Staunton, Mar. 18 – Many in the West believe that Russians would quickly recognize reality if only they had access to good information, Kseniya Kirillova says; but a far larger problem in the Russian information space is not the lack of reliable information, although there is a shortage, but rather the way Russians have been taught to perceive the world around them.
By means of a combination of unrelenting propaganda and legal bans on presenting alternative information, the US-based Russian media analyst says, Russians have been prompted to accept the irrational as normal and not to question the contradictory messages they are being given (ru.krymr.com/a/rossiya-ukraina-voyna-propaganda-mify-dezinformatsiya/31759100.html).
For example, Kirillova continues, they are told to believe and many of them do believe that Russia had no plans to invade Ukraine but has made plans to do so and that Ukraine is so weak that the Russian military will make short work of it and that Ukraine is so strong that it is an existential threat to their country and thus must be destroyed.
The Orwellian world in which Russians now live not only insists on contradictory things but also on irrational ones such as the belief that “the entire West hates Russia for the very fact of its existence, dreams of destroying it, and will see this goal independent of the behavior of the Kremlin.”
“This does not mean,” she says, “that all Russians support the radical ‘Eurasian’ ideology and dram about a global reordering of the world. On the contrary, such views are supported only by a radical but passionate minority.” But this radical minority sets the tone and means that others accept or at least do not challenge its positions or connect the dots of its absurdity.
According to Kirillova, “Russians are so accustomed to this view that they even do not see the elementary logical contradiction of such propaganda.” And that means this: “one is speaking here not about a deficit of information but about the inadequate way in which it is viewed.”
Russians will not change their approach by the provision of good information alone as many in the West think. They will only change it if they are compelled to recognize the absurdity of the situation the Kremlin regime has put them in, a process that requires recognizing where they are now is more than about the inadequacy of information available to them.
Kirillova points to another consequence of this situation: Russians often believe contradictory things even about those the regime seeks to define their thought. Thus, polls show that while more than half of them support Putin’s war in Ukraine, almost a third are sympathetic to Ukrainians as such.
That may be something those who provide better information can build on in order to change how Russians will internalize the facts and conceive the world in ways far different from the ones the Kremlin has so far successfully imposed on so many of them, the media analyst concludes.