Monday, June 5, 2017

Kremlin’s Conspiracy Thinking Lands Russia in Trouble, Krasheninnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 5 – The Putin regime increasingly is relying not on a careful analysis of the facts but rather on the conspiracy thinking its propagandists disseminate as a guide to action, Fyodor Krasheninnikov says, with increasingly disastrous consequences for Russia and its place in the world.

            The Yekaterinburg political analyst says that it is now obvious that “the most important decisions are being taken on the basis of pseudo-facts disseminated by [Moscow’s own] propaganda” and that conspiracy thinking, supported by “mysticism,” is generating “a baseless self-confidence” (

            The current reliance on conspiracy thinking in foreign affairs, Krasheninnikov says, grew out of the Kremlin’s vision of Russia’s past and its unwillingness to focus on the domestic sources of the revolutions of the 20th century. In the Kremlin’s view, all these events occurred “not as a result of domestic conflicts, economic problems, and lousy governance.”

            Instead, the Kremlin believes, all these revolutions took place “exclusively under the influence of external forces, which via agents of influence and propaganda achieved the weakening of the power of the state and the disintegration of the country.” And it thinks that such foreign machinations are the result of “’Russophobia.”

            Reliance on that force as an explanation, Krasheninnikov says, is a reflection of the fact that “faith in conspiracies requires an irrational explanation” and that this set of views explains why foreigners devote “so much energy, effort, and resources on the struggle with Russia.” 

            This “conspiratorial view of the past sooner or later had to lead to the idea that [Moscow] can act the same way now” given that “Russia is as it were the citadel of the good and therefore not only can but should beat the perennial enemy with his own weapon.” And that explains what the Kremlin has been doing in many places around the world.

            It has calculated on success by “finding some local politicians or simply citizens who are dissatisfied with an existing regime, to begin financing them directly or indirectly, to create special agitation media and NGOs.” In short, Moscow has been seeking to do “everything that our leadership has been accusing the Western countries of for many years.”

            Since such methods proved capable of destroying “holy and beautiful tsarist Russia and the miraculous and invincible USSR,” the Kremlin reasons, and therefore they will be even more effective against “the rotting democracies of the West and all sorts of small pseudo-states.”

            Not surprising where there is a demand based on such a vision, Krasheninnikov continues, there will be a supply; and various analytic centers have rushed to provide the Kremlin with ideas on how to disorder the West, destroy NATO, and ensure “’a belt of neutral states in the Balkans.’”

            But this approach hasn’t worked: “however much [Moscow] invests in marginal fighters with the system [in these countries], they all the same lost to the systemic forces there in ways that are completely predictable,” he argues.

            Even in the case of the US elections, which “seemed to many to be the beginning of a new era,” Moscow’s conspiracy-driven approach has failed: The US did not collapse or disintegrate, and “American democracy has shown itself to have a significant level of stability. One man, even if he is the US president, isn’t capable of turning everything upside down.”

            And in the cases of “small countries like Montenegro and Macedonia,” Moscow’s conspiracy-driven approach has “turned out to be ineffective,” even when reinforced by “mystical” faith in “Slavic unity and Orthodox brotherhood.”

            In this case, Krasheninnikov says, “the contemporary world has turned out to be much more complicated that Dugin and Prokhanov see it.” First, Balkan elites think “pragmatically” and recognize that the rich EU nearby is “a much more interesting partner than distant and comparatively poor Russia.”

            Second, it was “extremely native to plan something” of the kind Moscow did without recognizing that the EU and NATO could and would respond. And third, those who implemented the Kremlin’s decision showed themselves to be pathetic. The result: Montenegro joined NATO, and Macedonia seeks closer ties with the Western alliance and with the EU.

            Despite this, Krasheninnikov  says, “there is no basis to suppose that this destructive and expensive fiath that one can achieve anything anywhere with money and propaganda is about to be thrown aside in the near future by the ruling elite of our country.”  Instead, driven by its own propaganda, Moscow will waste “billions of dollars” and have little to show for it.

            One thing, however, is “already clear,” he concludes.  “Seeking domination or even suggest in world politics by operating on archaic theories and open mysticism in the 21st century” is doomed to failure after failure. 

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