Many Donald Trump supporters have refused to accept the fact that the Kremlin, or that Russia as a whole, is actively supporting their candidate’s presidential bid. In spite of the release of a cache of private DNC email through Wikileaks, an organization which is known as a front for releases of sensitive information by Russia’s intelligence services (and whose chief, Julian Assange, had a show on Russian propaganda channel RT), many Trump supporters have not accepted that Russia, a country which considers itself to be at war against the United States, is backing their candidate.
There’s no better gauge of Russian government sentiment than Kremlin propaganda. The fact that Kremlin media, Kremlin-sponsored propagandists, and Russian internet troll farms support Trump is a strong signal that the Russian state backs a Trump presidency. They support Trump for a number of reasons, including the fact that his stated policies would be ruinous for the American economy and for civil liberties, and due to the fact that his geopolitical stance is openly hostile to NATO (he has already undermined NATO Article V, the cornerstone of NATO’s utility as a deterrent of Russian aggression), as well as indifferent, at best, to Russia’s wars against Ukraine and Syria.
This post is the first installment in a series surveying Russian propagandists’ support for Donald Trump.
Alexander Dugin, an openly neo-fascist political philosopher, and an extremely active propagandist in favor of Russian imperialism, expansionism, and hegemony, has actively promoted Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations. Dugin was fired from his position at Moscow State University’s (MGU) International Relations department, after he generated unwanted publicity by calling for Russians to commit genocide against Ukrainians.
Students of the Moscow State University have demanded the firing of Prof. Aleksandr Dugin, who, using his authority as a university professor, advocated the systematic killing of Ukrainians—a people who, according to him, do not belong to the human species.
Although Dugin is not formally a member of Putin’s inner circle, he is known to be closely affiliated with its members, and has often been alleged to have direct ties to Putin, although the extent of his direct interactions with the Russian autocrat is not fully known. His Eurasianist philosophy, and its Russian imperialist foundations, however, have influenced Putin’s decision process.
According to Abarinov, Dugin was the source of Putin’s obsession with the idea of “Novorossiya,” and when it appeared that that idea was on its way to realization, Dugin concluded that his time had come, a conclusion that led him to the excesses of conspiracy thinking and “imperial gigantomania.”
An installment of his online program, Dugin’s Guideline, is entitled, “In Trump We Trust,” and clearly endorses Trump for the United States Presidency, while pointing out the flaws in his opponents. Dugin’s show is worth watching (if for no other reason) for Dugin’s efforts to impersonate an American anchor in his stilted English (there is a caption box on the right of the screen, for the benefit of viewers who find Dugin’s speech unintelligible), and for his misconceptions, generalizations, and stereotypes about American politics – it’s not quite Yakov Smirnoff, but it’s still funny. Highlights from Dugin’s video include the following:
I do not begrudge you. I really like Donald Trump. But I detest the crazy, warmongering neoconservatives, sodomite Rubio, and hypocrite pseudo-Christian Cruz. Donald Trump is the most right-wing candidate of the Republican Party, but not like the insane, disabled McCain, or the ex-Trotskyist neoconservatives obsessed with the idea of world dominance. These people would look more right-wing than Trump, but adhere to the same idea of world hegemony.
Trump is the voice of the real right-wing in America, which, in fact, doesn’t care about foreign policy, and American hegemony. It only cares about the Second Amendment and the good-old traditions of the single-storied or, at least, two-storied America, a predictable way of life on the ranch and expressing freedom wherever they like, but not how the liberals prescribe it…
Trump is an exception. A normal American among the elitist circus. Trump is gaining more and more unexpected supporters. Recently, the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan supported him. He has more than 15 million followers.
Dugin then launches into a tirade against Bernie Sanders, who he denounces as “a member of the ultraliberal establishment,” and labels Hillary as “the saxophonist’s wife” (apparently, in Dugin’s Russia, Bill Clinton is more famous as a saxophonist than as an ex-President) who is supported by a cadre of “storm troopers.”
Dugin then expresses outrage at the American electoral system:
There is nothing more stupid and fake than the American vote counting system. It is a disgrace, and not a democracy! The majority votes for Sanders, but Clinton wins, bribing the electors (Ed: In fact, Clinton won about 16.8 million votes, to 13.1 million for Sanders).
Among Dugin’s final thoughts is the seemingly paradoxical statement that “the American society is more right than Trump, but at the same time, more left than Sanders. That’s real America, American America…”
When Dugin isn’t preaching to Americans, Sarah Palin-style, about what “American America” really is, he’s coordinating attempts to deliver remote lectures at Texas A&M with the assistance of American “white power activist” Preston Wigington, who “lives part of the year in a Moscow apartment that he sublets from former Klan boss David Duke.” Birds of a feather.
The URL http://trump2016.ru was registered by Konstantin Rykov’s (Константин Игоревич Рыков) company Goodoo Media. Rykov, who wa elected as a State Duma deputy in 2007 (representing Putin’s United Russia party), but is perhaps better known as an internet producer (formerly affiliated with Kremlin-owned Channel One Russia), internet entrepreneur, and propagandist/“troll master”. Rykov’s high-profile disinformation activities have included spreading false information about the Ferguson, Missouri unrest, and his online properties include vzglyad.ru and dni.ru.
In late July of 2016, Rykov’s twitter feed was a forum for anti-Clinton, and pro-Trump propaganda, among anti-gay innuendo, and posts promoting neo-Nazi pseudo-celebrity, political activist, and propagandist, Maria Katasonova.
One spectacular retweet combined Rykov’s preoccupation with Clinton, Trump, and Katasonova, in that it featured a photograph of Katasonova wearing a “Crooked Hillary” shirt.
Rykov’s trump2016.ru website is a news aggregator, which collects Trump-related articles from news sites. Unlike Rykov’s social media pages, trump2016.ru isn’t categorically pro-Trump, so much as Trump-centric, and seems to be a commercial effort (we even might call it a clickbait site). The site’s lack of an editorial filter suggests that it collects news stories by an automated mechanism. Indeed, the “About” page states, “trump2016.ru is the first project based on the information platform ‘Mediafilter’.” The page elaborates that “’Mediafiler’ collects everything interesting on a given topic: news, videos, photos, social network announcements – in online format” – it uses over 10,000 news sources. The Rykov site warsyria.ru, dealing with another geopolitical topic that’s important to Russians, given Russian’s involvement in Syria’s Civil War, is another example of a “Mediafilter” site.
The site permits the filtering of the news feed by language, presenting the options of Russian, English, French, German, Ukrainian, or all of the above. The balance of Russian-language stories on trump2016.ru provides insight into the Trump-related mainstream news to which the Russian public is exposed.
Headlines include: Trump Uses Putin’s Image in Fight Against Clinton, Chuck Norris Supports Trump in the Election, Trump Takes Hits But Keeps Getting More Popular, Albright Calls Trump Election Victory “A Gift for Putin”, Trump Has Surpassed Clinton in Popularity Among Americans, The Kremlin Sees “Maniacal Efforts” to Utilize Russia in US the Election, Trump Denied Ties to Putin and Connections to Russia , and, for good measure, Chuck Norris Predicts America’s Collapse in Case of Clinton Victory.
Keep reading The Impasse for updates on Russian propagandists’ support for Donald Trump.