Staunton, November 13 – Aleksey Gromov, first deputy head of the Presidential Administration and someone who has been a Kremlin aide for 23 years, now is the Putin official in charge of controlling Russian media directed at both domestic audiences and foreign ones, according to Susanne Spahn, a German expert on Russian propaganda.
“Each Thursday,” she tells Mark Kotlyarsky of Israel’s Detaly portal, “Gromov hosts a meeting at which he discusses with the main editors [of state media outlets] current events, gives weekly instructions” about their work, particularly concerning those issues they should “ignore” (detaly.co.il/kto-segodnya-rukovodit-rossijskimi-smi/).
Among those in regular attendance is Margarita Simonyan of Russia Today, a propaganda channel that Gromov helped set up almost 15 years ago and one that plays a key role in pushing the Kremlin line in foreign countries, including acting in ways that constitute interference in Western elections.
According to Spahn, Gromov, who has been first deputy head of the Presidential Administration since 2008, is well and corruptly connected with Putin cronies Oleg Deripaska and Roman Abramovich, something that has allowed him to purchase a luxury apartment in Moscow far beyond what his pay would allow (meduza.io/feature/2019/01/23/proekt-ob-aleksandre-gromove-kuratore-rossiyskih-telekanalov-on-vladeet-elitnoy-nedvizhimostyu-ego-syn-vedet-biznes-s-abramovichem-i-deripaskoy).
The Kremlin propaganda chief is currently under personal sanctions from the West because of his role in Ukraine in 2014 and after, but this has not kept him from becoming a powerful player in Russian propaganda, someone who is notorious for his frequent remark that “nothing works unless you do it yourself.”
Gromov is less flamboyant and public than Vladislav Surkov was in a similar Kremlin role earlier, but he may be even more significant in terms of the way in which the powers that be in Moscow manage the news and use it to promote their own ends, Kotlyarsky and Spahn suggest.