@McFaul: “This is important. Russia has a serious, sophisticated disinformation strategy. We ignore it at our peril. “

Ambassador Mike McFaul file photo

[Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, @McFaul at twitter.com/mcfaul, tweets about #Russia and disinformation: embedded tweet should load below; tweet also is available at twitter.com/McFaul/status/843706148733693953] This is important. Russia has a serious, sophisticated disinformation strategy. We ignore it at our peril. https://t.co/eq15A6f6HG — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) March 20, 2017

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NEWSLINK: “Manafort had plan to benefit Putin government” – AP Exclusive/JEFF HORWITZ, CHAD DAY

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of … Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for […]

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NEWSLINK: “WEAPONIZING COMEDY” – Irrussianality/Paul Robinson

Satellite Dishes

“… The basic conclusion of the report is that in Russia, ‘the entire “official humour industry” … is directly Kremlin-controlled’. Working for the Kremlin, Russian comedians use humour to reduce their compatriots’ stress and make them feel more comfortable and thus more accepting of the political system. They provide audiences with a positive sense of social identity, which is contrasted […]

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NEWSLINK: “Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion” – The Intercept/Glenn Greenwald

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

“… The principal problem for Democrats is that so many media figures and online charlatans are personally benefiting from feeding the base increasingly unhinged, fact-free conspiracies … there are now millions of partisan soldiers absolutely convinced of a Trump/Russia conspiracy for which, at least as of now, there is no evidence. And they are all waiting for the day, which they […]

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Almost Half of Russians Say They Can’t Distinguish Truth from Lies in Moscow Media

Satellite Dishes

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 15, 2017) Almost half of Russians – 46 percent – say that they often cannot distinguish “false information from truth” in media reports, while a similar percentage – 46 percent say that they can, numbers that are relatively constant across groups of different ages and social classes, according to Aleksey Levinson […]

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Shevtsova on 15 Paradoxes of Putin’s Russia

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 11, 2107) Liliya Shevtsova, a Moscow-based analyst for the Brookings Institution, has once again provided a useful guide to some of the terminology that #Russians and analysts of #Russia often use without reflecting on the paradoxical quality of much of it and the ways in which that quality undermines their utility. […]

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Navalny: Political Change in Russia Is Only Solution to Corruption

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Voice of America – voanews.com – Danila Galperovich – March 10, 2017) MOSCOW – Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny recently caused a stir on the internet with a documentary-style video about the lifestyle of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that has already been viewed millions of times. According to the 50-minute film, Medvedev owns palatial mansions, yachts […]

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NEWSLINK: “U.S. Officials Won’t Say if a New Anti–Russia Propaganda Project Is Targeting Americans The newly created Global Engagement Center’s “focus and intent” is foreign audiences, but officials won’t rule out propagandizing Americans and funding American journalists.” – The Nation/Adam H. Johnson

Satellite Dishes

“On the day before Christmas Eve last year, President Obama signed the annual National Defense Authorization Act that included, in part, a $160 million revamping of the “Global Engagement Center” to combat what officials claimed was a uptick in Russian propaganda. Originally created in March of last year for anti-ISIL messaging, the Global Engagement Center distributes ‘counter’ propaganda, social media messaging and original journalistic […]

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NEWSLINK: “Fareed Zakaria on the most powerful man in the world” – CNN

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

“… Zakaria’s documentary on … Putin, ‘The Most Powerful Man in the World,’ [airs] … Monday at 9 p.m. ET. … CNN Politics sat down to talk with Zakaria about that enmity and other aspects of Putin’s worldview. An edited version of the conversation follows. …”

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The Russian Billionaires on Bloomberg’s Rich List; Only a select few of Russia’s oligarchs make it to the top of the world’s rich lists.

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Katie Davies – March 6, 2017) Russia is home to droves of millionaires, business owners and oligarchs: but only a select few make it to the top of the world’s rich lists. Just eight Russian businessmen have made it into the top 100 of Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Together, they boast an estimated net worth of […]

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NEWSLINK: “THE DIRTY SECRET BEHIND THE JEFF SESSIONS MESS; It may not be as sinister as it seems” – Vanity Fair/T.A. FRANK

American Flag and Partial View of U.S. Capitol Dome, adapted from image at aoc.gov

“… With most Russia-related stories these days, especially ones in The New York Times and The Washington Post, the best initial reaction is heavy skepticism. That way you aren’t surprised when embarrassing editorial disclaimers appear above stories that Russia hacked a Vermont utility or spread ‘fake news’ via dozens of U.S. websites from Drudge to Truthdig … “

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NEWSLINK: “The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation” – Michael Tracy/Medium

Satellite Dishes

“The basic formula for every breaking Trump/Russia story is essentially as follows: 1. The New York Times or Washington Post releases an article that at first blush appears extremely damning. 2. Anti-Trump pundits and Democrats react reflexively to the news, express shrieking outrage, and proclaim that this finally proves untoward collusion between Trump and Russia-a smoking gun, at last. 3. […]

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NEWSLINK: “How the News is Reported in Russia” – The School of Russian and Eurasian Studies/Andrei Nesterov

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

“According to a 2016 poll by the independent Levada Center, 80% of Russians view television as their primary source of news. The same Levada poll, however, shows that only 41% trust the news as an objective source of information. The broadcasts sampled here are from Russia’s most-watched channels: First Channel and Russia Channel. …”

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NEWSLINK: “Red Scare” [re: New Yorker story] – Economic Principles/David Warsh

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… a 13,000-word article in The New Yorker…. exemplified all the preconceptions typical of what I have come to think of as reporters of the Generation of ’91. Nothing in the article – Active Measures: What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election – and what lies ahead? – was quite as punchy as the art that accompanied it. […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Will Russia rejoice if the EU falls apart? Unlikely”

EU Map

“The European Union’s persistent instability during the last two years has been exacerbated by the big unknown by the name of Trump. Today, there are five official scenarios for the EU’s future. With the EU reform effort in serious doubt, does Moscow have an opportunity, or challenge?”

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Moscow Court Overturns Fine for Independent Russian News Outlet RBC

Igor Sechin file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 1, 2017) A Moscow court has overturned the decision to fine independent Russian news outlet RBC for libelling oligarch and Putin ally Igor Sechin. An RBC report published in April 2016 claimed that Sechin, the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to block the company’s minority stakeholder from […]

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The Kremlin Reportedly Commissioned a Report on Russian State TV, and the Results Were Oof

Kremlin and River

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Kevin Rothrock – February 28, 2017) The Putin administration commissioned an independent expert analysis of Russian network television, according to the news site Znak.com. The study was reportedly prepared in particular for Sergei Kiriyenko, the president’s first deputy chief of staff. Znak.com says a private company was hired to “make sense of the reality depicted […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Trump Attacks FBI on Leakers of Russia Reports: ‘FIND NOW'” – Reuters

FBI Headquarters File Photo

… Trump criticized the FBI … for failing to stop leaks of national security information to the media and directed the agency to find those who pass on classified information. … amid media reports that the FBI has refused a White House request that it refutes recent stories …. The Federal Bureau of Investigation … did not answer a request […]

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NEWSLINK: “Why We Must Oppose the Kremlin-Baiting Against Trump; The Russia-connected allegations have created an atmosphere of hysteria amounting to McCarthyism” – The Nation/Stephen F. Cohen

Satellite Dishes

“The bipartisan, nearly full-political-spectrum tsunami of factually unverified allegations that President Trump has been seditiously ‘compromised’ by the Kremlin, with scarcely any nonpartisan pushback from influential political or media sources, is deeply alarming. Begun by the Clinton campaign in mid-2016, and exemplified now by New York Times columnists (who write of a ‘Trump-Putin regime’ in Washington), strident MSNBC hosts, and […]

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President Trump’s Boris Yeltsin Moment

Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – February 15, 2017) Leonid Bershidsky is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru. President Donald Trump is irritated about the media furor surrounding the departure of his national security adviser. “The real scandal here is that classified information is […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Two explosive reports on Trump and Russia. Zero on-the-record sources.” – Washington Post/Callum Borchers

Satellite Dishes

“… Which is it? Is the media making up fake nonsense? Or is the intelligence community leaking real information? …. anonymity invariably promotes skepticism about sources’ motives. The Times wrote that ‘all of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.’ That makes sense; it also makes sense to wonder whether […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A way to get real news to Russia; A U.S. attempt to counter disinformation takes shape in Current Time” – Washington Post

Satellite Dishes

… Current Time television, a product of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America, is a 24/7 Russian-language television network based in Prague … aimed at audiences inside Russia as well as the borderlands of the former Soviet Union. … intended to provide ‘fair and accurate reporting, serving as a reality check on disinformation that is driving conflict […]

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Does Putin have a Trump Problem with the Media? Russians Say It is Failing to Report or Understand His Words

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium Gesturing

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 9, 2017) Since emerging on the public scene, Donald Trump has lashed out at what he calls “the lying media” for failing to report what he says and choosing instead to distort his message, a pattern that he says explains his preference for trying to reach the American people directly via […]

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NEWSWATCH: “LIFE UNDER ALTERNATIVE FACTS” – The New Yorker/Mikhail Iossel

There was no real cognitive dissonance existing in the minds of most people in the Soviet Union of the nineteen-seventies and eighties. Everyone knew that everything said on the radio or on television, everything (with the exception of weather reports or sports results) was a blatant lie, spoken pro forma …. no one was duped into thinking this was actually […]

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Russians Less Convinced by Political Talk Shows than Audience Figures Suggest, Journalists Say

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, February 2, 2017) Significant percentages of Russians watch political talk shows which now make up as much as 90 minutes of prime time every night, but that fact does not mean that they are entirely pleased by the structure and content of these shows or are greatly influenced in ways that help […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russia investment and political stories go their separate ways” – bne/Intellinews/Ben Aris

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

“There are two Russias at the moment. The first is the evil “Putin’s Russia” that kills journalists, bombs civilians and invades other countries. Then there is “bull Russia”, where investors have been making fat profits ….”

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Free issues of Slavic Review in Washington

U.S. Capitol at Twilight With Washington Monument, National Mall, Washington, D.C., Environs and Sunset in Background

Subject: Free issues of Slavic Review in Washington Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:17:47 -0500 From: Yale Richmond <yale.richmond@verizon.net> Would you like to have 34 hard print issues of the Slavic Review (Vol. 67. #3 to Vol. 75, #4)). I no longer have use for them, and rather than trash them, I am looking for someone who might find them […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Inside the belly of Russia’s ‘propaganda machine’: A visit to RT news channel; US security services have fingered the channel as a key player in the Kremlin’s efforts to sway Western politics. But inside its offices, RT seems a far cry from what the US says it is – and what it aspires to be.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Satellite Dishes

… The network appears to have changed focus about five years ago to become more about promoting the Russian point of view on international affairs, and much less about covering Russia per se. It also became a platform for coverage of social problems in Western societies, government malfeasance, corporate non-accountability, and the dysfunctions of democracy that often contrasts in tone, […]

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NEWSLINK: “Lessons From Russia: Verify Everything, Don’t Publish Rumors” – New York Times/Masha Gessen

Satellite Dishes

“… I was the editor of a monthly magazine and wanted the journalist to expand his report for my publication. ‘I made it up,’ he said breezily when I called him. That could mean several things. He could indeed have made the story up. Alternatively, he could have been lying when he said he had made it up. Maybe he […]

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Golden Skepticism; Wild allegations in unverified Trump dossier fail to impress Kremlin critics and supporters alike

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – January 12, 2017) In the past 24 hours, on both sides of the Atlantic, the Internet has exploded in incredulity, responding to an unverified dossier published by BuzzFeed News, describing U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s alleged relationship with the Kremlin. The 35-page report features several salacious and uncorroborated claims about Trump’s ties to […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian Media Chief Dismisses U.S. Report on Propaganda Efforts” – Wall Street Journal

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

Head of RT news channel calls American intelligence assessment on election interference ‘comedy hit of the year’

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Ellen Mickiewicz: “RT”

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

Subject: RT Date: Sun, 8 Jan 2017 19:59:35 -0500 From: Ellen Mickiewicz <ellen.mickiewicz@gmail.com> Ellen Mickiewicz, James R. Shepley Emeritus Professor of Public Policy and Political Science Duke University The Report from the U.S. Intelligence Community is notable for its factual mistakes and misleading conclusions. Whether misleading is deliberate or simply lack of information they could have accessed is not known. […]

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Kremlin Propaganda Effort Ever Less Effective on Russians, Surveys Show

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 8, 2016) The messages Kremlin propaganda is disseminating and the actual beliefs of Russians are increasingly diverging, except on the “sacred” issue of approval for Vladimir Putin, surveys show, an indication that his regime’s media efforts are ever less successful in shaping public attitudes, according to Igor Yakovenko. The Russian commentator […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation” – Washington Post

File Photo of Vermont Mountains and Forest, Adapted From Image at usda.gov

As federal officials investigate suspicious Internet activity found last week on a Vermont utility computer, they are finding evidence that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target … the utility …. An employee at Burlington Electric Department was checking his Yahoo email account … and triggered an alert indicating … his computer had connected to […]

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NEWSLINK Financial Times: “Russia’s spat with the U.S. is not a return to the cold war. In that era, truth and facts still meant something, writes Peter Pomerantsev.”

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

“Russia and the US are at it again, involved in a dance of psychological games and information tricks. Hacking and fake news are the weapons of choice today. These are partly the products of technological change, but ideology and history play a role, too: the so-called post-truth age is shaped by decades of relations between the US and Russia. Today’s […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes/Kalev Leetaru: “‘Fake News’ And How The Washington Post Rewrote Its Story On Russian Hacking Of The Power Grid”

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

On Friday the Washington Post sparked a wave of fear when it ran the breathless headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The lead sentence offered “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according […]

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Sharing The Foreign Service Journal’s Focus on the new #Russia at 25

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

Subject: Sharing The Foreign Service Journal’s Focus on the new #Russia at 25 Date: Mon, 12 Dec 2016 From: Shawn Dorman <dorman@afsa.org> This is Shawn Dorman, editor of The Foreign Service Journal, the foreign affairs and diplomacy magazine published by the American Foreign Service Association 10 times a year. One of our authors this month, retired FSO Louie Sell, suggested […]

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In Russia, the Refrigerator is Finally Defeating the TV but Not Having the Political Impact Many Expected

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, December 12, 2016) For months, Moscow commentators have suggested that Russians are caught between what the Kremlin shows them on television and what they see in their increasingly empty refrigerators and predicted that eventually the refrigerator would defeat the TV and that this would have immediate political consequences. The findings of two […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia Updates Plan to Counter Cyberattacks and Foreign Influence” – New York Times

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

The Kremlin published a new plan … against what it described as stepped-up cyberattacks and ‘information-psychological’ methods by foreign intelligence agencies …. updat[ing] a similar information security doctrine put in place by … Putin in 2000. … American officials have mulled retaliating against Russia for … hacking before the presidential election …. The 16-page document sketches out … threats … […]

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NEWSLINK The New Yorker: “THE PROPAGANDA ABOUT RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA”

Satellite Dishes

“In late October, I received an e-mail from ‘The PropOrNot Team,’ which described itself as a ‘newly-formed independent team of computer scientists, statisticians, national security professionals, journalists and political activists, dedicated to identifying propaganda— particularly Russian propaganda targeting a U.S. audience.’ PropOrNot said that it had identified two hundred Web sites that ‘qualify as Russian propaganda outlets.’ The sites’ reach […]

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Russia Weaponized Social Media in U.S. Election, FireEye Says

File Image of Laptop Computer, Tables and Mobile Device, adapted from image at energy.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Chris Strohm – December 1, 2016) Russia’s government didn’t just hack and leak documents from U.S. political groups during the presidential campaign: It used social media as a weapon to influence perceptions about the election, according to cybersecurity company FireEye Inc. Material stolen by Russia’s intelligence services was feverishly promoted by online personas and numerous fake […]

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How Russian Propaganda Really Works in the West

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – November 28, 2016) Until recently, the phenomenon of Russian government propaganda was only interesting to a small group of Russia experts, news junkies and counter-propaganda fundraisers. It was mainly seen as a tool for keeping Russians supportive of Vladimir Putin. No longer. Thanks to post-U.S. election blame games, and the upcoming election season […]

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Streaming Wars: The Real Fight Behind Russia’s False YouTube ‘Ban’

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 30, 2016) Internet video giant YouTube will not be forced out of Russia under a new bill regulating online streaming services, the Russian government has confirmed. “We can officially say that all talk of YouTube facing legal restrictions is simply not true,” Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin told the Rambler News Service on Wednesday. […]

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Ukraine blacklists over 500 films and TV series

File Photo of Reel of Film

KYIV. Nov 30 (Interfax) – The National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine has published a list of films and television series which have been banned by the Ukrainian State Film Agency from screening in 2014-2016. The list, which includes 544 audiovisual works, was published on the Council’s website on Wednesday. “In 2014-2016 the State Film Agency denied […]

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NEWSLINK The Nation/Stephen Cohen: “False Narratives, Not ‘Fake News,’ Are the Real Cold War Problem. Any détente initiatives by President-elect Trump must break with spurious U.S. accounts of the new Cold War.”

Artist's Rendition of U.S. Embassy, Moscow, with the Russian Foreign Ministry in the Background

“Nation Contributing Editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments are at TheNation.com.) ….”

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Kremlin Media Doesn’t have Long-Term or Profound Impact on Young, Surveys Show

Adapted File Photo of TV Set in Russia with Camera, Camerman, Woman on Set in Background

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, November 28, 2016) Surveys of university-age Russians over the last decade show that these young people quickly accept the regime’s list of enemies but almost as quickly shift when the regime’s outlets do and that these shifts have little impact on the way in which young Russians view their country’s place in […]

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In Russia’s media, censorship is silent; A new survey of 100 Russian journalists reveals their perceptions of professional challenges, objectivity and freedom.

Satellite Dishes

(opendemocracy.net – Nataliya Rostova – November 23, 2016) Nataliya Rostova is a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute and author of the GorbyMedia project. The idea of conducting a survey of Russian journalists came to me after seeing something similar in New York magazine, which earlier this year polled 113 people working in the US media on the problems and […]

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Putin Weaponizes Democracy

Europe Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – November 14, 2016) [RFE/RL budget: $108.414 million (FY2016)] Don’t look now but Russia just picked up two more allies in Europe. Don’t look now, but pro-Moscow candidates just won the presidencies of Moldova and Bulgaria. Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin appears to be on a roll. The Kremlin leader is no democrat. […]

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Russian Supreme Court Wants Fewer Extremism Prosecutions

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Kornya – November 10, 2016) The Russian authorities have stepped up their fight against extremism, convicting approximately three times as many people on such charges in recent years. The greatest increase concerns convictions on Article 282 of the Criminal Code – “incitement of hatred or enmity” – with that number rising from 149 in […]

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Top Kremlin Official Threatens Russia’s So-Called ‘Chief Propagandist’

Sergei Kirienko file photo, adapted from State Department photo at voa.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 2, 2016) Sergey Kirienko, the new first deputy head of Russia’s Presidential Administration, met with political analysts on Tuesday, stating that the Kremlin will not welcome radical political rhetoric in the national news media, according to the Dozhd television station. Kirienko reportedly spent most of the meeting listening to the eight experts in attendance, […]

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