Fake News Alert: Putin Hasn’t Been Overthrown In A Coup

Oct 8 2022

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By Andrew Korybko

As the cliched saying goes, trust is hard to earn but easily lost, and it’s even harder to regain after a viral QAnon-like conspiracy theory just discredited the Golden Billion’s perception managers in the New Cold War.

Social media and some online news sites went wild on Saturday speculating that President Putin was overthrown in a coup just hours after what video footage very strongly suggested was the truck bomb terrorist attack that Kiev carried out against the Crimean Bridge. That potentially game-changing development, which also has significant soft power implications for both sides, was swiftly followed by Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Anton Gerashenko tweeting that the Russian military closed off traffic in Moscow’s city center as part of their rolling regime change against President Putin.

This coincided with Zelensky’s senior advisor Mikhail Podolyak speculating about a “deep state” rift, particularly connected to Kiev’s conspiracy theory that it was Russia itself which supposedly blew up its own Crimean Bridge. This follows the spewing of similar conspiracy theories such as those claiming that Russia was bombing the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) under its control in its eponymous region, assassinated Darya Dugina, and was also responsible for blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines. All of these conspiracy theories were designed to deflect from the truth about each terrorist attack.

There’s another trend connected to each of these conspiracy theories too and it’s that they’re all intended to imply that there’s chaos in the Kremlin, so much so that different factions are allegedly sabotaging their newly restored world power’s special operation and even plotting their own coups against President Putin. All of the prior information warfare products are intended to collectively constructive this meta-narrative, which is supposed to sow suspicion about Russia’s internal stability and thus the sustainability of its grand strategic trajectory towards leading multipolarity.

This artificially manufactured narrative serves two purposes with respect to each targeted audience. The US-led West’s Golden Billion are expected to react with orgasmic glee at the thought of the Russian “deep state” (which refers to its permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies) fighting amongst themselves and thus making it likely that they can be divided-and-ruled into ultimately “Balkanizing” Russia. This wishful thinking is also meant to prevent them from revolting against their governments’ policy of giving a blank check to Kiev at the expense of meeting their own citizens’ needs.

As for the target audience among the Global South, this meta-narrative is aimed at getting them to think that the emerging Multipolar World Order is a fantasy that’s doomed to fail, hence why they must accept being the Golden Billion’s “junior partners” (neo-colonies) in perpetuity. In order to prevent their country from being punished for its independent policies that are apparently hopeless in this scenario, people should pressure their governments into cutting ties with Russia ahead of its “inevitable loss” in order to “get on the winning side” and thus “receive some benefits” while they “still have the chance”.

Put another way, this information warfare operation is inextricably connected to Color Revolutions since it’s driven by the desire to prevent them in the Golden Billion while advancing these exact same regime change scenarios in the Global South. The underlying narrative of both is that they tacitly appeal to each societies’ nationalist/patriotic sentiment exactly as the former Pentagon spy chief and a neoconservative Ukrainian lobbyist proposed in their piece for Politico last month exposing their side’s infowar plans against Russia, which can be extrapolated as applicable to other audiences too.

Returning to the news item that inspired this analysis, it’s obviously fake, which was confirmed by Italian journalist Rosalba Castelletti’s reporting from the Moscow city center clearly showing that it isn’t closed off as part of a rolling regime change like Gerashenko ridiculously claimed. This objectively existing and easily verifiable factual reality confirms that Kiev prematurely brought its months-long meta-narrative to a climax without anything to show for it, thus resulting in a disappointing outcome that’s attributable to its perception managers’ unprofessionalism, which ultimately discredited their side.

It would have been much better for their soft power and strategic interests to continue implying the scenario of Kremlin chaos behind the scenes without crossing the Rubicon by outright claiming that a coup was literally in progress when it obviously wasn’t. Even if Castelletti hadn’t discredited this fake news shortly after it entered the information ecosystem, the next day’s reality would have naturally done so instead exactly like what happened after last month’s uncannily similar fake news about a coup against President Xi. Both ultimately discredited those who participated in spreading those conspiracies.

That being the case, it can be said that each infowar provocation was counterproductive because the orchestrators prematurely brought them to a narrative climax without any result. The most strategic of their two targeted audiences, the one among the Global South, will therefore distrust those sources who played a role in constructing those meta-narratives and especially in passing the disappointing climax off as truth. As the cliched saying goes, trust is hard to earn but easily lost, and it’s even harder to regain after a viral QAnon-like conspiracy theory just discredited their side in the New Cold War

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