Historical Perspectives & Literature Review

Pro-Moscow news sources start with kernels of truth and wrap them in layers of distortions, exaggerations and lies which mislead readers to the benefit of Russia in its plan to compromise “the post-Cold War liberal world order” (Sukhankin, 2020, pp. 1, 3).  He describes three main narrative streams: overtly-biased, straightforward arguments, alternative reality/conspiracy “theories,” or Russian intellectuals’ arguments to targeted audiences (primarily Chinese) to steer them away from Western “world order” (Sukhankin, 2020, p.3)

Joseph Stalin coined disinformation, or dezinformatsiya, as a tactic used in Soviet agitation and propaganda, according to a paper written for the Macdonald Laurier Institute’s Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad (Kolga, 2019). Disinformation became known as active measures, or ideological subversion. The paper quotes a former KGB chief who said the intelligence agency used disinformation to sow discord among Western community allies and within NATO, and especially weakening the image of the U.S.

Soviet active measures were infamously tied to a campaign which for years pitted people around the world against the U.S. which had allegedly developed HIV as a bioweapon by combining publicly available information with speculation based on circumstantial evidence, and facilitated by useful idiots, those convinced that a false narrative was true, according to a CIA study (Boghardt, 2009).

“Soviet and East German disinformation specialists applied the techniques that stimulate the growth and spread of rumors and conspiracy theories—simplistic scapegoating, endless repetition, and the clever mixing of lies and half-truths with undeniable facts,” the CIA report says (Boghardt, 2009, p.19). This method allowed the AIDS conspiracy hypothesis to become a pandemic in its own right, it concludes.

Kolga (2019) continues, whereas the truth used to be important in Russian conspiracy narratives, modern ones create their own realities, regardless of the truth.

“For the Kremlin, any conspiracy theory narratives that promote confusion through false news are useful relays to achieving their strategic objective,” the report states (Kolga, 2019, p.12). Furthermore, it says positions at either extreme of the political spectrum are favored by the Kremlin.

The paper also discusses a history of Russian officials working with Canadian civilians, including academics, 12 of whom were caught after a Russian defection in 1945.

Global Research, the paper found, is part of a Chinese-registered online network called 4th Media, which had Chossudovsky on its international advisory board according to SourceWatch (2017). Currently its website returns a “Not Found” error. But the Chinese version of the site continues on.

The site allegedly included Kremlin state-funded outlets like Russia Today (Kolga, 2019). Finally, the paper says (Kolga, 2019, p. 16) Chossudovsky contributes to geopolitica.ru and Katehon, which are run by Aleksandr Dugin, said to be “an extreme-right-wing nationalist … who is listed as a contributor to Global Research, [and] is also famous for being the foreign policy advisor to Vladimir Putin.”