Friday, June 23, 2023

Kremlin Propaganda Seeks ‘to Polarize rather than Persuade,’ Alyukov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 21 – Western responses to Moscow’s propaganda are typically based on the assumption that providing true accounts will undermine the false narratives Russian media are featuring, but that assumption fails to recognize “the Kremlin’s propaganda machine is more sophisticated than it seems” and seeks “to polarize rather than persuade,” Maksim Alyukov says

            According to the fellow at King’s College London, the Kremlin “not only disseminates inaccurate information but also exploits social relationships among individuals, influencing how citizens perceive one another, evaluate the chances others will join collective action, and determine their willingness to engage in political conversations (

            By promoting the idea that all sources of information, including its own, are biased, the Kremlin effort is having an extremely detrimental impact because viewing information as “biased” can be as destructive or even more than that false information because it leaves people cynical about all information sources and unwilling to re-examine their beliefs.

            “When individuals perceive information as a weapon,” Alyukov continues, “they are more likely to dismiss sources of information that challenge their beliefs” and “give up political discussion altogether. That leaves people where they are even if they are presented with accurate information by other sources.

            The Kremlin reinforces this with its portrayal of society as consisting of an overwhelming majority supporting the regime and a tiny “deviant” minority that doesn’t. “Abundant evidence suggests this ‘divide and rule’ strategy is effective,” intimidating some and leading others to go along rather than fight.

            “Paradoxically,” Alyukov continues, “openly demonstrating bias can serve as an effective political strategy that reinforces rather than undermines the impact of propaganda.” The latter “may fail to persuade but it can foster political cynicism,” preventing conversations across political divides and even affecting media consumption patterns.

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