4 worst Russian propaganda fails

For those who haven’t heard, there was a massive leak of embarrassing and damaging Democratic National Committee emails and it turns out that Russian Intelligence Services were most likely behind it.

Russia tried to pin the blame on a most likely fictional Romanian hacker named “Guccifer 2.0,” but the “Romanian” who spoke to the press couldn’t type Romanian-language sentences without making errors and avoided technical questions about hacking.

The Russian propaganda machine is sometimes stunningly effective and sometimes surprisingly stupid. The spin doctors may have convinced many people in Europe that the Ukrainian Revolution was a Fascist uprising, but they also screwed up these 4 things:

1. Malaysian Airlines Flight 17

1200px-Boeing_777-2H6ER_9M-MRD_Malaysian_(6658105143)

A Malaysian Airlines plane taxis on the runway in 2011. This same plane was shot down by a Russian missile system in 2014. (Photo: Alan Wilson CC BY-SA 2.0)

When Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) went down in eastern Ukraine on Jul. 17, 2015, a long investigation was launched to determine what happened.  Through extensive modeling and forensics, a Dutch-led investigation determined that the plane was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from the area of Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

Russian propaganda went into overdrive to shift blame from themselves for giving the separatists the missile.

Russian state media drudged up a “satellite image” from an obscure message board and began reporting that the scene it presented, one of a Ukrainian fighter jet firing on MH17, was a fact. But, as users at the investigative journalism site Bellingcat pointed out, the planes’ relative size to each other and the ground were way off and the MH17 plane perfectly matches the first Google result for the Russian equivalent of, “Boeing top view.”

Russia had also claimed that a Ukrainian Su-25 shot down MH17. Apparently, the state media wasn’t very worried about that when they released the fake satellite imagery since the fighter in the photo clearly isn’t an Su-25.

2. Russian invasion of Crimea

1200px-2014-03-09_-_Perevalne_military_base_-_0203

Russian soldiers in modified uniforms with no national markings stand guard outside a captured Ukrainian base in 2014. (Photo: Anton Holoborodko CC BT-SA 3.0)

Russia repeatedly claimed that its troops weren’t in Ukraine during the invasion of Crimea, a region of Ukraine, and couldn’t understand why so many people thought they were. (Hint: It was mostly the Russian license plates, uniforms, accents and language.)

No one thought to cut off the soldiers’ access to social media, though. The Atlantic Council followed the digital footprint of a soldier and proved that he — and a lot of his closest friends and squadmates — had come from Siberia in Russia.

Worse, Putin apparently forgot to get the word out to the soldiers that they *wink* weren’t Russian. Some soldiers admitted to journalists that they were Russian while they were standing on Ukrainian soil, as Jon Stewart highlighted in a great piece for The Daily Show.

3. The anti-government protests in Kiev, Ukraine

Ukraine Crisis Cold War 2.0

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mstyslav Chernov

Before Ukrainian protesters ousted the country’s pro-Kremlin leader and tried to join the Western world — kicking off the armed conflict with Russia and pro-Russian separatists — it held a series of large rallies and protests against the then president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.

Russian state media covered the protests and said that they were dying out with only a few hundred people remaining in the square. They said this while their camera panned across the square and a crowd estimated to hold about 1 million people.

State media later claimed that swarms of ethnic Russians in Ukraine were fleeing the country to get to Russia, but their footage of the “Russian” border stations had clear signs identifying it as a Polish-Ukrainian border station.

4. The re-hired actors fiascos

In multiple incidents over the past few years, propaganda creators have used the same actors in different videos and photo shoots, sometimes over and over again.

One of the most prominent examples was the “Tale of Two Andreis” where multiple Russian news outlets aired footage of the same actor in the same hospital bed with the same injuries but with three different backstories. In one story he was an ordinary citizen attacked by neo-Nazis, in another he was a German spy, and in the last he was a pediatric surgeon caught in the crossfire during a violent protest.

In another series, internet watchers caught on to a female actor who had appeared in approximately five Russian propaganda videos, each time with a different story and biography. She even recycled a distinctive hat for two of the videos.

The unfortunate thing for the rest of the international community is that — despite Russia’s frequent missteps — their propaganda model does work. Rand Corporation looked at the body of evidence and found that Russia’s use of multiple channels buys it credibility even when most of its arguments can be proven false.

The effect can be even greater when they actually get a gift of real information. After all, the Democratic National Committee hasn’t released anything saying that the leaked emails were faked. So while Russia may get made fun of for trying to pass off an actor as a Romanian hacker, they’re still influencing an American election.

And this time they get to enjoy the fact that no one can debunk the kernel at the heart of the story.

TOP ARTICLES
This is the latest version of the M9 service pistol

The M9A3 offers a bigger magazine, a user-friendly grip, and a host of improvements based on lessons learned from over three decades of service.

This is what the DoD has planned for a zombie apocalypse

It does touch on many of the pop culture elements of zombie lore, but it breaks things down to become applicable to most situations that would similar to an actual outbreak.

Some dirtbags messed with an Iwo Jima memorial — and Marines caught 'em on film

Officials say an Iwo Jima memorial in Fall River was doused with the contents of a fire extinguisher last weekend. Police are investigating

Vets are going to get a new ID card, and they'll be ready for use next month

The new identification card will provide employers looking to hire veterans with an easier way to verify an employee's military service.

This is the story behind the rise and fall of the Islamic State group

The Islamic State group, responsible for some of the worst atrocities perpetrated against civilians in recent history, appears on the verge of collapse.

Now the Iraqi army is going after the Kurdish forces who helped beat ISIS

Iraqi federal and Kurdish forces exchanged fire on Oct. 20, capping a dramatic week that saw the Kurds hand over territory across Northern Iraq.

This Kurdish female militia refuses to stop its hunt for ISIS terrorists

A Kurdish female militia, after helping free the city of Raqqa, said it will continue the fight to liberate women from the extremists’ brutal rule.

The US just sent nearly 1M bombs and missiles to Guam — here's why

Hint: There's this guy a few thousand miles away who's threatening to lob a nuke in their direction.

This is what the 400 US troops in Somalia are actually up to

The US has quadrupled its military presence in Somalia after Al-Shabab killed nearly 300 civilians in two truck bombings. Half of them are special ops troops.

The war between the US Army and Magpul is heating up over ice

Magpul officials are calling foul on the Army's claim that its rifle magazines don't work in the cold — and they say they can prove it.