Last week I blogged on how Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had claimed that Russia was the victim in a global information war, and how that narrative had many parallels to previous Russian denials of chemical weapons attacks for which Russia bears clear responsibility. Additionally, Shoigu’s remarks on information war had come just weeks after he foretold chemical weapons provocations by American agents in Ukraine in a context which evoked prior disinformation narratives about the White Helmets in Syria .
It was reported yesterday that US officials have claimed that Russian operatives may be planning a “false flag” attack in the Donbas as a provocation to justify a broader invasion of Ukraine .
This morning, Ukrainian intelligence sources warned:
“According to the military intelligence of Ukraine, on January 14, tanks with ammonia were delivered to Gorlovka [Horlivka], occupied by Russian troops, at Concern Stirol PJSC, from which, due to a leak, toxic substances are leaking into the atmosphere. The man-made disaster caused by the actions of the Russian invaders can be used to accuse Ukraine of using toxic chemicals and as a pretext for expanding armed aggression against our state.” 
Russian-language media widely reported today on Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu’s interview on the state-funded Zvezda network’s television program Military Acceptance where he claimed that Russia was in “an information war on all fronts”, and had “no right to lose in this war”. 
Shoigu’s call to arms makes up a relatively small proportion of the hour-long television episode which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Department of Information and Mass Communications of the Russian Defense Ministry.
The full program is here, and can be viewed with auto-translated English subtitles:
Despite being targeted to a domestic audience and apparently crafted to promote a sense of pride and patriotism in the Russian “information support” services, the Military Acceptance program as a whole (to include Shoigu’s claims of victimhood) can be contextually analyzed within the broader geopolitical context of the aggressive Russian information warfare agenda. Continue reading “Sergei Shoigu Claims Russia is Victim in Information War”
If someone was to ask me who my favorite artist was today, I would most likely name the late Prodigy (Albert Johnson) of the 1990s hip hop duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy died at age 42 in June 2017 reportedly due to complications of his lifelong battle with sickle cell anemia.
But Prodigy is actually an interesting figure in the landscape of Russia and conspiracy theories too. He is the man who brought a paranoid belief in the Illuminati to hip hop.
While the historical accuracy of the events depicted in the books may be debated, we can infer that this is how the Tsar purposefully intended his legacy to be remembered in line with his efforts to revise the history of his own era.
Such images of death and destruction only make up a small fraction of the miniatures in the Facial Annalistic Set. However, their existence does support the idea that Ivan IV wished himself to be perceived in a fearsome way and didn’t hide that he had people brutally punished in order to enforce his rule.
It was hard to find good quality images online from the chronicles to support this research. After some digging, I’ve found some excellent digital copies of the Facial Annalistic Set which were commissioned by the Russian nationalist businessman, conspiracy theorist, and political aspirant German Sterligov; who became one of the first millionaires (if not the first) in post-Soviet Russia after starting the stock exchange Alisa.
An exhibition called “The First Tsar. Moscow. Grozny” opened at the Zaryadye Park in Moscow and will run through October 31, 2021. This is the first of ongoing exhibits slated for the museum-like attraction which is referred to as the “Podklet” (Подклет) ‘project’ .
Podklet refers to the stone basement which is present at the museum site and where the rotating exhibits will be housed. Notably the Zaryadye Park location is on the site of the so-called Old English Court where Ivan IV granted a residence to English merchant-diplomats which “became the first official representation of a foreign power in Moscow.” 
According to Elena Voitsekhovskaya, head of the scientific and educational projects department of Zaryadye Park: “the Podklet project will become a kind of a catalog of personal informal studies of various historical phenomena, their factology and trace in the mass consciousness. And the premises of the white-stone basement are an intellectual attraction, a cabinet of rarities placed in a multimedia field.” 
Zaryadye Park was the first new park in Moscow in 50 years. It opened in 2017 in a ceremony inaugurated by Vladimir Putin . Coinciding with a national security mandate to protect the Russian historical memory, the announcement of the exhibition at Zaryadye also appears amidst a flurry of other semi-official rehabilitations and popularizations of Ivan IV which seem to have been pushed by ideologists close to Putin’s inner circle . Continue reading “Meme-ry Wars and Ivan IV”
President Putin recently created a controversy when he “defended” the Oprichnik chief Malyuta Skuratov from the traditionally accepted view that he had strangled Metropolitan Philip for refusing to bless Ivan Grozny’s military campaign on Novgorod. This action has been seen as related to the “information warfare” arguments about Ivan IV which have been crafted by the ideologists of the Izborsky Club; and it may relate to recent national security strategies which seem intended to protect Russia’s “historical memory”.
The ideologists responsible for these narratives have in recent years frequently sought to portray the common negative appraisals of Ivan IV and his guardsmen’s terrors as the product of Western “information wars” which were furthered by Western superiority in printing. The Gutenberg Bible for example was printed in Germany nearly 100 years before Ivan IV ordered the development of the first Russian print yard.
Conspiracy theories about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales do not appear to have been previously considered in an ‘information warfare’ context which is attributable to Russia. However, my recent research has uncovered a highly probable scenario of Russian cooptation and development of these conspiracy narratives as part of a strategic information campaign targeting the United Kingdom. Of course, these connections to Russian strategic information are opaque, and laundered through fronts and third parties; but the connections are top-level and obvious.
While this report will suppose that land mines play a role in the motive for disinformation attacks on Diana and her legacy, it asserts that those attacks have come from Russian strategic information interests, rather from any UK or ‘Western interest’.
As tempting as it is to wonder if Russian wetwork may be at play in this story, it is out of the scope of this report which will focus only on provable or highly likely Russian strategic conspiracy narratives and will not seek to dispute any official forensic findings of the accident investigation.
The legend of Arthur Rochford Manby remains an enduring mystery of the American Southwest. A tale spilling over with tantalizing connections to black magic and the occult, murder, secret societies, foreign intelligence, artwork, and con-artistry — this fascinating report is a great fit for n01r.
Who was this mysterious man?
Sagebrush Noir: The Life and Crimes of Arthur Rochford Manby c. 2015 Dr. Richard B. Spence
On July 3rd, 1929 lawmen and townspeople crowded into a small room of a sprawling adobe mansion in Taos, New Mexico. Blue-bottle flies buzzed all around and the stench of death hung heavy in the air. The assembled gazed at a simple army cot where a half-dressed corpse lay wrapped in a blanket. And it was just a body: the severed, badly mutilated head rested in a nearby room. It was the general opinion then, and since, that the corpse and head belonged to the mansion’s owner, Arthur R. Manby. But others were not so sure. Most importantly, how had Manby died?
In American conservative media, there has been a recent push encouraging vaccine adoption. Notable examples of figures making public statements advocating for vaccines over the past week include Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise, and Sean Hannity. Such gestures have been welcomed by semi-puzzled liberals, who have come to associate conservative politics during much of the pandemic with skepticism of vaccines and an embrace of conspiracy theories .
In the past month, a similar push for the acceptance of vaccines has been furthered in Russia. This seems to have been kicked off on June 30 with Vladimir Putin’s annual call-in show where he said he had received the Sputnik V vaccine. This added additional detail to quieter earlier disclosures that the Russian president had received a second shot in March. While promoting the safety of domestic Russian vaccines, Putin continued to stoke fears in Western vaccines, saying: “thank God we haven’t had tragic situations after vaccinations like after the use of AstraZeneca or Pfizer.” 
Putin’s patriotic vaccine statements seemed to form a cue for senior clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to come out publicly in favor of vaccination with domestic vaccines, using many of the tropes of conservative conspiracy theory. This vaccine promotion is interesting because these figures have themselves often been associated with national ideology, conspiracy theories, and disinformation – and even rumors of involvement with the FSB. Their approach may offer some constructive lessons in how conspiratorial language can be repurposed to promote vaccine adoption. But it also raises more questions about the state of disinformation in Russia and its effects abroad.