Watching Russian News & Reading Pravda : What I Learned

I grew up hating America. I lived in the Soviet Union and was a child of the Cold War. That hate went away in 1989, though, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended. By the time I left Russia in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed, America was a country that Russians looked up to and wanted to emulate….

I was perplexed by how the Russian people could possibly support and not be outraged by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But I live in Denver, and I read mostly US and European newspapers. I wanted to see what was going on in Russia and Ukraine from the Russian perspective, so I went on a seven-day news diet: I watched only Russian TV — Channel One Russia, the state-owned broadcaster, which I hadn’t seen in more than 20 years — and read Pravda, the Russian newspaper whose name means “Truth.” Here is what I learned….

Russia’s propaganda works by forcing your right brain (the emotional one) to overpower your left brain (the logical one), while clogging all your logical filters. Here is an example: Russian TV shows footage of schools in eastern Ukraine bombed by the Ukrainian army. Anyone’s heart would bleed, seeing these gruesome images. It is impossible not to feel hatred toward people who would perpetrate such an atrocity on their own population. It was explained to viewers that the Ukrainian army continued its offensive despite a cease-fire agreement.

Of course if you watched Ukrainian TV, you would have seen similar images of death and despair on the other side. In fact, if you read Ukrainian newspapers, you will learn that the Ukrainian army is fighting a well-armed army, not rebels with Molotovs and handguns, but an organized force fully armed by the Russian army….

Comparing Putin to Hitler, as one of my Russian friends put it, is “absolutely abominable” because it diminishes Hitler’s atrocities and overstates by a mile what Putin has accomplished to date. Yet it feels as if we are at a Putin-of-1936 moment. Will he turn into a Putin of 1939 and invade other countries? I don’t know. But the events of the past nine months have shown Putin’s willingness to defy international law and seize the advantage on the ground, betting — correctly so far — that the West won’t call his bluff.

As Garry Kasparov put it, while the West is playing chess, responding tactically to each turn of events, Putin is playing high-stakes poker. We ignore Putin at our own peril.

By Vitaliy Katsenelson – InstitutionalInvestor.com –