April 8, 2020
Postinformation Society blog starts to publish materials of the “White book of the special information operations against Ukraine in 2014-2018“, that was created by the Ministry of information policy of Ukraine experts and edited by the deputy minister for information policy Dmytro Zolotukhin.
The “White book” consists of the 10 big chapters – “series” of Kremlin fakes. Each chapter describes one big fake narrative, made by Kremlin and Russian special services, aimed to destabilize situation in Ukraine and destroy the trust of foreign partners to Ukraine.
Ukrainian language version of the book was published in Ukraine in 2018th. English version has never seen the world, because of the new president and new authorities came to power in Kyiv.
We hope these publication will help to understand Russian propaganda and disinformation much deeper and prevent new special operations by Russian special services.
Why do most people like TV-series, soap operas and multi-episode sagas so much? A variety of companies, such as HBO, Netflix and others, have profited incredibly on the shooting of projects lasting for years. Scriptwriters become millionaires through the exploitation of the same characters, adding to their stories just a pinch of new details. The same stories are told dozens of times, and people keep “buying” them, craving for the release of a new season or series.
Perhaps, there are fundamental scientific studies on this subject, but even without their help, a number of conclusions can be drawn.
First of all, the series are cheap to produce. The amount of money spent on their production is way below the profits and royalty they yield. This, of course, does not apply to all the projects, but only to selected ones, pushing us to the second conclusion.
Secondly, in order to find a successful series, it is necessary to run a few “pilots” (“pilot” episodes – the first 1-3 episodes of the series, allowing to assess the reaction of the audience). The release of “pilot” episodes is very similar to venture investment. Let’s imagine that the studio makes five different “pilots” and assesses the level of their correspondence to the audience suggestions. For example, only one of series among the five series has good reviews by the audience. Just it shall be keeping on shooting, and the others shall be stopped. Such approach makes it possible not to spend money on those projects that do not get the support of the audience.
Thirdly, the stories and characters pleased by the audience at the stage of the “pilot” episodes, become a magnet of the audience’s attention. In other words, among the audience there is a request to the story to be continued. And every new episode is perceived by the psyche approvingly as such as familiar and expected one.
So, the main advantages of the series shall be such as the low cost, success due to preliminary testing and predictable and positive perception by the audience.
That is why the series model is convenient to use for understanding the Russian propaganda narratives and active activities of special services in the information space.
Russian narratives and disinformation techniques have a high degree of effectiveness precisely because of their repeatability. Target audiences are constantly told the same stories, making them more emotional and “exotic” every time. Thus, in the story of Ukrainian “fascists” the culmination was the message about the “crucified boy” who allegedly became a victim of torture of Ukrainian soldiers in Sloviansk.
We understand that fakes and falsehood were not invented by Russian politicians. But thanks to Russia the disinformation became almost the most important arm of geopolitics all over the world. “Russia lies on a wholesale scale,” said once Pavlo Klimkin being the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Indeed, the volume of production of imaginary events by Russian media prevail even the capacities of Hollywood. And if Hollywood is a dream factory, the “Kremliwood” is a lie factory. Over the last decade this factory of “Kremliwood” has released plenty of products on diverse subject matter.
For example, a series of speculations on the subject of LGBT, pedophilia and incest in Europe, being under the attention of the experts back in 2011 and 2013. The Kremlin has been using narratives related to the Islamic state since 2013. Since then, the Kremlin’s tactics have evolved incredibly. Over the past five years of monitoring the activities of the Russian special services, it is obvious that the key messages of the Kremlin have been modified, and information operations against Ukraine have become more systematic. Most of the messages could be combined in several directions, each of which corresponds to one large narrative promoted by the Russian side in the world information space and is designed for a specific target audience.
The Kremlin tends to make certain target audiences to believe in the ideas it needs. For example, to believe in the mythical connection of Ukraine and ISIL. We call SERIAL such a large-scale narrative of Russian propaganda, combining different stories. Indeed, it has one storyline that can change but retains key features and it is designed for a limited target audience.
There are SEASONS in any successful series. Often series in those seasons shall be united around the one range of problems. Heroes solve some problem inherent only in this season, but not the others. However, the flow of plot-lines is also frequent from season to season.
Therefore, under the SEASONS of TV series, we understand more specific sets and complexes of Russian propaganda’s messages, which may be different, but all together form a great narrative. For example, in the TV series about Islamic State and Ukraine there may be a season about the “jihadist terror groups camps in Ukraine” and at the same time a season about the threats of terrorist attacks in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.
Each EPISODE of the season depicts one specific situation, which corresponds to the scenario line and the season and the series. I.e., each series, and in other words, the disinformation message or a special information operation – strengthens the great narrative and repeats the propaganda story.
In this book there is the “series” of Russian propaganda described, the stories of which were built around the Ukrainian theme.
Ukrainian experts estimate the number of Russian fake master-narratives around 30-34. Some of them last many years. Some of them come and go in line with media and political trends. The “White book” describes 10 most popular master-narratives (series) of Russian disinfomation:
Series 1. “Pocket ISIL”
Series 2. The crimes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Minsk agreements
Series 3. Flight MH-17 from Carlos to the Russian “Buk”
Series 4. Invisible units of Western countries in Ukraine
Series 5. The battle for EU
Series 6. Crimean information war
Series 7. In search of Ukrainian weapons
Series 8. International courts and the lies of the Kremlin
Series 9. Ukraine is a “Failed state”
Series 10. Schizophrenia of the occupant: between Zoryan and Shkiryak
We will publish each series in a separate blog. Enjoy the reading.
Author : Institute for Postinformation Society