October 20 2021, 13:21 pm

NATO Study Examines Russian Media Landscape And Information Operations

The NATO Strate­gic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Cen­tre of Excel­lence (Strat­Com COE), a NATO cen­ter that seeks to counter dis­in­for­ma­tion and influ­ence oper­a­tions, has pub­lished a study on the Russ­ian media envi­ron­ment, exam­in­ing the struc­tures, mech­a­nisms, and tech­nolo­gies of Russia’s infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions. Accord­ing to the NATO study:

Octo­ber 14, 2021 The present study con­tains a brief analy­sis of the polit­i­cal, finan­cial, and leg­isla­tive influ­ence brought to bear on the Russ­ian media envi­ron­ment, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for the Krem­lin to influ­ence opin­ion domes­ti­cal­ly and to con­duct spe­cial media oper­a­tions against West­ern coun­tries and their allies.   This report is devot­ed to deep aspects of Russ­ian infor­ma­tion influ­ence activ­i­ties that have rarely been the sub­ject of detailed stud­ies. It is an analy­sis of the struc­ture cre­at­ed by the Russ­ian state to con­trol the flow of infor­ma­tion in the par­a­digm of a ‘hybrid war’ against demo­c­ra­t­ic countries.

The paper is pre­sent­ed in three parts:  In the sec­tion MECHANISMS of STATE CONTROL over the MEDIA in RUSSIA, we show how con­trol over the Russ­ian media space has been con­sol­i­dat­ed into the hands of a few pow­er­ful indi­vid­u­als through trans­fer of own­er­ship and man­dat­ed changes, and pro­vide data on merg­ers and acqui­si­tions involv­ing Russia’s largest media assets and their sub­or­di­na­tion to the state. We exam­ine the mech­a­nisms of polit­i­cal influ­ence on infor­ma­tion pro­duc­ers by means of non­prof­it struc­tures and a sys­tem of per­son­nel appoint­ments. We pro­vide data on state financ­ing of Russia’s infor­ma­tion pol­i­cy at the fed­er­al and region­al lev­els. We dis­cuss exam­ples of the involve­ment of Russ­ian spe­cial ser­vices in state infor­ma­tion pol­i­cy, draw­ing on the expe­ri­ence of the author and on aca­d­e­m­ic research. And final­ly, we describe how recent changes in leg­is­la­tion and pol­i­cy can be used to lim­it free­dom of speech, to under­mine cit­i­zens’ rights to pub­licly express their own opin­ions, and to oust for­eign own­ers from the nation­al infor­ma­tion sphere.  In the sec­tion TRENDS in RUSSIAN INFORMATION STRATEGY, we inves­ti­gate ten­den­cies for strength­en­ing the state monop­oly in the media space. Here we dis­cuss the Russ­ian con­cep­tion of the cur­rent tools and tech­niques of hybrid war— the ‘mir­ror prin­ci­ple’, the ‘cloud adver­sary’, the ‘com­pa­tri­ot strat­e­gy’, and oth­er weak state strate­gies and tac­tics designed to gain advan­tage with­out trig­ger­ing kinet­ic mil­i­tary conflict—and pro­vide exam­ples of spe­cial infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions against Euro­pean states.  In the sec­tion INFORMATION INFLUENCE ATTACKS AGAINST NATO, WESTERN COUNTRIES, and their ALLIES, we describe the infor­ma­tion influ­ence prod­ucts Russ­ian infor­ma­tion oper­a­tives cre­ate for for­eign and domes­tic con­sump­tions and we analyse the con­tent of the RT news agency and a num­ber of oth­er Krem­lin-backed media structure.

Read the full study here.


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