Kremlin Propaganda: Soviet Active Measures by Other Means

Digital Democracies Conference Vancouver, May 2019
12. 9. 2019
Afternoon Tea: Battlefields of the Mind – Propaganda & Fake News
31. 10. 2019

Kremlin Propaganda: Soviet Active Measures by Other Means

“Described by scholars as ‘hybrid’, ‘full-spectrum’, ‘non-linear’, ‘next-generation’, or ‘ambiguous’—the variations in the description indicate the slipperiness of the subject—these conflicts mix psychological, media, economic, cyber, and military operations without requiring a declaration of war”  

March 21, 2016   Upcoming in Estonian Journal of Military Studies, the journal of the Estonian National Defense College (ENDC)  By Yevhen Fedchenko


ABSTRACT This article traces the evolution of Russian propaganda as part of active measures from Soviet times  through Russian occupation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine in Donbas  as the climax in use of propaganda and media manipulations. Fakes and forgeries are a part of active measures conducted by the Kremlin and amending its military capacity and diplomacy efforts to cover it up. The manufacturing of fakes is characterized by centralized and systematic approach to manufacturing and distribution of fakes, their coherence and connection with the Kremlin policies and talking points. The article concludes that the use of media-related active measures is not a new phenomenon and was widely used by Soviet Union before as an instrument for conducting its foreign policy by clandestine means. Through examination of more than 500  items from Russian propaganda, debunked by verification project, we can conclude that the same themes for fakes and forgeries used in USSR since 1950s and are used now. The only thing that changed is the parasitizing of Kremlin propaganda on the Western concept of liberal values that allows Kremlin to disguise it under the pretext of freedom of speech and delivering ‘the other point of view’. As Kremlin historically relied on traditional media, mainly printed as a key channel for the distribution of fakes, now it also utilizes the wide range of new opportunities provided by internet and social media.