Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
ria.ru (Vladimir Kornilov)
Recently what ever western newspapers you open you will certainty come across articles or columns with titles that cry out about “Russian interference” in the affairs of these or those countries: Moscow influences foreign elections or referenda, uses Pokemon for the purpose of undermining American sovereignty, and controls nearly all social networks worldwide. Don’t have any proof?
It’s nothing to worry about, we will repeat these theses at least a hundred times with the word “allegedly”, and the 101st time we can already change it into the phrase “as it is known”.
And so the other day the modest article of the The Guardian newspaper connected with the British Labourites on the completely opposite topic — about the fact that it is especially with the money of the London government that information operations in other countries are carried out. It would seem that the British taxpayers should be interested in this – how their means are being spent. After all, it should be much more interesting than to search for “Russian fingerprints” in the electronic boxes of transatlantic politicians. But no, the article of The Guardian didn’t cause any resonance in the Albion — they didn’t start to discuss it on the BBC, it was as if it was “not noticed” by other media.
The invention of the successes that weren’t noticed by Ukrainians
But the information of the Labourite newspaper is more than curious. It turned out that the British government allocated no less than £100,000 (more than 7.5 million rubles) to the known PR company M&C Saatchi to improve the image of Ukraine. Yes, yes, you aren’t mistaken, exactly Ukraine, and not Britain! As the newspaper, which got access to snippets of carefully censored governmental documents, found out, the British Foreign Office employed an expensive firm in order for it to “rehabilitate the ally of Great Britain – Ukraine, including using social media to target viewers of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was hosted by Kiev this summer”.
Just think: the money of British taxpayers (a considerable amount, it should be noted) is allocated to influence through social networks the audience of Eurovision, and also to “rehabilitate” the image of Ukraine! And these people make a fuss – that Russia, allegedly, using these social networks influences someone abroad?
The Guardian claims: “English-speaking tourists, investors and media, including CNN and the BBC, were listed as the intended audience for the project to rehabilitate Ukraine’s reputation, which opinion polls said tended to be negative”. For this purpose PR managers had to generate certain “stories of political and economic success” of the State, far away from Britain, and to “show that Ukraine is a viable and successful country”.
It makes you involuntarily wonder: if Ukraine indeed is a “successful country”, then why use PR managers? Wouldn’t it be simpler for Ukraine to show the world its real successes (if they, after all, exist), without resorting to the services of overseas specialists in image polishing?
Or did London decide to spend money so that these “success stories” were invented from nothing? And why not? For example, last year the Sunday Times published the story of the English editor Martin Wells, who admitted that in 2007-2011 the known British PR company Bell Pottinger at the request of the Pentagon made false videos and presented as al-Qaeda videos. So why not produce in the same way the stories that would testify to the “success” of Ukraine that isn’t noticed by Ukrainians?
Mysterious purposes, mysterious fund
Unfortunately, the representatives of Saatchi refused to explain to journalists what the money was spent on, referring to fact that they have no right to comment on governmental contracts. But the newspaper managed to find out that the British “aid package to Ukraine” for its information war includes also £2.4 million (more than 180 million rubles) to “improve the communication strategy” of the Kiev government.
All of this money is being allocated from the super-confidential governmental Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). This fund, operating with an annual budget of more than £1 billion (over 75 billion rubles), is so confidential that even the leading members of parliament can’t receive information about the purposes and the amounts used. The attempts of journalists from the Observer newspaper at the beginning of this year to find out the recipients of the considerable sums allocated by this fund led only to the emergence of information that the money of Brits is being spent in more than 40 countries of the world.
Ukraine, probably, is one of the main recipients of this money. But it is far from being the sole case. Thus, it became known that about £1 million was spent to analyse the moods of the Russian-speaking residents of the Baltic countries. In order to influence their opinion, of course. But this is not at all interfering in the affairs of other countries, right?
Moreover, notice that this fund was created in April, 2015. I.e. long before all these funny stories about “Pokemon as a tool of Russian propaganda” and about “Russian hackers interfering in the electoral campaign in the US”. And so, even if to assume that naive Brits believed the terrifying stories about “Russian interference” in everyone and everything, anyway their actions were not the answer to the horror stories that are invented by them.
No millions will be enough
In all this story it is necessary to emphasise the fact that the western sponsors of Ukraine recognize the negative attitude of the public towards the development of the situation in this country. And this despite the crazy anti-Russian and pro-Ukrainian propaganda, which is being poured in a continuous stream on Europeans by the majority of mainstream media.
Will the mastodons of PR from Saatchi manage to reverse this negative-for-Ukraine situation?
This firm has many failures in the field of political campaigns. Not so long ago it was the chief producer of videos and billboards for the campaign “Britain Stronger in Europe”, the aim of which was to convince the Brits of the need to vote against Brexit. The result is known. However, Saatchi then tried to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of their clients, having given samples of billboards and slogans that were allegedly rejected by their clients in view of the excessive scandalousness: that allegedly, if these ideas hadn’t been rejected, Britain would have voted differently.
I suspect that soon the same firm will show samples of impracticable expensive projects aiming to strengthen the image of Ukraine, explaining why the money of western taxpayers went down the toilet. Well judge for yourself whether this or that video, this or that English-speaking troll on social networks can neutralize the effect from broadcasting in the news of the latest brawl in the Verkhovna Rada, the next torchlight procession of nazis along the streets of Kiev, or the next comedy with the participation of the border-violator Saakashvili? No millions will be enough here.
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