A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories

STOCKHOLM — With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue


since the story is paywalled here are excerpts:

“The dynamic is always the same: It originates somewhere in Russia, on Russia state media sites, or different websites or somewhere in that kind of context,” said Anders Lindberg, a Swedish journalist and lawyer.“Then the fake document becomes the source of a news story distributed on far-left or far-right-wing websites,” he said. “Those who rely on those sites for news link to the story, and it spreads. Nobody can say where they come from, but they end up as key issues in a security policy decision.”
Although the topics may vary, the goal is the same, Mr. Lindberg and others suggested. “What the Russians are doing is building narratives; they are not building facts,” he said. “The underlying narrative is, ‘Don’t trust anyone.’”

The weaponization of information is not some project devised by a Kremlin policy expert but is an integral part of Russian military doctrine — what some senior military figures call a “decisive” battlefront.
“The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness,” Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian Armed Forces, wrote in 2013.
A prime Kremlin target is Europe, where the rise of the populist right and declining support for the European Union create an ever more receptive audience for Russia’s conservative, nationalistic and authoritarian approach under Mr. Putin. Last year, the European Parliament accused Russia of “financing radical and extremist parties” in its member states, and in 2014 the Kremlin extended an $11.7 million loan to the National Front, the extreme-right party in France.

“The Russians are very good at courting everyone who has a grudge with liberal democracy, and that goes from extreme right to extreme left,” said Patrik Oksanen, an editorial writer for the Swedish newspaper group MittMedia. The central idea, he said, is that “liberal democracy is corrupt, inefficient, chaotic and, ultimately, not democratic.”
Another message, largely unstated, is that European governments lack the competence to deal with the crises they face, particularly immigration and terrorism, and that their officials are all American puppets.
In Germany, concerns over immigrant violence grew after a 13-year-old Russian-German girl said she had been raped by migrants. A report on Russian state television furthered the story. Even after the police debunked the claim, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, continued to chastise Germany.

More whining from the West :smiley:

There’s a good Soviet-era word for that – дезинформация = “disinformation”.

The Soviet Union raised disinformation to new heights.

Really refined the practice.

The KGB had many bureaux.

An interesting question is whether the current administration took lessons from the Russians, or whether the Russians took lessons from this administration. :wink:

Despite all these years that have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian government still seems wedded to intrigue.

It is unavoidable for the Russians.

Part of their DNA.


The KGB has several directorates.

KGB has/had 16 directorates … plus some other units:


You’re approximately one million times more likely to encounter the truth on RT’s site than you are in the New York Times, particularly as regards American foreign policy. But also for everything else, in a general sense.

Or did Russia learn from Facebook, or did Facebook learn from the Russians?

Or did CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, associated press, etc., learn from Russia or did Russia learn from them?

Are they able to cover Russian foreign policy in an objective manner?

That’s a fair point, tomarin. Never having been to Russia, I really couldn’t say for sure. But Western mass media slams Russia with a truly absurd constancy, and I am far more prone to believe Russian sources than I am U.S. sources, just because of their unwavering accuracy with what I can actually confirm. Still, your point is good.

Yes, RT is at least as objective as Western media. From the Western media, we are given the propaganda that the Euromaidan was a brave, non-violent protest movement, but in reality, it was a brutal, far-right insurgency motivated by malevolence. The citizens of Crimea did not want to live under the rule of the Euromaidan thugs, so they welcomed Russian intervention.

Yes, the evidence actually supports the Russian account on Syria and Ukraine.

For instance, this is good evidence that the Maidan was strongly influenced by fascists.

I don’t know either, as I haven’t read RT but always assumed it was a de facto government mouthpiece. I hope I’m open-minded enough to give it a look sometime, just to get a different take on things at least.

Thank you for this.

The US govt (CIA) has been feeding US citizens lies (false stories) through US media outlets since at least the 1970’s.

Google/youtube “Operation Mockingbird”.

Since I have given up the popular media / news, my life has become less stressful.

There’s also multiple proofs – inside and outside Russia – that Russian news coverage on Ukraine has been prone to serious fabrications.

Just a few examples that I’ve cited on here before:

Russian news said in early 2014 after Yanukovych fled to Russia that “this is the border line to get into Russia at just a small border post! Hundreds of thousands are fleeing!” But their footage was from a Ukrainian border post on the western border with Poland that’s on a major highway (so of course there’s a lot of traffic). Anyone who could read Ukrainian and look at a map could tell this story was totally made up.

Russian news used the same injured man in Mykolaiv and portrayed him alternatively on different broadcasts as a foreign saboteur, a wounded pro-Russian “ordinary citizen”, and a heroic pediatric surgeon who was wounded by anti-Russian protesters. Even Russian TV viewers caught this one because it was so very obvious – the same man can’t possibly be all these things!

And on and on it goes. But we are supposed to believe the Russian media are objectively covering matters in Ukraine?

P.S. How are the Crimean Tatars and non-Orthodox faring in Crimea lately? Are there stories in the Russian media about their difficulties?

RT showed the world just how peaceful Euromaidan protesters were.

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