Classic Bullshit

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 anti-fascism?

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.

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36 thoughts on “Classic Bullshit

  1. A.I.Schmelzer

    Concerning refugees, something that actually does happen is somewhat better off Syrian refugees saying “fuck you” to the human trafikkers, board a plane to Russia, assure the FSB that their glorious plan is to move to Norway (FSB has no problem with that), take a train to Murmansk, a taxi to the border to Norway and ride over that border on a bycycle. Norwegian law apperantly only forbids illegal border crossings by foot or in a car. Bicycle prizes close to the Norwegian border now exceed bicycle prizes in Moscow.

    From the refugee perespective, the entire thing is, despite the FSB interaction, a lot cheaper and safer then doing it conventionally. Also, Russias response to any Norwegian entreaties of deporting Syrians back to Russia is an emphatetic “Fuck off”, which is golden from the refugee perespective.

    Sometimes, of course mostly because they want to troll the EU, Russia accidentaly does something good.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      It’s seems the majority aren’t opting for that route. I think you will see some increase in Syrians in Russia though, because there already is a Syrian community here that has some deep roots. I know several of them. Really good people and not necessarily pro-regime fanatics.

      Reply
      1. A.I.Schmelzer

        That is partly because that route isnt advertized, and there seems to be an informal limit on that route because iirc you need a tourist visa from Syria to Russia, and they only give out a couple of thousands per year. If you can get one as a Syrian would be refugee, take it. Bribe money to be expended for that is far lower then costs for trafikers, and you can often arrange that you get your visa first, and then pay the money. No such chance with traffikers.
        Also, Syria is a “blyat run” nation, if you have favors to call in, the accumulated favors you hopefully racked up over your lifetime (or your clans lifetime) may be enough to get you that tourist visa without bribes, and since you cant take your favors to Norway, the prudent thing is to cash in on them now.

        Concerning that Polish drivel piece, I wouldnt rule out direct Russian sockpuppeting but there is a considerable faction on the Polish hard right which is yearning for a Polish catholic Putin who would “put the liberasts in place” “defeat the EU” “rape Merkel” (no, I am not joking) etc. If these were Americans they would be tea party patriots, and that drivel sounds kind of like the stuff they do. But it is more stuff they spout when drunk, not stuff they write down in newspapers.

        Vatniks btw. are universal.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I’ve been told that Peter Lavelle, who’s supposedly behind Russia Insider, was an academic in Poland and therefore might speak fluent Polish. I’m not saying he wrote it, but the point is that Russia has access to people who can write in Polish. And that’s assuming the article wasn’t just translated from Russian. There are other Russian translations on the site- it could be that the Russian versions were the originals.

      3. Estragon

        Re: “Peter Lavelle, who’s supposedly behind Russia Insider, was an academic in Poland and therefore might speak fluent Polish”

        Lavelle actually did live in Poland for about 12 years before relocating to Moscow, and at least when I met him, claimed to speak Polish better than Russian. That has probably changed since then, however.

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Because see what gets me is the idea of Poles actually wanting Russia to come in and regulate things or to join Russia. No self-respecting Polish nationalist would call for that. They might hope that Russia will somehow engineer the downfall of the EU, but they’re incredibly Russophobic. Poles tend to look at Russia the way vatniks will look at America.

      Reply
      1. A.I.Schmelzer

        The Polish right isnt exactly that uniform. In some ways there is a segment were “politically incorrect” (oh my gosh these people love this term) spektrum of the right would want for Putin to “take out the trash” (because somehow they feel unable to do so themselfs for whatever manly reason) and then they (the polishly patriotic anti EU right) lead a glorious revolution that is so incredibly polish that the remaigning “liberasts” whom Putin didnt kill yet will spontaneously convert to being proper gay hating Polish catholic patriots.

        I feel dumber having written this, but these people exist.

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      In a weird way, it was better than David Brooks’ article from the previous post. At least this article was trying to make a point and had a definite purpose.

      Reply
  2. asmoeth

    This is interesting. I’ve been living in Poland for 30 years and I’ve been politically conscious for at least a half of that period and this is the first time I encounter this website (and I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe). Hundreds of articles, next to no recognition among the general public – this is very telling.

    As for the russophobia among the Polish right – it’s a complicated issue. For more than a hundred years there have been two strands of thinking among Polish right wingers. One is russophilic but only in a pragmatic, opportunistic way, I think. Russia is seen as a bulwark of traditional, spiritual and Christian values, a lesser evil as compared to decadent, gay-infested Western Europe. As one commentator famously said, Poles are in danger of being “physically” destroyed by Russia (through labor camps, deportations, mass murders, etc.) while the siren song of Western modernity could degrade the nation morally and dilute its unique characteristics. Russia can reduce our numbers but the nation would survive intact, while the EU / League of Nations / the West will destroy Polish identity. Therefore, Poland must side with Russia to stop the evil gays and abortionists from crossing the border and corrupting the intrinsically innocent Polish soul.

    Other nationalists, on the other hand, emphasize national sovereignty and the danger Russia might pose for Polish interests (for instance, in the energy sector; the decade-old wet dream of building an alliance of Central European countries, from Sweden to Bulgaria, also falls in that category). The former, previously associated with Dmowski and his successors, is now a domain of fringe parties and complete nutjobs like Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the latter is more or less mainstream. For instance, the 2010 presidential plane crash is often seen as yet another episode in the struggle between Polish and Russia, a revenge Putin took because of president Kaczyński’s independent and active foreign policy.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Witamy! I’m glad you showed us. Alexei Kovalev has determined that the website’s only citations and nearly all its traffic come from Russian media sources, which cite it as “the Polish media.”

      There does seem to be a street address and a contact name, but perhaps that guy has nothing to do with the site other than hosting or something.

      What I was wondering about is the language. Does it feel like a native speaking Pole wrote this? Or does it contain odd word choice, mistakes, etc. which might suggest it is a non-native speaker?

      There are some aspects of it that just seem way to vatniy to be a Pole, even one of those Russophilic nationalists.

      Reply
      1. Alexey Kovalev (@Alexey__Kovalev)

        The address points to what appears to be a PO box. It’s a firm where for 49 zloty ($13) you can register a ‘virtual office’ – i.e. set up a basic business with an postal address. It says there that Obserwator Polityczny’s publisher is something called ‘Book Publishing Foundation’. Which makes sense, because that’s what Russky Mir gives grants for, at least on paper – printing books in Russian. Although there’s no indication that a single book in Russian’s been published.

      2. asmoeth

        Never have I seen anyone citing it or referring to its contents; nobody links to it on Facebook or in comments below news articles. It there was non-negligible traffic from Poland, it wouldn’t be the case. Even the most obscure right-wing blogs sooner or later worm its way into your uncle’s Internet Explorer.

        Now that I read a few random articles from that website, I must admit that most of them don’t look like they were originally written in Polish. Syntax is a bit too rigid, sentences are very long and overly complex. People generally don’t write like that if they don’t have to and it’s definitely not suitable for a wider audience. Reading some paragraphs is rather painful for a native Polish speaker.

        It’s almost as if it was set up to convince Russians that there is genuine support for Putin in Poland. It that sense it resembles the infamous Zmiana party – from what I hear it’s featured quite often in Russian state media, yet it has no visible presence on the Polish political scene. I bet they won’t participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

      1. A.I.Schmelzer

        The overcomplexity may imply a German or Austrian, (and the German right is without a doubt way more pro Putin then the Polish one, Austria meanwhile is the unofficial head of the “lets not sanction Russia” faction in the EU) but neither my Polish nor my Russian is good enough to catch precise clues.

  3. asmoeth

    Did some research. As it turns out, the website is not completely unknown in Poland – during the Crimean crisis they published flamboyantly pro-Russian articles and drew some attention from the mainstream media. Here’s an article from Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish):

    http://wyborcza.pl/1,76842,15595045,Polscy_obroncy_Putina__krytykuja_USA__NATO__UE_i_polski.html

    They didn’t dig very deep, though. The story – in short – is that a guy founded the website and a monthly paper and ran it for two years until Russkij Mir showed up in March 2014 and offered partnership. It isn’t a big business – the foundation that owns the website had roughly $3000 in revenues in 2013. He already had pro-Kremlin sympathies so it wasn’t a problem. To be frank, the early articles (e.g. from 2012) are definitely written by a Pole.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      So it’s like some kind of mother’s basement shut in who managed to get the attention of the Kremlin?

      And what can explain the bizarre change in writing style? Mysteries abound.

      Reply
      1. A.I.Schmelzer

        Only 3000? Damnit, I guess being able to write Russian propaganda at least 2 times better then the actual propagandists (comes with a decent history education), isnt that monetizable.

      2. asmoeth

        “So it’s like some kind of mother’s basement shut in who managed to get the attention of the Kremlin?”

        That’s what he says but it’s hardly convincing.

        “And what can explain the bizarre change in writing style? Mysteries abound.”

        It’s more than just style. The early articles are actually, if anything, left-wing. There’s a lot about state-building, Poland’s long-term growth prospects, demographic woes, mismanagement of the euro crisis, local government reform, army reform, etc. In 2013 it became openly russophilic with the usual arguments and proposals: more economic cooperation with Russia*, exit from NATO, Ukraine under Yanukovych as an example of “right” model of political and economic development, ritual condemnations of russophobia, subtle warmongering, etc. After Crimea they went ballistic and some articles are just batshit insane. My favourite claims that Poland is being punished (e.g. with epic drought and the election of Andrzej Duda) by God for abandoning its Slavic heritage.

        “Only 3000? Damnit, I guess being able to write Russian propaganda at least 2 times better then the actual propagandists (comes with a decent history education), isnt that monetizable.”

        Perhaps there are other income streams not shown in the financial statement of the foundation (ostensibly dedicated to promoting book reading). Also, their assets (including Obserwatorpolityczny.pl, I presume) were valued at $2000 in 2013.

        * – What strikes me is that these guys never check the numbers. Russophobia or not, Polish exports to Russia was growing just fine until mid-2013 and Poland was exporting everything there, from apples to trains.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        That’s a lot to chew on. The rabbit hole goes even deeper. Maybe it was originally a leftist, who got courted by Russia’s phony Communists, then when a relationship started, the tone changed to fit the vatnik style. Perhaps the original writer was really young and his political beliefs were malleable.

        As for money, the funniest thing about people that don’t get paid much(or at all) is that they just need to ask. The Kremlin throws money after complete shit all the time. Just look at Sputnik. The saddest ones are those who AREN’T getting paid by the Kremlin even though they’re putting out its line. Kremlin Stooge is a perfect example. He says he’s not paid by the Kremlin and I’m thinking: “WHY THE HELL NOT?”

      4. Estragon

        “Kremlin Stooge is a perfect example” – I read somewhere in an interview with him that he got into Russia blogging because his wife was Russian and he wanted to defend her country, or something like that. In other words it’s personal with him.

        He is an interesting case because he lacks basic knowledge of the area he writes about. He once wrote an entire post based on the erroneous assumption that Estonians are Slavs, and he is fond of making nonsensical statements like Serbian “contains more Cyrillic” than Croatian. And needless to say, he doesn’t speak Russian. But you don’t need a lot of expertise to trash Western media reports on Russia; it’s basically shooting fish in a barrel.

      5. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yes I remember this. I asked him how much time he’d spent in Russia and he admitted, at the time, that he’d spent maybe 20 days there, basically picking up his mail order wife. I’m sorry that this sounds that way, but why would you defend a country which, after roughly 23 years(at the time of this encounter), still has plenty of women eager to marry strangers they meet over the internet just to escape?

        Has she no faith in the wise leadership of Putin? Why does she choose instead to actually marry some guy who was unable to find a mate in his own country just to go live in the “decaying West?”

        Why couldn’t he get a TEFL certificate and move to Russia to live with her in this paradise? It’s not like he’d be alone- Tim Kirby did it. Sleboda did it. That long-time British expat Stooge seems to admire so much did it.

        Hey to be fair, I used to defend a particular country out of feelings for a girl- WHEN I WAS 16-17. Also known as that age when you’re full of hormones and emotions and don’t really know much about the world and politics.

        Also, got to love that Slavic misattribution. It tends to happen to Hungarians and Romanians as well. And a LOL for the comment about Serbian as well.

        I think one problem is that in the past, Stooge and his US-based twin Michael Awerko would be laughed off the stage from the beginning, but now there’s this Russian foreign-language media. So they can always call on people like Kirby, Sleboda, Lavelle, or some other defective expat who gets a fat paycheck from Russian government sources, telling them how wonderful it is over here. Yeah, it’s wonderful FOR THEM. For now.

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I know the mail-order thing seems harsh(I’m just going off of what he told me), but I really don’t get this mode of thinking. Here you end up somehow meeting this woman who wants to leave her country online, to the point where you only take one trip there and get married, and then you decide to become a staunch defender of that country?

        This is one thing I’ve noticed about some Team Russia people. Deep down they know they are benefiting from the failure of Russian society under Putin, or in the case of Graham Phillips, the corruption of the Yanukovych regime. These men know damned well that political/economic improvement will inevitably lead to a country where these women won’t even give them the time of day.

  4. Estragon

    re: “So they can always call on people like Kirby, Sleboda, Lavelle, or some other defective expat”

    I feel compelled to defend these guys somewhat, for putting their money where their mouth is and actually living in the country of their dreams. Lavelle (whom I knew personally for a couple of years) was not getting a fat paycheck from the gov’t during his early years in Russia. He was working for a bank and writing a blog called Untimely Thoughts, which I found useful at the time for offering a differing and thoughtful take on Russia in the early Putin years. At this time the “Putin is the 2nd coming of Hitler/ Stalin/ Genghis Khan” hysterics were already underway in Western media, and Lavelle was helpful in skewering that nonsense.

    Sleboda is basically the Azzam al-Amriki of Putinism: his ideology may be nutty, but he seems like a true believer and I doubt he could be charged with hypocrisy.

    Reply
    1. Estragon

      Oh, and: “That long-time British expat Stooge seems to admire so much did it”

      That guy (“Moscow Exile”) divulged on one of these blogs that he had been convicted of a crime in the UK and spent time in prison because of it. Yet he claims to be living in Russia for many years. Wouldn’t it be difficult or impossible for a foreigner with a criminal record to immigrate to Russia?

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Good question. It’s possible he got married to a Russian citizen prior to 2002 or 2004, when marriage meant virtually instant citizenship. I’m not sure if they would have done a thorough background check then.

        Also when it comes to the temporary residence permit, I know they want a criminal background check, but I’ve been told that’s more about making sure you’re not currently wanted.

        Interesting find though. I will say that in our brief exchange he didn’t really say anything that leaped out at me as a Moscow expat. Nothing seemed false per se, but anyone could have made it up.

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Oh I totally have a certain measure of respect for all those guys who actually put their money where their mouths were. I mean I was a total Putin cheerleader before I moved over here, but I at least put my ideas into practice.

      I also know that Lavelle used to be a lot more critical of the regime.

      As for Sleboda (great movie reference BTW), the main problem with him is his deliberately lying to obviously left-wing people. This is my problem with the Russian propaganda machine as a whole. If they’d just be 100% right-wing everywhere, I wouldn’t care nearly so much. But instead they put up fronts and use deceptive tactics to appeal to leftists the world over, and then when you’re part of the radical left you get this Invasion of the Bodysnatchers-like scenario, whereby acquaintances and activists fall under the spell of Russian propaganda and start talking about the Ukrainian Nazis massacring Russian children in Odessa on the orders of the IMF.

      Reply
  5. A.I.Schmelzer

    As far as I get it, the “Kremlin pov” on “lying to left wing people” is roughly as follows:

    1: We dont buy our own current nationalist/conservative/defender of traditional values bullshit anyway, so why close doors to the left? Losing any option is unpragmatic.
    If Putin would think he could get more power/glory/presitge whatsorever by being fake left instead of being fake right, he would switch instantaneously.

    2: The main reason why went down the “defender of traditional values” bullshit way is because appeasing right wing people by doing anti homo stunts is way cheaper then appeasing left wing people who would actually want something somewhat meaningfull to be appeased.
    I mean, if you are a cynic machiavellian manipulator who rules from the left, you have to cough up significant money for social services etc. A Right wing ideology is way cheaper in upkeep.

    3: There is a vacuum in the media when it comes to the left, getting in there and shaping it is usefull. We dont really want a genuine left self organizing there dont we?

    4: Our new cynic goverment no longer has a consistent ideology. This has some drawbacks. The catchup is that we get to pick and choose from different ideologies, and basically grab whatever concept we find usefull at a given moment. No disrespect to any ideology intended, that is how we now roll.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I think their idea is pretty obvious. They view this as an “information war,” and they’ve been influenced by the harebrained theories of Dugin on how they can undermine the West. They think that having no ideological constraint is an advantage, and that confusing people and creating a sort of chaos will effectively hamper the efforts of foreign governments. The truth is the opposite, and plenty of evidence shows that Russia’s attempts at soft power have actually failed miserably.

      Reply
      1. A.I.Schmelzer

        I have to call bullshit on the Dugin thing.
        Mr. Dugin is part of operation “look what retarded whackos could get to power if Putin falls” as well as operation “see, maybe if you stop listening to Krauthammer on Foreign policy, I maybe wont start listening to Dugin” as well as operation “look, if you really piss us off, this is some harebrained bullshit we would perhaps do in response just to spite you”. He never actually met with Putin (cant afford the attendance fee). If you actually talk with Kremlin/”authority” people, repeating Dugin catchphrases is a one way ticket to “perhaps usefull idiot” territory.

        Trouble is that Dugin is more popular among “normal Russians” then he as among the authorities.

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