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Threats
 
  Information war: invention or acurrent reality?

Viktor Denisenko
2007 06 13

Some researchers are inclined to consider the information war as part of actual military actions in the virtual space with a view to affecting information possibilities of another conflict party. However, information wars during the peace time are also discussed. In this case each party seeks influence over another party, i.e. its executed policy, decision-making process, public moods etc., by using various information transmission channels (press, TV, Internet). Actually this is a struggle for „human minds“.

Sometimes efficiency of actions of such an information war is over-estimated; however, it should not be under-estimated as well.  For instance, invasion of the Russian music in Lithuania could hardly „convince“ us to withdraw from the NATO or the EU.

However, we can firmly state, that Russia has perfectly mastered the tactics of information war and even established one more kind of information war.

Russia realized the importance of winning at least the information battle during the first war in Chechnya. Then the Chechens did manage to occupy the information space and used to present own version of events to the independent Russian media. The terrible war pictures broadcasted from Chechnya proved that statements of the official Russian authorities on the „successful“ war actions have nothing to do with the actual situation.

However, the situation has changed with the beginning of the 2nd war in Chechnya. The Kremlin realized its mistakes and changed the tactics. First of all it restricted actions of the independent media and the domination over the information space has been taken over exceptionally by the official opinion.  The above situation predetermined the appearance of the civil information war.

One should not find a concept „civil information war“ in the scientific literature, however, it perfectly fits when describing the current situation in Russia. The official Russian propaganda takes all opportunities so as to present each even in a way suitable for it. Actually the state is executing information war against its citizens.

It is not difficult to justify the above actions. For instance, the search of the state’s „enemies“ might be explained by a wish to direct the attention of citizens from internal to external problems. It provides for an opportunity to shift the blame for internal problems on the apparent „enemies“.

Informational „processing“ of citizens has another objective – to secure support of the official authorities. Then the heads of the state actually have „free hands“ both in terms of internal and foreign policy.

Subtlety of the art of the Russian information war has been experienced by the majority of its neighbors. For example, when the Russian fighter SU-27 crashed in Lithuania in 2005, a huge information campaign was developed. The events in Russia were revealed so as if Lithuania had illegally detained and imprisoned the pilot V.Trojanov.

Even higher pressure was experienced by Lithuania in spring of 2005, when president V.Adamkus refused to go to the 60th anniversary of the end of the 2nd World War in Moscow. Russia was reluctant to hear that the above date for Lithuania was not only the victory against the fascism, but also the beginning of the new occupation.  The media controlled by Moscow accused Lithuania and Estonia for fascism propaganda. And although the president of Latvia did take part in the ceremony of 9 May, the country has also been given a bit.

The power and danger of the information war have been recently demonstrated in Estonia and related to the removal of the Bronze Soldier from the center of Tallinn to the military cemetery. The information campaign against Estonia has become a real „mud throw“ process by accusing the country for re-writing the history and calling it „a fascist state“.

One of the key features of the information war is manipulation in concepts. For instance, when talking about the removal of the Bronze Soldier, the Russian media as if accidentally repeated the words „to destroy“ or „to disrupt“. Information was distorted by changing the emphasis and shade.

The virtual forces of the Kremlin have also been involved in the process. „The resentment of the nation“ has poured out in the Internet comments. Thus, it could be stated that special PR teams related to the security structures have been existing in Russia for a long time. Their key objective is to attack liberally thinking Internet users, to increase „information noise“ (where constructively thinking political analysts simply disappear) and to propagate ideas favorable to the Kremlin.

Moreover, certain websites of the Estonian authorities have faced cybernetic attacks: the efforts were made to terminate their work and to destroy their information. It was defined that the above attacks were executed from the servers operating in the territory of Russia.

The Russian information campaign has provoked also the split of the Estonian society. Part of the local Russians, influenced by the information war actions, have become „defenders“ of the Bronze Soldier. The process of „defense“ has finally turned into the riot and this discredited the idea of defense as such.

Today the information war from the abstract idea turns into reality. Events in Estonia demonstrate that consequences of the above war might be very serious.

Development of the new technologies might create a possibility for the development of a new type of cybernetic information war with the objective to destroy valuable information of an enemy or to disturb operations of its information networks. The above war actions might be fixed by technical measures.

Another type of information war, i.e. the hunt for „human minds“, is even more dangerous. Such actions usually cannot be objectively fixed, they could only be presumed.

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