Reviews | Vladimir Putin’s Restaurant of Lies

By failing to sell its propaganda in our internal market, Russia is perpetuating a tradition transmitted by his predecessor, Soviet Union. Moscow funded newspapers and radio stations around the world, portraying Josef Stalin as a peacemaker. The Soviets falsified documents which they concealed in publications to tell false but flattering stories about them. They later spread fake news about AIDS being an American bioweapon gone wild and counterfeit claims about American intentions to start a nuclear war. But the meals served have generally been too crude, too easily refuted. Take the contemporary example of RT, which started in 2005. His only breach in the American media regime was a punch line. Propaganda only works if it connects with pre-existing and deep-seated emotions and beliefs, and Russian efforts rarely do.

A study of Russian propaganda efforts towards the West shows that their disinformation ministries still rely on the classic propaganda techniques, including name-calling, forwarding, and the big lie. But their deceptions have been ineffective and unimaginative, often recycling bits and pieces from past campaigns, unfolding with the low credibility of an infomercial or internet hoax. If Russian Propaganda was a Western restaurant, health inspectors would order it closed by the end of the week. The American scene is simply too competitive, too critical, too skeptical of foreign sources for Russian propaganda to thrive here.

Since the Russians shut down their RT video channel earlier this month, our press has been the main vehicle for Russian propaganda in the United States, sifting through international news for Putin’s lies. RT has never dispensed the loudest Russian propaganda, preferring instead to deliver the softcore stuff that got Jill Stein devotees’ heads bobbing. Last week the New York Times sat down in front of a buffet of Russian propaganda shown around the world and dropped a mind-blowing review. One of the remnants that the Russians serve their citizens is the “neo-Nazi” peril in Ukraine. Nazi is the most degrading thing a Russian can call someone, and Putin uses it many times when talking about the rulers of kyiv. This insults baffled even Westerners who wished NATO and Ukraine hadn’t flirted with each other. It is not wrong to recognize that Ukraine has a nazi problem and Nazi history, but like the Washington Post reported, “Only one far-right party, Svoboda, is represented in the Ukrainian parliament, and it only holds one seat.” Putin’s assertion that Ukraine needs a denazification that only an invasion can cure is pure propaganda. Calling someone a Nazi is Putin’s propaganda shorthand for those who oppose his vision of a Russian ethno-state, researcher Kamil Galeev writing over the weekend. Anything Russian, Putin believes, is by definition anti-Nazi. But since when did NATO, which hampered Russian expansion, support the Nazi regimes? This half-cooked plate was sent back to the Kremlin kitchen for disposal.

Another one claim of propagandists – that Ukraine was building a plutonium-based “dirty bomb” in Chernobyl – was featured in big lie mode by an anonymous source speaking to TASS, RIA and Interfax. Claims that Ukraine, which gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994 and suffered more severely than any other country from the Chernobyl disaster, may be working on a dirty bomb require more evidence than an anonymous source. The claim did not gain traction. A tasting menu of other big lies: that Ukrainian nationalists, and not the Russian army, are bombing Ukrainian cities; this Putin’s troops were ‘peacekeepers’; that Ukraine was a “compound” campaign; and that the the invasion would not take place in the first place.

Last week, the German media Deutsche Welle spotted suspicious fact-checking in English website called War on Fakesincluding the Telegram account, which now has 700,000 subscribers, was registered on February 23, the day before the invasion, and whose website appeared on March 1. cities, the punishment of Kharkiv, the Russian attack on a Ukrainian maternity hospital, all fake news. The unknown owner of the site provided a contact address in Moscow in his who is recording. The propaganda technique presented here is called transfer, and that involves earning the public trust that many people have in the authority of the fact-checking process. In an attempt to bolster its credibility, the site mixes accurate fact checks with bogus ones, but the war on fakes has yet to break through.

The Kremlin recently took inspiration from one of its favorite recipes to make false claims suggesting there were US-funded funds. biological weapons labs in Ukraine. The Russians made such false claims again and again since the end of World War II. As recently as 2018, they accused the The Pentagon was making biological weapons near their border in Georgia. This accusation could have gone as unnoticed as other baseless Russian claims, except for Tucker Carlson’s “just the questions asked” coverage on his show. But Carlson’s claims have been blunted by reports in the Washington Post, Foreign Police, Politicsthe New York Times and elsewhere. The failure of bioweapons propaganda to find takers in the United States, even after the promotion of Carlson and the flackery of Tulsi Gabbard, demonstrates the difficulty of peddling foreign lies in the United States. To win the propaganda war here, the Russians will have to be more subtle and less identifiable state-sponsored. But even then, he will remain vulnerable to intense press scrutiny.

Russian flavors never traveled well in America, nor did its propaganda. Eat whatever you want, but I guarantee you’ll give Chef Poutine five negative stars for his efforts before ordering dessert.


Enjoy the ticklish mouthfeel of Russian propaganda but spit. Do not ingest. Borscht Door Dash [email protected]. My email alerts are entertained by bogus fact-checking operations. My Twitter flow says it Ukrainian girls really knock me out, they leave the West behind. My RSS feed watches Tucker Carlson tonight for entertainment purposes only.