policies which they cannot justify before their own public opinion or before the public opinion of the rest of the planet. Sounds simple? Then why is it that the USA seems to be comprehensively unable to say the truth about *anything* they do?
Being truthful does not prevent the Russians from being crafty however, and the way they “jiu-jitsu” the western propaganda output to their own benefit is very clever. Clearly somebody in the Kremlin has learned the painful lessons from the dysfunctional and, frankly, ridiculous Soviet propaganda machine.
Contrast that with the kind of self-lobotomy the German media is inflicting upon itself when it calls anybody who is not rabidly anti-Putin a “Putinversteher” or a “Putin understander”. As if not understanding somebody ought to be considered a mark of intelligence or as if agreeing with anything Putin would say ought to be seen as a clear proof or moral depravity. Is it really so surprising that a media capable of coming up with a concept like “Putinversteher” is in no condition to complete with the Russian media? Can anybody imagine the Russians labeling somebody a “Merkelponimatel”? Of course not, instead they invite some garden variety doubleplusgoodthinking German journalist on a live talk show and make sure he gets to defend those who came up with the notion of “Putinversteher”, which that idiot will most certainly try to do, if only because of a misguided sense of professional solidarity with his colleagues back at home. The Russian audience will love it, listen to every word of it, and then go to bed with an absolute conviction that their European neighbors have gone batshit-crazy.
But if foreigners are bad, and Russian liberals are bad, what could be even worse?
Russian liberals abroad of course. And they also exist.
Meet Owen Matthews and Greg Vainer. Oh these two are soooo cool!!
First, Owen Matthews. The man has an official Wikipedia page, so first check it out here. What his Wikipedia bio does not indicate, however, is the kind of background Matthews comes from. In his biography Matthews claims that his maternal grandfather, Boris Lvovich Bibikov, was the first Secretary of the Chernigov regional Communist party Committee, awarded with the Order of Lenin, and that in October 1937 he was charged with violation of the 58th article of the criminal code and executed. So he was a Party apparatchik. Bad enough, but it gets much, much worse.
According to my Director of Research, this information might be misleading. There are historical records including the lists of the NKVD officers that indicate that Boris Lvovich Bibikov never worked for the government of Ukrainian Soviet republic and never was the 1st Secretary of the Chernigov regional Communist party Committee, but was a high profile NKVD (secret police) officer and he worked in the Central Apparatus of the UKB NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR (which, if true, that would make him, by definition, a mass murderer). Indeed, the First Secretary of the Chernigov regional Communist party Committee from January 1934 till August 1937, was Markitan Pavel Filipovich, and after him, Mihailov Aleksey Dmitrievich. As for Bibikov himself, he was eventually shot during Stalin’s anti-Trotskyist purges of 1937. So whether Bibikov was “just” a Trotskyist Party apparatchik or a member of the genocidal gang of russophobic maniacs known as the “NKVD” – Matthews’ hatred for Russia clearly stems from the fact that Stalin executed his grandfather and that his family fell from the top echelons of the Bolshevik regime to the unenviable status of “enemies of the people” (which I personally think every Soviet Trotskyist amply deserved).
[Sidebar: I don’t think that it is fair, ethical or logical to blame a person for his/her ancestors. I myself am also distantly related to one of the worst murderers of the early Bolshevik regime, and I don’t consider myself guilty of, or in any way bound to, his actions. However, in his book “Stalin’s Children” Matthews clearly takes sides with, endorses and, possibly, even covers up for his Trotskyist Commissar grandfather and that makes him a fair target for criticism]
Matthews himself made his entire career in the growing wave of russophobia in the West and that is why he is a regular guest on Russian TV: I think that nobody comes even close to Matthews in expressing a total condescension to anything and everything Russian. The man literally oozes, radiates, russophobia and contempt. I would say that while his hatred for anything Russian is typical Trotskyist, his immense complex of superiority is definitely British. And that combination make him an ideal guest for Russian talk shows. If anybody truly embodies the notion of “the West truly rabidly hates and despises us” it is Owen Matthews.
Greg Vianer is very different. As much as Matthews is the ideal prototype of the condescending British racist, Vainer is a caricature of the arrogant US American. Of course, Vainer is no more US American than Matthews is really British! Vainer’s real name is Grigorii Vinnikov and he is also a Russian Jew. The funny thing is that this Grigorii insist that he be called “Greg” (in Russian “Грэг”) even though the entire audience knows that he is Grigorii. Needless to say, right there his persona sets off a powerful rejection reaction. But where Vainer is truly at his best is when he defends the USA. Which is paradoxical since in the USA he is known as a petty crook who had to flee the USA (with his client’s money) to avoid prosecution. Says so not yours truly, but Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (backed by other Russian sources, see here and here).
Ain’t that all precious?! Instead of a Brit and a American what we really have are two very typical types of russophobic Jews. Neither of them qualify as “Russian liberals” at all, and the audience senses immediately.
What we have here is a layered cake:
- Layer one: on the surface, these guys present themselves as British and American.
- Layer two: in reality, by their knowledge of Russian (Matthews: decent; Vainer: native) it is clear that they are émigrés with some kind of roots in Russia.
- Layer three: in reality both are Jews, one the offspring of a family of Trotskyist Commissars and the other a petty crook. Both a caricature, really.
Could the Russians who hire them to appear on talkshows possibly not know that?
Of course they do, that is precisely why they hire them: to let them spew their anti-Russian hatred on a weekly basis to educate the Russian public on the type of characters which in the West are considered opinion-makers (especially Matthews, of course).
So where is the bona fide Russian liberal?
He exists, of course. Introducing Alexander Nikolaevich Sytin.
His biography is boring (you can check a machine-translated version by clicking here) and as far as I can tell, he is “legit”, in the sense that he is truly Russian and that he is what he claims to be: a political scientist and a historian. But, oh boy, he is also a class act for sure! Not only does Sytin regularly express the most fantastically russophobic views on Russian TV, he also penned some amazing articles including one entitled “The Destructive Terroristic Role of Russia in the World Community” and another one entitled “How the World Should React to the Destructive Terroristic Activities of Russia”. The main thesis of Sytin is that Russia is a terrorist state. This triggered such an outrage that a group of citizens has joined the well-known Russian commentator Ruslan Ostashko in a collective lawsuit demanding punitive damages from Sytin. The logic for their lawsuit is that since they are all Russians, the claim that Russia is a terrorist state damages their credibility and offends them. Of course, what they are really doing is forcing Sytin to defend his statements in court. Predictably (at least for anybody who knows Russian liberals), Sytin has freaked out, he is now trying to apologize and wants to avoid a lawsuit. Ostashko and the people supporting him (thousands of people apparently) want their day in court. It will be fun to watch where all this goes.
Still, there are a few interesting moments in Sytin’s biography. For example, being a historian and a lecturer in the Russian and Soviet history per trade he managed to get a high profile position as the head of a section and project manager in Yukos just when a convicted felon and a suspected murderer Mikhail Khodorkovsky was organizing the giant oil company with the western backing. Having no expertise n the oil industry, Alexander Sytin worker at the YUKOS Oil company till October 2003, when Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the director of YUKOS was arrested and charged with fraud. Immediately, control of Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s shares in the Russian oil giant Yukos were passed to a banker Jacob Rothschild. Sytin had lost his cushy job at the YUKOS when the company went bankrupt, and nationalized. It’s possible that Sytin also had lost his share of his company in a process. It’s also possible that he is now representing the interest of the Rothschild Asset Management that recently lost its lengthy legal battle to the Russian state. The company you keep, right?
What really matters here is not so much what Sytin did in the past as the fact that he, using an expression Zionist love, is a real “self-hating Russian” and, more importantly, a living image of what such a self-hating Russian can say and defend. Looking at him most Russian probably think “God forbid these guys ever come back to power again!”.
Truth be told, Matthews, Vainer and Sytin are all typical useful idiots. They appear to sincerely believe that when they go on Russian TV to spew their russophobic views they are achieving some kind of result. Well, I guess, technically they are, but certainly not the one they hope for. If anything, seeing these hate-filled clowns triggers a powerful reaction against everything these guys claims to stand for.
Okay, so the Russian counter-propaganda effort is a very sophisticated and effective one. But is it ethical?
I think that it very much is. Here is why
First, as I said, the Russians do not fabricate lies. What they report is usually factually true (I say usually because I know too much about how journalism really works behind the scenes to have any illusions of the “they always say the truth” kind).
Second, they are using the enemy’s own stupidity. Nobody would call Aikido “unethical” yet it is based on using your opponents moves and force against him (“combining forces” in Aikido terminology).
Third, outrageous, over the top and disgusting as some of the clowns shown on Russian TV are, they do not misrepresent the reality of the AngloZionist Empire. Yes, sure, true russophobes are a tiny minority in the West at least where the people are concerned (especially in southern Europe and the USA), but practically the regimes in power in the West are controlled by russophobes or by their puppets. As for the western Ziomedia, it is wall-to-wall russophobic to such a degree that I would call it unambiguously racist.
So yes, the Russians are using the immense arrogance and poorly-concealed hatred for Russia of some of the more pompous and least intelligent representatives of the West to make paint an absolutely fair and accurate representation of the western ruling elites. If the message was “everybody in the West hates you” then this would be grossly unfair, deceptive and unethical. But when the message is “the western elites hate you” then the message is absolutely fair, truthful and ethical.
We will soon find out whether the Trump Administration will demand that Russia Today and Sputnik register as foreign agents (with the total and enthusiastic support of the US Ziomedia, of course). The US Congress will do what it always does – appropriate more money to try to solve the “Russian problem” by throwing dollars at it. NATO countries will get with the program and “follow the lead”. The Ukronazis in Kiev are doing even better: they are re-activating old Soviet-era jammers to prevent Russian broadcasts from reaching the areas currently under Nazi occupation. I will not be surprised if a full-scale witch-hunt against Russian sympathizers and/or agents in the USA (including Ron Paulians, libertarians, real progressives and yours truly) will eventually be unleashed by the frustrated, frightened and totally clueless US ruling class. If that happens the only thing protecting us all will be the First Amendment (something which, at least so far, the Neocons have not succeeded in destroying). No First Amendment in Europe, but neither is the risk of a crude police crackdown as imminent there. For one thing, the European elites are very very slowly, by tiny steps, waking up to the reality that their abject and total subservience to the USA has put them in an extremely uncomfortable situation. They are still far from the full realization that Russia has much more to offer Europe than the USA, but the first cracks are appearing, which is good. Furthermore, Europe being politically far more diverse than the UniParty system in the USA, the chances of a major crackdown on dissent are much smaller. Finally, it is pretty clear that a lot of folks in southern Europe, even in the media, are more or less pro-Russian, even if they don’t always say so openly.
One of the main weaknesses of the US political elites is that they never bothered to seriously study political science, nevermind Marxism and, even less so, Hegelian dialectics. Which is too bad for them because they are now completely overlooking the fact that the internal contradiction of the AngloZionist propaganda machine are creating a reaction which will make Russia Today, Sputnik and the pro-Russian Internet even more attractive to the western audiences than it already is. In fact, every effort to crack down on “Russian propagandists” will only serve to strengthen the latter, making the perusal of pro-Russian sources something sexy and exiting.
As for the Russians, they will continue to report about, for example, drag queen Xochi Mochi reading stories to children in the Michelle Obama Public Library as part of LGBTQ History Month and then invite the likes of Owens, Vainer or Sytin to prime-time talk shows to comment on the event and they will make sure that each one of them gets all the time needed to fully express his thoughts and feelings :-)
Putin’s popularity will soar while the western Ziomedia will explain it by the total control the authoritarian “Putin regime” has over the Russian media.