By Jill Dougherty
A new paper by Jill Dougherty, Spring 2014 Fellow and former CNN Moscow bureau chief, traces the shift in Russia’s ideology and its effect on media coverage of the Ukraine conflict.
Joan Shorenstein Center Fellow, Spring 2014 Formerly, Moscow bureau chief, CNN
All sides are using propaganda: Ukraine, Russia, the United States and other Western countries. But, for Moscow, the conflict in Ukraine is accelerating profound changes already under way in the Russian media: the centralization and mobilization of information resources in the hands of the state, providing the Kremlin—and President Vladimir Putin—the means to galvanize public opinion domestically and in the region, as well as forcefully assert Russia’s policies, views and—increasingly—values internationally. Putin has succeeded in dominating the media landscape within his own country and parts of Ukraine. Now, the Kremlin has set its sights on a broader international audience and is rebuilding the media and propaganda structures that collapsed, along with the Soviet Union, two decades ago. And it’s honing its message. By questioning, demeaning and attacking American and European moral “hypocrisy,” Russia is positioning itself as the “Un-West,” defining its own rules, and Putin believes his message is gaining traction: “Military-political, economic, informational competition does not subside but grows in the world,” he told his Parliament in December. “Other global centers follow Russia’s strengthening with attention.” For Putin’s propaganda chief, Dmitry Kiselev, one battle already is won: “We’ve switched roles,” he says. “Russia is for freedom of expression and the West is not.”
Read the full paper (PDF).