Bashar al-Assad: Lisping Puppet of Russia

Bashar al-Assad recently gave a speech where he denied the Holocaust as well as promoted the idea that Jewish people in Israel are “Khazars”. Widely also reported was Assad’s claim that the US had enabled the Nazis.

Western editorial reactions to the speech primarily focused on Assad’s Holocaust denialism, and the denialism of the ethnicity of Israeli Jews via the Khazar conspiracy theory — and therefore a denial of the Israeli people’s Biblical right to Israel.

However, my primary reactions to the speech were to note Assad’s clear invocation of Russia’s cult of WW2 and ideology of victory as well as continued  parrotting of Russian nationalist ideas within a ‘narrative warfare’ context in general.

Another strong takeaway I had was that despite his argumentation that his narrative was the truth, Assad seems to feel that this war for “truth” does not necessarily correspond  to the true and the false. In this sense, that is much like the historical antisemitism which is represented by people who believe in forgeries like The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion despite all evidence they are inauthentic documents.

I imagined how funny it must have sounded when he said it:

….whoever winth the truth… Of courthe, the truth, regardleth of whether it is real or falthe, ith the one who winth the war and the battle.” – Bashar al-Assad (sloppy lisp emphasis added by the author)

Muppet Bashar al-Assad : Thupreme Leader of Thyria (AI generated)

Continue reading “Bashar al-Assad: Lisping Puppet of Russia”

Putin’s Doubles: Semiotics of Imposture and Antichrist

Introduction: Game of Clones

Over the past five centuries, there are repeated instances in Russian history where the idea of a “royal impostor” and “pretender” who is an “usurper” to the throne has surfaced in a popular cultural narrative. In his seminal article on the subject of samozvanchestvo, renowned semiotician Boris Uspensky surmised: “[t]o write the history of Russia and avoid the question of royal imposture is impossible.” [1]

As also revealed in Uspensky’s essay; due to their sacralization as a divine ruler, the Russian leader was sometimes simultaneously associated with the antichrist, or in other analogies to the devil himself, who is the original “impostor” and deceiver in Christian tradition.

This essay will examine the resurgence in conspiracy theories suggesting “Putin’s doubles” or that “Putin was replaced” from the historical semiotic perspective of imposture. It attempts to suggest how these recurrent narratives may be organically emergent through the Russian state’s efforts to sacralize Vladimir Putin as an “Orthodox Christian” leader, as well as efforts to shape a politics of memory around “neo-medieval” themes.

AI-generated artwork prompt: ‘ Putin antichrist clone factory ‘ (1:  “Biochip computer clone birthing device”)

Continue reading “Putin’s Doubles: Semiotics of Imposture and Antichrist”

Narrating the Wagner Uprising as a Nuclear Hybrid Threat

Introduction: From Nuclear Terrorism to Nuclear Hybrid Threats (and Nuclear Hybrid Warfare)

The geopolitical threat posed by the charismatic leader of a private military corporation (PMC) in possession of a stolen nuclear weapon and set against the backdrop of conspiracy theories involving Russia are themes central to the narrative of Konami’s “Metal Gear” series of videogames.

From June 23-24 2023, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the ‘Big Boss’ of PMC Wagner led his troops in an unprecedented uprising against Vladimir Putin. This week, Ukrainian intelligence spread narratives that the Wagner mercenaries had attempted to steal “backpack nukes” from a military base in Russia during their march on Moscow [1]; and so it was that life imitated the art of Metal Gear.

Meme with Yevgeny Prigozhin depicted as Metal Gear Solid’s Big Boss (credit:; Original:

Such scenarios as explored in Metal Gear and many other works of art might most often be classified academically under the keyphrase of “nuclear terrorism”. “Nuclear terrorism” (in quotes) seems a well-documented research area, which returned 22,300 hits today on Google Scholar for example.

However, for over a week before the narrative about Wagner raiding the nuclear base circulated, I had already been wondering if the Wagner uprising had been connected in any way to the tactical nuclear weapons which Russia had publicly placed in Belarus. I wondered if that may better explain Alexander Lukashenko’s strange role in the story as well.

In discussing my scenarios of using Wagner as a proxy for a deniable nuclear attack with hybrid warfare and disinformation expert Chris Kremidas-Courtney  (Senior Fellow, Defense and Security, Friends of Europe), he told me I was describing a “nuclear hybrid threat.

Kremidas-Courtney deserves credit for coining this term in an academic context from what I can tell based on a quick literature review.  “Nuclear hybrid threat” does not occur on Google Scholar, and at least one of the two results for “nuclear hybrid warfare” appears to be a false positive.

Defining the PMC Wagner revolt more specifically in the scenario of a nuclear hybrid threat rather than as nuclear terrorism seems to have significant value from a modern academic information warfare perspective.

Hybrid threats have been defined by NATO as: “combin[ing] military and non-military as well as covert and overt means, including disinformation, cyber attacks, economic pressure, deployment of irregular armed groups and use of regular forces. Hybrid methods are used to blur the lines between war and peace, and attempt to sow doubt in the minds of target populations.” [2]

A nuclear hybrid threat could be defined as those nation-state hybrid threats which are related specifically to nuclear materials or weapons; and yet do not rise to the level of an actual nuclear war.

In this blog, I will seek to unpack the idea of 2023’s nuclear hybrid threats as generated by Russia in their war in Ukraine, especially as they relate to similar narratives of theoretical nuclear terrorism from Russia in the 1990’s involving “suitcase atomic bombs”, “briefcase nukes”, etc.

Perhaps this all ends up looking like a “nuclear cardboard box“…

Continue reading “Narrating the Wagner Uprising as a Nuclear Hybrid Threat”

The Schizowar is Interested in You (Forever)

Some of Alexander Dugin’s recent writings referenced the concept of “Schizowars” (Шизовойны) [1] which was a term I coined in English in December 2018 and defined as “The use of psychoanalytic/psychographic approaches to exacerbate divisions in organizations and societies by inducing a state of conflict and paranoia, often through the use of strategically architected and deployed disinformation.” [2]

Certainly it was curious for me to wonder if Dugin may have been reading my work, as much as I have been reading Dugin. I was reminded of several quotes. The first was FBI profiler Robert Ressler’s mantra borrowed from Nietzche: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

I was also reminded of the familiar phrase “You may not be interested in [the] war, but [the] war is interested in you”; which is a saying popularly attributed to Leon Trotsky. Interestingly, a study of history in relation to this quote however reveals that it is instead likely a paraphrase of several statements about the dialectic, which may be primarily attributed to a synthesis of a 1940 debate between New York University Professor James Burnham and Trotsky.

Burnham had said “I do not recognize dialectics, but, as you say, dialectics recognizes me” to which Trotsky had (in part) replied “Burnham doesn’t recognize dialectics but dialectics does not permit him to escape from its net. He is caught as a fly in a web.”

Ultimately, it seems that the popular version of the quote referencing war comes from a careless reading of the 1977 book “Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations” by Harvard Professor Michael Walzer which included the statement: “War is most often a form of tyranny. It is best described by paraphrasing Trotsky’s aphorism about the dialectic: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”” [3]

Perhaps it is poetic that the popularly understood, and yet misattributed statement about “war” seems to emerge from the synthetic result of a dialectical process between Trotsky and Burnham.

If this is not simply a case of convergent evolution in etymology, I suppose that now in the discussion of schizowar, I may be in a dialectic of sorts with Dugin which may result in synthetic meanings of this concept.

While I have posited this war in observations of an aggressive Russian nationalist political competition which divides us politically in America, Dugin seems to similarly posit a war architected on the inherent chaos between extremes, but conducted by Western democracies and directed at Russia. While I have posited that Russian ideologists seem to me to be antichristian in their behavior, they claim the West is Satanic, and they must ‘desatanize’ Ukraine.

If Russia is my monster, am I representative of theirs? The abyss gazes back… 

Continue reading “The Schizowar is Interested in You (Forever)”

A Word to the People 1991 (Alexander Prokhanov et. al)

The idea of fostering unity of the supranational Russian Federation seems to be a consistent and conscious goal of modern Russian ideologists who are actively pursuing the adoption of a new national ideology [1 , 2]. Part of this conscious focus on unity may be due to an awareness that the Soviet Union disintegrated on ethnic-national boundaries in part because of its inability to establish a unifying ideology which appealed to the different ethnicities, cultures, and religions which the ‘evil empire’ was comprised of [3, 4].

Even as Russian ideologists actively work to promote a unifying “ideology of victory” in the new war [5], there are increasing observations in the West that the Russian Federation may be teetering on collapse and likely to further disintegrate along similar lines to those of 1991 [6].

Once again, as a key piece of Russian literature remains elusive to find in English, I will post below a translation of the July 1991 essay “A Word to the People”. This essay appeared in the hard-line Sovetskaya Rossiya journal and served as the ideological foundations for the August 1991 coup attempt. The text is widely attributed to the authorship of signatory Alexander Prokhanov, who continues to contribute to modern ideological projects of the Izborsky Club (such as the ideology of victory).

I feel this article is useful for framing how Russian ideologists were conscious of the impending collapse of the USSR, the awareness of the importance for national unity, and ultimately how this argument has somewhat come to represent not just the position of the August 1991 coup plotters – but also seemingly of the ideological elite in Putin’s Russia in 2022.

Ultimately the focus on unity of the disintegrating supranational empire as elaborated below is also a useful concept for understanding the ecumenical appeal of “desatanization” as an intentional ideological process within modern Russia.

A Word to the People
July 23, 1991

Dear Russians! Citizens of the USSR! Compatriots!

There was a huge unforeseen grief. Our homeland, our country, the great state, given to us for preservation by history, nature, and glorious ancestors, perishes, breaks, and plunges into darkness and non-existence. And this death occurs with our silence, connivance and consent.

Have our hearts and souls turned to stone and none of us has the power, courage, love for the Fatherland that moved our grandfathers and fathers, who laid down their lives for the Motherland on the battlefields and in gloomy dungeons, in great labors and struggles, composed of prayers , hardships and revelations to the state, for whom the Motherland and the state were the highest shrines of life? What happened to us brothers?

Why do cunning and eloquent rulers, clever and cunning apostates, greedy and rich money-grubbers, mocking us, mocking our beliefs, taking advantage of our naivety, seize power, pilfer riches, take away people’s houses, factories and lands, slaughter divide the country into parts, quarrel and fool us, excommunicate us from the past, remove us from the future – doom us to a miserable existence in slavery and subordination to all-powerful neighbors?

How did it happen that at our deafening rallies, in our irritation and impatience, longing for change, desiring prosperity for the country, allowed into power those who did not love this country, who were servile before overseas patrons, out there beyond the sea, seeking advice and blessings?

Brothers, we wake up late, we notice trouble late, when our house is already burning from four corners, when we have to extinguish it not with water, but with our own tears and blood. Can we really allow civil strife and war for the second time in this century, to again throw ourselves into the cruel millstones, which we have not launched, where the bones of the people will grind, and the backbone of Russia will break?

We address you with the words of utmost responsibility, we appeal to representatives of all professions and classes, all ideologies and beliefs, all parties and movements, for whom our differences are nothing before the common misfortune and pain, before the common love for the Motherland, which we see as one, indivisible, which rallied the fraternal peoples into a powerful state, without which we cannot exist under the sun.

Wake up, come to our senses, stand up both old and young for the country.

Let’s say “No!” destroyers and invaders. Let us put a limit on our retreat at the last line of resistance.

We are starting a nationwide movement, calling into our ranks those who have recognized the terrible misfortune that has befallen the country.

We call on the working people, to whom today’s Pharisees promised abundance and earnings, and now they are expelled from factories and mines, doomed to starvation, lack of rights, to dull standing in lines for benefits, a loaf of bread, for alms from the rich and owners.

We call on hard-working peasants, exhausted by ignorant authorities, whose current destinies are decided by yesterday’s destroyers of villages and creators of utopian programs, imposing a enslaving exchange on the grain grower, dooming the arable land to desolation, to the extermination of the surviving farms that feed the country.

We appeal to the engineers, whose hands, mind and talent created a unique technical civilization, a powerful industry that ensured the well-being and protection of the people, which allowed the Motherland to fly into space. Equipment, which, tired of working, needed modernization and renewal, after six years of idleness and ranting, stopped and collapsed, and now we are a country of stopped enterprises, silenced energy, disappeared goods, confused and impoverished engineers excommunicated from creativity.

We appeal to scientists who worthily promoted the development of domestic science, amazed the world with the fruits of their labors, accumulated  discoveries in laboratories and institutes for the next breakthrough into the twenty-first century, where we hoped for a worthy place in human civilization.

Instead, demagogues and malefactors ruin precious accumulations, scatter teams of researchers, close scientific areas, drive blood clots into the development of space research, nuclear technology, and the latest chemistry, dooming the best minds to vegetate, to flee from their native lands to prosperous countries. where their talent will feed not their own, but someone else’s development.

We direct our voice to the Army, having won our respect for humanity for the selfless feat of saving Europe from the Nazi plague, for the Army, which inherited the best qualities of the Russian, Soviet army and opposes aggressive forces. Our glorious defenders are going through difficult times. It is not the fault of the Army that it is forced to hastily leave foreign garrisons, to be the object of shameless political speculations, to be subjected to constant attacks of lies and slander by irresponsible politicians. But no one will be able to turn the Armed Forces into an amorphous mass, disintegrated from within, betrayed to desecration. We are convinced that the soldiers of the Army and Navy, true to their sacred duty, will not allow a fratricidal war, the destruction of the Fatherland, and will act as a reliable guarantor of security and a bulwark of all the healthy forces of society.

We direct our voice to the artists and writers who, bit by bit, created a culture on the ruins of the destroyed classics, who obtained images of beauty and  goodness for the people, who expected the flourishing of the arts in the future, and who found themselves in poverty, reducing creativity to a miserable farce for the amusement of merchants and the rich, when a people, excommunicated from the spirit, deprived of an ideal, ruled by immoral swindlers, is led out of history, turned into cheap labor power for foreign manufacturers.

We turn to the Orthodox Church, which has gone through Calvary, slowly, after all the beatings, rising from the Tomb. She, whose spiritual light shone in Russian history even in times of darkness; today, not yet strong, is tormented by strife, infringed upon in dioceses and parishes, and does not find worthy support in a strong sovereign power. Let her hear the voice of the people calling for salvation.

We appeal to Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants, believers of all denominations, for whom faith is synonymous with goodness, beauty and truth; cruelty, ugliness and lies are attacking them today, destroying their living soul.

We appeal to parties, large and small, to liberals and monarchists, to centralists and zemstvos, to singers of the national idea. We turn to the Communist Party, which bears full responsibility not only for the victories and failures of the previous seventy years, but also for the last six tragic ones, in which the Communist Party first led the country, and then renounced power, giving this  power to frivolous and inept parliamentarians who quarreled between each other, who produced thousands of stillborn laws, of which only those that give the people into bondage, and divides the exhausted yet alive body of the country into parts. The Communists, whose party is being destroyed by their own leaders, having  abandoned their party cards, rush one after another to the camp of the enemy – betray, betray, demand the gallows for their recent comrades – let the Communists hear our call!

The youth, our hope and flower, which is being smoldered, given over to the service of false idols, is doomed to idleness, mediocrity, drugs and crime.

The old people, our wisdom and pride, our unfailing workers and our tireless breadwinners, who received begging and desecration, defilement by a print and television brew of those who seek to kill the memory, in opposition to generations.

Young veterans, internationalist warriors, who showed dedication and humanism, high moral qualities, but placed in a position without guilt of the guilty.

Women who deny themselves the highest natural right to prolong their offspring for fear of breeding poverty, replenishing the army of the civil war with soldiers, afraid of their love and their motherhood …

Everyone who is, in cities and villages, in steppes and forests, at the edge of the great oceans washing the country – let’s wake up, stand up for unity and repulse the destroyers of the Motherland! …

Yuri Bondarev,
Valentin Varennikov,
Boris Gromov,
Ludmila Zykina,
Alexander Prokhanov,
Vasily Starodubtsev,
Yuri Blokhin,
Edward Volodin,
Gennady Zyuganov,
Vyacheslav Klykov,
Valentin Rasputin,
Alexander Tizyakov

“Soviet Russia”, 07/23/91



[1] Marlene Laruelle, “What is the Ideology of a Mobilized Russia?”, Russia Post, October 4 2022,

[2] Juliette Faure, “The deep ideological roots of Russia’s war”, Monde Diplo, April 2022,

[3] Lev Topor and Alexander Tabachnik, “Russian Cyber Information Warfare : International Distribution and Domestic Control”, Journal of Advanced Military Studies vol. 12, no. 1, Spring 2021,

[4] Ronald Grigor Suny, 1993, “The revenge of the past : nationalism, revolution, and the collapse of the Soviet Union”,   Stanford University Press, 

[5] Michael Hotchkiss, “Ideology of Victory and the Death of Daria Dugina”,, September 11 2022, 

[6] Luke Coffey, “Preparing for the Final Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Dissolution of the Russian Federation”, Hudson Institute, December 14 2022, 

[7] Alexander Prokhanov, et. al,  «Слово к народу» (“A Word to the People”), Sovetskaya Rossiya, July 23 1991, (Translation made from reprint: )

The Cultural Front: Russia’s ‘general HQ on the fronts of the information war’

On November 21, 2022; it was announced that a “Cultural Front of Russia” (Культурный фронт России) had been created. US-Sanctioned State Duma deputy and artist Nikolai Burlyaev was named chairman of the organization. Burlyaev claimed that the primary purpose of the group is to “mobilize and rally cultural and art workers” for the war effort in support of the presidential decree on “State Cultural Policy”.

Nikolai Burlyaev (Nikolai Burlyayev)

According to TASS, the meeting was attended by 227 people, including various influential members of the Duma [1].

Of particular interest to me was that there was prominent participation from individuals who I have discussed on the blog in an “information warfare” and ideological context in the past. This includes ideologist Alexander Dugin, milblogger Semen Pegov, and “Putin’s confessor” Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) (who appeared by video message) [2]. Continue reading “The Cultural Front: Russia’s ‘general HQ on the fronts of the information war’”

“Ideology of Victory” and the Death of Daria Dugina

Daria Dugina (Darya Dugina), daughter of Alexander Dugin, was reported to have died on August 20, 2022 in a car bombing in the Moscow suburbs. Russian political authorities, federal police, and propagandists have consistently portrayed it as an act of Ukrainian terrorism and pointed to Ukrainian suspects.

Conversely, Ukraine has officially denied these allegations. Rather than taking the event at face value as it has been portrayed in Russian media, many Western reports have questioned whether it was an act of “false flag” terrorism.

In this scenario, the killing of Dugina would be intended to bolster public support for the war in Ukraine by reinforcing the idea of Ukraine as a fascist, terrorist state. It would be analogous to a widespread theory that the FSB had carried out a series of apartment bombings in September 1999 in order to bolster public support for a second war in Chechnya.

When Alexander Dugin first released a public statement about the assassination, he did so through Konstantin Malofeev on Malofeev’s Telegram channel [1]. Malofeev, like Dugin has not only been sanctioned for his actions related to Ukraine, but is a member of the ultra-conservative Izborsky Club; a philosophical group which was co-founded by Alexander Prokhanov and Vitali Averyanov, and includes many prominent Russians, some close to Putin [2].

This long-read report demonstrates that regardless of whom may be responsible for the crime, the death of Daria Dugina has been consciously manipulated by figures like Alexander Dugin, Alexander Prokhanov, and Konstantin Malofeev in order to frame the murder as a kind of symbol of martyrdom which supports the neo-imperialist “Ideology of Victory” that was formally articulated by the Izborskists in October 2021, prior to the Ukraine invasion.

The death of Daria Dugina provokes enduring symbols of Russian ideology

This observation in and of itself does not mean the Izborskists have complicity in the murder. But it does seek to prove objectively that the death has been used consciously from the start as an ideological and political instrument of Russian imperial power. Continue reading ““Ideology of Victory” and the Death of Daria Dugina”

Alexander Blok’s “Sun Over Russia” (1908) and the Kremlin Vampire

Dracula’s long significance in Russian literature which became the basis of a narrative parallel with the tsar and autocrat is not limited to Fyodor Kuritsyn’s Tale of Dracula the Voivode or Dmitry Merezhkovsky’s Antichrist (Peter and Aleksey) [1,2].

Inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in his 1908 article Sun Over Russia, the writer and poet Alexander Blok (1880-1921) also utilized the imagery of the vampiric ghoul to describe the bloodthirsty behavior of the tsarist empire and its church leaders.

Blok’s essay was written in celebration of the 80th birthday of Leo Tolstoy. (The ghoul was a concept introduced into Russian literature by Alexander Pushkin; and later developed by Alexey Tolstoy (a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy).) [3]

I’ve found the essay and translated it since it doesn’t seem to be common in English.

Alexander Blok

Continue reading “Alexander Blok’s “Sun Over Russia” (1908) and the Kremlin Vampire”

Vladimir Tabak: Putting “Noodles” on Russian Ears?

At a Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) panel held on June 21, 2022 called Fake News in the Era of Globalization, Russian businessman Vladimir Tabak introduced plans for a new social media fact-checking service called “Noodles” (Лапша) (1).

Vladimir Tabak, CEO of ANO Dialog

The name Noodles is a reference to the familiar Russian expression “to hang noodles on one’s ears”, which can be described as “to fool someone in a skillful manner, and make them naively believe what you’re saying.” (2)

Tabak’s Noodles service will include a website, a chat bot, and media monitoring capabilities. It will partner with various internet platforms in order to support the goals of the October 2021 Memorandum on Countering Misleading Information (aka ‘Memorandum on Combating Fake Fakes’)  (1). The Memorandum was signed by representatives of many Russian state-owned news agencies. It represents an allegedly self-regulatory and voluntary information data standard for Russian media companies to support “systematic” efforts to “develop common rules for verifying and labeling false information, as well as developing best practices for verifying the authenticity of publications.” (3)

Some media reports on the Noodles announcement proclaimed that “the first anti-fake service will be launched in Russia.” (1 ,5)

An announcement of Noodles being the first such service in Russia might be met with some skepticism by Western observers. Researchers of Russian information warfare activities during the 2022 Ukraine War have already reported extensively about the popular Telegram channel War on Fakes, which purports to be a fact checking website, but seems to have been used instead by the Kremlin as a coordinated outlet for the spread of state-sponsored disinformation narratives (4).

Based on the discussions in the SPIEF panel and Tabak’s pro-Kremlin background alone, there is reason to expect that like War on Fakes, that Noodles will be likely to reinforce the ideological position of the state as a first priority in “truth”, rather than enable greater access to factual information by Russian social media users.

Continue reading “Vladimir Tabak: Putting “Noodles” on Russian Ears?”

WarGonzo’s Semen Pegov : Coming in the GRU’s back door

In continued monitoring of Russian propaganda reports that Western militaries are planning “false flags” in the Donbas which mirror prior disinformation narratives about the White Helmets in Syria, I came to learn of the WarGonzo Telegram channel. There is limited information about this news source’s background in English but it seems to parrot similar narratives to the official positions of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

WarGonzo recently claimed: “The White Helmets are rushing to Donetsk. Judging by the intelligence, the British-Turkish alliance is going to work out its “Syrian case” in the Donbas. We all remember staged documentaries and special reports about the “use” of chemical weapons. The British office of the White Helmets is also preparing scenarios for the Donbass regions of Russia. Knowing their cynical experience in the Middle East, one has to expect something adequate from this case. Donbass needs to be on the alert.” [1]

WarGonzo is run by the journalist Semen Pegov (aka Semyon Pegov) and has consistently been one of the most-cited Telegram channels in Russian media in the past few years [2, 3]. 

Semen Pegov: Gonzo Muppet (x Proboscis Monkey if it was too subtle…)

Continue reading “WarGonzo’s Semen Pegov : Coming in the GRU’s back door”