How Western business helps Putin’s propaganda machine

Peter Pomerantsev writes: Watching Russian TV recently is a disturbing business. As Stephen Ennis at BBC Monitoring has painstakingly recorded, Russian media has developed a habit of delivering death threats to opposition members, using anti-Semitic insinuations against its opponents, screaming about the threat of the “homosexual sodomite tsunami,” and recommending burning the hearts of homosexuals while indulging in “techniques of psychological conditioning designed to excite extreme emotions of aggression and hatred in the viewer.”

It has helped “hallucinate a war into reality in Ukraine” (the Economist’s phrase) with fabricated scare stories about Ukrainian militia crucifying ethnic Russian children, “fascist Juntas” taking power in Kiev and U.S. plots to engineer ethnic cleansing in Donbas, while launching targeted, untrue and vicious attacks on Western academics in Russia as “fifth columnists” (I could go on — but you get the idea).

Zhanna Nemtsova, the daughter of murdered politician Boris Nemtsov, blames Kremlin TV for the death of her father: “Russian propaganda kills,” writes Nemtsova, “it kills reason and common sense but it also kills human beings.”

But here’s the odd thing. In between the frothing rants against the evil West, Kremlin television is full of ads for IKEA, Procter and Gamble and Mercedes, while the rest of the TV schedule is rammed with Russian versions of Western reality shows licensed from British and American production companies. Kremlin TV’s anti-Western hate-speech is financially propped up by Western advertising, and relies on the success of TV formats bought from Western producers.

“If you really want to hurt Russian propaganda consider putting moral pressure on Western advertisers and production companies to stop cooperating with the Kremlin’s hate-channels,” advises USC Annenberg scholar Vasily Gatov. [Continue reading…]

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