In Both the US and the European Union there have been many discussions lately regarding Russian propaganda. It is a current topic seen through multiple lenses. As it is of interest to researchers, public authorities, media, and the general public, on November 10, it became the subject of a panel organized by The Institute of World Politics, in Washington D.C.

The featured speakers in the discussion were Amb. William Courtney (Adjunct Senior Fellow, RAND Corporation; Executive Director of the RAND Business Leaders Forum) and Christopher Paul, Ph.D. (Senior Social Scientist, RAND Corporation).

The starting point of the panel was the article “Firehose of Falsehoods: Russian propaganda is pervasive, and America is behind the power curve in countering it.” written by Amb. Courtney and Dr. Paul.

The discussion also attributed the article “The Russian ‘Firehose of Falsehood’ Propaganda Model; Why it Might Work and Options to Counter it” published by the RAND.

The panelists described how Russian propaganda works, why they found it compelling and the extent of its implications in the US election as well as the Brexit vote.

More about the event –


The methods by which Russia is gaining the support of the public today are very similar to the methods they had previously used in 1980-1984. Through propaganda, the Soviet government in the 1980’s managed to gain the support of the public by allowing them to hear what they wanted to hear.

Per say, the Kremlin won the support of the public regarding the invasion of Afghanistan because they keep claiming that the Russian army had gone to Afghanistan to help the nation rebuild and that they are there as a friendly source of aid. Through active measures, the elite manages to convince the public that what they are doing is legitimate and for a good reason. In today’s day, through the same technique of active measures, the Kremlin is convincing its people that the invasion of Crimea is not an invasion but a friendly hand to help. Further, the speakers believe that Russian propaganda has helped push through the Brexit, and has had an influence on the current U.S. elections.


The four top reasons why the speakers believe Russian propaganda is effective:

  1. High volume and multi-channel;
  2. Rapid, continuous and repetitive;
  3. No commitment to objective reality;
  4. No commitment to consistency.


How is it as successful?

  1. Receiving a message from somebody like me – because Russia has warehouses in which people (trolls) operate on different websites and add comments at various propaganda ideas so that citizens can relate to them.
  2. The first message is the most persuasive – the facts which one is initially presented with are the ones they will continue believing.
  3. Easy to send a lot of information because not all of it needs to be legit. They can send masses amounts of information and continue just with what sticks.


The conclusion to what can be done to re-legitimize Russian propaganda is that instead of always having to defend and point out which information is not correct, that it would be more useful to announce the people that they will be lied to. Give them a sign that a lie is about to come. Instead of defending a previous lie the speakers need to point out what the next lie would be.

Another idea would be as the state publishes which countries around the world are not entirely supporting human rights, the establishment can also send out a list of news channels, TV shows, etc. that are filled with propaganda and people should not watch.

Further, there should be a will to combat the Russian government at what they are trying to prove. For example, is Russia trying to undermine confidence in NATO in Latvia? If so then NATO should combat by doing more and showing the world that their presence is not threatened.

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By: Patricia Besciu, all ideas are those of panelist, no personal opinions have been included.