What manipulation mechanisms does Putin use?

Vladimir Putin is following long-established rules for propaganda, writes the Swiss Neue Zurcher Zeitung (NCC).

The Russian president portrays the invasion of Ukraine as an existential struggle against the Ukrainian “Nazis”, who committed genocide against the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and were supported by the West.

Demonstrating the enemy is a technique used by Putin since 1999, recalls the Swiss daily. At the time, the Russian population was being told that it was threatened by Chechen terrorists who were going to blow up its homes. This is what created the preconditions for the second war in Chechnya. The NCC reports something else: former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was later assassinated, was the man who gathered information that it was not Chechens but Russian FSB secret services that were at the bottom of the attacks, which led Russia to a new war.

Parallels with propaganda in the former Yugoslavia

British historian Mark Thompson, who has studied the wars in the former Yugoslavia, told the NZZ that a clear parallel could be drawn between them and the current Russian aggression in Ukraine. Including the role played by official state propaganda. Serbian propaganda in 1992 trumpeted, for example, that Croatian fanatics were preparing a genocide against Serbs. The situation is similar to Russian propaganda toward Ukraine.

For people to believe in such propaganda, it is necessary to stigmatize independent sources of information as “foreign agents”, impose fines on them or ban them altogether – all things we see in today’s Russia.

Sublime goals

Another mechanism through which propaganda manipulates people is to suggest that they are defending lofty goals. “The Russian Orthodox Church justifies the war against Ukraine as a war of cultures and a battle against the” moral decay “of the West. “Not only the Putin regime but also the church make it clear that Ukraine is only the first stage of Russia’s struggle against the West.”

Thus, the Russian invasion of Ukraine became a “holy war” for Russia, notes the publication “Foreign Policy”. Putin’s geopolitical ambitions are deeply rooted in faith. They intertwine nationalism, religion, and conservative values. Putin also receives great support from Russian Patriarch Kirill. According to the publication, his support for the war in Ukraine is largely explained by homophobia. Addressing the Russians at the start of the war, the patriarch claimed that the West was oppressing the people of Donbas and wanting to destroy them because they denied “so-called values ​​promoted by those who want world domination today.”

The West is the greatest enemy

The war in Ukraine is presented to the Russians as a version of the war against the West not only by the Russian Orthodox Church. The Public Sociology Laboratory, an independent research center, is interviewing many Russians to find out why they support aggression in Ukraine. According to the survey, a large group of Putin’s supporters formed their opinion on the issue even before February 24 – that is, before the invasion of Ukraine.

“These are people who sympathize with the Kremlin’s imperialist ideas and dream of an invincible Russia that will finally be able to defeat its greatest enemy, the West. These people not only justify the war in Ukraine, they even welcome it. For them, the conflict between Russia and the West is not new. Attacking a sovereign neighborhood seems like a way to make peace. These people are not worried about the sanctions that the whole world is imposing on Russia. For many of them, this even helps for Russia, which had to shake off any Western influence, “the publication commented.

Russian society has conflicted with the West for years, the NCC writes. Relationships are very contradictory – sometimes of admiration, sometimes of hatred. Historian Schmidt told the Swiss newspaper that he thought it was a mixture of a sense of superiority and a deep-seated inferiority complex.

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