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russian "Tragic Victim" culture is spreading

It has been 779 days since russians started a full-scale invasion of my country. The russian plan is simple: show that no one is safe, that Ukraine made a mistake by giving up its nuclear power in exchange for security guarantees, and have more countries build nuclear weapons and obtain nuclear proxies (other nuclear states that could launch attacks at Moscow's directions).

To make the free world paralyzed, the kremlin is spreading the ideology it has so well refined internally: the "tragic victim" mindset. To make a person cruel - make it believe that it is a victim, and hurting others will only balance the scales.

Similar "Tragic Victims" formed HAMAS.

Similar "Tragic Victims" attacked the USA on 9/11.

A small self-empathy bug in human programming. A recursion of violence:

"It is your fault that I'm doing this to you. You provoked me."


I must say that I have started to see people differently. It is more black & white. But not good & evil. Not based on the lifestyle they were born into or the hardships they endured - each has been dealt their hand and faced their own set of obstacles. Instead, I tend to place each person on a scale, which goes from "Tragic Victim" to "Glorious Fighter". Human beings are born as fighters - babies, kicking & screaming, overcoming obstacles. Aspiration to accomplish comes naturally.

But those affected by russian propaganda start to value being the victim, and becoming as tragic and pitiful as possible. The fact that nobody has the empathy capacity to process all that "tragedy" only amplifies it.


Codewords

The Kremlin propaganda machine is huge, influencing every country on the globe. Their evolution ended up in a fairly simple word replacement exercise to push their main narrative to those who want to hear it. So often they do say exactly what they want to say but replace certain words:

war/invasion becomes a special military operation

conquest -> demilitarization

Ukrainian military - Kyiv regime fighters

International volunteers -> NATO mercenaries

civilians who resist occupation -> neonazis

jail/torture/kill the civilian resistance -> denazify the settlement

Slavic dominance over the world -> Brotherly nations / russian culture war against Anglo-Saxons.

Yes, they don't replace the Anglo-Saxons. They never say Slavs, but disturbingly often say Anglo-Saxons, Jews, etc.

Ukrainians do not want to be part of the racist cult -> Ukraine is under external influence.

After the invasion of Ukraine, they were inevitably compared to German Nazis. They were prepared with the strongest weapon in their arsenal: MEMES

With the two last presidents of Ukraine being Jewish and the Far Fight party getting below 2% in the last elections, many russians were quick to spread the message "This is complicated, let's not get involved". They still double down today even as p***n is wanted by Hague for kidnapping of children. For russians though all of this is a "necessary evil" for the "greater good" - the dominance of a "brotherly nation" in a "special operation" to "denazify" Europe and unite "Brotherly Nations" in "demilitarization" of Anglo-Saxons.


russian brain

After the invasion, many russians took to social media to complain about the sanctions, online services not working for them, etc. Most people saw it as heartless, trolling, cynicism, and intentional gaslighting. While there is some of it there, we have to acknowledge, that many of them sincerely looked for sympathy. This spurs from the heart of russian culture: "Tragic victim". Reading russian writers, who write about dark, depressed sadness, and existential dread, feels unusual to Western readers. But those are mindsets of an average subject of russian culture: "There are only victims and bad guys. So be a victim".

And that is why putin talks so much about everyone lying to him, betraying him, fooling him. In their minds, all russians are victims, always.

They seemed to be very empathetic people: they share their hardships with others, small hardships, signifying very sensitive people. While at the same time being ok with all the suffering and harm that is done with their tax money. The core of the propaganda is the idea is that one needs to be a victim to deserve sympathy.


Origin of tension between Ukrainians and Russians (before 2014)

While many points towards the Holodomor (1932-1933) - the starvation of Ukrainian people by Stalin, and many other historical events, all that becomes true only in retrospect. In reality, after the fall of the Soviet Union, many hoped to see a new russia. Not that Genocide was forgotten or forgiven, but everyone was focused on building good relations. This is evidenced by giving up our nuclear weapons.

Things changed with putin coming to power. It was an unexpected turn of events, as he looked like an unlikely candidate. Not that we care about whom russians elect - this is their business. But since during the soviet times, every Ukrainian had to learn russian, we ended up sharing an informational space with them. While inside russia censorship became more strict, our side of the media was free to highlight things as they were. This drove the conversations between the people of the two countries about their new president: "Why do you support him? Didn't you say he probably made that tape?".

Not only russias. While this is a well-known fact (see the "Perversions" section below), it is often simply ignored like this BBC article. Most articles about him don't even mention the possibility that saving Yeltsin from jail might have affected Yeltsin's decision.

So hearing that russians are aware of it and are ok with it, just brought to the surface all the differences between our cultures and all the history. In regular conversation, we wouldn't feel that difference in perspectives, but a sensitive topic brings up that element of russian culture: say whatever the other person wants to hear.


Psychology of putin

When he says that the separation of Ukraine from the Soviet Union was a mistake - he does mean exactly that. Russians could have brought tanks, crushed the people and nobody would have stopped them. That is exactly what they would have done if Stain were in charge. So in a way, Stalin kept everyone in line just by being a brutal leader. putin wanted to be similar in his ways, but where Stalin would call things what they are, putin was a coward, popularising carefully crafted political statements over a strong stance, signalling that he wanted to play political games.

Hmmm... Spellchacker just replaced "wants" with "waned" and made previous sentences in the past tense. I like it)

In any case. Entering Ukraine showed him that he couldn't win by bluff alone and that every inch of Ukrainian soil would cost him.


Who would support that?

If we ignore China, Belarus, Victor Orban and russia itself for a moment, then there aren't many surprises there. It will be hard to find a person who would go through their life doing their own thing, and then suddenly start supporting the invasion of Ukraine. It is always someone who deeply associates their public image with love for russia, and hate for the West. So now, they have to double down. Scott Ritter (a convicted pedo), Steven Seagal, Tucker Carlson and the like. Honestly, if those people were to support us, my first question would have been: "Wait, are we the bad guys?".


Internal vs. external propaganda

There were very few mentions of "brotherly nations" in russia's internal messaging before the invasion. The "brotherly" was designed to communicate the message: "This war is a family business, stay out". For example, the famous "drown those children" guy also talked about traditional Ukrainian huts - just one more clue that they are very much aware that we are different people.

On the other hand, the Nazi narrative did not go well in the West, given that president of Ukraine has Jewish origins. Zelenskyi was saying things like "I'll look Putin in the eyes and see peace there, we will negotiate". All this before being elected with a record-breaking majority of Ukrainians. While the coalition of radical and militaristic parties got less than 2%.

The reason that the Nazi narrative exists is that it is their internal propaganda that spilt into an external one. While we associate nazis with Holocaust, the russians do not. They had Gulags back in the day, with basically the same genocidal concept. Nazis for them are something different...


Nazism

This will start making sense once you consider who the Nazis were from Russia's standpoint: for them, Germany was a traitor. Hitler broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and attacked russia, while Red Army was busy invading Finland and other Baltic states. The torture and sadism we hear about from occupied territories, where, as putin claimed, "native russians" live, is not random, but encouraged by the "punish/educate traitors" rhetoric.

Russia doesn't recognize 1939 as the year when world war 2 started, but rather - June 22, 1941, when Hitler stopped being russia's ally.

An example would be the Belarus. People, who become ashamed of their language and culture, now consider it to be inferior. Belarus is the demonstration of what russian messaging is trying to achieve, as it was a complete success there. To be clear: "russian culture" stands for the "supremacy of Slavs". They don't refer to themselves in such a manner as the lessons of WW2 taught them to avoid explicit racism. But they still completely give away the game by how often they say Anglo-Saxons.

The word "slave" originates from the word "Slav" - which is not something russians shy away from. With pride, they often talk about the ability of their people to endure the hardships. This is not for nothing though - there is a greater goal for all this suffering: the "russian world". And it is not a pretty one.


Ideology

Many say that russia is a mix of many different ideologies. But in my personal opinion, they have none. All I see there is constant frustration. They don't position themselves as a competition for the West but as an "alternative". The "We are not better, just different" theme is prevalent. Their external message is: "If you hate anything about America, join us".


Perversions

Vladimir Putin - the president of russia, is a paedophile. Just watch this if you are not sure:

At the very least he made a child porn video to save Boris Yeltsin from corruption scandal by jailing the prosecutor. And there is the death bad statement of a KGB agent, who straight up said it: "Putin is a paedophile".


Russian culture

Cancelling russian culture is not an irrational hatred of Dostoevsky, Vodka and Lermontov. We also refer to it as "Rape culture". I don't think I need to explain why. Their invasions of Syria, Georgia and Ichkeria demonstrate the points better than any reasoning could. But if I were to describe its effects on individual civilians, I would point out "Fear means respect" ("Боятся значит уважают") philosophy. If they were to visit a resort and sense any "disrespect" (lack of fear), they are likely to trash the hotel room as a punishment for that.


Why russians support the invasion of Ukraine

... because we never respected them. And, obviously, never will. For us, russians are putin's slaves. Their country is 17 times larger than ours, yet they are losing. Their frustration at their failures and complete lack of desire to improve makes them seem even more impotent. Respecting them is equal to disrespecting yourself.


Ukraine today

When we do something bad, it isn't evil, it is stupidity. We depend on the aid of our allies to survive. So we have to play by the book. But also, when we do something good, it isn't because we are good people, but because we have to.

I respect the decision of President Zelensky to wear a casual uniform. This reflects the reality. This is not the time to wear monkey suits, as there will be no sincerity in it. Nobody is in ethics & morals mode, but focused, survival, tactics mode.

There is russian sadism we are familiar with: "Are you a good buy? Do you deserve to live?". You are not deciding if there is a risk to your safety. Taking away people's right to choose is what russia is all about.


Homosexuality

While all respectable researchers in unison state that sexual orientation depends very largely on born factors, russian propaganda says it is always a choice. Now, I would like everyone to remember themselves at puberty: was your first uncomfortable moment influenced by rational reasoning, or did it happen automatically? No trauma or reasoning can change our orientation, especially at that age when hormones take charge. Our bodies are largely autonomous systems, things work no matter if you are on the bus or presenting in front of the class.


Political influencers

While we associate the term "influencer" with product placement and pushing video games onto kids, the Kremlin realized there is room in the world for their kind of influencers. This place is: "Let's hear both sides of the story".

If you were to invite an expert on military aid for Ukraine and a pro-Russian person - that would be ok. But instead of inviting a putin fan/war supporter, the media looks for someone more moderate, someone who claims to have a "slightly different view on the situation" and is ready to talk about how "it is all very complicated". The russian propaganda machine is huge, micro-managing it would have been difficult. So the only goal for most of their people is to stay in the news space and never say a bad thing about russia or putin.

And those are to watch out for. Someone who doesn't offer any realistic solutions only keeps talking a lot.


Goals

The way bad propaganda works is not by lying to you, the point is to make you feel like you can never say what you think. A person living in a free society has no serious reason not to speak their mind. But to "brainwash" someone, the first step is to make sure they will not "unbrainwash" themselves by communicating with others in society.


Fear

Fear by itself makes people cautious and pushes us to protect ourselves and take action to fix and improve things. Which is a good thing, and not what benefits putin. So he will never threaten anyone directly. It will always be "If you do A, you will force us to do B", "We did X because you made us do X".

It doesn't really work all that well, but it did work on the russian population and subjects to external russian propaganda.

The paralyzing fear of consequences is more persistent, and lingering, as it forces you to evaluate every step for potential mistakes constantly. Understanding their formula can help us recognize the thought process behind every seemingly bizarre act.


The Free World

Social Media algorithms teach us that it is certain words that are bad. It is easy to write a hateful post on Facebook and not have it banned if you just replace "hateful" words with "non-hateful". This is where propaganda's word-replacement exercise came from.


Russian form of racism

Another distortion comes from the kind of content we are interacting with on social media. We discuss celebrities, politicians and companies, criticize them and decide if they are ethical/unethical, "good" or "bad". It is healthy to have that sort of discussion.

But russia makes a racist spin on it: "russians are good", which brings an implication, as "good" and "bad" are relatively subjective terms: if they are good, then who is "bad"? Which race, ethnicity, nation or religion do they consider "bad"?

In reality, it doesn't matter if they are "bad", as the world is interested only in punishment: it isn't a bad person being punished for being bad to stop it from being bad, but rather A person being punished for a crime to discourage anyone from repeating that crime.


Cult of Deat

Russians, like all humans, aren't robots. We all want to feel good, have something to be proud of, and look forward to. For russians it is the conquest, the act of domination, and the promise of the demise of the enemy. The wars are their primetime show.


In bed with the devil

The Invasion of Ukraine yielded no new allies for putin, only some old ones who doubled down.

Example: Elon Musk. If he were to say: "Genocide of Ukrainians is bad, putin should stop bombing power plans because this is winter and the people will freeze to death." - sounds like a non-statement, something self-implied. But, if Elon were to actually say those words (or Tweet them) then the question would arise: "But why did you support putin when he bombed Aleppo(Syria), Ichkeria, invaded Georgia, Moldova, killed protestors in Belarus, poisoned Ukrainian president, invaded Ukraine in 2014?" And there is no good answer to this question. Because in reality, nothing has changed about russia. Nothing has changed about its culture. It only became less convenient to support, because of Ukrainians.


Mysterious russian soul

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" - is something we tell ourselves to feel better whenever we are down. But this idea got pushed to its absolute limit in russian culture. It was used not by individuals, but by the government from television screens. It stopped serving the comforting purpose and starts perverting people's minds to the point of bad=good. That is the reason Ukrainians call russia an "Upside-Down country". All the negative socially-economical problems are always flipped as something, actually, positive.

They have internet, they know what is happening. At the beginning of the invasion, Ukraine organized a call centre to inform russian citizens about the truth and have them organize protests.

Didn't work, russians like death, war, and tragedy. One of the russian classic writers wrote a story about a man killing a dog he loved. Some argue about the deep meaning of it. But really, it was just about killing someone because you were told to.


Russia Today

RT is a media source that is considered by many as "russian news but in English". Which it absolutely isn't. They literally read what the West is writing about and reply to it. But not actually replying - that would imply a recognition of the arguments by the other side or rebuking them. Instead, they play stupid: if West is writing about crimes by Wagner mercenaries in Africa, they will instead write about a hospital bombing by US troops back in the day and pretend to be outraged and deeply traumatized by it.


The trick

If a person learns that they have been lied to, it would be very hard to earn the trust back. Fool me once - shame on you, fool me twice - shame on me. A propaganda machine built on lies is a fragile one. An example of this would be the Soviet Union. But there is a way around this, that the modern world of interconnectedness has discovered. Let's say you believe a joke post, which only those who "get the reference" would recognize to be a display of wit and irony. You wouldn't blame the joke-teller for telling it if the lie sounds like hyperbole, over-exaggeration or an emotional outburst then it is easier to blame yourself for not recognizing it than to be angry at someone for successfully fooling you with "bio lab supersoldiers in Ukraine".

Now, when we interact with a consumer of Kremin BS, we react with "How could you believe such nonsense, it was clearly a lie", which feels insulting and pushes them down the rabbit hole even further. Now, should we try to be more tolerant and considerate? Sounds like the right thing to do. But we tried, I tried - just makes you seem more suspicious and "off", which further cements the sense of isolation in the person affected by propaganda. Be yourself, don't filter your emotions.


Conclusion: You are what you eat.

This is not about food.

Corruption. Corruption is an evil thing, but also a byproduct of a free society. People have a choice to betray the public's trust for their own enrichment. Whenever a corruption scandal comes to light, it always looks ugly: minor benefits for the person responsible and big losses for people. It is always clear that the person took a risk and chose evil... in Ukraine.

But that is not the case in russia, there, the things aren't as black & white. If russian don't steal the money, someone else will, or they will be used to make weapons to bomb Ichkeria, Aleppo, invade Georgia, suppress protests in Belarus or kill Ukrainians. If not for the corrupt individuals in the russian military, many more people would have died. Almost makes it that being evil in an evil country is good. Is stealing money from Nazi Germany during World War 2 evil? I think not.

Honesty. Often time when russians tell the truth, it comes back to bite them in the back. Filtration camps, deportation and adoption of children - those are times when they mostly told the truth to say "See, we aren't butchering the entire cities". Now putin is wanted by Hague for this truth.

What does this mean? I think it means that we choose the rules by which we play. And at some point, all you'll be left to do is double down.

Ukrainians didn't choose to fight when russia invaded, Ukrainians chose to be free long time ago.

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