After watching the “War Spin” by BBC, I thought about how Russia uses propaganda. Next year the Russian government will spend $1.4 billion (£866m) on international propaganda – more than on fighting unemployment. Kremlin has a 24-hour English language TV channel, Russia Today (RT), they broadcast to everywhere in the world, In January RT launched a Spanish service aimed at Latin America, a region of growing Kremlin geopolitical interest; RT already broadcasts in Arabic. The Kremlin employs two major PR agencies, Ketchum and GPlus, and in London uses Portland PR. And then there are the angry bloggers – a shadowy army of Russian nationalists who are active on western newspaper websites, including the Guardian. Anyone who dares to criticise Russia’s leaders, or point out some of the country’s deficiencies, are immediately branded a CIA spy or worse.
The Russian government uses all of its recourses to change the perception of the new ‘democratic’ country, after many years of soviet time. However they are doing it in a very aggressive way to show how powerful the country is. Perhaps they are doing their job, as many are afraid of Russia, however this concludes in a vicious circle where they want to achieve a good reputation but want everyone to be afraid of them. Evgeny Morozov from diplomacy department of Georgetown University’s, who is writing a book on how authoritarian regimes are exploiting the internet, said the Kremlin was taking a more “aggressive” approach following last year’s war in Georgia. An armed conflict started in August 2008 between Georgia and South Ossetia. The Russian and western media had very different view on this situation. The same images and footage clips were used when reporting news, however the western world was showing how it was the Russians attacking Georgia where as in Russia we saw how the Russians were protecting Ossetia against the sudden Georgian invasion.
From the Russian media the information was that the Russian peacemakers were attacked in South Ossetia, many died, because they did not have weapons, as they were there to keep peace under control. The western media reported that it was Russians attacking Georgia and how bad the Russian government dealt with the situation. After the five day war, Russia was accused of using propaganda and controlling the media to say that they were defending them selves and many in the western world believed that it was a cover up to get in to Georgia. The media confusion came from that both sides were accusing each other of who started the fire first. In war no one is right, as innocent people are dying despite the fact of who started the fire first.
During the war the western world was on Georgia’s side, Russia was in trouble in terms of convincing its public that they were not the bad guys. There was a strong media control about what was said internationally, as the last thing Russian government wanted was doubt from its public. Some of the news slogans were: "Georgia erases the country from face of the earth, Russia inputs the troops" or "Russia offers an ultimatum for the Georgian troops". People have perception with words and slogans, by using these examples Russia looks like saviors and that they are trying to make peace with Georgia.
Over a year after the European Union commissioned a report in which they report that states that it was Georgia who opened fire first. First after that the western media like the Wall Street Journal, which has published a fair amount of columns by the Georgian President Saakashvili, had a headline that read “Report: Georgia Triggered War With Russia”.
This time Russia turned out to have said the truth, however it is not always the case. The presidential order is not to say anything about the opposition, the financial crisis in Russia, repression of the freedom of speech and murder of journalists. This is how western world see Russian media communication. When a western journalist asked about Putin and Medvedev, a male journalist of the Russian state media replied: ‘they are heroes, strong men, my great examples. Men with great characters.’ To the same question Russian female journalists answer that they are the best-looking men they have ever known and that they would like to marry such men. The presidential order would be a great success for Russia, but unfortunately reality is different. Western media and the general public have already understood whom they are dealing with. This is the 21st century; the truth can no longer be kept secret as easily as in soviet times. However propaganda will be a big part of Russian media communication as the country is enormous and to have the world see the ‘new and improved’ Russia, that is what they believe is the right way, even when the rest of the world disagree with their way of dealing with the situation.