Contempory State Public diplomacy –a la Russe.

“Hurrah for Hollywood” people say and who doesn’t love the music and costumes of Bollywood?  Even the emerging Nollywood is beginning to boom, but in Moscow, the lesser known “Kremlinwood” or “Kwood,” produced by the Russian Ministry of Defense, affects the lives of everyone on the planet more than all the others put together. Their blockbuster “whataboutism” (sometimes referred to as “whataboutery” ) and its multiple sequels are guaranteed to leave you hanging and confused as that is exactly its purpose.“ Whataboutistm: a rhetorical defense that alleges hypocrisy from the accuser.“ (Khazan, 2013)

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We look here at how and why Kwood works, what its target audiences are and who are the producers and directors. In Moscow, Russia’s Minister of Defense claimedthe mass media are just but another arm of the armed forces” ( Shoigu, 2015)
The stars of Kwood are the the press secretary for Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, Dmitry Peskov, since 2012

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and Director of the Ministry of foreign affairs of the RF information and press dept. Maria Zakharova since 2012

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When Russia wants something or doesn’t want something to happen on the world stage, Kwood swings into an eager beaver mode to get its own way. Even Maria Zhakarova dances Kalinka on prime time tv to show a softer less aggressive side of the RF. Thousands of “trolls” are set to work in warehouses to write algorithms which pick up on any word, picture, tag or meme on social media relevant to the subject. An army of highly-trained journalist soldiers engages the post like white blood cells attacking evasive cells attacking the immune system to prevent any clear message getting out which differs from the Kremlin line. When using the word Kremlin we also understand the FSB (now renamed KGB again) GRU (Military Intelligence) and SVR RF:  which since 1991 took over from the KGB 1st chief directorate. In fact, there are military units engaged in public diplomacy which operate with no name to avoid detection. Their aim is to create fake news posts and organizations which promote contradictory conspiracy theories hidden in fake news. The production quality of the fakes, news reports, and video clips are on a par with any major blockbuster Hollywood production and for the layman impossible to detect as fake. Websites arrear with names so close to reputable news outlets that detection becomes a skilled art; an almost perfect way to fool the uninitiated.
In most illiberal states this is the case with “public diplomacy,” which we pejoratively used to call  “propaganda,” being divided into productions for the domestic audience and productions for the foreign audiences. There are still people who believe what they see on RT. RT used to be called “Russia Today, ” but the Kremlin cleverly changed the name to disguise their connection.

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At this point I can hear the “whataboutists” screaming “What about the BBC and what about Al Jazeera?” but compared to “Kwood” these are amateurs.

The Russian domestic audience, without Internet, gets served a different dish of patriotic deeds of Russian heroism in the state-controlled media. The Russians love their country and being Russian dearly, so they need a Kwood production to reinforce their love of Mother Russia and the Russian “Mir” (world) so for them there is no mention of the end of the cold war. For them, their old enemy, the USA, still looms as a threat, especially amongst the older generations. This mentality enables “Kwood” to present their executive or glorious leader, Vladimir Putin, as the star in Kwood, emulating Churchill in England during WW2, as the only man strong enough and capable of standing up to the opression and save them. The Russian people are always expecting war and ready to fight off NATO which they see as constantly challenging their borders. Any opposition like Nemtsov, Navalny, Khordokinski, Kasyanov gets presented as “useful idiots” of the CIA and enemies of the state with Russia as the last bastion of the resistance to US imperialism. The Russian people are still fighting Fascism as they had as “they alone” (they were told) had stood to up and won the great war in the eyes of the domestic media.
Unhappy Ukrainians, therefore, become Fascists, supported by American mercenaries, who had smuggled weapons and killed civilians in Iraq.  Kwood presents them as overthrowing a “legitimate” (albeit corrupt Russian puppet)  president and the UN “responsibility to protect” becomes a Russian “right to protect any Russian speakers anywhere who are in danger of falling into the hands of Fascist leaders.” When Kwood produces heart-wrenching images of Russian speakers in Ukraine being slaughtered at the hands of “right-wing Ukrainian fascists” the domestic media calls upon Russians to travel to Ukraine and fight to protect their Ukrainian brothers from these fascists, and many did. Any serving military are given a “sabbatical” to fight in Ukraine so that the claim that “no active serving Russian military” were fighting there was technically correct.
Kwood problems only started when, like WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq,  no fascists could be found by the Russians traveling there to fight. Most states use foreign policy to distract their populations, but Russia has taken this to a new level with the population being even willing to accept pensions and salaries not being paid out of solidarity with the costs involved of the brave Russian people fighting fascism.
The breakup of the Soviet Union left a void in the hearts of the idealistic Russian population in which public diplomacy was needed to fill and explain to the people why their lives were so hard, and Kwood came to the rescue.# GI6007

Khazan, Olga (August 2, 2013). “The Soviet-Era Strategy That Explains What Russia Is Doing With Snowden”The Atlantic.
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/08/the-soviet-era-strategy-that-explains-what-russia-is-doing-with-snowden/278314/  Accessed December 17, 2016.

The media must serve the military — Shoigu
http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/03/28/the-media-must-serve-the-military-shoigu/#arvlbdata Accessed December 17, 2016

 

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2 thoughts on “Contempory State Public diplomacy –a la Russe.

  1. stevencurtislm January 25, 2017 / 12:51 am

    This is a fascinating piece, written with verve. I very much enjoyed reading it. It is nicely illustrated and you make your points very effectively.

    Perhaps you could better link this piece to some of the debates in the academic literature. See, for example, some of the articles on Russia in the recent issue of the journal Politics (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ponl.2015.35.issue-3-4/issuetoc;jsessionid=E09C69733A44C838BEC304B8708A8BA3.f04t01). Your concluding observation about the links between public diplomacy and domestic opinion reminded me of Nick Cull’s Brezhnev syndrome (see http://www.wandrenpd.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/9789004179400_FisherLucas_08-chapter_Cull_proof-01_enabled.pdf).

    There are a few typographical errors. For instance, I think you mean ‘appear’ rather than ‘arrear’.

    Like

  2. unknownterritory12 May 14, 2017 / 6:27 pm

    Very well written and it couldn’t be more true. Kwood works effectively but its true aims should be brought out to the public more often.

    Like

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