The Kremlin promotes a variety of anti-Western and pro-Russian ``master narratives'' across its propaganda platforms, both within Russia and abroad. Russian government propagandists subscribe to these narratives and follow them to craft and frame disinformation campaigns that advance the Kremlin's positions and interests. Master narratives employed by Kremlin propagandists, include the following:

  1. Savior of Europe: Russia has been Europe's savior for over 200 years, ever since Alexander II stopped Napoleon's armies from dominating Europe in 1812. Russia also saved Europe from the Nazis, and Western nations tend to minimize this achievement. Russia should proudly assert its people's heroism to get the recognition it deserves and be admired as a great power.
  2. Eurasian Bridge: Russia was founded as a great civilization that acted as a bridge between East and West. The collapse of the Soviet Union, which went from the Baltic Sea to the Bering Strait, created a vacuum in a region that it is Russia's destiny to shape and lead. Russia has to advance its cultural, economic, and  diplomatic relationships to forge a new regional union that can rival the other global powers.
  3. Catching Up with Rivals: In the 1990s, Russia tried to emulate the unfettered capitalism of the West, causing it to fall from its status as a global economic and cultural leader. Putin and Medvedev returned Russia to the path of prosperity and moved to modernize the economy beyond natural resources by harnessing the entrepreneurship and innovation of the Russian people. Russia must continue to follow this path toward a modern economy to remain strong and catch up to the other global powers.
  4. Fortress Russia: For centuries, Russia has been attacked on all fronts by imperial powers seeking to expand their borders, from Japanese fleets in the east to Nazi armies in the west. Now the United States, NATO, and Europe are conspiring to surround Russia and keep it from becoming an equal power. But Russia has and always will defend itself and will continue to hold its ground against aggressors that seek to weaken it.
  5. Good Tsar: Russia is at its best under the leadership of strong leaders like Peter the Great that bring order and stability. Western puppets like Boris Yeltsin were weak and let Russia descend into chaos during the 1990s. But after Putin came to power, order and stability returned. The Russian people should place their trust in the Kremlin and be wary of its critics, who seek to return Russia to chaos.

Within these master narratives there are numerous prominent themes, which are adaptable to current events. There are several commonly used narratives. Some are narratives are explicitly pro-Russia, while others do not mention Russia at all:

  1. Western entities are Russophobic: The West ban Russian athletes from the Olympics as part of its hybrid war against Russia, and the United States and NATO are preparing to destroy Russia after successfully causing the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  2. Russia is a victim of the West, and Western media are anti-Russian or purposely spread disinformation and propaganda: Media in the West falsely accuse the Russian government of spreading disinformation. The West is also trying to provoke Russia into starting a new war and falsely  blames Russia for acts of aggression.
  3. Russia is the world's protector: Russian soldiers came to the aid of Crimea's Russian-speaking people when they were threatened by Ukrainian soldiers, and by annexing the peninsula Russia saved Crimea from war. In Syria, Russia's military intervention made terrorists agree to a truce.
  4. Some Western entities support Russia or Russia's positions: One in three Europeans consider Crimea a part of Russia and some European countries recognize Crimea as part of  Russia. The U.S. media revered the outcomes of Russia's military intervention in Syria.
  5. Russia's boundaries are not accurately reflected on maps, and Russia owns additional lands: Ukraine has always been a part of Russia and the Baltic countries and Belarus are also part of Russia.
  6. Russia has not violated international agreements or international law: Russia did not annex Crimea—Crimea  was returned to its native land as the result of a referendum.
  7. Western entities are trying to destabilize other regions of the world: The United States led a violent coup against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, created ISIS, and orchestrated the migrant crisis in Europe.
  8. The Ukrainian government is illegitimate and violent: The Ukrainian government came to power through a coup and  is illegitimate, and Nazis lead the Ukrainian government, which supports fascist policies and ideas.
  9. EU and/or European governments are unable to manage the migration crisis or are manipulating the crisis for other purposes: EU member states cannot protect their citizens from violent migrants, who are altering European culture. The EU is taking advantage of the migrant crisis to create an occupation army that will be authorized to take control of national borders without the permission of member states.
  10. The West's values are evil, decadent, etc.: The European Parliament promotes the gay movement in Europe and is trying to eliminate male and female gender identities. The sexual abuse of minors is a state-sponsored national tradition in Norway and the country's institution for the protection of children's rights supports this system.
  11. The EU and/or European governments are American puppets: The EU was created by the United States to take away sovereignty from European member states, and Germany facilitates U.S. hegemony over Europe.


Russian government disinformation uses a wide variety of misleading propaganda techniques to persuade and convince audiences of its preferred narratives. Often, several techniques are used in combination for a single article or story that promotes the Kremlin's narrative on a particular event. These techniques include:

  1. Ping pong: uses complementary websites to raise the profile of a story and get mainstream media to pick it up.
  2. Misleading title: uses facts or statements in a story that may be correct, but the title is misleading.
  3. Zero proof: provides no sources or proof to validate a story's facts or statements.
  4. False visuals: similar to false facts, but uses doctored visual productions to give extra weight to false facts or narratives.
  5. Totum pro parte or ``the whole for a part'': for example, using the opinion of just one academic or expert to  portray the official position of a government.
  6. Altering the quotation, source, or context: facts and statements reported from other sources are different than the original. For example, a statement will be attributed to a different person than who actually said it or a quote is placed out of context to change its meaning.
  7. Loaded words or metaphors: obscures the facts behind an event by substituting accurate words with more abstract ones, for example saying that someone ``died         mysteriously'' rather than ``was poisoned.'' The Western press has also aided the Kremlin's narrative by using terms like ``little green men'' instead of ``Russian troops'' in Crimea, thereby maintaining a seed of doubt as to who they really were.
  8. Ridiculing, discrediting, and diminution: uses ad hominem attacks and mockery to sideline facts and statements that run counter to the Kremlin's narratives.
  9. Whataboutism: makes false equivalencies between two disconnected events to support the Kremlin's policies and promote its narrative. For example, comparing the annexation of Crimea to the invasion of Iraq.
  10. Conspiracy theories:  use rumors and myths to anger, frighten, or disgust an audience. Examples include stories like ``Latvia wants to send its Russian         population to concentration camps,'' or ``The United States created the Zika virus.'' Another version reverses the technique, by labeling factual stories as         conspiracies.
  11. Joining the bandwagon:  casts a certain view as being that of the majority of people, thereby giving it more credibility.
  12. Drowning facts with emotion:  a form of the ``appeal to  emotion'' fallacy, which drowns out facts by portraying a story in such a way as to maximize its emotional         impact. The fake story of a Russian girl being sexually assaulted by Muslim immigrants in Germany is a good  example, where, even though the story was proven to be false and widely discredited, it so inflamed people's emotions that they were distracted from the story's  absence of facts.

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