By Paul Goble
The Soviet system required its propagandists to justify whatever the Kremlin did and to lie for it whenever necessary, but Putin has taken another step: he is making some of his propagandists complicit in his crimes by involving them ever more directly in his illegal actions, according to Igor Eidman.
On Facebook, the Russian commentator points out that “any dictatorship not only uses force but also the manipulation of public opinion. In the Putin system, the role of manipulation is enormous: it holds the regime together and guarantees support for his adventurist foreign policy.”
In many ways, Putin has simply built on the principles of Soviet agitation and propaganda, Eidman continues, but the current Kremlin leader has taken these in a new and extremely dangerous direction as can be seen by comparing Vladimir Posner[also spelled Pozner – Ed.] and Vladislav Surkov who are representatives of “two generations of Russian manipulators.”
Posner, Eidman says, is a specialist in the task of presenting Moscow’s case to a Western audience. “Now, he is again ‘on duty.’ Speaking in Cambridge, he in essence justified Putin” by saying that what Putin is doing is what the leaders of all countries do and, therefore, should not be condemned, if others are not.
“The godfather of Putin’s propagandistic machine,” Posner “does not conceal that for decades he served the Soviet system which he hated.” But in his case, Eidman continues, “the chief principle of this system is the alienation of the journalist from his own personality and convictions and the subordination of them to the interests of those who give orders.”
Posner “has shown,” the commentator says, “that a journalist can serve well those who pay him even if he hates them.” And he is doing this again: “For Russian manipulators all who pay big money” can count on their obedience and loyalty. ‘Their chief principle is taken from the Chicago mafia: nothing personal, just business.”
But Eidman says that Surkov represents something different. “In Putin’s times,” he argues, “manipulators are being transformed from intellectual servants of the powers that be in to direct accomplices of its evil deeds. If in the USSR, Posner had to justify the criminal policy of the Kremlin, now Surkov & Co. have become its organizers.”
For anyone who has failed to recognize that development in the past, the leak of Surkov’s documents reported by the Ukrainian media makes it clear. At the very time Posner was doing his usual thing in Cambridge, Surkov was shown up not simply as a propagandist and defender of all things Putin but as an organizer of Putin’s crimes.
The Surkov saga, he continues, “is the result of the natural development of the Posneresque tradition of cynicism and selling out which was formed already in Soviet times.” But now Putin and his regime have taken things to a new level: Surkov, it is clear, was “the chief manager of the project of unleashing war in the Donbas and on him is the blood of its thousands of victims.”
He must be viewed not simply as “a clever manipulator” but as “a military criminal” deserving the same sentence that history has passed on Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels.