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Moscovite cult of fear

russian propaganda doesn't give you ideas on how to build a better world, it just makes you hate the way things are. They get there using 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.


When russian propaganda calls Ukrainians nazis, it is a direct message to russian soldiers: "Remember WW2, remember German Nazis, remember what they did? Remember what we did to them.". This will start making sense once you consider who the Nazis were from Russia's standpoint: they were traitors. After the nazis and the russians invaded Poland, Germans broke the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and invaded russia, while Red Army was busy invading Finland. 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.


If I were to tell you a "fact", after which you would go online and check it for yourself, only to find the information I provided to be untrue, would you ever believe me again? No.

So, by that reasoning, propaganda shouldn't work. But propaganda isn't about creating a fake reality in people's minds, but rather about providing them with something they enjoy.


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. All brilliant things are simple, the evolution of the Kremlin machine ended up in a word replacement exercise. It is as simple as saying exactly what you want to say but replacing certain words with other words:

genocide becomes denazification

enslavement -> demilitarization

the war against democracy -> war with NATO

Ukrainian people, the ideology of freedom and dignity -> Kyiv regime

Democratic Revolution -> a coup

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. "America did that, we are also outraged and scared of it".


The best way to "teach" people propaganda is by example. The propaganda show will not explicitly say what it wants to say but will keep dancing around the bush with all possible tangents until the shape is clearly defined.

That is why people who are exposed to it for the long term tend to see a hidden subtext in every sentence they hear. It is not that they believe it is there, but rather that it is the opportunity to pursue the main goal - to spread propaganda.

Sure, even straightforward public statements have more to them if you dig deep, but the propaganda wouldn't go into analysis, but instead imagine every word to be a Freudian slip and every joke to be a subtle taunting or a nod. Especially if the statement is direct, curated and not fueled by clear emotions.

This is evident by the fact that propagandists, despite often hunting for those Freudian slips, are more likely to look for them in prepared statements rather than in live improvised talk shows, where it is easier to make mistakes.

This will also make the person watching fearful of expressing oneself without emotional context. This is evident by the fact that affected people often express themselves in the context of anger.

Another component is "power". You will not find propagandists using Warhammer 40K Lore to push their propaganda. They always "attach" themselves to things you can't detach from, like politics & economy.

Victims of such manipulations (a.k.a. russians, MAGA) are often extremely patient, saying just the right things, even too right at times: "I'm against all violence", and "Life is the most important thing". Those are good things to say in general. But when you are attacked on the street, you'd want friends, ready for violence, by your side. As tolerance of evil is evil itself.

How to save people from brainwashing

My experience is based on a family member of mine. Helping them see that the world is full of people who get it, who understand what is what. Also, I didn't believe that they actually believe what they are saying. I wasn't aggressive about it, but it helped me to ask the right questions, as instead of questioning their sanity, I was questioning their lie.

The best questions to ask are the "What if?" kind of questions: "If you were to learn that this wasn't done for that reason, would you still support that person?" - kind of questions.

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