By Paul Goble
Warsaw’s Akademia Europejska-Krzyżowa says that Moscow is directing its propaganda effort in Poland against marginal groups on the extreme right and extreme left of the political system and also on young people whose views have not been finally formed, according to a report by Kseniya Kirillova.
On the Novy Region-2 portal today, the US-based Russian commentator presents an analysis of the report (nr2.com.ua/blogs/Ksenija_Kirillova/Rossiya-vedet-gibridnuyu-voynu-protiv-Polshi-118524.html). The full text of the report — in English — is available online at akademia.krzyzowa.org.pl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=79:internet-and-information-warfare-of-president-putin-report-by-krzyzowa-european-academyeuropejskiej-krzyzowa&catid=38&lang=en&Itemid=213.
One of the authors of the report, Ioanna Darcevska begins by noting that “according to the strategy of the leading [Russian] theoreticians of [information] war, Aleksandr Dugin and Igor Panarin, information war must imitate military operations and involve precisely planned manipulation” of its target audience.
“The goal of the propaganda machine” in their view, Kirillova points out, “is to exert a desired effect on people by forcing them to act irrationally and blocking critical thought.” To that end, those engaged in such information war simplify the situation, presenting everything in black and white terms and using stereotypes and myths.
This represents a change in information war arising from the impact of the Internet, Darceska says. In the older paradigm, information warriors sought to communicate specific points of view. Now, with the Internet and the possibilities of trolling, they seek to promote confusion and social disintegration.
That means, she says according to Kirillova’s summary, the real content of such propaganda “often” contradicts its nominal message, given that different groups are being given different messages. Thus, Moscow talks about the defense of Christianity in its Internet appeals to the French right and about pacifism in its appeals to the German left.
Part of the new report by the Warsaw institute focuses on trolling in the Polish information space, Kirillova says, and considers the activity of anonymous bloggers on such portals as ONET.pl and Salon24.pl. What makes this report especially valuable is the list of sites where Russian trolls regularly appear and what their specific messages are in each case.
In addition, the report points out that Russian information war is not limited to trolling on the Internet but includes the posting of articles in traditional media as well as stories on radio and television outlets. And it also involves promoting anti-Ukrainian meetings in Polish cities, meetings that have already had an impact on the thinking of some Polish officials.
The report concludes, Kirillova notes, by calling for more research on Russia’s information war as well as expanded international cooperation in this area and the elaboration of additional legal rules governing virtual crime.