Risks of information influence of “good Russians”

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Many Ukrainians listen to the opinions of seemingly oppositional and even “independent” Russian experts and bloggers who authoritatively comment on the events of the Russian-Ukrainian war. But the impartiality of Russian influencers can be deceptive.

At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the sarcastic term “good Russian” appeared in the Ukrainian information space to refer to those Russians who are supposedly against Putin and against the war with Ukraine, but in other aspects are not far from Russian imperialism. Being far away abroad, such “good Russians” can condemn Ukrainization in Ukraine and even demand bilingualism and state status for the language of the occupier. They actively criticize Ukrainian national heroes, despite the fact that their own Russian national heroes were responsible for colonialism, murder, and genocide. Also, “good Russians” are very fond of repeating the Kremlin’s propaganda thesis of “fraternal peoples” or even “one people,” which has always been used by Moscow as a manipulative and hypocritical way to enslave Ukraine.

Of course, not all Russian oppositionists and democrats remain chauvinists, but Ukrainian social media users still run the risk of being influenced by the Russian worldview, which has not escaped the Kremlin’s fascist elements.

First, any popular Russian blogger or expert comes from a society that has been promoting Russian imperialism for the past quarter century or more, which is very similar to the classic fascism of Benito Mussolini’s time. In Russian schools and universities, young people were indoctrinated with propaganda about “Russian greatness” and outstanding Russian scientific achievements, according to which almost all technical inventions of mankind are attributed to Russians. According to Russian curricula, the engine, the airplane, the radio, the television, and everything else is supposedly invented by Russian inventors. Even for a critically thinking Russian who grew up in Russia and was exposed to propaganda from all sides by state education, the Russian church, Russian cinema with the films Brat-2 and We Are From the Future, and a family raised on the same propaganda, it is difficult to escape this influence. It is very difficult for a person who has formed his or her worldview in an authoritarian country with chauvinistic sentiments to objectively assess both his or her country and people, and even more so Ukraine and neighboring states, which have been portrayed only negatively in Erephia for decades. An opposition-minded Russian may be against the war with Ukraine, but not everyone can put out of their minds all the historical, religious, cultural, stereotypical and other myths about Ukraine that the Kremlin propaganda has been raising its population on for decades.

Secondly, many popular Russian influencers, even when they live abroad, are closely monitored by Russian special services and can often become even unwitting instruments of their influence . The Kremlin knows that to influence Western or Ukrainian audiences, it is better to use “democratic” Russians who, having such an image, can voice information favorable to the Kremlin. It is extremely important for the FSB to have its own people in the Russian opposition environment. And these people are always publicly criticizing Putin. Their work is like this.

However, Kremlin agents can also be among Russian oppositionists, exerting ideological influence on them. For example, to slip in a plausible but favorable insight, “fact” or information material to the Putin regime, which the influencers will then share with their audience. Thus, by unconditionally believing Russian democratic and opposition bloggers and experts, Ukrainians risk falling for enemy propaganda.

Author: Valeriy Maydanyuk

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