Russian propaganda in the US: an attempt at outsourcing?

This American was tricked into writing Russian propaganda

An interview with Russian oppositionists, recorded by reporters for an American television channel, appears on a pro-Kremlin news agency

Representatives of the Russian diaspora living in the United States were involved in a video published by RUPTLY – agency, which is part of the media network of the pro-Kremlin TV channel Russia Today. At the same time, initially the interview, as the Russian service found out «Voices of America», was recorded by journalists representing the American television station Estrella TV. According to the expert, such «undercover journalism» used by Russian special services for operational work.

The interview was recorded during an action by the Russian-speaking diaspora outside the Russian Embassy in Washington, dedicated to the arrest of Alexei Navalny. The action, we recall, has become massive over the past ten years: activists from different parts of the United States gathered at the Russian embassy on Saturday.

The protesters were also interviewed by journalists using the symbols of the American Spanish-language Estrella TV channel. According to the channel’s website, its headquarters are located in California, and the target audience is – Hispanic US residents.

It was not possible to find any mention of the report from the Russian embassy on the channel’s website. Interlocutor of the Russian Service «Voices of America», speaking Spanish, studied the channel’s website and social networks, and noted that there is not a single mention of Navalny or protests at the Russian embassy.

The video instead appeared on the website and social networks of the RUPTLY agency, which is part of the media network of the pro-Kremlin TV channel Russia Today. The activists interviewed by Estrella TV told «Voice of America», that they were not informed that their interview would be used in pro-Kremlin publications.

«The correspondent spoke good English. The accent, if there was, is very small. Somehow I didn’t even attach any importance», – told «Voice of America» Dmitry Valuev, one of the organizers of the protests at the Russian Embassy.

Dmitry Valuev

He stressed that RUPTLY had previously regularly filmed protests outside the embassy: «Several times in the past, journalist Polina Leonovich came, first with the RUPTLY logo on the camera, then she came, but without the media logo».

New tactics were used at Saturday’s rally dedicated to the release of Navalny.

«Of course, the very fact of encryption is unethical. But they understand that there will be a negative attitude towards propaganda structures., – argues Valuev. – Their vaunted propaganda no longer works and causes only dislike and irritation in many. What they will do with this video is not obvious right now, but it will most likely be used for propaganda purposes. – to create all sorts of pseudo-investigations about how the State Department is kindling the fire of the revolution in Russia. Or to identify and prosecute organizers and activists».

Recall that the RUPTLY agency, like the Russia Today TV channel, is regularly criticized for spreading propaganda and disinformation under the guise of journalism..

RUPTLY has an extensive network of news bureaus and stringers all over the world. Some of RUPTLY’s stringers, such as British journalist Graham Phillips, are suspected of collaborating with the Russian secret services..

According to the Russian opposition politician Ilya Ponomarev, videos, incognito recorded by journalists of propaganda publications, later fall into the development of the special services of Russia.

«This is one of the channels for collecting information from the Russian special services; «interviewed» NTV or Russia-1, – Ponomarev argues in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian Service «Voices of America». – What operatives do in Russia is done in the United States by Russian television, or, in this case, stringers or journalists who have received a filming contract. Here, it is not so much whose hand is pressing the button, the main thing is in whose interests».

«Formally, the laws are not violated, although, of course, we are talking about violation of journalistic ethics», – adds the interlocutor «Voices of America».

Estrella TV did not respond to the request «Voices of America» with a request to clarify whether they cooperate with RUPTLY and Russia Today, or whether the filming of the video was a personal initiative of the journalists.

«This is the first time I’ve seen this, but I’m not surprised, – speaks in conversation with «Voice of America» President of the Foundation «Free Russia» Natalia Arno, an interview with which was also posted on RUPTLY without her consent. – Everything the Kremlin does — it is always a lie and imitation. On Saturday it was imitation journalism. In September – simulated elections, in July – imitation of a plebiscite. Etc. They understand that if we honestly presented ourselves as a pro-Kremlin channel, we would all send them away, for example, to the mud room in Putin’s palace.».

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