How to Write a Bad Article about Russia

Several press articles I’ve seen in the past few days have annoyed me rather, but I think that they are useful as examples of how reporting on Russia is distorted. For they demonstrate the methods used by journalists to paint a picture of the world that is far from accurate.

The articles in question come from those bastions of balanced reporting, The New York Times and The Guardian. The first is from Sunday’s edition of the NYT, with the title ‘The Arms Dealer in the Crosshairs of Russia’s Elite Assassination Squad’. This discusses Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, whose weapons were destroyed in an explosion in the Czech Republic in 2014, allegedly by Russian secret agents.

The second article is also from the NYT. This one has the title ‘After Testing the World’s Limits, Putin Steps Back From the Brink,’ and analyzes what author Anton Troianovski calls Russia’s ‘escalatory approach to foreign policy’, as seen by the Russian military build up near the Ukrainian border.

The third and final piece is from The Guardian, and is about last week’s protests in support of jailed oppositionist Alexei Navalny. This is somewhat schizophrenic, on the one hand saying that the pro-Navalny movement is in trouble, but on the other hand portraying the protests as a relative success and ending on a confident note that however grim things look for the opposition now, this can change at any moment.

Anyway, as one reads these articles one notices certain techniques that are used to paint a distorted picture of reality. So if you want to be a journalist, here’s what the articles teach that you should do:

1. Make stuff up. In the Guardian article, authors Andrew Roth and Luke Harding (yes, he!) begin by telling readers that ‘The future looked unspeakably grim for Alexey Navalny’s supporters before this week’s protests’,. But it then lifts our spirits with the following:

What followed was surprisingly normal: a core of tens of thousands of Navalny supporters rallied near the Kremlin, waving mobile phone torches and chanting “Putin is a thief!” The police stood back in Moscow (there was a violent crackdown in St Petersburg). For an evening, the crowd roved the streets of the capital at will.

“This feeling of enthusiasm, of overcoming fear, the protest ended on a positive note … It left me with the feeling that nothing is lost, it’s still not the final battle, and that street protests in Russia are not over forever,” said Ivan Zhdanov, the head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, in an interview from Europe.

Ah yes, the protests were a huge success, euphoric. There were ‘tens of thousands of Navalny supporters rallied near the Kremlin.’

Except that most reporters said that there was nothing of the sort, and that the turnout was far below expectations.

Estimates of the size of the protest crowd vary, but the Russian Interior Ministry reckoned the numbers as 14,000 across the entire country and only 6,000 in Moscow. Interior Ministry counts tend to be on the low size, so you can treat them with a pinch of salt, but Russian media outlets were claiming a crowd in Moscow of 10,000 to 15,000, while Western journalists’ estimates were in the same ballpark. Max Seddon of the Financial Times, for instance, reckoned the number at about 10,000 and commented that it was much lower than in the last protests in January. So ‘tens of thousands’ as The Guardian claims? Apparently not.

The Guardian isn’t alone in providing misleading data. In its article about the Bulgarian arms dealer, The New York Times has the following to say:

After pro-democracy protestors toppled the Kremlin’s puppet government there [i.e. Ukraine], Russia special forces units wearing unmarked uniforms seized and annexed the Crimean peninsula and also instigated a separatist uprising that is still going on in the east.

Let’s unravel this a bit: Were the demonstrators in Kiev really ‘pro-democracy’? Debatable, though not provably 100% false. But definitely untrue is the idea that the Ukrainian government that was toppled in February 2014 was a ‘Russian puppet’. That’s simply false. As for Russian special forces ‘annexing’ Crimea, it’s true in a way, although not the whole story of what happened. But the claim that Russian special forces ‘instigated a separatist uprising’ in Donbass is without foundation. I know of no evidence of ‘Russian special forces’ having been present in Donbass in the early weeks of the uprising there. (Strelkov and his goons were not ‘Russian special forces’, and most analyses of the uprising show how it was overwhelmingly spontaneous and local in origin.)

So, again, making stuff up.

2. Mention that others have ‘reported’, ‘claimed’, or ‘alleged’ something without pointing out that the claim in question is dubious at best, or false at worst.

For example. The NYT piece about Mr Gebrev talks about the alleged Russian spy unit, Unit 29155, and tell us that:

Last year, the Times revealed a CIA assessment that officers from the unit may have carried out a secret operation to pay bounties to a network of criminal militants in Afghanistan in exchange for attacks on US and coalition troops.

This is superficially true in that the Times did reveal this assessment. But what it doesn’t tell you is that the US government only has low to medium confidence that the claim is true. That’s kind of important, don’t you think? Shouldn’t it be mentioned? By failing to do so, the Times makes out that something is true that probably isn’t.

It’s not the only example. Talking of Ukraine a little later, the same article tells us that after war broke out in Donbass,

Russian assassins fanned out across the country, killing senior Ukrainian military and intelligence officials who were central to the war effort, according to Ukrainian officials.

They did, did they? Well, maybe ‘according to Ukrainian officials’ they did. But I have to say that it’s the first I’ve ever heard of it, and if it were true wouldn’t there have been news of lots of dead Ukrainian military and intelligence officers? Given that there wasn’t any such news, why repeat the claim? Shouldn’t the Times at least check it first.

3. Cite only sources that back up the narrative you are trying to tell. Ignore alternative viewpoints.

This kind of follows on from the last. If you are writing about Ukraine, cite ‘Ukrainian officials’. But don’t cite rebel spokesmen. If you’re talking about Russia, cite oppositionists. Ignore pro-government analysts.

We can see this in the Guardian piece. This quotes a couple of members of Navalny’s team, a British professor, a pro-Navalny Russia high schooler, and then to finish off some completely random former advisor to one-time British foreign minister Robin Cook, whose connection to, and knowledge of, Russia is completely unexplained. The only reason for giving him the final word seems to be that he came up with some nice lines about how opposition movements can suddenly triumph even when they seem to be losing. Needless to say, dissenting viewpoints are nowhere to be heard in the article.

The NYT piece about Russia stepping ‘back from the brink’ is similarly loaded with carefully chosen sources. First up is the ever-present Gleb Pavlovsky, a one-time advisor to Vladimir Putin turned oppositionist, who seems to be the eternal go-to person for anti-Putin quotes. After him, the article gives us a quote from Navalny’s assistant Leonid Volkov, a statement from Ukrainian National Security Advisor Oleksiy Danilov, and a few words from the generally pretty anti-Putin Estonian analyst Kadri Liik. For a pretence of balance we also get a statement by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and the opinion of Konstantin Remchukov, editor of Nezavisimaia Gazeta, a newspaper whose political stance isn’t 100% clear to me but strikes me as sort-of oppositional, sort of not (given that Remchukov ran the re-election campaign of Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin). All in all, the anti-government voices get the bulk of the space.

So there you have it. Make some stuff up. Reference ‘claims’ and ‘allegations’ without pointing out that they are unsubstantiated or even false. And throw in lots of quotes from pundits who support the chosen narrative. Easy as pie. A career as a journalist awaits you. Just don’t bother trying to be accurate. Understood?

45 thoughts on “How to Write a Bad Article about Russia”

  1. No shortage. This one by Cliif Watts from April 23 is a rehash of bogus mumbo, jumbo which you had sarcastically rebuked:

    It’s no surprise to see Watts’ piece uncritically propped by Evelyn Farkas at her Twitter account. Once again, the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) didn’t place the article at issue in the Yonkers Tribune. I did so without any SCF prodding. In doing so, I didn’t violate any law.

    What I did has numerous precedents in the US, in the manner of American citizens freely expressing their opposition or support for a given candidate; regardless of whether they reside in the candidate’s specific area. Prior to my article getting placed in the Yonkers Tribune, that venue had run pro-Farkas commentary. Rather than laud a site for giving different views, Farkas derided its editor. Farkas had no issue with the Yonkers Tribune as long as it was running 100% commentary in support of her.

    When it comes to Russia related coverage, lies against that country are more likely to get paid good money unlike views which factually counter them, while offering follow-up debate. BBC included, Farkas has been getting a good number of puff segments, where her faulty views aren’t challenged.

    I’ve previously noted the lies at Farkas’ Twitter account. Twitter hasn’t blocked her, unlike some of their decisions purporting to combat “fake news”.

    To my knowledge, there has yet to be clear smoking gun specific evidence presented, linking the SCF to the Intel unit of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Regardless, that venue doesn’t tell me what to write. I greatly admire the work of some of their contributors. One example that relates to my last article on CNN:

    As for Anton Troianovski, here’s a detailed reply to his inaccuracies:

    Was placed at as well.


      1. Relatively speaking. Over the years, he has said some pretty standard things along the lines of faulty coverage. His one on one with Aaron Mate is a worthy watch.

        Bryan MacDonald is good. Then again, he’s not mass media establishment unlike Weir.


      2. Not too surprising. He has some pro-Soviet sympathies. He co-wrote a book with David Kotz about the end of the Soviet economy and the beginning of the new Russian economy. It is not a very flattering book to the new Russia. In certain respects it has not aged well but it also does offer a fairly insightful snapshot of the situation as of 2005. RUSSIA’s PATH FROM GORBACHEV TO PUTIN – I highly recommend it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “As for Russian special forces ‘annexing’ Crimea”

    Is it annexing when after a Plebiscite the population has decided to join the RF and they – if present at all an not just part of the contingent that was present legally in Sebastopol – just make sure the process proceeds peacefully, which it did?
    That is apart from the legality of Ukraine hanging on to Crimea after it separated from the USSR/RF when this area was ceded to Ukraine being part of the USSR?

    “But the claim that Russian special forces ‘instigated a separatist uprising’ in Donbass is without foundation”

    Funny, I still remember the pictures of tanks moving into the Donbass confronted by grandmothers and mothers after the separatists had held a referendum that was NOT acknowledged as being sufficiently representative by President Putin, different from the well organized referendum in Crimea.

    “Shouldn’t the Times at least check it first.”

    Kind of funny you asked, when most of the US mainstream has deteriorated to being govt. mouthpieces – or the same for the various 3 letter agencies.


  3. Thanks Paul. Old-fashioned regard for the truth is in short supply nowadays. Especially re. Russia. So, good thing we have you 😉

    Another particularly blatant example from BBC, by Sarah Rainsford, a Cambridge graduate who is based in Moscow and speaks fluent Russian:

    The article is titled “Putin on Biden: Russian president reacts to US leader’s criticism”. Ms. Rainsford discusses in great detail Putin’s response to Biden. Indeed, there is even a chapter in the article titled “What exactly did Putin say?”, where she compares the literal translation to the idiomatic one (…”whoever calls names gets called those names”… equates in English to “it takes one to know one”…), etc.

    But NOWHERE in the article does she even MENTION the very first (and by far the most important) part of Putin’s response (… пожелать здоровья…).

    Why? She’s way too smart to think it’s unimportant – she is a Cambridge graduate, for Christ’s sake, and an experienced professional. I really do wish someone asked her in the face – why? Was it her own decision, or someone else’s? Isn’t she ashamed? This is such a classic example of lying by omission, it should be in a textbook!

    As the old Russian joke goes, “и эти люди запрещают нам ковыряться в носу”. Ha-ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Of course writing (cloning, really) a standard anti-Russian piece is easy.

    What’s interesting is that it’s the only kind of article they publish, the whole of Oceania. Total control. Far less freedom of the press than in the dreaded Eurasia, it seems to me. That’s what needs to be analyzed, imo.


  5. There was a lot of deliberate obfuscation going on at the time regarding the events in the Crimea and the Donbass, and the entire “green men” thing was a particularly interesting case.

    Yeah, of course there was obfuscation you say, it was all a Russian “maskirovka” operation! No, that’s not what I mean…

    People kept mixing things up, entirely on purpose, and that bugged me as it happened, and the continuation of this still keeps bugging me.

    So, just let me list things in chronological order.

    1. The infamous “little green men” in Crimea, or “polite people” as they were known locally. These were Russian soldiers wearing Russian camouflage patterns (“digital flora”/”tsifra”, unique to Russia and to the “Ratnik” uniform that had just been adopted at the time. They had Russian-issue helmets, Russian-issue radios, modern Russian Pecheneg machineguns, Russian AK-74M rifles, they drove brand new Russian Tigr and Rys’ armored cars with Russian military plates plainly visible, and Ural trucks, likewise with Russian plates. These people NEVER showed up in the Donbass.

    Why people kept saying they were “unmarked” and thus unidentifiable just drove me nuts at the time. Yes, they lacked colorful Russian tricolors on their jackets, but that’s it.

    2. Strelkov’s group, which changed composition over time but originally included a bunch of Don/Terek Cossacks (such as the photogenic “Babai” figure, named Mozhaev), a bunch of Crimean civilians, a couple of ex-military people from both Crimea and Russia and so on. These guys were wearing the “Spektr” camouflage pattern, which is available from civilian vendors, except one guy who was plastered all over Western media with a fisherman’s hat and a “Gorka” dress (hugely popular in the entire CIS for hunters, fishermen and so on), armed with a Western-style marksman rifle (AR-15 pattern). I found the guy on a gun forum shortly afterwards, he was a Crimean sports shooter that joined Strelkovs crew, but everyone claimed he was some kind of Russian special forces guy…

    Strelkov’s group DID show up in the Donbass, but they did so AFTER:
    2.1 Demonstrations had escalated to the point where there had been multiple occupations of governmental buildings in the region.(1)
    2.2 Road blocks had been put up by regular people.
    2.3 Several armed groups had already formed by locals (such as Zakharchenko’s “Oplot”, Zakharchenko who would later head the entire movement)
    2.3.1 These guys were armed with whatever they could find locally. They typically had a mish-mash of Ukrainian military and civilian camouflage clothing, sported Ukrainian police riot gear, all were armed with Ukrainian AK-74 rifles of late 1980’s pattern, quite distinct from the Russian AK-74Ms that the Russians had in Crimea, and so on…
    2.4. Ukrainian armed formations had been dispatched to the area and had been blocked by angry babushki, Ukrainian aircraft had done low-level fly-bys to intimidate people, etc.
    2.5. Lots of Ukrainian weapons and even armored vehicles had been seized by the Donbass opposition.

    AFTER all of this, Strelkov and his rag-tag band, set up camp in Slavyansk and all attention was focused on that. Everybody started equating them with the Russian “green men” in Crimea, though this was demonstrably false. This idea persists to this day… And while they were there, things just continued and various armed groups in the Donbass got hold of more Ukrainan stuff. Around this time the Donetsk airport was put out of action by Ukrainian military aircraft, destroying the terminal with rockets (something later blamed on “Russians”, by the way).

    A month later or so, some old Russian surplus weapons and gear started being funneled into the Donbass, and was increasingly employed by these people, the vast, vast majority of which were locals. Some of this gear was probably sourced through a clandestine Russian “aid” program sanctioned by the state, but some seems to have been sent there through private endeavours. Strelkov sought way more Russian aid, but it didn’t come, and he expressed his dissatisfaction with this on numerous occasions.

    Even later, in early July the first obvious heavy Russian gear (chiefly vehicles that did not in any way match any Ukrainian dito, also a substantial amount of artillery) started showing up in the armed Donbass formations, but this was too surplus stuff, older models of this and that.

    The first time anyone saw anything indicating actual Russian military presence was during the Ilovaisk operation. It was a brief Russian military incursion to prevent an encirclement of the rebel formations. Problem is, at this stage most Western pundits had been screaming about how everything was an entirely Russian invasion for months, so it made little difference. The Russians withdrew after having successfully pushed the Ukrainians out of that region, and by all accounts it was a rather bloody affair.

    After that, things were comparably calm until the next Russian incursion, the Debaltsevo battle. Same thing there, the Ukrainians had a wedge in between Gorlovka and Alchevsk, and the big ceasefire had been signed to come into effect shortly, so this was about positioning and the rebels could not do it without direct Russian intervention. That too was a rather bloody affair, the bloodiest battle of the entire war as far as I am aware. Once the Ukrainians had been driven out of the Debaltsevo wedge, the Russians again withdrew.

    That pretty much sums it up.

    (1) a fascinating thing regarding this is that militant protesters representing the Maidan movement and its far-right muscle similarly seized governmental buildings, police stations and so on in the central and western parts of the country beforehand and armed themselves with things they found there, which appears to have been completely forgotten.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I will add that Ukraine kept records of everyone they captured and subsequently exchanged in POW swaps with the rebels. Out of all these people, 95% were Donbass locals, the remainder Russians, out of which only a few were shown to have been military servicemen.

      Nobody talks about hard data such as this, for some reason. If you compare it to the Spanish civil war, the foreign intervention in the Donbass (by Russia specifically) makes it *more* of a civil war than the Spanish ditto, yet it’s illegal to call it such in Ukraine and entirely taboo in the West as well.

      One of the more humorous moments pertaining to this was when Ukraine swapped a bunch of captured people with Moscow itself, to get hold of Oleg Sentsov (the so-called “filmmaker”) and the Ukrainian sailors that had been captured by Russia in Kerch strait after President Poroshenkos attempted provocation.

      Out of the 35 people that Ukraine sent to Russia in return, 30 were Ukrainians with Ukrainian passports (!), 1 was a Moldovan citizen, leaving only 4 Russians, only 1 of which was an active Russian serviceman. Several of the Ukrainian ones simply returned to Ukraine immediately as they had literally nothing to do with Russia, at that.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. And I recall that when the plane landed in Moscow, several Russia correspondents I follow noted the lukewarm reception they got and compared it to the festive atmosphere in Kiev as Sentsov and the sailors arrived. “This is how little Russia cares about its people” was the gist of it.

        Total silence when the actual make-up of the swap was detailed, and of course no retractions or corrections. As usual

        PS pardon for writing a minor essay all of a sudden.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Out of all these people, 95% were Donbass locals, the remainder Russians, out of which only a few were shown to have been military servicemen.

        What’s the average percentage of foreign fighters joining an ‘Internationalized civil war’? Our comparative data basis on the issue is somewhat weak?

        Highly appreciated, Drutten.


    2. Oh yeah, I dug up General Philip Breedlove’s (NATO supreme commander at the time) assessment of Strelkov’s rag tag bunch, as they appeared in Slavyansk…

      I quote;
      “The weapon handling discipline and professional behavior of these forces is consistent with a trained military force. Rifle muzzles are pointed down, fingers not on triggers, but rather laid across trigger mechanisms.”

      Meanwhile, what you *actually* were looking at was a bunch of chubby dudes in their 40’s with ill-fitted commercial camouflage gear, used “Berkut”-style kneepads clearly taken from local Ukrainian stocks, and 1980’s AK-74 rifles without the hinged buttstock or the black handguards standard in Russia since the early 1990’s. Rather, these guns were also directly sourced from local Ukrainian stocks. They didn’t show any particularly impressive military “discipline” in any way, rather the opposite. Yeah, fingers not on triggers and muzzles down, sure, then I am a freaking Navy SEAL as well (basic gun discipline that applies to every situation where there are guns involved for any civilian anywhere in any reasonably civilized country does not equal sudden “military” skills).

      The nail in the coffin however was that these guys were constantly posing for photographs unmasked, talking to journalists (even the total prick from Vice, Ostrovsky got an exclusive with the aforementioned corpulent Cossack “Babai”), and *their names were known* far and wide only days after they appeared, with VK profiles being dug up etc. They were NOT a trained military force.

      But this version, that they were indeed some mysterious “trained military force” and basically the same as the patently dissimilar Russian soldiers in Crimea seems to have prevailed in the common conciousness to this day. Hey, Breedlove said so.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This reminds me of someone somewhere, who may have been a Navy Seal too, I forget whatever type of special forces he belonged to. Strictly could look it up. A late temporary, this time around, ban victim.

        But I do recall quite vividly, concerning Libya he felt those guys first have to be taught how to handle a weapon. 😉

        Easy to see. Obviously not for everyone.
        Be well


    3. Excellent summary and military analysis, Drutten!

      I would add that Strelkov was a war-reenactor hobbyist, those people are good at getting their hands on various uniforms, etc.
      If I am not mistaken, Surkov at the time was the “official” Kremlin curator of the Donbass rebels, it was his job to monitor them and make sure they didn’t get themselves into excessively deep water. Eventually he got sick of Strelkov’s antics, especially after the latter pulled out of Slavyansk. Something he was never supposed to do.


      1. Strelkov was also keen for Russia to actually enter Ukraine; over keen which is why he was gently but purposefully removed from the scene.


    4. There were two Armed groups in action. The real Russian forces (polite green men) based in Crimea provided on-the-street presence, dealt with the various Neo-Nazi militia outfits, cut the encrypted military comms lines forcing Ukraine to communicate openly, and negotiated with the Ukraine military counterparts present in similar numbers. Some 75% of the Ukraine military opted to transfer to the Russian military with rank and pension preserved.

      The other group were militia members (less formal than UK territorial reserve) who dressed ad hoc and primarily mounted defence of the Parliament building to ensure due legal process could continue in the face of expected Neo-Nazi disruption.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Everybody started equating them with the Russian “green men” in Crimea, though this was demonstrably false. This idea persists to this day…
      It may be interesting to look into the specific genesis of the theme. Such coinages no doubt have a much stronger power to remain on our minds. You tell me if you feel ‘little’–t feels it was, when I first encountered it–green men was some type of spontaneous coinage or not?

      I guess what stuck most on my mind around 2014 reporting were events in Odessa.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing a study of what has remained on the minds of media or social media consumers. Admittedly, assuming “the little (?) green men” will stick out.

      Thanks, Drutten, appreciated. Have to take a closer look at your comment.


  6. Great article Paul. Excuse the long comment but I may as well get these thoughts on the table …

    Might I also add, steal the proverbial high moral ground by declaring yourself to be the ones who are fighting for freedom, democracy and human rights, and then reinforce this by enveloping yourself in institutions such as “Anti-Corruption Foundation” – and do make sure you use the word “Foundation” – it sounds so … Clintonian.

    It’s worth tracing the history of this ’atrocity propaganda’ back at least a century, where it was really brought into mainstream by the likes of Edward Bernays.

    One book I would recommend is “Falsehood in War-Time” by Arthur Ponsonby. (Written in 1928-1929, it is more about Germany but the techniques are well illustrated.) I particularly draw your attention to the role of Alfred Harmsworth (aka Lord Northcliffe) and The Times

    I read a quip by someone (source forgotten) who commented: “Reading The New York Times to learn about what’s happening in the world is like reading Calvin and Hobbes to learn about tigers.”

    I might also add the quote by Chalmers Johnson: “I no longer read the New York Times for the news – I read it for the lies”.

    It is worth noting that while there would have been editorial influence as to “political correct” content long before, the nail in the coffin of the NYT was driven home in 1896 when “Adolph Ochs buys the New York Times”.

    Similarly, the headline “1933 – Eugene Meyer Buys The Washington Post” speaks for itself.

    As far as the BBC is concerned, here is perfect illustration of the standard of its ‘reporting’ (this time in relation to Syria):

    • Fabrication in BBC Panorama Saving Syria’s Children: Robert Stuart

    So it is not just Russia at which the effluence is directed.

    One last thing …

    Re “Russian assassins fanned out across the country, killing senior Ukrainian military and intelligence officials … “

    That brings us to another favourite technique – “projection” – always accuse the victim/adversary of what you are guilty of doing yourself – and then accuse your victim/adversary of inventing this concept.

    Actually …
    • Murder of Donbass leader [Aleksandr Zakharchenko] committed with help of Western intelligence services

    • 120,000 mourners bid farewell to murdered Donbass leader in Donetsk

    and let’s not forget who [amongst others] were behind this from the start …
    • John McCain and Lindsey Graham Visited Donbass Frontlines Ahead of Current Bout of Fighting, Told Ukrainians to go on Offensive.

    And also Arseny Pavlov (aka “Motorola”)

    • Murder of Donetsk Militia Commander Threatens to Reignite Ukraine’s Civil War

    In relation to the assassination of Motorola, The Guardian wrote: “Observers say 33-year-old killed as a result of either an internal feud or Russia removing ‘inconvenient’ separatist leaders in the field”

    Oh, and for those who can’t get enough masochistic/nihilistic orgasmic thrills from the Guardian, WaPo, NYT, CNN, BBC, ABC (Australia) etc, just go and read the Daily Mail.


    1. Julius, thank you for reminding everybody of these disgusting assassinations of heroes such as Motorola, Givi and Zakharchenko by the Ukrainian fascists, backed by American military.


  7. BTW, Richard Harris once wrote a book on the subject – “A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication”, which is a comprehensive manual on how to distort reality in one’s favor.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I believe everything the New York Times has ever written, but only when it satiates my confirmation bias.

    • 1906 – New York Times, 25 March 1906: “Startling reports of the condition and future of Russia’s 6,000,000 Jews were made on March 12 in Berlin to the annual meeting of the Central Jewish Relief League of Germany by Dr. Paul Nathan… He left St. Petersburg with the firm conviction that the Russian Government’s studied policy for the ‘solution’ of the Jewish question is systematic and murderous extermination.”

    • 1915 – Jacob de Hass, The Boston Sunday Globe, 26 September 1915, page 46: “Indeed the only point that all warring elements are agreed upon is that at the end of the holocaust the Jews and Palestine will be more closely related than at present.”

    • 1915 – New York Tribune, 14 October 1915: “What the Turks are doing to Armenians is child’s play compared to what Russia is doing to six million Jews, her own subjects.” [topical considering the words projected out of Biden’s mouth recently]

    Robbie Williams …

    Bloody Russians! 😊


    1. They used the word “holocaust” back in 1915 to refer to the plight of Russian Jews? That’s amazing, I never knew that.
      What were they even talking about? Like, the Black Hundreds and Cossack pogroms, that sort of thing?


      1. Hi yalensis. Thank you for accepting my contributions in good faith. I am not really qualified to give you a specific/detailed response to that last question (still reading and trying to figure out many things, especially how both the World Wars were kindled (and by whom). I see so many parallels between both those catastrophic events and today’s warmongering media – “same old lies, same old liars”.

        Re the ‘pogroms’, I do recall a very detailed description by Solzhenitsyn (in Two Hundred Years Together) regarding the (?first ever) pogrom following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. The immediate ‘media’ reports were very balanced – you can certainly understand a bit of ‘emotion’ when the father of your nation has been assassinated and there would have been some bad blood against those responsible and some pushing and shoving. I recall reading of at most a handful of casualties – and most of those were of Russian protesters than the perpetrators. However, in a subsequent ‘media’ records it was women and children being raped and murdered en masse (!!!).


      2. Click to access 6million.pdf

        i Have not checked the source, but I was aware tat the & Million number in connection with the Jewish diaspora is almost a magic number or an incantational phrase
        1906 – New York Times, March 25th, 1906: ” … the condition and future of Russia’s 6,000,000 Jews were made on March 12 in Berlin to the annual meeting of the Central Jewishb Relief League of Germany by Dr. Paul Nathan … He left St. Petersburg with the firm conviction that the Russian Government’s studied policy for the “solution” of the Jewish
        question is systematic and murderous extermination.”

        1911 – Max Nordeau speaking at The 1911 Zionist Congress. Hecht, Ben. Perfidy. NY; Julian Messner. 1961. page 254: “But the same righteous Governments, who are so nobly, industriously active to establish the eternal peace, are preparing, by their own confession,
        complete annihilation for six million people,”

        1912 – American Jewish Year Book 5672 (23 Sep 1911 – 11 Sep 1912), page 308: “Russia has since 1890 adopted a deliberate plan to expel or exterminate six millions of its people for no other reason than that they refuse to become members of the Greek Church, but prefer to remain Jews.

        1915 – The Sun (NY), June 6, 1915, section 5, page 1: “Six million Jews, one-half of the Jewish people throughout the world, are being persecuted, hounded, humiliated, tortured, starved. … six million Jews in Russia … are being tortured so mercilessly.”

        and so on for 16 more pages

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I didn’t mean to take us off topic, but in relation to the phrase “the & Million number in connection with the Jewish diaspora is almost a magic number or an incantational phrase”, I refer readers to this video by Christopher Jon Bjerknes where he cites and quotes from “The Secrets of Hebrew Words” by Rabbi Benjamin Blech.

        Bjerknes mixes his message here and there and I do not support everything he says but he gives a good explanation of why it “had to be Six Million” – every viewpoint helps fill in the pieces of the jigsaw.

        Warnings To The Jews! Premonitions Of The Holocaust (remove underscore)

        Can I recommend starting from around 12:30 to get to this particular point.


      4. Julius & Peter, thanks for all your amazing research, this is pretty heavy stuff.
        One possible interpretation: When previous (pre-WWII) anti-Russian propagandists were talking about the 6 million Jews, they were just all sharing the same number from some sociological statistics. (As in, there were approx 6 million Jewish ethnic persons residing in the Russian Empire.) So, these anti-Russian propagandists were claiming that Russia (or whoever) had slaughtered, or was out to slaughter, these 6 million individuals.

        I have no love for the Tsars, by the way, so I wouldn’t defend them if somebody proved they did it; but highly unlikely that Cossacks on horses had the technology to kill that many people during that period of history. Hundreds maybe, millions? no.

        Then Hitler came along and actually did it because he had better technology.

        I realize there are Holocaust deniers who deny that Hitler slaughtered that many Jews; however, when one looks into the before and after numbers in those various countries, partitioned by ethnicity, the numbers do tell the story. And, please, Deniers, not all of those Jews could have escaped to Palestine, so, yes, they were pretty much murdered by the Nazis. Which would explain that magical “6 million” number. Because that was the actual number of ethnic Jews residing in the Russian Empire. They were Hitler’s targets.

        Does this make sense?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hi yalensis. I tried to give you a preliminary (but lengthy) response but it may have had too many links or prohibited sites (one was bitchute) so I will try again tomorrow.

        In the meantime this just came up – I don’t know if you know Caitlin Johnson …

        Featured here

        PS – the Bitchute link was the following (as an experiment I will try and post it here with an underscore in “bit_chute” – just remove the underscore)

        • The Magnitsky Act: Behind The Scenes (Andrei Nekrasov)


      6. “I have no love for the Tsars, by the way, so I wouldn’t defend them if somebody proved they did it; but highly unlikely that Cossacks on horses had the technology to kill that many people during that period of history. Hundreds maybe, millions? no.”


        No kidding! I know someone who had a family member command a group of Cossacks who put own a pogrom, likely initiated by anti-government types and/or plain local rowdies.

        The pre-Soviet era pogrom of Jews in the Russian Empire wasn’t worse than what happened to the Armenians and Blacks in the US.

        BTW, I’m no fan of the USSR. Notwithstanding, I’ll refute those making negatively inaccurate remarks about such issues as the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement.


    2. Boris Johnson on those “bloody Russians”:

      “One of the most sickening things now of course is that the – the Russians and the – the regime are double-tapping. As soon as the – the white helmets come to the site and start to rescue the wounded and take them away they [the Russians] bomb again and I think that is absolutely unthinkable and outrageous way to believe. But they are fantastically brave, these White Helmets.“

      I rest my case …


  9. Out of interest could you link to or cite those analyses of the Donbas insurrection? Both for our own further reading and also because it is gets maddeningly talked about as though most of the rebels are Russian regulars.


    1. There is some work by Serhiy Kudelia. He wrote a report for Ponars entitled ‘Domestic Sources of the Donbas Insurgency’, but it seems to have disappeared from the Ponars website. He also wrote a piece called ‘The Donbas Rift’ in the journal ‘Russian Politics and Law’, Volume 54, No, 1, 2016. If you don’t have access to academic journals, there’s a discussion of it on Natalie Baldwin’s blog at:

      I also mention Kudelia’s work here:

      Beyond that, there was also a report by the International Crisis Group. I discuss it here:

      The original of the report is here:

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you. All bookmarked. I now have my reading for the next several days. I had read Sakwa’s book and McDermott’s Brothers Disunited but I hate relying on only two sources.


  10. I came across these two excellent interviews today – sharing as both are very much on topic re propaganda in general, and especially relevant to Russia – and a nice bit of history thrown in in both interviews.

    • The West goes insane over Ukraine – RT Renegade Inc interview with Alex Krainer (Vanessa Beeley channel)

    • Interview with Maria Zhakarova – RT (DutchBoy NL channel)


  11. @yalensis

    I don’t think any reasonable person that has ever read history or dug into the German archives would deny the holocaust happened, although the actual numbers are discussed.

    IMHO it does not matter if 4 or 6 million were killed, I found it however quite strange that this number of 6 million was previously used as a propaganda tool against Russia maybe for convenience sake or for drawing parallels with Russia’s “attempts” to eliminate the Jews from its Empire.

    I also find tose references to Jewish people starving in Germany after WW1 quite hilarious, as the “Jewish People” at that time were much integrated in German society, something that only changed after the Nazis achieved power.
    Yes, of course there was anti-Semitism in Germany like in almost all European countries, Russia and the USA, some of it especially in the rural regions of Germany due to many rarm food and farm animal traders were Jewish and of course the farmers always felt – justly or unjustly – they received a raw deal.

    Also quite significant is the Propaganda effort claiming that a Holocaust in Germany began in 1933, when we know that individual Jews were targeted but the actual persecution began 5 years later after the Kristallnacht.

    This kind of propaganda by USA publications that visitor to Germany at the time could not confirm shows that propaganda has a countereffect – the lies at that time feed the lies of the holocaust deniers, and the same type of backlash will happen at some time when the lies regarding the present day propaganda efforts by the USA, the Baltic states, the UK will be exposed as lies, likely then leading to the denial of actual wrongdoing – internally or externally – of Russia.


    1. Excellent points, Peter! It is important to distinguish between cases of individual anti-Semitism and persecution vs the more systematic kind that began in Germany in 1938. Even there, from what I understand from history, the real holocaust didn’t even begin then, but a couple of years later, with the invasion of the USSR. Apparently, at some point between 1938 and 1941 the Nazi Party decided they were going to actually do it. And the target number, by virtue of demographics, just happened to be that magic number of 6 million; although, as you point out, there is no reason to get hung up on that particular number. It could have been less, it could have been more. The point being that the Nazis set out to physically exterminate as many of them as they were able to.

      Just as a sidebar, I have never understood the attitude of the Holocaust Deniers. When you read their hideous comments on blogs, they literally call for the extermination of Jews as a people; and then deny that it happened in the past. You’d think they would bragging about it instead of denying it! They can’t have their cake and eat it too.


    2. I have heard an opinion that Holocaust denial is, perhaps, the last of the red lines that has to be crossed before the situation slips into another Munich Agreement situation, with predictable results. US and NATO has already rewritten the history by shifting the blame of beginning of WW2 on USSR, and simultaneously whitewashing of collaborators from all over the Europe. The only thing that is left to do is to provoke Europe into suicidal crusade against Russia and, perhaps, sealing the deal with nuclear Holocaust. In the end, winner takes all.


  12. Все же я думаю, что нельзя винить журналистов. В чем их цель? Цель в том чтобы их читали и комментировали. И чтобы не ругали. Поэтому им приходится писать так чтобы их читала аудитория. А какая аудитория самая многочисленная? Правильно. антироссийская, русофобская. Вот для них они и пишут. создают себе имя. Америка хоть сколько может говорить, что в США свобода слова. На самом деле не о какой свободе слова там и речи нет. В психологии Американцев – движение к успеху любой ценой. Отсюда и отсутствие свободы слова. Журналистам приходится придерживаться общепринятой точки зрения. Это полезно для их карьеры. То же самое и в политике. Если ты что-то скажешь о том, что Россия хорошая, то можешь поставить крест на карьере.
    Так происходит оболванивание народа США. Интересно то, что сегодняшняя ситуация вокруг России проистекает из этой же логики. Пришел Джо Байден к власти. Ему нужны голоса. Нужно привнести новое. И новое в русле русофобии. Поэтому я думаю, что через год русофобская риторика станет более мрачной. И в конце будет война, которую развяжет США. Когда кончатся аргументы в пользу Русофобии. И весь запад их поддержит. Здесь нужно менять саму систему. Привносить Российскую культуру в США.


    1. @Maxim
      “Пришел Джо Байден к власти. Ему нужны голоса.”

      Well, Biden found the votes he needed. In the final analysis, even the dead rose up from their graves to vote for their zombie leader – hahaha!


    2. Эта аудитория, которая поддерживает агрессию в странах Запада. Она не многочисленная. И даже не самая богатая. И ни в коем случае не успешная. Она просто озверевшая, осатаневшая от своей безнаказанности и поэтому совершенно лишенная каких-либо моральных ограничений, готовая использовать все свои силы, и влияние для достижения своих целей. 20 лет беспрепятственной эксплуатации России, ее репутации и ее ресурсов, наложенные на опыт колониальной эксплуатации слабых стран (которая длится веками), создали иллюзию, что эта песня про бремя белого человека будет длиться вечно. Сейчас, когда эти люди сталкиваются с сопротивлением, они готовы сожрать любого, пойти на любые преступления чтобы добиться своего привычного абсолютного доминирования. Единственное, что останавливает их от того, чтобы погрузить мир в кромешную войну – это остатки послевоенных механизмов дипломатии и сдерживания.
      То же самое можно было бы сказать и о Китае, но с Китаем приходится быть осторожным, потому что это действительно внушительная сила, которая на самом деле может дать, и дает пропорциональный ответ. В случае с Россией, которую уже давно списали со счетов, пропорциональный ответ вызывает у них недоумение, и потому раздражает и распаляет их еще сильнее.


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