Information Warfare · Russia

Podcast: The Russian Propaganda Machine

This is a very interesting report from Sean’s Russian Blog Podcast. Unfortunately, it is an audio podcast, my least preferred media but I learned quite a bit and listened to the whole thing.  

The Deputy Chief of Staff I believe that Alexey Kovalev refers to was Vladislav Surkov aka The Grey Cardinal, who moved from that position to become Deputy Prime Minister in 2011, then he returned to the Presidential staff as an advisor in 2013.  Since the person occupying the position is not named, I believe this is who he is referring to but I cannot be certain.

The control of the Russian presidential administration over the media in Russia appears to be absolute.  During the podcast, however, he describes how to avoid this ironclad control by reading local news coverage which is not observed so closely. 

Alexey Kovalev challenges many accepted norms about Russia, especially about having to read the classics in Russian in order to understand modern Russia.  

He talks about the information control and how it is avoided. He covers the popular uprisings in 90 cities in Russia, which the media purposely avoided.   

At the end, he speaks about taking five hours of preparation for a presentation, which is encapsulated into a 40 second sound bite.  The issue of inherent bias in our different societies is also covered.  Of note, the Phil Donahue, which had a live television feed from the US and the Soviet Union at the same time was offered as a possible model for future sharing and understanding. 

Phil Donahue (2015) “Space bridge: Citizen’s Summit”

Most interesting to me is how a Russian correctly pronounces Russian words, phrases, and labels that I know.  His pronunciation of RIA Novosti, for instance, hit me like a ton of bricks.  

All in all, a very interesting podcast. 52:09, entirely too long for me, but this one was worth every second. 

</end editorial>

The Russian Propaganda Machine


Alexey Kovalev is a journalist living and working in Russia. He was a senior editor at RIA Novosti, Russia’s largest state news agency, and edited, a website that translates news articles from foreign publications into Russian. He is the founder and editor of, a Russian-language fact-checking and anti-propaganda website. He writes a bimonthly column for the Moscow Times on the maneuverings of the Russian media.


Carson Robinson, “I’m No Communist,” 1952.

Listen to the episode . . .