Another Original LR Translation: Medvedev is the new Goebbels

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Enough to Make Goebbels Green With Envy

Alexandr Podrabinek

Yezhednevny Zhurnal

26 June 2009

Translated by Dave Essel

On 24 June, President Medvedev issued an Executive Order entitled On Russia-Wide Compulsory Total-Access Television and Radio Channels. The aim of this Order is to ensure that certain TV and radio channels are available in every household. That great lover of the ‘power vertical’ Adolf Hitler had the idea down pat ages ago: “In the future Germany, we will have wired radios, that’s evident. No sensible government can allow its people’s minds to be poisoned”. [AP – quoted in Oleg Plenkov, The Third Reich]. Hitler may have failed to carry this out but we won’t!

Medvedev is by no means the innovator when it comes to propaganda. He’s neither a founding father nor a disciple in this glorious field – just a borrower. Just when we thought agitprop was dead and gone for ever, suddenly – in the right hands and with the right political will – it and its cousins are back again. Can we deny that our government is sensible and that it won’t allow anyone from anywhere to poison the people? 

The talk is of eight TV and three radio channels. These privileged broadcasters are the TV channels Kultura, a kids and young persons channel amalgamated from the Telenyanya [TV-Nanny] and Bibigon channels, the Sport channel, Channel 1, Petersburg Channel 5, Vesti [News], Rossiya, and NTV and the radio channels Vesti-FM, Mayak, and Radio Rossii. Don’t let the obfuscatory wording of the ukase’s title fool you. The key words in it are “compulsory” and ‘total-access”. These compulsory channels are to “broadcast to the whole territory of the Russian Federation”, the ukase goes on to state. Total access will be ensured in one easy step – the money to pay for beaming these channels to every home will come from the state budget.

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The Order includes a wily statement that these channels will be “available free of charge to consumers”. A con, of course, since viewers and listeners will be paying for them not by subscription but out of their taxes, with the obvious difference that one has a choice as to what one subscribes to while that selection is entrusted to the government when the broadcasting is paid for out of tax money. So, entrust the government or not, you’re going to get the channels it chooses. President Medvedev has decided for you which channels are good and deserve state support and which channels will get no helping hand. He did this, of course, “to ensure the freedom of the mass media and provide citizens with socially significant information”. Why should citizens have to choose for themselves what channels to watch or listen to when Mr. Medvedev can relieve them of that chore! And what a boon for the selling of advertisement time – if one’s channel is being retransmitted nation-wide for free!

Of the 11 TV and radio stations, 8 belong to VGTRK, the All-Russia State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company while the remaining three are indirectly controlled by the government. The aim of turning the mass media into a mass propaganda source is barely concealed – in fact, it has already for the most part taken place, with only a few technical issues left to settle: ensuring the whole country and every inhabitant is blanketed by it.

We’ve seen this in other times. “A radio in every home!’ was a Nazi slogan. In Summer 1933, 28 German radio manufacturers were instructed to begin producing a simple, cheap, and reliable radio receiver. These were made and earned themselves the nickname of Goebbels’ Mouthpiece [AP – from Valentina Zholkver-Krasnopolskaya, Radiopolitics and Radio-Propaganda in the Third Reich). The ‘volksradio’ was designed to be able to receive only local broadcasts. In order to ensure that curious citizens were not tempted to listen to anything from further afield, listening to foreign broadcasts was made a criminal offence. Infringers were accused of treachery and sent to concentration camps, prisons, or corrective labour. By late 1939 Germany had over 35 major broadcast centres and 70% of German households had receivers. Listener numbers rose for 4 million in 1933 to 16 million in 1943. The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda headed by Heidelberg University PhD Paul Joseph Goebbels had complete control of the content. Goebbels’ efforts in the field of total propaganda helped the Nazis unify Germans under Nazi slogans but did not in the final count prevent the global defeat of national-socialism.

Strange as it may seem, in the USSR, the Communists approached the task of total propaganda with even greater thoroughness than the Nazis. In 1925, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) passed a decree entitled “On Radio-Agitation”. Radio broadcasts were placed under the control of the Party and a special Radiocommission was created to provide political control of broadcasting. From 1927 onwards, all programming was obligatorily reviewed by Party committees prior to broadcast and in 1933 houses began to be wired for radio as this was the best way back then to ensure that most people only received totally controlled information. Sockets for plug-in single-channel radios appeared in all housing.

The Nazis were actually jealous of the Soviet school of radio propaganda. When Hitler visited his military command in the Ukraine in 1942 and learnt that there radio was delivered by wire to a socket in every village hut, he exclaimed: “The Soviets not only correctly estimated the importance of radio broadcasting but also understood how dangerous it could be.” The main danger – recognised in good time by Stalin and a little late by Hitler – was of its being possible to listen to foreign broadcasts. Wired delivery of radio did away with this entirely. Fortunately, neither total wired coverage of households nor other ploys by the Soviet propaganda machine were able to save the Communist system from eventual collapse in the late 1980s.

The concentration of media resources in the hands of the state for propaganda purposes that we are witnessing today is a very bad sign. It evidences a serious new twist of the régime. Alas, this is far from the only indication of a shift towards authoritarianism in Russia today. The next logical step will be to restrict access to the internet – initially with the excuse that this is to shield the young generation or protect morals, then later with no excuses at all. Not for nothing did the good Dr. Goebbels say that whether propaganda appeared nice or not did not matter at all – what was important is that it led to success and that was all that counted.

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44 responses to “Another Original LR Translation: Medvedev is the new Goebbels

  1. If only they could wire Twitter ‘tweets’…….

  2. Poor Alexandr Podrabinek is a day late and a dollar short in his angst as this has been going on for years.

    I think the internet might escape Chinese type filters for awhile as the urban young that use it the most aren’t the potential malcontents that the monocity/rural folks could be as jobs are lost and they have no internet access.

    And to the simplistic the-oligarchs-were-worse-than-Putin ranters: after Putin took away Gusinsky’s media holdings how well did that work out in advancing freedom of speech in Russia?

    • Penny, time and again: you can’t fill your stomach with “freedom of speech”. During the time when Gusinsky was in power, Russians learned the truth only TOO well. :-(

      • Eugene, time and again: you can fill your stomach even when you have freedom of speech. You don’t have to choose between them, since freedom of speech doesn’t destroy food.

        • Nevertheless, your influence agents, the LR’s pets like Milov or Kasparov tell us precisely the opposite: that we should eat human rights and drink civil liberties. :-(

          • Funny that you should attribute your co-citizens’ opinions to me. Scratch scratch, go figger.

            Of course, you give no answer to what I said. Should I assume that you agree — and that there’s no need to shove authoritarianism down people’s throats, hoping that this will be a healthy and nutritious meal replacement?

    • I think Putin did the right thing. The problem is that Putin loves those oligarchs who support him.
      But didn”t Boris Yeltsin hate Vladimir Gusinsky? I remember something called “facedown in snow” or something like that.
      But Boris Yeltsin was not a fan of Vladimir Gusinsky.

      • @”But didn”t Boris Yeltsin hate Vladimir Gusinsky? I remember something called “facedown in snow” or something like that.
        But Boris Yeltsin was not a fan of Vladimir Gusinsky.”

        Yeah, after the 1994 raid by Korzhakov’s masked goons (Yeltsin’s personal security detail), Gusinsky packed-up and left Russia for several months. Upon his return he was “persuaded” to work for the Kremlin (or else)

        • Jonathan Littel on this chapter of history of the Russian Mafia (The Security Organs of the Russian Federation, Part II: The Early Yeltsin Years):

          While Stepashin would go a long way to restoring the FSK-FSB to a prominent position, the dominant spetssluzhba (“special service”) in 1994, and at least until 1996, was the SBP headed by Yeltsin’s old bodyguard and drinking crony, Aleksandr Korzhakov. Already by 1993, the SBP, which paid two to three times the salaries of the other services, had taken the cream of the KGB’s specialists; by the time the agency became samostoyatelnyi, it employed 750 elite staff.12 Korzhakov rapidly exceeded his limited mandate, using his proximity to Yeltsin to turn the SBP into a key player on the Russian political scene, with its own interests not always strictly subordinated to Yeltsin’s. The SBP’s new statutes, under the guise of protecting the President, gave it the right to conduct intelligence and counterintelligence activities, and Korzhakov took full advantage of this, infiltrating his people into nearly every federal ministry and accumulating, through surveillance and wiretaps, vast amounts of kompromat (compromising information) on most major politicians, businessmen and security officials; the widespread corruption in the government gave him easy access to this “political currency.”13 His business activities were innumerable: at one point, for instance, he placed an SBP official at the head of the National Sports Fund, a purely commercial structure that had been granted tax exemptions on imports by Yeltsin and could thus rapidly generate massive profits. Under the guise of counterintelligence provision, he also succeeded in gaining control for the SBP, in part or in whole, over three vital and highly lucrative spheres: the export of oil, arms, and precious metals and stones. This was effected by taking control over the distribution of export quotas to private companies and even by establishing an SBP shell company for the export of oil, Rostoplivo. Additionally, in February 1995, the SBP established its supervision over the state precious-metal export company, Roskomdragmet, “officially, to prevent illegal exports of precious state resources, in practice, simply to establish the SBP’s monopoly over this business.”14 Many allege that thanks to this system Korzhakov diverted vast sums, either for the SBP or for himself; it also gave rise to some highly publicized incidents, such as when under the pretext of fighting smuggling (normally the province of Customs, the Border Guards or other agencies) the SBP confiscated $3 million worth of jewels which had arrived in Moscow’s Sheremetevo-2 airport from London.

          Korzhakov’s and the SBP’s status only continued to rise. On July 27, 1995, at the same time as GUO, the SBP was incorporated into the Presidential Administration, of which Korzhakov was thus made a Deputy Head. A few days earlier he had convinced Yeltsin to appoint his close friend Mikhail Barsukov, the head of GUO (whose son married Korzhakov’s daughter), as director of FSB in place of Sergei Stepashin (see below). The two men, together with First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, came to form a “troika” of hawks that virtually ran the country for the following year. “Not a single appointment, even the tiniest personnel change, could be made without Korzhakov,” says Emil Pain, an advisor to Yeltsin. “Anyone who wanted to get something in the Kremlin first had to go and bow before him.”15 Korzhakov was granted even more extensive surveillance means, gaining the use though not the direct control of the former KGB 7. and 12. Directorates (surveillance and eavesdropping). On March 23, 1996, he was named to Yeltsin’s re-election staff, for which the SBP allegedly set up a secret, off-the-books fund. The height of his power came in April-May 1996, when he was made First Assistant to the President with a rank of Federal Minister, and actively increased the placement of his own men in key positions throughout the government. His fall however followed swiftly and dramatically. Yeltsin, after the first round of the elections, found himself forced, in order to defeat the Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov in the second round, to come to terms with his rival General Aleksandr Lebed and to put a lid on the conflict in Chechnya (which the “troika” had actively fostered and encouraged). When Korzhakov triggered a public scandal by arresting and exposing two men working for the head of Yeltsin’s campaign, Anatoly Chubais, caught transporting a half-million dollars in cash, Yeltsin seized the opportunity to abruptly sack his old friend along with Barsukov and Soskovets, on June 20, 1996. (See Fig. 2 for an organigram of the FSO/SBP after the fall of Korzhakov).

          Korzhakov’s activities during his brief period at the summit of power vividly illustrate the blurring of the public and the private sphere in post-Soviet Russia: it is impossible, in most of his actions, to distinguish between the interests of the Russian State, of Boris Yeltsin, of the SBP as a bureaucratic entity, or of Korzhakov himself. One should not however reduce Korzhakov’s activities to mere corruption: the issue is better addressed in terms of patrimonialism, a system under which an individual such as Korzhakov gains and maintains power through his ability to capture and redistribute resources, be they jobs, money, information, favors, or privileges.16 The ability to display and use force is of course another key component of the system. The infamous “faces in the snow” incident that occurred on December 2, 1994 provides a very clear illustration of these dynamics. The story, as recounted by V. Volkov, can briefly be summarized as such: Yeltsin, upset at Vladimir Gusinsky’s alliance with his political rival Luzhkov, secretly ordered Korzhakov to put pressure on Gusinsky, “to create an atmosphere around him as if the earth were burning under his feet.”17 At that time, the ChSB Most, 1,500 men strong, regularly displayed its force publicly when escorting Gusinsky through Moscow in a fleet of armored vehicles packed with armed men; under Bobkov’s leadership, it was actively collecting kompromat on the enemies and rivals of Gusinsky, whose HQ was located inside Luzhkov’s City Hall. The SBP, when it went after Gusinsky, decided symbolically to target the office of ChSB Most. After following Gusinsky from his dacha to the office, SBP officers “performed a typical naezd” (in the language of organized crime groups, a “run-over,” an often brutal demonstration of force employed to intimidate businessmen).18 Gusinsky’s security men were beaten and forced to lie face down in the snow for over two hours while the SBP aggressively searched the premises. Terrified, Gusinsky first called the Moscow RUBOP; when a team arrived, the SBP men showed their identification and the RUBOP officers promptly left. Gusinsky then called the head of the Moscow UFSK, Yevgeny Savostyanov, who immediately sent another team that started shooting in the air as soon as they arrived. A massacre was narrowly averted; SBP reinforcements then poured in and disarmed and arrested the FSB men. Savostyanov, whose position had already been weakened by failures in Chechnya, was sacked, and Gusinsky was forced to flee abroad until 1996, when he returned to help with Yeltsin’s re-election. As Volkov writes:

          The SBP demonstrated its preeminence over other security organizations. […] This event was unusual … but did not differ very much from many other similar conflicts featuring local force-wielding organizations formally belonging to the state but used by local power holders to protect affiliated economic subjects or pursue their interests at the expense of various competitors. The Moscow incident attested not to the strength of the state but rather to its weakness. It demonstrated that a private security company with its office in the Kremlin was at that moment stronger than the company affiliated with the Moscow mayor’s residence at Novyi Arbat.19

  3. Good one, Asehpe.

    Poor Eugene, gob smacked with the reality of no famine that fits into his pathetic analogy, must now backpeddle with even dumber more obtuse drivel.

    “Russian learned truths” and all that has followed since Gusinsky’s private media company was expropriated by the state to facilitate complete censorship is an oxymoron to all but poor analogy and reality challenged Eugene.

  4. I don’t know much about Mr. Gusinski and what he did, but I understand from the discussion above that he owned a media company. I don’t understand how his owning the company could cause lack of food, or conversely, how his not owning it brings about abundance of food. Where is a causal link here? It would make more sense if he had been in charge of agriculture

    • Vladimir Gusinsky is the reason why Russia lost the First Chechen War. Yeltsin hated Gusinsky and did something called operation “facedown in snow”.

  5. “Sockets for plug-in single-channel radios appeared in all housing.” These sockets and radios were used in both ways as propoganda device and listening device. To spy on citizens.

    • Did you read in in Orwell’s 1984? Soviet radio equipment was not advanced enough for that, transistors were not yet invented – therefore the Soviet Totalitarian Regime could not set up anything like the network of surveillance cameras that decorate the streets of present-day Civilized Western Cities at every step.

  6. Russian Journalist Dies After Brutal Attack

    http://www.theotherrussia.org/2009/06/29/russian-journalist-dies-after-brutal-attack/

    Yaroshenko, the editor-in-chief of the “Corruption and Crime” (Koruptsiya i Kriminal) newspaper, had written articles investigating corruption in local authorities.

  7. It is almost axiomatic for thousands, possibly millions, of us that public opinion in “free market” democracies is manufactured just like any other mass market product — soap, switches, or sliced bread. Today fewer than 10 multinational media conglomerates-Time Warner, Disney, Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, Viacom, Sony, Seagram, AT&T/Liberty Media, Bertelsmann, and GE-dominate most of the American mass media landscape.
    WHY RUSSIA if I may ask, not USA?

    “We paid $3 billion for these television stations. We will decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is.” — David Boylan, Station Manager WTVT, Tampa, Florida (A Fox Network station – SEE Rupert Murdoch)

    • But my moronic Russian retard, they are 10 COMPETING networks, all with different views on news stories.

      Something you Russian retards do not understan, difference of opinion.

      Mother Russia is a whore.

      • > all with different views on news stories.

        Not really?!!! Nevertheless, on 08.08.08 the unanimity of those “competitors” would make Suslov green with envy: “Russia Invades Georgia – with information of the previous Georgian shelling of Tskhinval and killing of Russian peacekeepers being conveniently ommitted. :-)

        • No, Suslov got exactly the same kind of agreement in Russian TV — or can you show me any newscast there that did the opposite?

          As for dissenting voices, check Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, who was criticizing Saakashvili from the beginning. He’s also an influencial critic of America’s Israel policy. And he’s also quite critical of Russian decorative democracy, just to make it hard for the mind of the average Russian TV viewer to grasp…

          • > can you show me any newscast there that did the opposite?

            REN-TV. Russia is a free country, we have snug reservations for our freaks. :-)

        • Yeah or the fact that Ossetians ethnically cleansed the Ingush people during the Ossetian–Ingush conflict.

          • Don’t forget that those innocents Ossetians did it while Russian guns watched!

          • You are mixing apples and oranges. We’are talking about the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, not the one between Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

        • Maybe they were unanimous because this is, kinda, true…? Wouldn’t it be perverse to lie in the name of diversity?

      • And the difference is that if you are unhappy with the quality of the news in the US, there’s nothing stopping you from reading articles on the BBC, French channels etc.
        Go to the Pravda (Russian newspaper) website. They have an english site and a russian one. The Russian one talks ONLY about events in Russia, or involving Russian interests, and have referred time and time again to Obama as a crook, thief etc. The English website? The only mentions of Russia are of pop culture; no political stories (or only watered down versions); they spend time bashing western powers and laughing at their economic plight, while reaffirming that Russia is healthy.
        I’m not saying that going on foreign websites in Russia is impossible, because it’s not.
        But speaking your own mind in Russia? Google Paul Klebnikov, and see what happened to him.

    • Of course it’s axiomatic, rts. But it also is wrong. You know that wrong axioms do exist, right? ;-)

  8. Guess retards like you forgot about the previous shelling (and later levelling) of Tamarasheni too.

    Eff off retard, Russian “peacekeepers” (which sould be spelt “piecekeepers” were war criminals who attacked Georgian villages prior to the main outbreak of fighting, and presided over genocide against the Georgian part of the population.

    • Where is photo and video evidence of the “shelling of Tamarasheni” prior to 08.08.08?

    • @Russian “peacekeepers”

      Andrew, check out this stuff:
      http://russianpeacekeeper.com/ (russianwarmonger)

      Sample:

      “Today media outlets often publish materials showing Georgia as a tool in the American hands, and claiming that the Georgian aggression against South Ossetia was planned not in Tbilisi but in the Pentagon. Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, Vice-President of the Academy of Geopolitical Affairs, says that “it was “a fighting reconnaissance” conducted by the USA to see the condition of the Russian society, its response to the war, and capability of the Russian leadership to take strategic decisions, as well as to test combat readiness of the Russian Armed Forces”. And it is true.”

      or this:

      “Answering a question of German participants of the video-conference Army-General Peter Deinekin tried to set their minds at rest saying that the deployment of the Iskander systems in the Kaliningrad Region will not pose a threat to Germany or to any other European country. “Iskander is not a strategic weapon, it is a medium-range missile system capable of killing only those targets, which pose a real threat”, said the General. ”

      The entire website is full of awesome :)

      • Unfortunately, RussianPisskeeper website is apparently not longer updating ;)

      • Did you have to change your Pampers while reading it, Robert? ;-)

        • Ouch, Eugene, that hurt!… Your intellectual level is so amazing. What would Lomonosov have thought of that? Or Pushkin, or Solovyov? Yes, especially Solovyov… I can see good old Volodya going: gee, Eugene is totally bankrupt; he can’t answer anything, so all he can talk about is diapers. Ah, if only he had listened to the voice of богочеловечество… Or even simple instrumental reason… But alas! He is so much more fascinated by diapers…

    • That part of the war was by far the best part. Hell, those Rooskie “piecekeepers” probably didn’t feel a thing because they were all doped up on booze and heroine.

  9. Asehpe

    CNNESPNABCTNT but mostly B.S. — American T.V. is the basic reason why less than 10 per cent of your nation reads books daily.
    Why most people think Central America
    means Kansas. Socialism means unamerican
    and Apartheid is a new headache remedy.
    What would Ben Franklin have thought of CNNESPNABCTNT with its oxymoronic language?

    • Having access to both US and RuSSian TV, Russian TV is by far the more “homogenised”, it does not matter what station you are watching, it is the same kremlin BS.

      Really Retard Tranny Sucker, you need to get your facts right. Russian TV is the laughing stock of the journalistic world.

    • I had the doubtful pleasure of having some of the Russian TV channels listed in the article a couple of years ago. A retired relative was visiting from Russia, and as she knows no English to keep her entertained while we are at work we had to subscribe to a Russian satellite package. Nothing but Soviet-style news, old Soviet movies, and pathetic parodies of American game shows, talk shows, and soap operas. We canceled all these “beacons of culture” an hour after auntie boarded the plane back to Russia.

    • And BTW, have you ever talked to an average Russian (not Moscow or St. Petersburg intelligentsia) about anything apart from booze and sports? I remember asking a “Middle Russian” in the 1970s who is Brezhnev. His reply was (and I quote): “Бугор… ездиет…”

    • Rts, I’m Brazilian, not American, so that doesn’t apply to me — and I’m quite critical of American media. I don’t like the letter soup you’ve mentioned either. But then again, the Cyrillic equivalent soup ВГТРКТНТНТВТВЦПКРТВТЗСТС is, well, equivalent. They’re the reason why Russians have no idea what’s happening anywhere outside the Baltic-to-Vladivostok sector and only a cosmetic view of what happens inside this sector. Why do you think the only thing I hear from Russians when I mention my country is “я — ваша тётя из Бразилии…”?

  10. BOGDAN OF ENUCHALIA

    For all my hatred of Putvedev regime, I still regard Sasha Blonde as the most beautiful teenage porn-starn on the net. He, he, he…

  11. Pingback: Pajamas Media » Where in the World Is Alexander Podrabinek?

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