As most serious analysts have admitted already, it has become abundantly apparent that the Ukrainian army was no match for Russia. The front has steadily advanced from the south, the north and the east, with a “cauldron” steadily forming around the most battle-ready Ukrainian units deployed in the east along the frontline of the DNR. Several cities have been surrounded, several Ukrainian politicians have been assassinated for holding talks with the Russians, and perhaps several million Ukrainians have been dislocated because of the war. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing by any means. The Russian Army was wildly optimistic about the Ukrainians seeing reason and quickly surrendering. This led to several flying columns sent ahead into Ukrainian-held territory without any air or artillery support getting themselves into trouble and eventually, around the 5th of 6th day of the war, the big guns having to be brought out.
There’s so much to talk about and analyze around this situation, from the hysterical and nonsensical propaganda promoted by the Ukrainian government, the “Blue Checkha” on Twitter and the death threats against Vladimir issued by prominent members of Con Inc, to the confused and contradictory statements coming from NATO countries.
Once again, while I do not disagree with the seasoned Russia-watcher’s critiques of NATO’s aggressive moves against Russia and the calls for negotiation and de-escalation, I can only shake my head and laugh at this point at the futility of the exercise. Politicians, analysts, generals and even a few honest journalists here and there have been calling for restraint for years in the West. Despite this, the agenda has inexorably marched forward, undeterred. Will a 2015 lecture by John Mearsheimer on YouTube really change the views of the Neocon Occupation Government? To ask the question is to answer it. We are looking at a real, genuine showdown between NATO and Russia and few are as blasé about the prospects of yet another all-out war in Europe as they were 2 weeks ago. We should adjust our predictions and analyses going forward according.
I do want to return to the topic of this series of essays and leave the other topics of international geopolitical strategy, diplomacy and military to the professionals who have written and based their careers around them. What should be most relevant for dissidents in the West are the sweeping changes occurring within Russia as a result of the war, the sanctions and the political upheaval that is occurring.
In my previous article, the discussion started with the closure of prominent flagship Liberal-Oligarchic news outlets and media projects. Since then, several more have been shot down and banned in Russia. These smaller ones differ only in the scope of their operation and not in their content or the people who ran them. The media, in Russia, like in much of the White world, is predominantly run and funded by Jews, but there is a small caveat to be considered because of the undeniable power of the Armenians in the media as well. RT and Sputnik are both controlled by the Armenian diaspora. Armenia itself is a complex topic, and is worth briefly touching on here as well. Despite being totally dependent on Russia for its security from hostile neighbors, the Armenians and the Armenian diaspora in particular has made the dangerous game of biting the hand that feeds it a sort of national pastime. In Yerevan, the liberal, pro-West camp runs the city and is lavishly funded by the similarly pro-West diaspora and has been welcoming Russian liberals (who are now fleeing Moscow and St. Petersburg in droves) with open arms. This is also true of Tbilisi, Georgia, which is another preferred destination of Moscow’s second sons and daughters, the spoiled brats of the nomenklatura, who rent out their apartments in the center of the Russian capital to AirBnB tourists while they form their hipster commune-in-exile and sip Georgian wine in the old town.
Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT and Sputnik, has often made clear her disdain for Russian patriots and nascent feelings of Russian nationalism, going so far as to say that should nationalists ever come to power, she and her friends would be hung in the streets. As recently as the fall of 2021, she was calling anti-vaxxers in Russia enemies of the state and frothing at the mouth for them to be arrested or… well, perhaps hung in the streets as well. Despite this dubious track record, she has managed to stay on the Kremlin’s good side by toeing the right line on foreign policy and taking shots at the West’s blatant hypocrisy vis-a-vis Russia whenever she appeared on the late night political talk shows hosted by the state channels. However, because of her own ideological convictions and perhaps because of her Armenian cosmopolitanism, she has not platformed genuine dissident voices on either RT or Sputnik, preferring to interview washed-up old lefties and Bernie Sanders-types instead. The furthest to the right that Margarita has proven herself willing to go is to platform Ron Paul. This hasn’t stopped the West from stopping and detaining Sputnik Lithuania’s editor-in-chief Marat Kasem (Armenian) and Turkey from detaining Sputnik Turkey’s Mahir Boztepe (probably Armenian) as well. Meanwhile, Telegram, the favored method of communication and proselytization of genuine dissidents and CIA spooks the world over, has shut down RT’s channel as part of a concerted effort by the West to shut the network down for good.
This brings us neatly into the main topic of our essay for today: the social media situation in Russia.
Here, perhaps, a few words about Pavel Durov, the creator of Telegram, are in order. Durov is an outspoken Libertarian and has already attempted to dip his toes into Russian politics with disastrous results. It’s worth mentioning that before starting Telegram, Durov created VK, a superior Facebook clone that rapidly gained popularity in St. Petersburg and the rest of Russia to a lesser extent. He is the equivalent of a fledgling Russian Mark Zuckerberg and he openly supported dissident politicians like Alexei Navalny and made a big show of expressing his opposition to Russia’s action in Ukraine back in 2014. Durov first ran into problems when he clashed with the Mail.ru business group. The story, as told by Durov’s camp, is that the Putin-aligned oligarchs of Mail.ru tried to muscle him out of his own IT company. Whatever really happened, Durov eventually ended up packing his bags and fleeing to London.
His most public political adventure was to support a then no-name Libertarian named Mikhail Svetov with a massive, Telegram-wide promotion campaign. Svetov, boosted by the promotion, immediately took to the streets and called for mass protests and a violent overthrow of President Putin. (As an aside, there have been those who have alleged that Svetov’s real name is Lichtmann and that he is at least partially Jewish, but there doesn’t seem to be any conclusive proof on this as of yet.) More damningly, Svetov had quite a few skeletons in his internet closet that quickly surfaced. An old blog that he ran featured child pornography and some of Svetov’s poetic musings on torture/gore porn. This was, apparently, well-known on the internet for several years and Svetov was eventually confronted on this on several podcasts and radio shows that he took part in. One young man even pulled a knife on him on camera, but it was unclear what his motivation was at the time. Svetov was eventually raided and arrested (but quickly released), and because of this and he fled the country soon after. People speculated that it was because of his mother’s (a member of the Moscow nomenklatura) connections that he got sprung despite the clear fact that he had collected and posted child pornography on the internet. Svetov used the same strategy as Alexei Navalny, his political ally, and went stumping to all of the same people that Navalny had once worked with, i.e., the dissident nationalist scene in Russia. Both he and Navalny ran into problems with Maxim Martsinkevich or “Tesak” a Russian Neo-Nazi who became famous all over the world for his home videos where he kidnapped pedophiles, homosexuals, and the odd African student here and there and bullied them on camera, before sharing his exploits on the internet. Amusingly, the police never bothered to stop Tesak—they basically did nothing but cordially request him to stop doing what he was doing for several years, to which he, in turn, politely refused. Svetov, along with Navalny, were quite vocal in calling for the arrest of Tesak, whom they viewed as a rival and potential political usurper, and many suspect that this may have been the factor that tipped the scales of justice against Tesak, who would later go on to suspiciously die in jail, right before his release.
There is quite a bit of lore here and I apologize for dumping so much on the reader all at once.
The story of Tesak, Svetov, Navalny and Durov and their involvement in opposition circles is quite an interesting one, but I only bring it up to highlight what an absolute Wild West the state of dissident politics was in Russia for many years and to explain some of the weird opposition coalitions that have formed and disbanded and reformed over the years to give context to what the Kremlin fears might happen again and why they may take drastic measures in the near future. Navalny, in particular, became the CIA’s top guy and the leader of an almost united anti-Putin protest movement until he was arrested a few years ago. Both green-haired Liberals and xenophobic Nationalists had no qualms supporting him, despite the fact that he used to run with Neo-Nazis (then betrayed them), and despite his obvious Western backing and support. This would be unheard of in the West. Proud Boys and Antifa working together as a “taran” (ram) while receiving Chinese media support to bring down Trump? Absolutely inconceivable. But in Russia? Well, no one really so much as batted an eye at the time.
With the closure of Facebook in Russia and the Kremlin’s well-founded fear that social media might be used to organize mass protests, there is reason to believe that other sites will be closed down as well. It is worth pointing out that the administrative team of Durov’s VK Facebook clone is pro-Ukrainian and pro-LGBTQ+ and has actively censored even relatively benign pro-Russian content on their platform, while Durov’s Telegram was critical to organizing the recent protests in Belarus (Nexta and its operations) and the near overthrow of Lukashenko, and, of course, Facebook is really nothing more than arm of the CIA—this is hardly disputed by serious people anymore. Also, Yandex, a superior Google clone which is now based in the Netherlands, has had prominent members of its organization openly attack Putin in the past and has even gone so far as to astroturf woke media content in Russia. The most egregious example is no doubt the “New Mothers’ podcast which promotes raising sons as daughters and the same sort of SJW insanity that is so common now in the West. Twitter employs teams of Russian-speaking Ukrainians who actively seek out and destroy pro-Russian accounts. They outmatch the Western censors in their zeal, and this is one of the primary reasons why dissident right-wing Twitter sages never really grasped their cultural impact to the same extent in Russia as they did in the English-speaking world.
For years following the events of Euromaidan in Kiev, patriotic voices called on the Kremlin to do something about this looming threat, but to no avail. Roskomnadzor, the media watchdog, did almost nothing but issue a few minor, symbolic fines here and there. No doubt related to this bizarre hypocritical hands-off policy, it is perhaps worth mentioning that the the previous director, Alexander Zharov and the current one, Andrei Lipov, are almost certainly both ethnically Jewish.
But what was impossible a few weeks ago is now possible because of the decision of President Putin to confront NATO in Ukraine.
The usual political formula in Russia goes something like this: Putin comes up with a plan, parts of the plan are leaked to state-aligned media where they are discussed among the political punditry, the plan is discussed and explained to the public through debate on these shows, so that the publicv become acclimated to the idea. If the reception is warm, the plan is then implemented and Putin gets his way, the pundits get to say “I called it,” and the public nods its head sagely, assured that the correct measures have been taken and that this is the only reasonable path forward. Right now, the pundits are debating the topic of “Russian Internet Sovereignty” and its implementation. I’ll leave you to connect the dots on what that means on your own.
If this description of the Russian political process comes across as overly cynical or even anti-Putin, I assure you that this is not my intention. This is simply how all mass democracies operate to some extent, and we would be naïve to think that that the West operates much differently. The key difference between the West and Russia is that the Russian authorities occasionally actually take into account public opinion and adjust their policies accordingly. But the process by which consent is manufactured among the masses, which is the bedrock of all democratic modes of government, is eternal. In the West, a political, cultural and economic elite (overwhelmingly Jewish) promotes their agenda to the masses and lobbies the politicians, who acquiesce to their demands. In the East, the state takes a more active role and even suppresses the self-styled cultural elite, who gnash their teeth and wail that it isn’t Liberal or Democratic for the state to have a mind of its own. Instead, the state uses the same methods as they would use to promote an illiberal set of ideas and political goals.
All that really matters in the end is who manufactures the consent and, of course, to what end. If Russia is serious about facing down NATO, the fifth column in the country has to be neutralized. That is why the biggest liberal media outlets have all been shut down over the last two weeks. And so, it becomes clear now why the state has turned its attention to social media. The social media platform purge will do doubt continue in the coming days and weeks, with renewed calls to create new, Russian-based platforms to take their place.
To understand what Putin and Russia will do next, one has to simply put oneself in the shoes of someone fighting for survival. What measures would a country about to go to war with NATO take? Answer this question, and you don’t need to read “Kremlin tea-leaves,” as many Russia-watchers do, to understand what’s coming next.