RuBaltic.Ru: a Scientific Project or a Propaganda Technique?

In this year document ‘Assessment of risks and threats to national security’ of the State Security Department and Second Department of Operational Services there is one chapter that is dedicated to      cyber security, as alw…

In this year document ‘Assessment of risks and threats to national security’ of the State Security Department and Second Department of Operational Services there is one chapter that is dedicated to      cyber security, as always. Here, inter alia, it is indicated that ‘one of the main goals of information policy of Russia is to derogate statehood of Lithuania and compromise any manifestations of the resistance to the Soviet regimen of the population of the state (e.g. uprising of June 1941, post-war resistance and dissident movement). For that reason the creators of the Kremlin propaganda in 2019 tried very hard to discredit the actions brought in regards to January 13 and spying to the benefit of Russia. A propagandistic narrative was created and propagated about potential ‘politically motivated persecution and artificially fabricated political cases’ taking place in Lithuania in order to justify the Kremlin policy.   
These statements are illustrated on the cover of the publication published in Russian. The booklet, presented as a report on the alleged political persecutions in the Baltic States, was published by the portal located in Kaliningrad that calls itself an analytical agency. This publication was introduced during an event that was held in Brussels last year in January.   
What is and what goals does it pursue? What is the difference between this portal and the agency mentioned in the previous reports of the intelligence? If we look deeper, we will see that we can find quite a number of external differences.   
Sputnik funded by a federal budget of Russia, describes itself as a media designated exclusively for foreign audience, where professional journalists employed there, supposedly are not afraid to tell the     truth about things that others are not talking about. Actually, if we have a glimpse to the content of the portal, a less critical reader may actually believe in all this. Actually, one can find a few politically neutral publications there: cultural news, information about weather or sport events, essays on topics of social life or health. A major part of information seems to be quite positive to Lithuania or its government.
Nevertheless, if we look deeper, we will notice that alongside the news flow of neutral news, not talking about comments, the position of the Kremlin is being persistently pushed to the reader although not too pushy or at least they try to show that life in Lithuania is not a path strewn with roses and is getting worse every day. We just don’t mention ‘historical’ publications describing that in 1940 Lithuania joined the USSR voluntarily and rebels of the June uprising and post-war partisans are described as Jew shooters or simply criminals.        
By the way, this tactics is not new. Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Nazi propaganda created so-called ’40 against 60’ method. Its principle is to develop a media where 60 percent of information is friendly or neutral to the enemy. Thus, when the trust of the enemy is reached, propagandists can use the remaining 40 percent of the announced news for efficient disinformation or half-truth.
However, let’s go back to mentioned at the beginning of this article. Contrary to Sputnik that calls itself the news agency, this one calls itself an analytical portal that was established in 2013 on the initiative of Moscow and Kaliningrad scholars. These scholars supposedly specialize in post-Soviet space, paying particular attention to the Baltic States.    
Founders of the portal, introducing the project, explained this trend as if Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia supposedly are supporting not ‘a new architecture of international security’ but ‘confrontation of two blocks’. Besides, as if the internal processes inside them such as intensification of authoritarian tendencies, deterioration of economic situation and social degradation correspond to such activities of the Baltic States. As we can see, even in the presentation of the project itself we see an obvious lie, although the portal emphasizes its impartiality that is guaranteed by representatives of the academic community of Russia who cooperate with the portal.    
In order to make assessment of impartiality, let’s look at its content. In the news flow of the last two weeks designated for Lithuania, the news are presented without comments, however the selection obviously demonstrates the position of . In most of them we see bad news. In one article it was stated that despite the growing GDP, unemployment in Lithuania is increasing, in other article it is being anticipated that Brexit will make a tremendous damage to the economy of the Baltic States, social domain and international politics. These insights as if illustrate the news about a deep sadness of Gitanas Nausėda, President of Lithuania, regarding withdrawal of Great Britain.            
Only a few sentences were written about the fact that representatives of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Sakartvelo have not signed a declaration produced by Russia denouncing attempts to rewrite the history during the parliamentary assembly of the European Union. And probably just for repeating statements of this declaration once more that are taking nine tenths of the text.
In one interview of the portal we find out about miserable status of Russian-speaking media in the growing background of Russophobe. We will also find some news that the Baltic States and Ukraine became the outsiders of Europe according to affordability of petrol, which cannot be said about Russia that is ranked ten or more places than the mentioned countries. A selection of other news flow obviously testifies about strictly determined trends of the portal.  
In order to list these trends we should review a wider content of the portal of several years. One of them is a myth that while being in the USSR the Baltic States lived like in God’s garden, because they used to be funded from common budget of the Soviet Union several times more than other bigger republics or areas. Actually, no specific numbers were produced to the reader. A standard myth ‘Life used to be much better under Russians’ is supported by comments repeating from one comment to another comment that Baltic States so generously awarded by Soviets could make an excellent infrastructure and create life that population of other republics could be jealous. All of this just fell after the Baltic States withdrew from the USSR. This supposedly made a shock of their economy, the outcomes of which could be experienced even now.     
Another favourite topic is a liquefied natural gas terminal. By ignoring the fact that namely the terminal secured independence of Lithuania from Russian gas, the portal never misses an opportunity to push the idea as if LGT is an expensive toy, which is a heavy burden of taxpayers of the country.
History has become the most important target of alongside economy. Here we can notice several topics pushed by the Kremlin: ‘legitimacy’ of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, ‘voluntary’ entry of the Baltic States to the USSR, anti-Semitism in pre-war Baltic States and its outcomes in recent times, participation of inhabitants of the Baltic States in the massacre and their service in the Nazi concentration camps.   
The publication, the title of which was ‘Lithuanians, Latvians and traitors: who killed prisoners in Majdanek death camps?’ published on January 13 of the current year (Is this day just a coincidence?) can be used as an example. It tells that every tenth Majdanek torturer was German, the rest of them were Kalmyks, Latvians, Lithuanians and Croatians. However, the portal didn’t bother to prove such statistics.
Thus, compared with a much subtle agency , propaganda spread by is noticeably aggressive and in most cases based on lies or distorted definitions. In one publication of January 22 it was told that Lithuania got into a conflict with Israel and Jews around the world. The article tells about ‘scandalous’ initiative to adopt a law that contradicts participation of the state of Lithuania in Holocaust, because Lithuania itself was occupied by Nazi. The publication tells that adoption of such a law will grant indulgence to all assistants of Nazi, among which Jonas Noreika and Juozas Ambrazevičius, Head of Temporary government of Lithuania that was never recognized and scattered by the Nazi.     
Do these and other narratives pushed by the Kremlin find the reaction in Lithuania? Similar myths are being pushed by other media of Russia. Probably, yes and no. Yes, because the mentioned portal is quite often quoted by some Lithuanian peripheral websites. Yes, because such propaganda in the form of the ‘opinion’ is regularly repeated in various profiles of social networks.    
However, actually no, because hardly a crucial mass of people who give in to such attacks could be found in the Baltic States. Actually, Sergey Rekeda, Editor-in-chief of has admitted this, who actually is the manager of the Center of public political processes in the post-soviet area that is operating under the University of Moscow that closely cooperates with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. In one interview when he was talking about prospects of ‘soft power’ of Russia in the Baltic States he told that this power in the region manifests very slightly and has no serious prospects even among majority of Russian speaking population, especially among young people. ‘Russian-speaking’ is not the same as ‘loyal to the foreign policy of Russia’.  Moreover, there is a quite big number of young people who criticise Russia and does not consider it a related or close country’, S.Rekeda admitted.    
Does it mean that Moscow will stop its propaganda in the Baltic States? Of course, not. Because both propaganda and other manifestations of the ‘soft power’ is the only available form of direct aggression against other countries at the time being. How we manage to resist this aggression depends on the strength of our society.   
 
Aras Lukšas

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