Happy Halloween everyone!
Even if this holiday is not widely celebrated where you live, who doesn't appreciate the fun of trick-or-treating or the ancient Celtic traditions behind All Hallows Eve?
But for pro-Kremlin messengers, Halloween is yet another apparition of an invasive Western culture that is hell-bent on corrupting traditional Christian values. This week, a Russian MP suggested that those who celebrate Halloween today will play with rubber women (ahem…sex dolls) tomorrow. Read the full story here.
The suggestion is as ridiculous as it is sinister. It plays into the larger pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative targeting mainly Eastern European audiences that any step towards the West will lead down a path of moral degradation and loss of national identity. Thus, the Georgians were told this week that in order to join NATO, they will have to legalize gay relationships; warned that George Soros together with pro-Western politicians will destroy Georgian values, culture and nationality; and reminded that Georgian language and culture were dearly protected under the USSR. None of these statements have any basis in reality.
As the saying goes, the devil's greatest trick was to convince the world it did not exist. Apparently learning from the best, the pro-Kremlin media are trying to pull a trick and convince their audiences that the truth cannot be known.
They do this in various ways, for example by spinning elaborate conspiracy theories to sow doubt and confusion: this week, the pro-Kremlin media claimed that instead of killing the leader of Daesh, the US may have actually evacuated him. Other times, they disseminate contradictory messages about the same subject. For example, Lithuania is both under external control and a totalitarian state! (May we also remind you of the 150+ different disinformation narratives about the Skripal poisoning?). And most insidiously, the pro-Kremlin media relentlessly smear those whose duty it is to investigate and report the facts.
Buzzfeed and Bellingcat – which conducted independent journalistic investigations into the downing of flight MH17 and the Skripal poisoning – were accused of spreading anti-Russian disinformation. The OPCW, whose reports on the chemical weapons attacks in Syria fly in the face of attempts to whitewash Assad's crimes, was blamed for suppressing key evidence in its investigations.
And as a cherry on top, French president Emmanuel Macron was accused of "modern-day racism" for calling out RT and Sputnik as agents of influence and propaganda in the past, while Sputnik Deutsch claimed that Russia has never done anything bad to anyone in the information field. Ofcom, the UK media regulator that recently fined RT for breaching the impartiality rules, would probably disagree.
This week EUvsDisinfo story on how the pro-Kremlin media are desperately seeking recognition for the illegal annexation of Crimea was highlighted by @RussianEmbassyC.