On the fifth episode of Russia Rising, we’ll explore the growing information war between Russia and the West. Whether it's a chemical weapons attack in Syria, the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England or the war in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin often promotes a much different version of events from the one being presented by Western governments. And in an age of fake news, social media and countless alternative online news sources, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction and know whom to trust. In this context, we’ll speak with Russian analyst Julian Lindley-French, who warns the Kremlin has deployed an effective propaganda strategy known as ‘Maskirovka.’ It began as a Russian military doctrine 600 years ago, but has recently evolved into a political weapon.
We’ll explore a number of recent examples of ‘Maskirovka’ by speaking with Rasmus Nilsson, an expert in Russian Politics and Foreign Policy at University College London. Edward Lucas, a Russia expert at the Center for European Policy Analysis, explains how each time the West accuses of Moscow of behaving badly, the Kremlin responds — not only with denials — but also by promoting numerous different theories and possible explanations. “The main thing is to distract,” he says. “Spread as many different conspiracy theories and alternative explanations as possible, so people think: we don’t really know what’s going on and who’s to know what the facts are.” And spreading those alternative theories has never been easier, thanks to the internet and social media. We’ll speak via Skype with Lukas Andriukaitis, an analyst with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which tracks fake news online.
And we’ll also take a tour behind the scenes of one of the world’s most controversial TV news networks: RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is a Kremlin-funded TV channel that’s broadcast outside of Russia to more than 100 countries, including Canada. The United States has accused RT of being a propaganda weapon for the Kremlin and its American subsidiary was forced to register as a “foreign agent.” We’ll put those allegations to the network’s deputy editor in Moscow, Anna Belkina.
Julian Lindley-French, Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Rasmus Nilsson, University College London
Edward Lucas, Center for European Policy Analysis
Lukas Andriukaitis, Digital Forensic Research Lab
Anna Belkina, Deputy Editor of RT