Inside The Russian Media Bubble

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 29 2014 @ 8:02pm

Walter Laqueur asserts that for a “considerable time the element of fantasy in Russian political discourse has been strong (and growing stronger), not only at the popular level but in official statements.” Not surprising, exactly, but the details he marshals are remarkable:

A Russian citizen watching television in the evening will be exposed to the historical programme of Nikolai Starikov (to mention but one representative of this genre) which “prove” in convincing detail that the Russian revolutions of 1917 were engineered by the British secret service (the question of whether Somerset Maugham played the decisive role in this context is left open), and that Hitler too was an agent of MI5 or MI6 but did not really want to attack the Soviet Union. He was egged on, however, by Churchill and Roosevelt.

This will be followed by a documentary demonstrating that Trotsky was the father of German Nazism (this also happens to be the title of the series).

If the viewer still has an appetite for sensational revelations, he can switch to yet another series dealing with the connection of the “German patriot Martin Heidegger” and the Balfour Declaration. Retiring to bed with a good book he may well chose the immensely popular Maxim Kalashnikov (no relation of the weapon designer) maintaining that while the present Russian generation is pretty hopeless, a new generation of heroes could be produced in record time, following the pioneering work done by the SS Ahnenerbe in the study of the Aryan race which will put right everything that is wrong or imperfect in contemporary Russia.

The Stalinist system came to Russia 90 years ago and with it the frequent belief in manifestly untrue assertions. This practice has been more pronounced in some periods than in others. It has been denounced on various occasions by experts, but it has by no means been rejected. If in recent years there has been increased sympathy, even a certain longing, for the Stalin period in Russian history, it should not be surprising that this includes the readiness to believe manifestly untrue assertions. President Putin himself argued not long ago that Stalin was no worse than Oliver Cromwell.