A Foreign Policy report provides insight into the shift in Russian narratives about the war in Ukraine from accusations of neo-Nazism to claims of “Satanism” According to the report, the Kremlin is preparing for what it refers to as “psychological infection of personnel” by an adversary who would hypnotize them and control them using mystical and psychic abilities:
January 3, 2023, There are plenty of reasons these days to wonder if Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies are off their rockers. But a recently leaked memo from the Kremlin reveals that those in charge of the Russian government are farther down the rabbit hole than most of us realized. The memo, published by the Insider, a Russian news outlet in exile, outlines how the Russian Federal Guard Service (FSO), which protects high-ranking officials such as Putin, would handle the invasion of Ukraine — or any other war — spilling over onto the country’s own soil. It focuses on psychological preparedness, ensuring that FSO officers would have the “moral and psychological support” needed to resist what the memo calls a potential “massive ideological attack.” But the Russians aren’t simply worried about the usual wartime propaganda, like sneaky radio broadcasts or underground newspapers. Instead, the Kremlin is mounting preparations for what it calls the “psychological infection of personnel” by an enemy who would manipulate them through hypnosis—as well as through unknown mystical and psychic powers. The memo warns of “psi-generators” and “hypnotic abilities” used by foreign personnel. Belief in mystic powers is relatively common in Russia, where roughly 20 percent of people have visited a psychic and more than 60 percent believe in some form of magic.
The report goes on to explain that Putin and other Russian leaders are staunch believers in mysticism and that Russian Orthodox ideas of spiritual warfare and a demonic West have mixed with such beliefs and become part of Russian state vocabulary:
Such fears may be enforced at the top. It’s long been rumored that Russian leaders, including Putin, believe in mysticism, astrology, numerology, and psychics—as well as a conviction that their rule over a greater Russia is predestined. As far back as 1988, the New York Times reported that “[h]oroscopes, folk medicine, psychic healing and all manner of mysticism occupy a prominent place in Soviet society, part faith, part fad, but no joke.” Mysticism merges with more conventional Russian Orthodox beliefs about apocalyptic scenarios and satanic influence. At a September ceremony of the annexation of parts of Ukraine, Putin described how the Western “suppression of freedom itself has taken on the features of a religion: outright Satanism.” Then, in October, the Russian government shifted its justification of the war, claiming it had a moral imperative to “carry out the de-Satanization of Ukraine.” While the language of satanism is sometimes used purely as exaggerated rhetoric, sometimes it’s meant literally. Conservative Russian Orthodox ideas of spiritual warfare, in which the West is depicted as literally demonic, have become incorporated into the Russian state’s own vocabulary—and mixed with the country’s enthusiasm for psychic pseudoscience.
Read the full report here.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) has been reporting on Russian claims of Satanism in Ukraine, including a report from yesterday that a “Kremlin propagandist” had given a talk to Russian troops in which he told them Russia is fighting “Satanism” in Ukraine in the form of homosexuality.