Ready to see a thorough examination of one of the Kremlin media’s favorite bullshit tactics, along with a perfect example of how the “anti-fascist” Russian media outlets promote xenophobia and racism? Look no further than this hilariously bad article on, you guessed it, Sputnik, entitled “Refugee Influx May Force European Exodus to Siberia.”
First let’s start with the title. “Refugee influx may force European exodus to Siberia” is like saying “An asteroid may hit the Earth.” Actually the probability of the latter is slightly higher. Lots of media outlets can be weasel-ish with modal verbs like may, but this is insane. As you will soon see, this is the equivalent of hearing a homeless guy at the bus stop tell you the Illuminati is beaming messages into his head, and then publishing a story with the headline “World may be controlled by Illuminati via Thought Manipulation.”
So what is Sputnik’s source on this shocking info? Well it turns out to be “the Polish media.” Well, okay, not all of the Polish media. In fact it turns out to be a “Polish news website” called Obserwator Polityczny (Political Observer). Looking at the website, it is a bit spartan, with very little in the way of contact info and it seems like all its articles are written by one author, who writes under the rather curious pseudonym “Krakauer.” Googling the name of the publication brings up numerous Russian site, many of them state run outlets.
As for the slant of the site, my Polish isn’t great but some articles had been translated into Russian (rather odd for a Polish news site), and there is the content cited by Sputnik, which is very telling. Essentially, the site appear to be right-wing, anti-EU and anti-immigrant. Poland has a reputation for right wing politics, but there’s something else about this site that makes it stick out like a sore thumb compared to traditional Polish right-wing politics. It’s not simply that it’s pro-Russian; there are at least some right-wing Poles which have taken the side of Russia in some matters, contrary to the typical tendency. But this is another matter entirely.
There are many Eastern European right-wingers who have genuinely Russophobic beliefs, but I’m guessing if you asked them why they side with Russia they’ll give you a sort of “good fences make good neighbors explanation,” i.e. “Our enemy is in Brussels, and if we can take advantage of Russia to aid us in that struggle, so much the better, so long as they don’t interfere in our affairs.” This is why so much of the European right, in spite of its rabid anti-Communism and anti-leftism, sided with the self-proclaimed “anti-fascist” Russia against Ukraine’s openly anti-Communist right wing parties like Svoboda and Praviy Sektor. The latter were associated with a movement that was painted by both sides as a pro-European Union coup or revolution. What is more, it was Ukrainian land at risk, not Hungarian, Greek, or Bulgarian. What you don’t generally hear any of these right-wingers clamoring for, however, is a straight up Russian invasion like in the Crimea. Seriously, let’s unpack this Hitlertastic article:
The huge influx of migrants into Europe might one day force the Europeans to flee their own land, seeking for shelter. The Polish media even suggests they could find refuge in Russia’s Siberia; many already see it as “durable and stable” and secretly wish the “polite people in green uniforms would one day ensure their stability”.
As I alluded to before, “The Polish media” doesn’t suggest shit. A shady website in Russian and Polish made this suggestion. This is also one of the most idiotic ideas ever, quite obviously revealing the Russian nationality of the author. Note the use of the word “stable” to describe Siberia and by extension Russia. “Stability” is a lynch pin of the Russian elite’s narrative. Don’t rock the boat! You’ll lose your stability and fall into chaos! The irony of course is that Russians don’t get stability. Virtually nothing is stable in Russia. Developed Western countries are far more stable in virtually every measurable way, to the point of being downright boring.
Another tell-tale vatnik sign is the fantasy that Europeans secretly wish that Russian “polite people,” i.e. soldiers like those who invaded the Crimea, would some in and bring them that precious “stability.” This “Polish” publication doesn’t give us any quotes, surveys, or examples to back this up. It flat out claims that Europeans “secretly” wish this without explaining how they divined such information.
Having found themselves in the middle of the migrant chaos, many Europeans may one day wish to simply run away from the problem, suggests the Polish news website Obserwator Polityczny.
Once again we see tell-tale signs of vatnost. First there’s the typical xenophobia of the Russian media about immigrants in Europe. More importantly, there’s that word “chaos.” Chaos is juxtaposed to Russian “stability.” In Russia’s domestic media, the world is portrayed as this horribly chaotic mess, while Russia has stability. Well, except for the rising prices, the falling ruble, the falling airplanes, the crumbling roads, banks getting their licenses yanked right and left, massive holes in the budget, foreign policy snap-decisions with terrible consequences, budget cuts, plant closures, riots, acts of terrorism, censorship, etc. And it’s worth pointing out that Russian media, including domestic media, doesn’t necessarily deny the existence of any of those things. Instead what they do is threaten the population with CHAOS! lest they think about actually doing something about those problems, or more specifically, lest they come to the conclusion that Putin’s peculiar system is responsible for their woes, as opposed to the West.
The horror show must go on:
“With the deepening collapse of the West, every year Russia will become the only durable and stable country in an unstable environment,” the website states.”
With all the problems of austerity and the economic crisis in the West, Western standards of living and economic indicators are far above those of Russia, and many of Russia’s economic woes aren’t tied to the sanctions either. And since we’re talking about the West, that includes countries like the United States. So how badly is the US crumbling? Oh…Right…Shit.
Again we have yet another very Russian meme. To be sure, this thing has been trumpeted by all sorts of people, including many uninformed Americans, but regardless of who’s saying it, the bottom line is this- Even if the West were collapsing, it’s doing far better than Russia, and there is nothing, literally nothing, to indicate that Russia is somehow going to rapidly reverse this situation. For comparison, let us look at the example of Soviet industrialization. The Russian empire collapsed, civil war and insurgency raged for years after the fact, and the territory was devastated by famine and disease. One might look at the Soviet success in industrialization while the rest of the capitalist world suffered from the Depression and claim that this is proof that Russia could surprise us today. Sorry but that’s bullshit. The USSR had something up its sleeve that made that possible, a foundation in their centralized planned economy plus revolutionary zeal. Modern day Russia has neither of these things. It has a tiny elite made up of thieving hypocrites who are scared shitless of being held accountable for the crimes against their own citizens.
Lastly on this point, I just need to remind the reader that the collapse of the West, particularly the United States, would be economically devastating for Russia. In any case, if there is some inevitable global crisis that drags the developed world to its death, Russia will most likely perish some time before that moment.
Also, do I even need to point out how there’s a reason all these refugees are flooding toward “crumbling” Europe as opposed to rising Russia and its BFF’s China and India? Weird how they flock to the decaying West and not the BRICS alternative, huh?
“Even today, many people from countries ruled by soft-gender politicians, which are unable to cope with the relatively trivial problem of illegal immigration, look to Russia with admiration and hope.”
“Soft-gender” politicians? Does that mean short politicians with bizarre complexes who stage photo sessions of themselves working out with a male friend and drinking tea with them afterwards? Also if illegal immigration is such a trivial problem, why is it going to lead to an apocalypse that threatens to drive Europeans en masse into Siberia? And who are these Europeans who look to Russia with admiration and hope? Where are the surveys? Quotes? This is even worse than Fox News’ infamous “some people say.”
I might also ask as to who believes Russia has solved the problem of illegal immigration. Illegal immigration in Russia is still a massive problem, exacerbated by corruption. The only thing that has led to a decrease in illegal immigration is the economic downturn, which has convinced some migrants to go elsewhere.
The website is sure that Russian politicians will “not leave their residents and hide under the desk, waiting until circumstances change so that they can go to the cameras again and lie”.
The “website” is sure of that? Than “the website” is a fucking moron. Russian politicians lie constantly. While they aren’t necessarily hiding under any desks, they are typically hiding in New York, London, the South of France, on yachts, in palaces, etc.
It also states that the Russian model of state organization has proved to be “more effective, more efficient and, basically, fully resistant to interference”.
Yeah, I know this is basically bullshit boilerplate, but I have to point out that not only is this laughably false, but the Russian government itself clearly doesn’t believe the last point. It spends tons of money and resources chasing the shadows of the next “Maidan” or “color revolution” within its borders. By contrast, the rapidly “collapsing” US doesn’t give a shit if you want to go on Youtube and talk about “prepping” for the day you have to fight the federal government, holding your tricked out AR-15 and wearing a military-quality tactical chest rig. Who’s more stable again?
The Russians, it elaborates, can sleep peacefully in their beds all the way from Kaliningrad (Russia’s westernmost city) to Magadan (Russia’s easternmost large city on the Pacific), because they are confident that “whoever comes to them with a sword, will perish by the sword”.
Again, more evidence that a Russian originally wrote this, or at least dictated it to some isolated Polish toady. First of all, people in stable nations don’t stay up at night worrying about military invasions. If any significant number of Russian citizens actually fear a Barbarossa-like invasion, it speaks volumes about their critical thinking skills. Or at least it would if we didn’t already know who is responsible for planting this meme- the Russian media.
While all those Russian people may be safe from the threat of invasion, seeing as how nobody plans to invade Russia, rest assured many are losing sleep thanks to layoffs, rising prices, and constantly being told that they’re going to suffer at the hands of a NATO invasion, civil war, terrorism, gays, etc. Meanwhile, how many Germans or French people are seriously questioning whether or not they might be conquered by a foreign invader?
And all the above, it adds, is despite the country having given refuge to millions of people who have fled the war-torn Donbass region into Russia and despite the anti-Russian sanctions.
Sorry but Russia has not given refuge to “millions” of people. The highest estimate is somewhere around 800,000 people. Other estimates say that about 1.5 million people were displaced, with roughly half going to Ukrainian government controlled territory and the other half going to Russia. In any case, rather than taking refuge in Siberia, they have been deliberately resettled in those areas, and as you might expect from a country that treats its own citizens like shit, being a Ukrainian refugee in Russia is no picnic. See when vatniks want to justify arming a rebellion and invading, it’s for the sake of poor, persecuted Russian-speakers, residents of the Russkiy Mir. But when they show up asking for help, they’re suddenly Ukrainians again, and the Russian attitude to them is about as hospitable as it is towards Arab refugees.
Now are you ready to get a heaping helping of Russian
The migrants who keep coming in from the Middle East and Africa, the website says, are not respecting their laws and customs and even at night behave in a way which most people perceive as a threat.
Xenophobic much? Now you can claim that maybe this was indeed written by a right wing Pole, but why then does Sputnik not call out this racism and xenophobia? After all, isn’t Russia gravely concerned about the rise of Nazism in Europe? Oh wait, that’s right, fascism is fine so long as the fascists don’t call themselves Nazis and openly praise Hitler. That and they support Russian foreign policy goals.
Once again we have a funny contradiction though. In Russia, this should fit under the definition of “extremism,” specifically inciting hatred against other religions or ethnic groups. But when the message is useful for Russian propaganda purposes, it’s just fine.
One interesting thing about this is the selectivity of Russian censorship. For example, if a genuine Russian racist complains online about the “flood” of Tajik, Uzbek, and other Central Asian immigrants, legal or otherwise, they will generally be untouched so long as they don’t also engage in anti-regime politics. He could even spread antisemitism too, for example, by making allegations that Ukraine’s leadership have secret Jewish heritage. Of course this can’t be accompanied by swastikas and praise of Hitler, but it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about Ukraine being run by gay, liberal, Jewish Nazis.
In Hungary, for example, a peaceful night’s rest has become a long-forgotten memory. Residents have taken control of their neighborhoods, patrolling villages and small towns, because the Hungarian government is apparently afraid to intervene, for fear of the derision of the European press and accusations of fascism.
Hmmm… A Polish website says that about Hungary? What’s their source? What residents? The only source I found on this subject was this article on the Hungarian far right, specifically the Jobbik party and some more radical groups. It’s worth noting that the Jobbik party and Viktor Orban are both friendly to the Kremlin and its ideological think tanks and organizations, this in spite of the rabidly anti-Communist ideology which clashes against Russia’s recent monopolization of WWII’s victory over fascism. Hungarian far-right nationalists have also formed a unit in the “armed forces of Novorossiya” in the Donbas.
Lastly, make a separate note that the government, in spite of being considered quite illiberal, is supposedly afraid to “intervene” because of accusations of fascism. This is a common right wing meme- the idea that the evil leftist establishment will use the fascist label to cow any dissent. If ever there was a justified accusation of fascism, it would be that leveled against far-right nationalist militias forming gangs and using violence against people based on their ethnicity.
Again, the Sputnik authors do nothing to criticize this. After all, Russia’s government and media, including Sputnik, seem quite happy to lob accusations of fascism at everyone under the sun, including people who were historically persecuted by fascists. Is the Russian media not disturbed at this xenophobia and racism, in a former Axis country that participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union, no less?
“There are fewer countries in the world where you can lie down to sleep in peace, without fear that a stranger will come to your home at night and cause you harm.”
Take a look at Russian crime statistics some time, not that they’re particularly reliable.
A year ago, the newswire says, ordinary Europeans couldn’t have been foreseen that today they might appreciate being in Crimea’s shoes, and readily greet the appearance of “polite people in green uniforms ensuring stability, peace and security.”
Aaaaand…Where’s the evidence that they appreciate this now? Where’s the clamor to be invaded by Russian soldiers, who incidentally, don’t ensure peace or that precious stability that makes Russians’ mouths water?
The above comes in reference to the term “polite people”, which was used to describe the Russian troops who anonymously maintained order during the unification of the Crimea peninsula with Russia in 2014.
I’m only including this line because of the part about “anonymously maintained order.” They say that because as we all remember, cowardly little Putin initially denied his troops were in the Crimea at all, then later admitted it. Now it’s called “anonymously maintaining order.” In reality, they created disorder in the first place.
But then another question pops up: where will Europe get these peacekeepers from?
Sure, that question just pops up, if you’re a drooling moron. Europe doesn’t need peacekeepers, in the same way the Crimea didn’t need peacekeepers after 22 February 2014. If America had pulled something like this in say, Galicia, Kremlin media would be shitting bricks of rage.
Get ready for some real hilarity now:
In Poland, the website says, most professional soldiers are only on duty until 3:00 p.m. Then, it explains, they put on their civilian clothes and go home, like ordinary workers.
What’s the point of this, you ask? Read on…
It is no different anywhere else in in Europe. Western countries have their armies, which already do not have tanks, because they are too expensive, and during training they have to save on ammunition.
Are you getting this? This is clearly Russian vatnik fap material. LOOK AT OUR TANKS! OUR POWERFUL ARMY! Note that they don’t mention which Western countries don’t have tanks due their expense. If anything Western countries, including major powers like the US and basketcases like Greece, have too many tanks. Modern war planners are deliberately phasing out tanks because they simply aren’t effective anymore. US military brass have actually asked Congress to stop buying tanks, as they have far more than they can even possibly use or store.
As for ammunition during training- I know from talking with actual Russian army veterans that people who aren’t infantry or combat arms fire about five rounds from a Kalashnikov. By contrast, your average American army recruit will fire several thousand rounds in the three weeks of Basic Rifle Marksmanship in basic training, regardless of their MOS. They are then required to re-qualify with their duty weapon every six months. Marine rifle marksmanship is even more thorough.
What the authors missed was the fact that like the US, many Western countries have professional armies. That means people volunteer willingly. This is contrasted with the Russian army, which is still largely conscript based and filled with young men who serve only one year. In that time they still face all kinds of abuse and corruption and make something around 2000 rubles a month.
And this might be a cheap shot, but there were some other guys who reviled professional armies as “mercenaries,” writing in their political program: “We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army.” They called themselves “National Socialists.”
Finally we go out on this note:
“The Russians have television, and have Internet access to see what’s going on in Europe”, it states.
They have Russian television, which tells them Europe is full of Arab terrorists (who are actually agents of the CIA) and gay rapists, all of which is just fine because it serves the regime’s narrative. As for internet access, far fewer people have it in Russia than in Western countries. Hmmm…How odd for a country that’s supposedly so much better off than the West. And of course, the state is constantly working to censor and block the internet more and more, as it is a threat to the elite and Putin himself.
So there you have it, an obscure, suspiciously Russian-sounding site becomes “the Polish media” according to Sputnik, it makes bizarre claims without any evidence, to the point of pontificating about what Europeans “secretly” desire (if we go by Russian TV, the answer would be “more dick”).
This is a classic tactic for Russian propaganda. Cite some random blog or bare-bones news portal and call it “the Western media” or “Western sources.” One common tactic is to cite Global Research in this manner, when those doing the writing know fully well that this conspiracy site is run by 100% pro-Kremlin people. It’s basically a variation on the tactic whereby random bloggers or Youtube users are given titles like “political analyst” by RT.
The other takeaway from this lesson in bullshit is the hypocrisy of the Kremlin’s propaganda. They’re happy to scream: “WHAT ABOUT IRAQ, LIBYA, AFGHANISTAN, SYRIA?!” And yet at the same time, they spread xenophobic propaganda about how immigrants, some from those very same countries, are going to destroy Europe. On that note, the article is obvious race baiting, and as there is no criticism or acknowledgement of this fact, we must conclude that the tone is approving. I’m putting that out there for anyone who considers themselves and anti-racist or progressive leftist, yet still takes Russian media seriously. Remember, this isn’t a private corporation like Fox News. This is state run. What does it say about this crusader for “anti-fascism” when they regurgitate and in some cases, produce right wing, even fascist propaganda?*
Overall, the problem with Sputnik is that it’s a sign that as Russia decided to wage information war in 2013, the quality of its propaganda has gone down considerably, as its foreign language propaganda begins to resemble its domestic propaganda. This is one reason why their information war has, in the course of roughly two years, been nothing but a spectacular failure. Had they cared about truth and quality, they could have built a reputable foreign language media machine that really would become an alternative to the “Western media,” which does indeed have its biases. But in the rigid, top-down system of the Kremlin, objectivity, standards, and self-criticism are seen as disloyalty or defeatism. Thus quality takes a back seat to the message, and the message is diluted by the idiotic strategy of confusion.
*Here is a rather excellent article I read recently on the topic of contradictions in Kremlin propaganda and soft power.
UPDATE: Russian journalist Alexei Kovalev has investigated the Polish site in question and it is openly connected to the Russkiy Mir foundation, e.g. a Russian government think tank. The site’s traffic appears to come virtually exclusively from Russian media sources. Sorry but the link is only in Russian.