Why Putin Isn’t Laughing at Russia’s Foul-Mouthed YouTube Craze

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Jake Rudnitsky, Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer – June 19, 2017) Nikolai Sobolev’s acute sense of what’s on the minds of his young audience has made his expletive-laced video blog one of Russia’s hottest. But after a steady diet of topics like teen angst, the 23-year-old found an unexpected new issue was taking off this spring: opposition […]

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Talking Heads: How Russia’s Videobloggers are Shaping Public Opinion; As Russians turn from their televisions in favour of YouTube, the Kremlin is struggling to find a primetime slot.

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ola Cichowlas – June 2, 2017) When Sasha Spilberg addressed the Duma on May 22, few Russians under the age of 25 even knew who she was. “My name is Sasha Spilberg and I have over 10 million followers on social media,” the 19-year-old told the Russian parliament as part of a debate on youth […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Vows to Fight On; As legal obstacles to opposition figure’s presidential run multiply, he says in interview ‘Kremlin will have no choice’ than to let his campaign proceed” – Wall Street Journal/ Nathan Hodge

Alexei Navalny file photo

“… Navalny has mobilized thousands of demonstrators across [Russia] to protest corruption under … Putin. Now he says he is pressing ahead with a quixotic effort to run against his country’s powerful leader in elections next year. … despite … serious legal obstacles …. he was found guilty of embezzlement by a court in Kirov … a verdict he said was politically motivated to […]

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NEWSLINK: “‘Do you know what memes are?’ Billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s lawsuit against opposition leader Alexey Navalny goes to trial” – Meduza

Alisher Usmanov file photo

“On Tuesday, May 30, a Moscow court convened to consider the merits of a defamation lawsuit brought by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov against opposition politician Alexey Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Usmanov is demanding that Navalny retract multiple accusations he made in a recent investigation into corruption allegedly involving Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, as well as allegations Navalny has […]

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NEWSLINK: “Russian Social Media Seen as Threat to Ukraine and to Cybersecurity. Kiev has shut down Russian Facebook-like platforms VKontakte and Odnoklassniki” – Wall Street Journal

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

“Ukraine has taken a drastic step in a continuing cyberwar with Russia, its powerful, nuclear-armed neighbor: shutting down Russia’s homegrown versions of Facebook. The Ukrainian government earlier this month blocked Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, Russian-language social media platforms that are hugely popular across the former Soviet Union, saying they were serving as vehicles for pro-Russian propaganda. …”

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Putin Is Taking Lessons From Trump on How to Win at the Polls

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stepan Kravchenko, Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov – May 10, 2017) [Text with charts bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-10/now-it-s-trump-s-turn-to-show-putin-how-to-win-bigly-at-polls] The Kremlin thinks it knows the secret to Donald Trump’s election victory — and it’s not the kind of hacking you might think. The man Putin hired to deliver the crushing re-election win he’s seeking next March, Sergei Kiriyenko, wants to emulate […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Hardliners urge Kremlin crackdown on social media; Russia has introduced increasingly draconian web laws but some are pushing for more” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon

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

“… success in using social media to mobilise youthful anti-corruption protesters has sparked calls for the Kremlin to step up internet censorship. … [A]t a censorship conference … Oscar-winning film director Nikita Mikhalkov … showed a documentary that accused … Navalny of luring children to violent protests against … Putin. ‘… [Young people] don’t know any history and they won’t until they get a rubber […]

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

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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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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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NEWSWATCH: Michael McFaul and Barack Obama share insights about Russia

Putin and Obama with U.S. and Russian Flags

Michael McFaul on Twitter, Sept. 9, 2016: [tweet will appear below, yet might take some extra time to load for some users] If Obama seized control of Fox, allowed only supporters in Congress, closed the NRA & arrested Trump, he too might have 80% approval rating — Michael McFaul (@McFaul) September 9, 2016 Barack Obama, Speech in Philadelphia, Sept. 13, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “A Powerful Russian Weapon: The Spread of False Stories” – New York Times

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The New York Times addresses concerns about Russian disinformation campaigns, including Russia’s reputed involvement with a rash of misleading material on social media disrupting NATO-related debate in Sweden. With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on […]

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NEWSWATCH: “In the ‘lungs of Moscow’ forest, Russia’s civil activists make their mark; Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the ‘lungs’ of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

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

A diverse band of urban activists, communicating largely through social media, are combating plans to build an enormous high-rise housing development amid the forested ring around the capital  …. The protesters who make up the Mortongrad Nyet! coalition have no shared ideology, and certainly aren’t interested in criticizing the Kremlin. Yet they are redefining the limits of Russian civil society […]

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Jailed for a repost: The definition of extremism in Russia gets ever looser

Kremlin and River

Russia has seen a dramatic rise in criminal prosecutions on charges of internet extremism over the last few months. Yet most of these cases concern not the creation of extremist content but retweeting, liking or reposting it. RBTH found out more. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – June 7, 2016) On Feb. 20, Yekaterina Vologzhenova, […]

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Boycott Russia Today: “BRT reading list of critical online articles about RT, 2010-2016”

Satellite Dishes

The facebook page “Boycott Russia Today” has compiled an updated BRT reading list of critical online articles about RT, 2010-2016 at https://www.facebook.com/notes/boycott-russia-today/brt-reading-list-of-critical-online-articles-about-rt-2010-2016-updated-4-june-2/815909395145453 [featured image is file photo]

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Ukrainian blogger gets long sentence for expressing contentious views

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Human Rights in Ukraine – khpg.org – Halya Coynash – May 13, 2016) Ruslan Kotsaba, a controversial Ivano-Frankivsk journalist and blogger, has been sentenced to three and a half years’ imprisonment. The Ivano-Frankivsk City Court found the journalist, who has been in detention for 14 months guilty of obstructing the legitimate activities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over a video […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The danger of Russian disinformation” – Washington Post/Anne Applebaum, Edward Lucas

…authoritarian regimes, led by Russia but closely followed by China, have begun investing heavily in the production of alternatives. Because national media is often weak, it has become far easier for channels such as RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik (a Russian “news” agency) to establish credibility in smaller European markets. … even in larger countries, the Russian use of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Baltic Elves Taking on Pro-Russian Trolls; What at first looked like as a social media grudge match could be a precursor to invasion, war, and resistance in the Baltics” – TheDailyBeast.com

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

Mindaugas is an unassuming, thirtysomething advertising agency director by day … ferocious cyber-warrior by night. He started a phenomenon … in Lithuania … countering Kremlin propaganda and disinformation …. ‘We needed to call our group something. … we were fighting trolls. … I said, “Let’s be elves.”‘ There were 20 or 30 at first, when the trolls began … leaving […]

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Like, Share, Convict: Russian Authorities Target Social Media Users

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – March 10, 2016) [Chart here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/like-share-convict-russian-authorities-target-social-media-users/562015.html] It was a throwaway comment, forgotten almost the minute it was written. Then again, Viktor Krasnov could hardly have predicted the trouble those three words -“God doesn’t exist” – would cause. He couldn’t have imagined that two VKontakte users would file a formal complaint to the […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russian blogger stands trial on charges of insulting believers’ religious feelings”

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Why did Kadyrov publish ‘revelatory’ report about himself?

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov has chosen to make public himself a report that accuses him of creating a quasi-Islamic state within Russia and not obeying Russian laws. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – February 26, 2016) The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has chosen to publish a report called “A National Security Threat” […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russia’s ex-PM asks FSB to launch criminal proceedings against Chechen leader”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo » Read more

Russians do not want authorities to have access to non-public personal data

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(Interfax – January 31, 2016) Most respondents surveyed by the Public Opinion Foundation (58%) believe the state should not have access to non-public personal data and people’s correspondence on social networking sites and via email, while 24% believe it violates human rights and 22% believe it constitutes privacy invasion and is not ethical. The poll, which surveys 1,000 respondents who […]

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Russia without whom?

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As the Soviet Union collapsed, a generation had just been born. The online journal Russia without us catalogues their struggle to find a place in today’s Russia. Interview. (opendemocracy.net – Andrey Urodov, Maxim Edwards – January 21, 2016) Andrey Urodov is a freelance journalist covering сultural and social issues in Russia. He runs the non-profit Russia without us magazine. Maxim […]

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10 facts about the Russian Internet

File Photo of Little Girl at Computer Next to Globe

Desktops are beginning to become a thing of the past: In the past year the number of Russian users going on-line from mobile devices has increased by 90 percent. RBTH has sifted some more curious facts about the Internet. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – January 11, 2016) 1. 11.8 million Russian users (14%) go […]

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Peskov: No restrictions for [quick data] messengers planned

Dmitry Peskov file photo adapted from image at kremlin.ru/wikimedia commons

(Interfax – December 9, 2015) The Kremlin said that no restrictions for the quick data transmission systems, the so-called messengers, are planned to introduce. “I am aware that the issue is really being worked on, but not in the aspect of restrictions. As far as I am concerned, there are no restrictions there, but the issue is being worked on, […]

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Inoculated Against Russian Propaganda

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – December 4, 2015) Immediately following the harrowing terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, Russian pro-Kremlin media adjusted their rhetoric, abandoning their previous anti-Western and anti-U.S. vitriol even before the Kremlin spoke of a broad military alliance. “A listener called Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station … and said that Americans are not our […]

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Russians Turn to Bartering in Economic Recession

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – December 2, 2015) An economic recession and soaring grocery prices have prompted Russians to go online to trade household items for food, with scores of websites facilitating a barter system cropping up around the country. Russia’s main social network, VKontakte, has an array of online groups, targeting various cities, where local inhabitants […]

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Confession of a Russian internet provider: A firsthand account of how the internet is monitored, regulated and blocked in the Russian Federation

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(opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Okrest – November 5, 2015) Dmitry Okrest is a former staff writer with The New Times and currently works as an independent journalist. The internet is no longer free in Russia-that’s according to Freedom Net, a report recently published by Freedom House. Freedom of expression on the internet has been under threat for some time in the […]

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RBTH: Instant messaging apps: Social resource or security threat?

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

Is tighter government regulation of instant messaging apps using encryption really needed? Where is the line between user friendliness and national security threat? Internet expert Anton Merkurov reflects upon the matters for RBTH. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Anton Merkurov is an internet expert and representative of Open Garden, the developer behind FireChat – October 15, 2015) While […]

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[Nataliya Vasilyeva (AP Moscow correspondent) tweets re: reports on Russian casualties in Ukraine]

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

[DJ: Nataliya Vasilyeva (AP Moscow correspondent) tweets: 2 day of Western officials retweeting a Forbes report quoting a Ukrainian web-site quoting a non-existent Russia news web-site re Ukraine. The main problem here is, of course, where was the Forbes online editor when the story was published, why nobody bothered to check sources? The ease of spreading rumors in the digital […]

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Moscow Times/VTsIOM/Penn: Six in Ten Russians Would Support Internet Censorship During a Crisis

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – August 4, 2015) Nearly six in 10 Russians would support the government if it decided to pull the plug on Internet access inside the country in a crisis situation, a recent poll indicates. Support for online censorship or cutting off Internet access altogether was the highest among Russians who never or rarely […]

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Interfax: Nearly half of Russians have social network accounts – poll

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code

(Interfax – Moscow, June 30, 2015) Almost half of Russians have a social network account. As many as 23 per cent use it on a regular basis, 25 per cent use it from time to time and 7 per cent said they have it but do not use it, Levada Centre [pollster] has told Interfax. According to a poll carried […]

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Russian ‘Troll Farm’ Lawsuit Postponed When Defendant Fails to Show

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – June 2, 2015) Russian court hearings into a lawsuit by a former Internet “troll” against her former employer have been postponed after the defendant failed to show up for the proceedings. A city court in St. Petersburg also ruled that the plaintiff, Lyudmila Savchuk – who said her suit was intended to […]

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U.S. Social Networks, Blogs Allowed Back Into Crimea

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 25, 2015) The United States on Friday announced that U.S. companies can still give users in Crimea access to a range of free online communications services, despite an earlier U.S. ban on providing any services to the region after it was annexed by Russia last year. The decision will allow U.S. Internet companies such […]

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Russia’s Biggest Social Network VK Beats Television in Battle for Viewers

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – May 8, 2015) Russia’s leading social network VK has beaten the country’s biggest television channel in the battle for viewers’ attention, data from media research firm TNS Russia showed. VK, previously known as VKontakte, had 13.2 million daily users in March this year, while state-owned giant Channel One had an audience of […]

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NEWSLINK AFP: Trolling for Putin: Russia’s information war explained.

Kremlin and River

Lyudmila Savchuk says it was money that wooed her into the ranks of the Kremlin’s online army, where she bombarded website comment pages with eulogies of President Vladimir Putin, while mocking his adversaries. “Putin is great,” “Ukrainians are Fascists,” “Europe is decadent”: Savchuk, 34, listed the main messages she was told to put out on Internet forums after responding to […]

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VIDEO NEWSWATCH Legatum Insitute: The Menace of Unreality: Combating Russian Disinformation in the 21st Century.

Satellite Dishes

The Legatum Institute, on Oct. 14, 2014, hosted a panel discussion on “The Menace of Unreality: Combatting Russian Disinformation in the 21st Century.”  The event featured Anne Applebaum, Director of the Legatum Institute’s Transitions Forum, Geoffrey Pyatt, US Ambassador to Ukraine, Oleksander Scherba, Ambassador at Large at the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Michael Weiss, Editor-in-Chief of The Interpreter, Peter Pomerantsev, journalist […]

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The Trolls Who Came In From The Cold

Satellite Dishes

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Viktor Rezunkov – ST. PETERSBURG, March 16, 2015) Last May, Tatiana N decided she wanted a higher salary than the average journalist can expect. After responding to an advertisement in the popular HeadHunter job-search website, she became a Kremlin-paid Internet troll. Tatiana — who, like others interviewed for this story, asked that her last name not […]

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Sanctions-Strapped Russia Outguns the U.S. in Information War; Moscow drowns out Voice of America, and facts are a casualty

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

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Nicole Gaouette – April 2, 2015) The troubled U.S. agency responsible for delivering news around the world is being outgunned in Eastern Europe by Russian outlets unrestrained by notions of fact-based journalism. The unequal competition raises fears among U.S. officials that Moscow is winning the information war about events in Ukraine, even as the Russian economy […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: A Russian TV Insider Describes a Modern Propaganda Machine

Satellite Dishes

“It was shocking,” said Mr. Pomerantsev, speaking over coffee in London last month. “They really saw television and news as a movie, and talked about it as a movie.”

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Russia’s Ideology: There Is No Truth

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

IMAGINE if you grew up lying. Not a little bit, for convenience, but during every public moment of your life: at school, at work, at social events. You had to lie to survive, because the punishment for telling the truth was the loss of your academic or professional career, or even prison. For Russians who came of age before 1991, […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Sunday Book Review: ‘Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible,’ by Peter Pomerantsev

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

The name “Vladimir Putin” is almost impossible to find in “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia.” He usually appears only as “the President,” lording over and lurking behind the tales of tragedy and absurdity in Peter Pomerantsev’s captivating new book about modern Russia and its discontents.   http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/books/review/nothing-is-true-and-everything-is-possible-by-peter-pomerantsev.html?_r=0

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NEWSLINK Newseum Event: Journalism/Works: Putin: Power, Persuasion and Propaganda

Newseum and Environs Aerial View

Anti-American sentiment and a nationalist fervor in Russia are rated higher today than at Cold War peaks – and at the heart of those twin developments is a master of propaganda, media control and mass audience appeal: Russian president Vladimir Putin. This year is the 30th anniversary of the launch of perestroika and glasnost under Mikhail Gorbachev – and the […]

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NEWSLINK Epoch Times: Russia’s Weapon of Choice: Information Warfare

Tower and Building Inside Kremlin

With its annexation of Crimea, aggression in the eastern Ukraine, and military and economic threats to NATO nations, the Kremlin has resumed a new kind of Cold War. Regardless of what Vladimir Putin may say, his motives are not benign. The West has reacted with surprise, confusion, paralysis, and mostly inaction.   Epoch Times: Russia’s Weapon of Choice: Information Warfare. […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Post: Book Review: ‘Nothing is True and Everything is Possible,’ by Peter Pomerantsev

Kremlin and River

In Russia — a country that constitutes one-seventh of the world’s landmass, spans eight time zones and has a population of 143 million — television unites the nation. It is “the only force that can unify and rule and bind this country,” writes Russian-born British journalist Peter Pomerantsev. “It’s the central mechanism of a new type of authoritarianism, one far […]

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NEWSLINK BBC: Russia’s global media operation under the spotlight.

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

The Kremlin’s international media operation appears to be going from strength to strength with two recent high-profile launches and more in the pipeline. But it is also coming under increased scrutiny over its lack of editorial balance and accusations that it is deliberately using disinformation to counter and divide the West. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30040363

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NEWSLINK Institute for War & Peace Reporting: How Russia Fights its Information War

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

The Kremlin is committing huge resources to extending its influence through spin rather than soldiers. As the Ukraine crisis continues, IWPR editor Daniella Peled talks to writer and regional expert Peter Pomeranzev about how Russia is using the media as an extension of its military power. Russia is devoting great resources to the information war – how effective is this […]

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