Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ukraine Unspun

Russian Professor Explains Media Manipulation

Valery Solovei says that in order to create a new reality for Kyiv, Ukraine must look absolutely untenable as a functioning state.
Valery Solovei says that in order to create a new reality for Kyiv, Ukraine must look absolutely untenable as a functioning state.
Russian state media has been skewered in the West for its often outlandish coverage of events in Ukraine.

The "misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and occasionally, outright lies," reverberate "hour after hour, day after day, week after week" on Russian TV, according to "The New York Times" on April 15.

But according to a poll, conducted in late March by the state-funded Public Opinion Foundation, some two-thirds of the Russian population trust government-controlled television more than any other medium.

A lecture by a history professor, apparently recorded in mid-April, sheds some light on Moscow's media strategy and why it seems to work.

"Television determines the agenda," says Valery Solovei, in his hourlong talk at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). "The methods that I am talking about create a world view, something that's called a 'reality.' A reality is created for us. If we see this reality the way it is brought to us by television, then we act in accordance with this reality."

WATCH: Outtakes from the lecture by Valery Solovei.
Moscow Professor Explains Russia's Ukraine Media Strategyi
|| 0:00:00
April 16, 2014
Outtakes from an April 2014 lecture by Valery Solovei, a professor of history, at Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
​(Watch the full lecture, in Russian, here )

Solovei says that in order to create a new reality for Kyiv, Ukraine must look absolutely untenable as a functioning state.

"You will recall the news reports in January when the really bloody events took place, the rapidly changing images of flames, burning tires, running people, alarming music," he says, referring to antigovernment protests in the Ukrainian capital. "What do you think it's for? For dramatic effect? No. There is a much bigger meaning behind it."

"Chaos is the key word," Solovei explains. "All of it is done to create a stable association in our minds: Ukraine is chaos. It is an old mythologem -- Chaos as a protoplasm from which the gods will then create the world. And what is Russia then? Russia is Cosmos, it is order, and it is the foundation of peace and stability."

"If you watch Russian TV you will see that Russia has no problems other than the adaptation of Crimea. We have no inflation, no decreasing incomes. We don't have any of the typical big-city problems. Russia has none of that. Everything is alright in Russia. What is it? It is called the manipulation of the agenda."

An RFE/RL journalist recently observed this prevailing blend of western chaos and Russian calm through a day of Russian TV watching.

At one point, a student, who seems to be offended by Solovei's speech, objects from the back of the room: "Have you seen what's happening there? They're completely out of control!"

"I beg your pardon," the professor responds. "But it absolutely does not matter how much the real picture corresponds with the media picture. An overwhelming majority of television viewers have never been and will never travel there. And they make their judgment based on the television picture and not on what happens in reality."

-- Glenn Kates and Pavel Butorin
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Maria Hamsted from: Brasilia/Brazil
April 16, 2014 20:10
I agree with the professor when he says television is what defines the agenda, but he fails when suggests it is only a privilege to Russian broadcasters. Western media is absolutely adept of this rule, as well as most western citizens will never travel beyond the country or region they live. British BBC operates strictly in the same fashion as Rossiya 1 and 24, noy to mention the american channels which fully endorses the government propaganda despite being private corporations
In Response

by: defender of truth from: USA
April 18, 2014 19:45
It's true that television news in the U.S. does reflect some bias and that the major stations have been showing a tendency yo mimic the government line. But they can only go so far because they will be knocked down and mocked if their news reporting smells too much like propaganda. As a consequence they will loose a viewing audience and go out of business. There are so many other sources to which many Americans turn that a vocal group always is able to call attention to gross inaccuracies.

To virtually equate western TV to Russian is really a stretch, an unethical at that. Experts from the entire world have expressed dismay about the extent Russian TV is distorting facts, smearing and demonizing Ukrainians without limits. Please don't play clever in trying to whitewash the disinformation put out by Russian TV. It would be the end of civilization if all world stations took their lead.
In Response

by: Guenter Hastings from: Geneva
April 19, 2014 23:42
I honestly do not agree that western TV broadcasters are less propagandist than Russian ones. It is only a matter of watching some ordinary CNN news, or better if it's from Fox news, and perceive how superficial and dishonest they can be, offering multiple kinds of prejudices about everything abroad and not supplying any type of independent and autonomous stance. That's maybe the cause TV media is losing their audience year after year, apart of being more and more far from the reliability they once had with the public. I frequently watch, for example, the RT channel, and to the date i never saw any lies there, in spite of knowing well they are part of the state conglomerate Ria Novosti.

Even if RT would be totally biased, as you suggest, it is coherent with its editorial line of being somewhat critical to western policies, very different from the CNN's and alike, falsely claiming independency and masters of the monopoly of the truth.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
April 16, 2014 20:31
I stopped watching television over 10 years ago. My computer screen is my window on the world. International news and politics is available from anywhere in the world. My "reality" is a combination of all perspectives.

by: Jack from: US
April 16, 2014 22:42
US tv viewership is dropping like a rock because people realize there are only lies coming out of official channels, and people have a choice to find the truth on the internet or from Russia Today channel
In Response

by: detarte from: philippines
April 18, 2014 13:47
sao from your point of view, US viewership is droppign because of propaganda and they are jumping to Russia today which is also a much more propaganda news channel of the kremlin. WTH?

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
April 17, 2014 00:51
Russian polls do not reflect media manipulation - Russians know all of it through!
They are born with it and trained to go along with lie and manipulation as Russian hokey team to play-out looking
"accidental" May-Ham crowd of hooligans, skillfully driving the washer to the opponent gate even with their "lovkiy" behinds.
The same way Varag born with it too, since they invaded in 9 Century AD, as their partners, tribes of Sam, Gad, Pechenegi and also half-breed children of rape by Varag, Russian serfs.
Russian "historian" is wrong!
Since Peter the Great, nephew of Georgian King, many serfs were liberated, to create at list in part a normal nation, it is where coming honest Russians, joining at times with non-Russian nations and their noble to create better Russia.
However, opinion of Russians vary, depending on state of
their ruling race of Neanderthals, Varaga-Prussaka.
When Russia is weak and pure, there is demand for better Russia - 2/3 of Russians support us and honest Russians.
When Russia is strong and steal a lot of wealth, there is demand for evil Russia - 2/3 of Russians against us - Russia expands, grab lands and houses, cleanse and genocide, while honest Russians beaten, like labors in Kemerovo and protesters, or turned bumps, like veterans of WW2 and elderly, except few for propaganda given a medal in Kremlin, along with butchers given orders of "Mefuda Pervozvannyiy"...
Sure all that TV does do manipulate and influence the viewers,
however, half of each family has internet and other access in Russia - if even they wouldn't, it isn't how Russian mind works,
which is only human.
They make themselves to follow any lie and trick of Russian propaganda as Russian hokey hooligan follow any trick he learn, like "lovko" move his behind with a washer.
Their main motive:
What is hope for better Russia?
The 2/3 bad and 2/3 good is a relative term.
I would say that modern Russia after WW2 was by nature about 2/3 OK.
The evil factor was about 1/3, however it always tend to take over.
Moscow, Petersburg and some other large cities in Russia are controlled by once invading Russia Varag, manipulated by their women and receptionists of Prussian extraction, not unlike they control Los Angeles courts, from court clerks through court security.
That is used for last three centuries to unite artificially Royal Houses or Russia, Britain, Germany and Austria by an illusion of exclusive kinship, like they were half Russians-Prussians, half Germanica-inferrior - that wasn't true and so unnatural that their empires had to fall.
They tried to fix it - too late prevent Revolution.
Russia is a thing in itself, double-face "Sterviatnik" that lied to all of the above and still do, starting with kinship.
British Iberians, Saxons and Ings came from Georgia, Ukraine and Ingushetia, bordering with Georgia,
but Russia said British were kinship with Russian Varaga,
thus Ukrainians to be cleansed, enslaved, repopulated.
In the same time, Russians say Ukraine is Russia, thus
Ukrainians to be cleansed, enslaved, repopulated.
British, even royals, try lately stay closer to their people,
that is realistic and healing for Brits.
Russians have it both way, but in any case they expand.
That is not realistic and makes Russia evil again.
However, as World is ready show it resolve to Russia, World cannot be fooled again - evil Russia will fall.
Can Russia return to what they have to be?
Will it be 51% or more OK?
Ukraine is no security problem for Russia, it is a lie.
Non-Ally status is desirable - not as Russia see it, thought,
but as free, strong and prosperous country in center

In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
April 17, 2014 19:33
Last line got truncated, should be:
"...but as free strong and prosperous country in center of Europe."
Also, USA and NATO should see it at first as overall Global and regional issue.
If countries in Eastern Europe non-allied, but free, strong and prosperous it would add a layer of global security to West and East, which would not sharply rob their armed noses against each other, but would have rely also on sense of justice of such free, strong and prosperous countries in center of Europe.
Who will be allied or not and to which degree is up to them.
Naturally, nations that suffered badly from Invading genocide and cleansing, or too small to prevent next invasion and end of their nation would demand help of World Opinion, UN, EU, USA and maybe even military superpower, like NATO.
Countries like Georgia that was victim of genocide, cleansing and annexing of 20% of their territory, turning into refugees 20% of their population - already annexed to such degree that army of Russian invaders is some 50 miles from Georgian Capital.
Even if Russia will return everything back, repent, pay for its crimes and take out all their influx of last Century of spies and bloodsuckers, it would take one, two or more generations, or forever, to trust Russians again...
I think Ukraine didn't yet rich such point of no return and it is a larger country...

by: mapkom from: New York, NY USA
April 17, 2014 01:20
The professor makes a good point. I think there's general lack of appreciation on the part of many people that the world that they experience on television (or in any media for that matter) is not the actual world, but only a limited, selected and mediated representation of the world.

For instance, some people express incredulity that the missing Malaysian Jetliner hasn't been located yet, considering all the countries and resources devoted to the search. I think when they watch stories about it in a little box in their living room and see the pictures of the maps of the area they don't appreciate how enormous the real-world search area is.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 17, 2014 04:34
This Hillary-funded disaster in Prague is neither reliable nor trustworthy. For the best news, tune in to Spanish TV and learn about how Europe is falling apart and going broke. Cheers from Vienna!

by: John from: UK
April 17, 2014 20:53
Watch RT for the truth?! You must be joking?!

RT makes Fox News and CNN look like Saints of Truth!
In Response

by: Mamuka
April 20, 2014 18:47
RT might have more credibility if it devoted more time to news from Russia and less time to the decadent debauched capitalistic war-mongering West. I like to call it Krokodil-TV

by: gragor from: Vancouver Island BC Canad
April 17, 2014 23:24
How can "UkraineUnspun ... unravel information coming from Russian and Ukrainian media, politicians and activists" when the whole set up is run by the American Government?

Just one more example of American / EU spin.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty - Proudly brought to you by the CIA for more than 50 years.

by: American Tolerast
April 18, 2014 07:16
Nothing's more depressing than listening to foreigners who honestly think American network news still mentions Russia or Venezuela or Shangri-La or wherever.

People, people, people... Yanks like me who hang out here are here for a REASON. Our news doesn't spread disinformation about your countries. It IGNORES them. Unless Miley or Rihanna visit your country, or unless someone from your country bombs a sporting event, your best chance for being noticed is for a hit series of vampire-themed teen romances to be set in your country. That or a tsunami. My co-workers were genuinely FURIOUS in '08 over the media "lying" about Russia invading Georgia. We're talking about college-educated people here. They were calling their relatives in Savannah and Atlanta to ask what was going on. And you know what the prevailing reaction was once they figured it out? They got even more mad at "this [expletive] little country that stole our state's name...How is that even legal?" Those are actual quotes. They even got upset at ME solely because I'm "into all that crap."

Our media isn't spreading propaganda about your countries. That presumes relevance. That presumes a worldview more nuanced than the four nation-states of "America, Mexico, Europe, and Miscellaneous." Azerbaijan? Crimea? Karachayevo-Cherkessia? Yeah, let me ask my supervisor for her opinions about them. Is Axl Rose hitting any of them sometime soon?

Folks, if you want to hate us, party on. But at least hate us for what we are. It's sure not because we're sitting over here stroking our goatees and squinting through heavy mascara as we study spheres of influence on a map of Eurasia, cackling maniacally over our latest pro-gay marriage viral ad campaign in some cluster of factory towns built by Khrushchev and forgotten about ever since. God, if only.
In Response

by: Guenter Hastings from: Geneva
April 19, 2014 23:20
Nobody is talking about hating americans. Serious people only discuss the arrogance and the egocentrism of american foreign policy, which is based in a supposed theory of exceptionalism of the United States, denying the values and even the existance of other nations around the world. This exceptionalism is precisely what american media, in a large extent, tries to brainwash citizens everyday. If you buy this idea, good for you. Probably you will change your mind when you order your first passport (and use it to travel, of course).

by: Irene from: Canada
April 20, 2014 02:37
Journalism is a profession unlike blogging. Journalists must inform their audience objectively and truthfully.When in doubt, their job is to publish and let the public sort it out. It’s an imperfect process, but so is democracy. History has taught that disclosure is almost always better than concealment. There is no place for "erroneous " omissions and translations like they did in this report (under the pictire with a boy on a bicycle). The translation makes a huge difference here and it influences the minds of " commuters" who don't go beyond the headlines and vivid photos and , obviously does not add to understanding of what has been happening in true light.

Comments page of 2

About #UkraineUnspun

The information war is in full swing in the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia. In an attempt to present a clearer picture, #UkraineUnspun will unravel information coming from Russian and Ukrainian media, politicians and activists. Written by Glenn Kates and contributors from RFE/RL.

Follow the hashtag #UkraineUnspun on Twitter and let us know what we should be covering -- or to weigh in on any of our stories. Or write us at

Most Popular