Assessing the Russian counter propaganda efforts (Saker rant)
Story Code : 959278
What I tried to show in these articles that, in total contrast from acting like the bad old Soviet propaganda, the modern Russian counter-propaganda does the exact opposite of what most people in the West believe it does: far from suppressing western propaganda, the Kremlin tries its very best to make sure that as many Russians as possible become aware of what the West is saying about them, their country and their values. The Kremlin even PAYS anti-Russian pundits to go on Russian national TV!!!
Why? Simply, because considering the nature of what the western media outlets, and even entire specialized entities, write and say about Russia, the best thing the Kremlin can do is to make darn sure that everybody in Russia becomes aware of it.
During the Cold War, the Soviets had a strict censorship system, entire segments of literature was banned, you could not take certain books across the border and radios like RFE/RL, the BBC or DW were jammed.
Now the OPPOSITE is happening. Some anti-Russian talking heads on, say, DW declares that Putin eats babies for breakfast, and that is immediately aired on the main TV channels, with subtitles! Then it is discussed at length, with the “poor” Russian liberals trying to justify it. It is often quite hilarious to watch.
Another favorite topic on Russian TV are western threats against Russia, or the “master talks to his slave” tone of US Presidents: “we did Napoleon and Hitler and now the Muricans want to talk to us “from a position of strength, even after Kabul!!!” :-)
By the way, this is something the leaders of the West cannot admit, hence their continuous efforts to pay for these propaganda outlets to spew their nonsense and pretend like the Russians are living in an informational vacuum and that “Gulags” are full of freedom loving dissidents :-)
This will never happen, of course, but I believe that if, say, the US Congress decided to defund these propaganda outlets, the Russians would be glad to pay for the costs as what these outlets produce is a dream come true for Putin and the Kremlin!
But, alas, all of the above pertains only to Russian counter-propaganda efforts INSIDE Russia!
Alas, the picture for outside counter-propaganda is much less encouraging…
First, the two big ones RT, both as a TV station and a website, and Sputnik. Initially, I was rather enthusiastic about this alternative to the Cold War crap regurgitated on a daily basis by the western media. And, initially, it worked pretty well. Some shows were outright very good, and certainly good enough to get the western PTB quite hysterical, hence all the (freedom of speech crushing) measures taken by western “democracies” to, if not silence them, then make their work as hard as possible.
A simple conclusion would be “if the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire were so upset about RT and or Sputnik, then the latter must be doing a fantastic job”. Alas, the reality is more complex.
I got a lot of emails from readers asking me about my view of RT and Sputnik and, so far, I did not publicly comment about this. Now I feel that the time has come.
Frankly, I think that RT and Sputnik have tried to appeal to the worst and cheapest base instincts of the folks in the West to increase their audience. The RT website is the worst of them all. Here are just two recent examples:
I have an entire collection of examples of such truly disgusting stuff but I will spare you, and myself, any more these sights. Besides, those who read the RT website regularly already know what I am talking about.
This really begs the question of who their target audience is? I mean, seriously, the kind of folks who enjoy photos of butts and lingerie fights (plenty of such folks here in Florida, especially during “Bike Week”) will never turn into RT or Sputnik in the first place. May the target audience is sexually insecure teenagers? But, frankly, these teenagers won’t go to RT for that, there are other, “better” choices for them out there anyway.
As for those who would turn to RT for the right reasons (getting alternative infos and views) are going to be either bored or disgusted or both by such ridiculous “articles” (I am being kind here…). By the way, the audience which would turn to RT for the right reasons would include plenty of Orthodox Christian and Muslims which makes me wonder: is RT deliberately trying to offend or alienate them?
The shows on RT TV are better, but most of them are boring, just the same folks rehashing the same old same old without any originality. But compared to the very high quality of reporting and debating on the internal Russian TV, most of the shows on RT TV are boring.
As for Sputnik, I can share this about it: in the past, they interviewed me on several occasions. But then, I had to tell them that I would refuse to be interviewed by them. Can you guess why? For two reasons: they would not allow me to mention the 9/11 false flag or to use the term “AngloZionist”. Not even with the usual disclaimer about “the views expressed herein are not etc.”. Need I say more?
The truth is this: I rarely bother with either RT or Sputnik anymore, they bore me and, frankly, make me feel ashamed of a lot of their content.
But it is not just RT or Sputnik, there is much, MUCH worse.
Recently, the Kremlin did something really smart: they (FINALLY!) realized that need to move away from YouTube and released the website Smotrim and a Smotrim Android app (dunno about iStuff, I stay away from Apple/Mac products). Basically, you can think of Smotrim (which means “we watch”) as Russian TV on a website or app. Two problems with that otherwise very very good idea:
It’s only in Russian
The apps demands you send it your tel # to send you a back a sign-in code, which mostly does not work at all
On number one, maybe they will make an English version of it, at least for the news programs.
One number two, maybe it is the Empire (and their subservient IT sector like Google) which tries to block the sign-in codes. I had to try many times and finally I used a Canadian flag (since both the USA and Canada share the +1 international code).
So how about NOT asking for such sign-in codes?
There is also another problem with the Smotrim app: it is buggy, and demands a very high bandwidth. And, generally, it is still very “raw”. And they also mix some very interesting shows with, frankly, cheap crap (Russian TV has lots of that too).
At best, it allows Russian expats or Russian speakers in locations with a solid 4G Internet to watch Russian TV shows…
What about the Russian supposed “alternatives” to YouTube or Google?
I tried Rutube.ru and compared to YouTube it is sub-pathetic. And that in spite of the fact that Russia has better/modern Internet connectivity inside Russia than the US does! Then there is Yandex, which is actually pretty good in many ways, but which does not offer any video hosting alternative to YouTube. It does, however, offer a very good search engine, much better, and MUCH “freer” than Google (which de-lists and censors a lot of good sites, both for political reasons or to serve the copywrong interests of US media corporations).
Even worse, on YouTube Russian news channels file copyright complaints if somebody else reposts their videos!! It happened to us several times, and when that happens, we typically use RuTube. But think of the irony: these Russian news channels are, apparently, more concerned with ad revenue than with spreading the message, their *own* message. How stupid (and immoral!) is that?
Okay, let’s say that the Kremlin does not want, or cannot, create a serious alternative to YouTube. What about private corporations like, say, Gazprom, Sberbank or Rosoboronexport who are so awash with money that they could easily invest into a “FreeTube” not only as good, but much better than YouTube (removing the Woke propaganda and commercials would be a good start!). And if all they care about is money, then they could even make money with a real, effective, RussiaTube/FreeTube.
But nothing. Just nothing. Their attitude appears to be “we make gazillions and the rest ain’t our problem”.
And this gets even worse: Both the Kremlin (Presidential Administration) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia are doing an ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE work in their public information efforts. The worst is the very slow pace at which they translate Putin’s or Lavrov’s speeches, interview or articles. Apparently, the folks running these departments don’t understand that time is of the essence in counter-propaganda efforts! Either that, or they don’t have the money to hire enough translators which, considering the disposable income of the Kremlin is ridiculous.
I worked as both a translator and an interpreter in my life and I can tell you that if give me a budget of about 5 million dollars a year (pennies by modern Russian standards) and I could get all of these very important speeches, interviews or article translated, well, at least overnight and made available on the Internet for all to access and download on the same day. But even with its truly immense financial means, the Kremlin seems to be working with Soviet era attitude about work (“a pretend to work effort is good enough for a pretend pay”).
[Sidebar: official speeches are pre-written, I know, I worked at the UN for several years, and then very quickly corrected if the speaker goes into some impromptu comment or tangent. So here is what the Russians are NOT doing and SHOULD do: each speech by Putin and Lavrov should not only be pre-written (they are), but even their translations into, at least, English, should ALSO be pre-written. Then both the original Russian text and the translated English text can both be very quickly fixed at the same time then immediately released not only to the press corps in Moscow, but POSTED on the Internet. This entire process can take about 2-3 hours MAX after the speaker is done speaking. Yes, I mean exactly that: same day translations are totally doable!]
Typically, both the Presidential Administration and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are several DAYS late with their translations. That is ridiculous and disgraceful. In the past, I even had to ask upaid volunteers to translate really important documents for the blog simply because somebody in the Kremlin was soundly asleep at the wheel and not caring one bit about what was truly at stake.
When I see how ridiculously slow Russian translations are, I always think that they must believe that, at best, they work for future historians, not for people who vitally, desperately, need these translations today, NOW!
Here is how this impacts me as a blogger: when something happens, say the current crisis in Georgia, I would need access to the info available in Russian to repost on my blog. Why should, say, the Kremlin care about my tiny audience to begin with? For three reasons: a) it ain’t that small at all b) it is a different audience from say, TASS or RIA and c) there are many more bloggers out there who could use this besides me.
If the Kremlin had any desire to get serious about counter-propaganda it could, for example, offer a way for us, bloggers in the West, to easily place a request and then quickly get back info we need, in English! But no, Zakharova gives a weekly briefing to a small audience of accredited journalist (most of them hostile to Russia and, frankly, paid western propagandists) and she considers her job done. The fact that she is a superb spokeswoman gets lost on those who need it most: the PEOPLE of the West (not the western journos in Moscow!).
I actually have a very good opinion of Margarita Simonian. She is trying really hard and she is even sounding another alarm about the fact that Russia needs to develop a truly sovereign Runet, not one depending on a few, Western controlled, Internet traffic backbones. I listened to her on a lot of shows and I am sure that she “gets it”. Having obtained at least one college degree in the US probably made her acutely aware of how comparatively IN-effective the Russian media really is, at least compared to the superb propagandists the AngloZionists have been during the Cold War (since, they mostly look ridiculous, but that is hardly a consolation).
Now let’s list a few truisms:
Russia is awash with cash
Russia has some of the best IT experts on the planet
Russia has a very modern IT infrastructure (including plenty of supercomputers)
Russia is engaged in an existential war against the Empire, about 80% of which is informational
Russia is doing a superb job countering western propaganda inside Russia
Russia’s private sector has rich mega-corporations who very much need “informational support” to sell their products
Russia has huge numbers of excellent translators
Yet, at the same time
The RT website caters to the worst western audience possible
Sputnik is obediently submitting to AngloZionist limits on allowed/prohibited speech
Russian government websites are slow, badly organized and booooooooooooooooooooring
The pace of translations of even very important official speeches, documents or interviews is something I would expect from, say, a small Caribbean nation, not a nuclear superpower
So when I hear the nonsense about Russian “troll farms” and “Russian hackers”, I don’t laugh, I want to SOB!
If only it was TRUE!
Just the Russian military by itself could EASILY solve ALL of the problems I listed above.
Furthermore, I come to a conclusion which really bothers me: the Kremlin cares a lot more about the western “officialdom” (western press corps in Moscow) than it cares about REALLY reaching out to the people in the West (or Zone A if you prefer). Yes, they go through the motions, but they don’t really mean it.
Please tell me I am wrong and please explain to me what I see what I see?
Blaming Zakharova and/or Simonian is what some in the “patriotic opposition” often do. I think that they are wrong. Why? Because that implies the Zakharova and Simonian have the means to make things better, but that deliberately don’t. I highly doubt that (for many reasons I don’t want to mention here to stay on topic). And when I hear what Putin and/or Lavrov actually say, they both are also clearly trying their best.
So what is going on and who is to blame (and fire!) here?
My personal guess?
That the Presidential Administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are STILL full of those whom I refer to as “Atlantic Integrationists” (as opposed to the “Eurasian Sovereignists”), a reality which some Kremlin mouthpieces have been denying for quite a while now, but whose “fingerprints” I see all over the total mess (and many other “inexplicable” or otherwise contradictory Russian policies).
Of sure, the Atlantic Integrationists are now keeping a low profile or pretending to be patriots, Putin has very effectively weakened them, I would even say defeated them, but only on the internal Russian ideological battlefield. But they have kept their positions and titles and are quietly continuing their sabotage, whether for money from the western alphabet soup or because they want to prove themselves to their western masters.
If my guess is correct, then this is not a counter-propaganda issue, but a national security one!
I am sure that by now there are plenty of readers who would reply that things ain’t so bad, that a lot of good stuff also gets posted by the RT website, and that’s all true. Until you compare with the Russian media inside Russia which stands head and shoulders above its West-oriented counterparts.
One example: there are a few talk shows on Russian TV (“60 mins” for example) which should have interpreters and stenographers on site to immediately (well, almost, with maybe a few hours delay max) fully subtitle these shows and make them available not on YouTube or Smotrim, but on a Russian YouTube equivalent! Or even just the main Vesti evening news!
First, that would show the undeniable fact that there is TRUE ideological diversity on Russian TV (infinitely more than on western TV stations!). Next, it would show the audience int the West some very good reports (for example, Russia has REAL war correspondents, and very good ones at that, unlike the West whose war correspondents usually report from their hotels, sometimes not even from the country they are supposed to be “covering”).
Furthermore, JUST subtitling Russian news/debate shows would make the western media look absolutely ridiculous, especially the propaganda outlets à la RFE/RL or the US CNNNBCFOXCBS gang.
But what can I expect from a government which does not even protect RT journos? They were banned from the French Foreign Ministry (still are, I think?), harassed by both US and UK regulators and the Kremlin only issued some vapid protests.
These flaccid responses only encourage the western powers to further try to disrupt the efforts of RT! Why does Russia symmetrically expel western diplomats and not symmetrically expel western journos? Because of freedom of speech in Russia? Well, the self-same western journos who are not expelled because of the (very real) freedom of speech in Russia NEVER report about that freedom of speech or speak up on behalf of their Russian colleagues when western regimes try to silence them.
Me? I would throw most western journos out Russia with no hesitation whatsoever. None.
Here is the sad truth, folks like Andrei Martyanov, Dmitri Orlov, Bernhard, the Stalker Zone, the Greanville Post, the New Kremlin Stooge and many others are doing the job they do because the folks in Moscow who are paid to do that job don’t. Worse, while none of us can get any financial help from Russia (lest we end up in a US dungeon), we COULD get indirect “informational support” if only the Russian themselves did a halfway decent job. But no, nothing.
Will the folks in Moscow ever get serious about their propaganda efforts? I honestly don’t know. I like to think that Putin is a good man who inherited a terrible system (a hybrid between the late Soviet 80s and “democratic” 90s) which means that there is an entire *generation* of folks produced by that system who are just profoundly amoral and who only pretend to care. And Russia is a immense country, whose huge momentum is very hard to change. It took Putin two decades to transform Russia in so many ways. And there was most definitely much improvement in the Russian media, especially if we compare today media to what Russia had in the 90s! But the flaccid, vapid and otherwise simply boring nature of the Russian counter-propaganda efforts against the multi-BILLION dollar AngloZionist propaganda machine is, in my opinion, simply inexcusable and borders on a gross dereliction of duty (if not treason) by those who are responsible for it.
Those of us in Zone A will continue our struggle against the Empire even in these conditions because we actually believe in what we are doing (those who only pretend and do it for $$$ are now really easy to spot, so I won’t list them here). We will continue to do that no matter how crude, inept, slow and otherwise painfully disappointing our (paid) “counterparts” in Moscow are.
But I, for sure, don’t want to “cover” for them anymore, or pretend like “all is good on the eastern front”. I said what I had to say about them and about my professional opinion of them.
And maybe somebody somewhere in Russia will read this and, finally, act on this?!
Or somebody in Russia can use this rant to make at least some changes?