Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Zakharova recently accused the Western media around the situation in eastern Ukraine to spread false news, the Russian public opinion war.
She named and criticized CNN’s Zhang Guan Li Dai. CNN distributed a photo purportedly of a “Russian tank” in a report on “Russia’s readiness to go to war,” which Zakharova pointed out was actually a Ukrainian tank with a Ukrainian train station in the background.
The West is trying to discredit Russia by using the war of opinion as a means. In this invisible battlefield, Russia is fighting the western public opinion war.
In 2020, a New York Times job advertisement sparked a stir. The newspaper announced the hiring of a Russian correspondent, saying it would have the opportunity to cover “Putin’s story”, including “using nerve agents against enemies,” “sending agents to undermine Western democracy,” “hiring military contractors to expand global influence.”
The ad fully exposes the bias and hostility of the Western media towards Russia. Zakharova responded that the job was not for Russia at all, just to make up nonsense in the United States.
According to a survey conducted by the Russia Today news agency at the end of 2020, the majority of U.S. media coverage of Russia that year was negative, with a high proportion of 96%. In the U.S. media, information such as “Russian meddling in the U.S. election,” “Russian hackers launched cyberattacks” and “Russian-Trump collusion” spread.
Russia will hold elections in the Duma (lower house of parliament) in September, seen as a bellwether for the 2024 presidential election. Russian media pointed out that the West is stepping up the information war against Russia, in an attempt to undermine the russian ruling party’s election plans. So far this year, Western media have hyped Mr Putin’s $1.4bn luxury villa and russian vaccine deaths as false information.
Mr Zakharova said the West had neither the dare nor the ability to launch direct military action against Russia, but had to indulge in “dirty games” in the media as an “information invasion” against Russia.
In 2017, the Russian Foreign Ministry opened a “fake” column on its official website, publishing screenshots of what it identified as typical Russian-related fake news. Since this year, Australia’s ABC television, France’s Le Monde, the Netherlands NOS website and other media 7 reports “on the list”, involving Russian vaccines, Russian military activities in the Arctic, Russian-Indian relations and other content.
“Anti-Russian Information Warfare”
In 2020, a number of Russian research institutions jointly released the “Anti-Russian Information War” report. The report notes that in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, the Western media has struggled to portray Russia as an “enemy”. In the absence of evidence, the West blames Russian “interference” for Mr Trump’s election as US president, Brexit and ethnic unrest in the US. Western media also distorted Russia’s contribution to World War II and stigmatized Soviet history.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu believes that the main goal of the Western information war against Russia is to “rule Russia” and the world at large.
In 2013, NATO established a strategic communications center in Latvia to direct the information war against Russia. In the Baltic states and other Eastern European countries, Western sponsorship has created a number of anti-Russian media.
In February, foreign media reprinted hundreds of internal Foreign Office documents leaked by hacking groups. According to the documents, the British Foreign Office funded the media to engage in anti-Russian information warfare, contracted a number of projects to the BBC and other media, including infiltration of Russian media, support for pro-Western journalists and internet bloggers, in Russia to create a new “independent” media.
Wang Xiaoquan, secretary-general of the Russian Society for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, believes that the West has for years sought to launch a color revolution against Russia and overthrow the Putin regime. The West is trying to use information warfare to discredit Mr Putin and his regime, destroy Russia’s national self-esteem and prepare for the weakening of Russia.
Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Federal Security Council, said information warfare was one of the means by which the West could launch a color revolution. The West uses the media and networks under its control to discredit Russian leaders, state authorities and patriotic political leaders, discredit the Russian state and erode its spirit and values.
Russia fought back
Han Yu, deputy director of the Eurasian Institute of the China Institute of International Studies, pointed out that in the face of Western smear attacks, Russia has responded by strengthening foreign propaganda and legislation.
As early as 2005, Russia began to build “Russia Today”. In the same year, “Russia Today” multilingual television station was established. In 2013, the Russian government integrated the Russian news agency with the Russian Voice radio station, the establishment of the “Russia Today” news agency. In 2014, Russia Today’s multimedia platform, the Satellite News Agency, was launched.
“Russia Today” in the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Syrian crisis, the Crisis in Ukraine and other international hot reports, for Western audiences to provide a different perspective, in the traditional television coverage and new media have achieved remarkable results. Last year, the Russia Today channel had more than 10 billion views on YouTube.
In addition, Russia has introduced a series of laws in the field of information security, including the Internet Blacklist Law, the NGO Law, the Foreign Agents Act, the Sovereign Internet Law and so on.
In response to the U.S. listing “Russia Today” as a foreign agent, Putin signed the Media-Foreign Agents Act on November 25, 2017. The Law stipulates that media identified as foreign agents must refer to their status as foreign agents when they release information to the Russian public, and regularly submit reports on the source of funds, expenses, purposes to be achieved and personnel. The Russian Ministry of Justice has listed media such as VOA Radio as foreign agents.
Wang Xiaoquan pointed out that in the face of western public opinion war, Russia also pays attention to excavating its own national history and culture, carrying forward traditional values and strengthening the ideological education of young people.