|Strategic camouflage as Russia‘s political lifestyle (1)
Secrecy has become increasingly apparent phenomenon of Russia‘s political life. This correlates with the trends of a new Russian authoritarian regime which has been promoted by Vladimir Putin and his team for more than a decade. Political decision-making mechanisms are stifled under a mantle of secrecy, the talks about other public related actions or processes initiated by the authorities are circumvented. Secrecy has become increasingly apparent phenomenon of Russia‘s political life. This correlates with the trends of a new Russian authoritarian regime which has been promoted by Vladimir Putin and his team for more than a decade. Political decision-making mechanisms are stifled under a mantle of secrecy, the talks about other public related actions or processes initiated by the authorities are circumvented.
The current Russian political life reminds realisation of strategic deception principles. This concept originated from the soviet times, yet it is important to understand how strategic deception is perceived in the current Russia. Here it is worth quoting a special dictionary „War and Peace in Terms and Definitions. Its editor-in-chief was Dmitry Rogozin, one of the so called „hawks“ of a new Russian policy and one of the Kremlin‘s ideologists.
According to the dictionary, strategic deception is related to disinformation directed to mislead the enemy, It is highlighted that in order to achieve the goal, „a complexity of strategic deception and disinformation measures are used, as well as actions aimed to keep national and military secrets.“ It is also worth mentioning that propaganda is also included in the concept of strategic deception, since national information system (press, radio, television), as well as diplomatic and other channels are used for the dissemination of „strategic disinformation and misleading indications.“
All the above is especially relevant in the context of Ukrainian events. Mired in the conflict Russia has been actively using the tools of strategic deception, denying involvement and hiding its actual role in the pseudo-separatist conflict. Of course, in the age of new information technologies it is impossible to ensure complete control of information or hide the information undesirable in the public space, but so far Russia‘s strategic camouflage allows Moscow to achieve the desired results: the talks about Russia‘s aggression against Ukraine are still very cautious at official international policy level. The Kremlin rubs the hands with glee: not a thief until caught red-handed.
It is also important to note that strategic deception conceived as a complex of tools directed against the society of the enemy‘s country is increasingly used for Russia‘s domestic needs. In principle, some of such actions are directed against Russian society. Here it is easy to discern the traces of Russia‘s strategic interest. This interest could be described as an ambition to develop public opinion which could become Moscow‘s fundamental political pillar. It must be acknowledged that Russia has made huge steps forward in this respect (first of all I have in mind public deformation mentioned in my former articles.
Another specific tool of strategic deception directed both inwards and outwards, was a decree signed by Putin. The decree amends the list of information classified as a state secret. Now included in this category is the loss of Russian army in peacetime and during the conduct of special operations. First of all this has to do with participation of Russian troops in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, although the Kremlin denies both, the relation of the decree to the above events and the engagement of military units in the conflict.
Especially the Kremlin wants to hide the losses of the army during the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. This issue is highlighted in the report initiated by Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. The report titled „Putin.War“ contains the chapter providing the data on Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. It is emphasised that information on this loss is concealed, the deceased soldiers are deleted from the lists of serving troops retrospectively; it is declared that these soldiers died during the military exercises, etc. Relatives of the deceased are forced to keep silence. However, it is impossible to hide all information: recently a story about a Russian soldier Sergey Andrianov believed to have been killed in Ukraine was made public. According to the official information, he died “at the place of his temporary posting“, but the document which arrived together with the body of Andrianov certified that the body was transported across the border; the soldier‘s mother told journalists that she was offered a 1,6 thous. dollar bribe for silence.
Protectors of human rights in Russia and lawyers working with them have no doubts that this Putin‘s decree is directed against the ones trying to disclose the truth. „This decree is a reflection and consequence of the fear of truth“, said Lev Shlosberg, a deputy of the Pskov Regional Assembly in the newspaper „Novaja gazeta“. This opposition politician is especially interested in the procedure of sending Russian soldiers to Ukraine; the information collected by him is also included in the report „Putin. War.“ Lev Shlosberg is also worried about the extensive interpretations of the above decree. According to him, it gives the possibility to automatically classify all the incidents in the armed forces, including non-statutory relations. „This might lead to more violence in the army, because information about the cases of violence related to the death of people has now become secret“, said Lev Shlosberg.
According to journalist Vitaliy Portnikov, the decree signed by Putin „declared the truth behind the law“. The journalist has also provided an important insight which could be related to a painful topic of deformation of Russian society: „Practically all citizens of Russian Federation know that their country’s army is fighting in the neighbouring state, that it brings death and devastation. Yet the talks about that are still circumvented. Therefore, today Russian citizens could be divided not to the ones who are aware or unaware, but to the ones who think that to lie is bad and to the ones who believe that the lie is a continuation of policy and „Russian world“, something reminding of the Laws of God, but better and more pleasant.“
In other words, the official Russia‘s life is increasingly based on lies and believing the lies. For instance, the simulacrum of „Ukrainian fascism“ is acceptable for the majority of Russian society because it explains the world primitively: „we” and “they“ (own-foreign). It is difficult to change this situation because an official political narrative is protected (in this case by hiding the information which can destroy narrative).
In conclusion it could be said that strategic deception, disinformation (propaganda) and information search restrictions make Russia even more closed (self-isolated), more untransparent, and more dangerous state (not only for the neighbouring countries but also for its own society). The expanded list of potential state secrets not only pushes Russian citizens to the information vacuum and domination of one official opinion, but acts as a protection measure for the ruling regime allowing to hide the traces of the illegal actions (e.g. sending military troops to Ukraine or state corruption). However only few people dare to speak loud about that; the so-called wider (and, unfortunately, deformed) society is usually indifferent to the decisions of the ones in power, and accepts these decisions as a norm. Thus, a tiny zone of freedom in Russia has recently shrunk even more...
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