“Let’s Get the Popcorn Ready” – Russian TV Covers US Protests

The widespread protests in the United States continue to grip the world’s attention, and pro-Kremlin media are no exception. On Russian state-controlled TV channels, reports about developments in US cities come with the usual disinformation tropes and a tinge of thinly-veiled glee: “America got what it deserved”.

Organised protests

“I am watching and I am happy […]. The US is reaping what it sowed”, Russian Duma member Aleksei Zhuravlyov said on June 1 after the host of “60 Minutes”, a political talk-show aired on state-controlled Rossiya-1, showed the photo of a wounded protester in the United States. The politician explained why: he claimed to have seen the “training manuals” according to which such demonstrations were supposed to be organised in Russia. Now, according to him, US Democrats are using similar manuals, prepared by former US President Barack Obama, in their own country. “All these Orange Revolutions are the creation of US Democrats”, concluded Zhuravlyov.

In the eyes of pro-Kremlin disinformation, popular protests have always been a Western, and in particular an American instrument aimed at undermining Russia. EUvsDisinfo database contains nearly 200 examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation cases detailing alleged Western attempts to instigate colour revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Hong Kong and elsewhere. Now the same disinformation narrative is applied to the United States. To detract from the logical inconsistencies – why the United States would choose to organise a “colour revolution” on its own soil – pro-Kremlin disinformation points to familiar targets such as George Soros and the US Democratic party.

Writings on the wall

The advantage of conspiracy theories is that they don’t need any evidence to spread. In fact, the absence of evidence is frequently presented as proof that something is hidden from the public. The opposite works as well – with a serious face and an alarmist tone, anything can be presented as “evidence” of some sinister plot.

State-run Channel 1 (Pervy Kanal) recently used this tactic to convince its audiences that the US protests were staged. On June 3, the political talk-show “Time Will Tell” (Vremya Pokhazhet) scrutinised the symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement – a raised fist – and compared it to similar symbols that appeared in other countries throughout the years. The apparent similarities between the images of clenched fists were presented as evidence that “the process was controlled” and that the instructions to protest came from George Soros and the Democratic majority.

Photo: http://www.1tv.ru/shows/vremya-pokazhet

In fact, the raised fist used by the Black Lives Matter movement was inspired by the Black Panther Party , which used it as a symbol of black liberation in the 1960s. The symbol has a long history as a sign of defiance and solidarity, and it has been used by multiple groups on a number of occasions throughout history, including Nelson Mandela and fans of the Northern Soul dance and music movement in Britain. Claims that universal symbols of resistance and solidarity are proof of a conspiracy by the political elite show how alien and anxiety-ridden these topics are for the pro-Kremlin media.

Capitalising on conspiracy theories

Like most newsworthy events, the US protests have been accompanied by misleading videos and conspiracy theories circulating online, including rumours that the protesters were supplied with potential projectiles like bricks and stones.

Pro-Kremlin media, never shy of capitalising on global misinformation and disinformation trends, used one such misleading video to fuel claims of “orchestrated protests”.

On June 2, “Time Will Tell” aired a grainy video making the rounds on social media that purported to show two police officers loading bricks onto a pickup truck.  The footage was said to be further evidence that that the US protests were led by trained hooligans and unleashed by the US Democrats, “just like in Maidan”.

In reality, the video showed two police officers at Boston’s Northeastern University  who came across a damaged sidewalk and collected the bricks to prevent accidents and injuries, as was explained by the Northeastern University Police Department on Twitter.

Photo: youtube.com/Первый канал

“Time Will Tell” might have missed the explanation – the show aired a few hours before the tweet was published. However, the decision to broadcast unverified footage found on social media speaks volume about the TV channel’s deontology. Pro-Kremlin media outlets are apt at exploiting conspiracy theories that are already in circulation on social media. After all, why invent something that is already there?

Goodbye, America

Independent Russian media outlet Meduza recently reported on a curious incident, when Russian state television Channel-1 (Pervy Kanal) replaced the closing credits of the cult movie “Brother 2,” which depicts among other things the life of Russians in the United States, with recent footage of riots and police violence in the United States. Images of protesters clashing with the police, burning vehicles and looted stores where shown as the chorus “Goodbye, America” played in the background. The TV programme then seamlessly transitioned to the evening news, presenting the latest on the “crumbling values of the Western world”.

A spokesperson of the TV channel later explained that the movie technically ended before the improvised credits and that the recent footage was a part of the news programme. According to the spokesperson, any allusions showed that “real art is relevant 20 years later” (the Brat 2 movie was released in 2000).

In a commentary about this slip of schadenfreude, which illustrates a larger sentiment dominating the coverage of US protests on Russian state-run TV channels, Russian journalist Andrei Arkhangelsky asks his readers why laughing at someone else’s pain brings so much pleasure to today’s propagandists. Why do hosts of Russian state TV channels, many of whom own real estate in the West, continue to dream about its demise? The answer, according to Arkhangelsy is:

“a passionate desire to get rid of the mirror that the rest of the world is for us. […] Wishing a catastrophe onto others actually comes from a sense of deep disappointment, hidden even from oneself, in one’s own strength.”

(c) EUDisinfo

10 comments

  • Interesting that Muscovy link colour revolutions to Soros and the Dems, especially when the POTUS during the Rose revolution, and the Orange revolution was Bush junior. Why let facts get in the way of propaganda. Russia just can’t get their heads around democracies allowing protests, but are quick to fan the flames, no matter who is running the country.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Both Bushes were very feeble on Russia. Bush 1, with his abysmal ‘chicken Kiev’ (the spelling at the time) speech, which provided comfort and support for Russia at Ukraine and Georgia’s expense, was an utter disaster that paved the way for 30 years of appeasement. At the time, a Ukrainian politician; Stepan Pavluk, complained that “Bush does not understand that we are fighting against a totalitarian state.” He commented that Bush “talks a lot about freedom, but for us, it is practically impossible to conceive of freedom without independence”.
      Also at the time the government of Georgia issued a statement declaring that “The heir of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and others arrives . . . and carries on propaganda in favor of the Union Treaty. Why didn’t he call on Kuwait to sign the Union Treaty with Iraq?”

      Liked by 3 people

      • Not one POTUS has done anything about Russia since the days of Reagan, the present incumbent being the worst of the lot. You would think that Russia are the superpower here, and not the US.

        Liked by 3 people

        • A prophetic quote from the leader of Rukh in 2011:
          ‘We do not impose on Russia how to interpret its own history. Why did Russia try and continues to try to impose on us the use of the Russian language? Why do Russians want to make us forget our own history and our heroes? Ukrainians must know their history and live accordingly, instead of living by the stereotypes spun by tsarist and Soviet ideologists.’
          — Party-leader Borys Tarasyuk on Echo of Moscow Radio (February 5, 2011).
          From Bush 1 onwards, as you rightly say, US presidents have completely failed to understand that Ukrainians are NOT simply Russians who don’t yet know it.
          If we go back to Potsdam, I often tried to find out who it was that made another disastrous decision: to award Konigsberg to Russia. FDR I think was dead by then, so perhaps it was Trueman?
          Of the currant crop of GOP politicians who aspire to be president, you have to look long and hard to find one that matches John McCain in terms of taking active measures against putlerstan. Rubio is one: he even published his ‘Rubio doctrine’, which was very sound. I can’t think of any others.

          Liked by 3 people

          • I can. Ted Cruz and Nikki Haley. They are true Americans. Sadly under Trump they can’t act as they want, since both are governors and any bitch war with Donny could result in a Biden victory. I’m sure next year they will get louder to get the ticket for 2024.

            Liked by 3 people

            • They are good people Mike. But only Rubio set out a clear strategy and published it. He is still the only serious player in town now that Johnny Mac has gone. Another good guy is Kurt Volker, who has always been very sound, but probably does not have presidential ambitions.

              After the Helsinki debacle that we all remember so well when Trumpkov groveled to putler, some GOP people spoke out. I made a note of them:
              Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, rebuked Trump’s statement that he held “both countries responsible” for the deteriorated relationship between the United States and Russia. “This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame. America wants a good relationship with the Russian people but Vladimir Putin and his thugs are responsible for Soviet-style aggression,” Sasse said in the statement. “When the President plays these moral equivalence games, he gives Putin a propaganda win he desperately needs.”
              Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said the President “made us look like a pushover” and that Putin was probably eating caviar on the plane home. “I was very disappointed and saddened with the equivalency that he gave between them (the US intelligence agencies) and what Putin was saying,” said Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is not seeking re-election.
              “The President’s summit in Helsinki today should have been an attempt at confronting Russian aggression, hacking, and election interference,” Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, said in a tweet. “Russia is not a friend or ally. As Americans, we stand up for our interests and values abroad; but I fear today was a step backwards.”
              “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. Russia poses a grave threat to our national security,” tweeted Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican.
              Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican who was among the Republicans leading last week’s sharply partisan hearing of FBI agent Peter Strzok, made clear Monday he did not see Russia as a US ally. “I am confident former CIA Director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, DNI Dan Coats, Ambassador Nikki Haley, FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others will be able to communicate to the President it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success,” Gowdy said in a statement.
              Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who has been constant critic, called the President’s performance “shameful.” I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful,” tweeted Flake, who is not running for re-election.
              Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican and former undercover CIA officer, expressed shock at Trump’s attitude towards Putin and Russia.
              “I’ve seen the Russian intelligence manipulate many people many people in my career, and I never would have thought the US President would be one of them,” Hurd said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
              Two of the above felt free to comment as they were not standing for re-election. The others are only relatively minor players. I agree that there may be many others who will come out stronger next year too.

              Liked by 2 people

  • Countries unequivocally opposed to putler (unfortunately there aren’t many) should outspend the kremkrappers and hit them with a taste of their own toxic medicine. Two can play at that game. At the moment the fascist turds are winning the information war.

    Liked by 3 people

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