If one good thing has come out of Vladimir Putin’s secret war against Ukraine, it is how that war has exposed Putin’s extensive propaganda network in the West. Using classic Soviet methodology, the network consists of a large number of loosely connected cells who are unaware of each others workings and loyalties. This protects the network from being infiltrated, because an infiltrator can only destroy a single cell. Some cells are official employees of the Russian government, others are Russian government contractors, still others are disaffected Westerners who believe that Putinism is a preferable alternative to Democracy. The most dangerous cells are those where most or all the members of the cell are not even aware they are being funded by the Kremlin. An activist organization which promotes Putin’s agenda will receive money from one of Putin’s many front organizations to continue their “good work”.
Many scholars and journalists have begun mapping Putin’s extensive propaganda network, but the network is simply too large for any one person to map. In addition, the financial transactions are done without public disclosure, making it effectively impossible to determine who all is being paid by Kremlin front organizations. However, the invasion of Ukraine has raised the visibility of the network high enough that parts of it are being publicly mapped.
Due to these recent events in Ukraine, most of the analysis of the network focus on anti-Ukrainian propaganda. However, once you start looking into the network you can see that Putin’s other agenda items are also heavily promoted, such as support for the Iranian mullahs and opposition to modern agricultural science.
Here is one map of portions the network developed by Olexander Scherba:
The most comprehensive write-up so far is Pro-Russian Network Behind the Anti-Ukrainian Defamation Campaign, by Anton Shekhovtov, a scholar studying the “far-right” political movement in Europe. (Note: In the US, we might call these “far left” political movements.)
Here are a few other sources to use when attempting to map this vast network:
- Ukraine: The Haze of Propaganda
- StopFake: Struggle Against Fake Information About the Events in Ukraine
- Russian propaganda war in full swing over Ukraine
- Ukrainian journalists appeal to foreign media to beware of Russian anti-Ukrainian propaganda
- 14 Insane Moments From RT’s Coverage Of The Russian Invasion Of Ukraine
- Russia’s top 40 lies about Ukraine
If you know of additional resources, please mention them in the comments. Together, we might be able to make some progress in removing the covers from this secretive organization.