(updated with a PS on March 4, 2015)
1. Russia has been staging a very big and concentrated propaganda effort to promote and broadcast the political positions of its government. Agitation and Propaganda AGITPROP has been a vital effort inside and outside is borders of the Russian regime since 1917. Examples the external propaganda are the broadcasts of “Russia Today” RT News TV channel and on Twitter @RT_com (not to be confused with ReTweet). Some of the programs are about the latest press conference or meeting of Foreign Minister Lavrov, very well trained as negotiator/ diplomat who can LIE as if he believes it himself. A rare gift. But after a while you know you should simply ‘invert’ anything he says.
In addition to RT news they pay people in foreign countries to relay the Russian policy ‘ukazes’ in other countries like in Latvia: http://www.baltic-course.com/eng/legislation/?doc=103130
The Russians are surely entitled to do so and I even recommend to take a good look at what they are publishing and saying. Very funny sometimes to see how they twist facts and even pronounce outright lies. I often wonder how the Russian public can believe that but to be frank I often have the same feelings when I watch some if the FoxNews news programs. American TV stations are not very well informed about things outside the USA, nor is its population maybe very interested in that. Russians are not unique in uninformedness by the media.
By the way I recommend you to read newspapers, news from foreign reporters, etc. from many countries and watch TV news from many sources and if you add and subtract you might get closer to the truth.Most of it is junk and ballony, interpretations and things that people want to hear/see (confirmation of prejudices). That sells and keeps the advertisers happy.
2. But more recently email, blogs, Twitter, Farcebook and other social media give u a chance to see what is happening and sometimes within seconds after something happens, unfiltered and without personal interpretations. Photo’s and live accounts from the spot of the accident or demonstration.
3. In reaction to that more or less objective reality stream, including Russian soldiers who did send home selfies on their tank from within the Ukraine, the Russian government has now set up a dis-information factory in St-Petersburg in a multi story building.
This factory consist of several hundred very well payed and well educated composers of junk messages and misinformation about for instance the situation in the East Ukraine battlefield. Sure, the first casualty in war is the truth, but what the several hundred of people fabricate as messages is sometimes bizarre: Semantic Polution. The meaning is distorted and twisted, and that is what they are paid for while they pretend to send their messages and articles from Donbas or Novo-Russia as they call it under the pretense of being Ukrainian rebels.Very often they use old photos from other places like Georgia or Tjetchenia, or forget to photoshop away insignia, flags or numberplates. More subtle is the constant stream of reactions to tweets or reactions to articles in western newspapers. In this ‘factory’ every worker has to produce or re-write about 20 ‘breaking’ news messages. They have about twelve websites all about govt policy and the Ukraine. Most visited is the “Newsagency of Charkov” pretending to be located in the second biggest city of the Ukraine but actualy written in the “Mediaholding Internetresearch” at Savoesjkin Steet 55 in St-Petersburg.
Not difficult to spot and after a while you get used to the types of arguments and lies. What is even more of a nuisance the stream of Troll Tweets produced from the same factory, rather silly and full of writing errors. But they got for instance instructions to call Separatists “fighters” against the Kiev fascists. This department opened in 2013 as “the Agency for the Analysis of Internet” in a suburb of Saint-Petersburg. Does not take much effort to block the Propaganda Trolls one after the other. It is a waste of time, because in the internet age everything is transparant, so sooner or later your lies will catch up with you. So Putin can have his own Media Army, they can not stop the ongoing emergent behavior of the New Power forever. And a lot of Twitter discussions, articles and websites are attacked, harmed and polluted by this Pro-Kremlin News factory.
In this network age credibility and trust is all. It is a pitty that Russia and the Russians themselves show more and more that they can not be trusted. There is an old saying from ancient travelers “If you meet and negotiate with a Russian, be kind to the brave survivor, but carry an ax”. Sad that that now has to apply to internet too.
PS If the urge of the Kremlin is to bring “stability” with tanks and ‘tourist’ snipers to and beyond its borders, I can recommend them to study the role of ‘weak links’. People who can make connections between tribes/ families/ communities with different cultures. Sociologist Granovetter has discovered the constructive intermediary role of such persons (1973) and Peter Csermely wrote an important book about its appearance all over nature: http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783540311515 I introduced these persons under another name which sounds less weak: Btwieners https://theconnectivist.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/slides-of-my-social-networking-masterclass-workshop-at-osdc2014/
Btwieners are a special kind of networkers, they provide stability in society, a Gandalf kind of wizzards. My advice is: *** If you want to maintain and establish stability, do not use suppression with force, but respect and support Btwieners !!!***
jaap van till, the connectivist