Is Russia our partner or our enemy? Can we trust the Kremlin or we should think that the Russian Federation is a threat for the European Union, its integrity and future development? What is the role of Media and Communication companies in Brussels – Moscow relations and dialogue? CeSEM tries to answer these questions meeting Professor Evgeny Pashentsev, Leading Researcher at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, director of the International Centre for Social and Political Studies and Consulting (ICSPSC), expert in Information and Psychological Warfare and Strategic Communication.
What do you see as the importance of the communication aspect of relations between the EU and Russia, especially in terms of strategic communication? And how do you see the problems of strategic communication of the EU with the Russian side?
“In strategic communication, actions are crucial for the transmission of messages to target groups and the entire population, which, to a large extent, determine their activities. It is quite natural that individual states and state entities develop their strategic communication, even if this term is not present in the official documents of a particular country.
What kind of messages, unfortunately, does the EU convey today with its actions to the world? Alas, signals of internal disunity and inability to cope with growing problems. The words about the desire to strengthen European unity on the part of high officials (even when behind them there is a powerful propaganda apparatus) cannot transmit the impulse to EU unity for a long time to most Europeans if the actions and images of objective reality talk about another (the diversified development of North and South Europe, the growth of external debt, the migration problem, the growing property stratification among the population, etc.). The apparent lack of synchronization of actions, words and images indicates the practical absence of the EU SC, stalling the entire complex system of national, interstate and supranational mechanisms of the EU, which is fraught with the most serious consequences for its unity. The lack of synchronization leads to a decrease in expectations and the effect of all integration initiatives, because people cease to believe in them. The long-term investment appeal of the region is diminishing, inter-state disunity and inter-ethnic conflicts are intensifying, society startsto gain a growing sense of people’s uncertainty about their future, etc. All this can be confirmed. Quantitative parameters are contained in many European reports, reports, international statistics and population surveys.
Russia is not interested in this development of the situation. Even if we approach the issue purely from mercantile positions-why should Russia want to lose stable markets? But the fall in energy prices, the growing problems in the EU and the policy of sanctions are doing their job. At the same time, Russia has alternative possibilities for developing economic relations, as I have already said.”
Particular attention to “fake news” has been given in Italy recently and the strategic communication used by political parties, social movements, media & communication companies, and even some countries to influence the public opinion. How does the “fake news” affect the relations between countries and the population’s confidence toward the world of information? Do you believe that this kind of misinformation can create a gap between the countries and between the citizens and the central governments impossible to fill again? Who really benefits from this misinformation?
“Fakes are everywhere in the media and they play an important role in the construction of a Fake Matrix where any new fake contribute to the previous one and all them make a Fake Reality. One fake dies but new ones are on the rise and social reality with real contradictions continues to be in vague every time. We can see a sophisticated full-spectrum assault on free will and more than that millions of people are accustomed to this Fake Reality and build fakes by themselves. For example Facebook recently reported that 83 million profiles on Facebook are fake.
Fakes play a very negative role in the relations between states whether it is an area of politics or business. In October 2016 Russian news outlet RBC reported that there were at least seven companies registered between March and July 2016 in the UK with the names similar to the well-known Russian firms. The company names registered in Britain were Rosneft Oil Company Ltd, PJSC Tatneft Ltd, JSC Transneft Ltd, Oil Company LUKOIL Ltd, Surgutneftegas Ltd, PJSOC Bashneft Ltd, and Public Joint Stock Company Gazprom Neft Ltd. The companies were fakes and did not have any connection with the Russian companies, despite the fraudulent scheme to be registered as managed by the same persons that are the top managers of the real companies. The registration of limited companies with standard charter is easy online in 24 hours and costs only £12.
In the beginning of 2017 five Russian oil companies have won appeals and lawsuits in the UK to have their fraudulent and unconnected ‘doppelgangers’ that were registered last year removed from the UK Companies House, according to court rulings. But if no alarm clock in RBC, no latter reaction of Russian companies, could be just now all mainstream media produced only ‘truth’ about great scandals connected with the activities of Russian big oil companies in the UK. And perhaps Vladimir Putin could be the first heroe of new scandal fakes. That was a story about fakes which were unveiled and produced no big harm. But some fakes do their job properly.
This is not the first time in recent memory that fake or deceptively named companies have made the news. On Oct. 17, Scott Dworkin, an activist against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, released what he believed to be evidence of illicit ties between Trump and Russia: a list of 249 Russian companies with “Trump” in itsname. The list would later become the first item in a fully-fledged report on Trump’s alleged Russian connections released by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, where Dworkin served as a senior advisor. Dozens of articles appeared very quickly like this “An Investigation Just Found Trump Has Hundreds Of Businesses In Russia” on the sites of supporters of the Democratic Party. For many Russia-watchers, however, the company list was an obvious red herring — mainly due to Russia’s lax enforcement of laws against “illegal branding.” And in general if if one is to believe in the magic force of fake brandsRussia couldn’t have worried about an outcome of the elections in the USA: since 1993 19 firms with the name “Clinton” have been registered in Russia. 12 have gone bankrupt. The OJSC “Clinton” in St.-Petersburg has appeared to be the most successful project. The company does the cleaning of garbage.
I gave only two examples of fake news. In the first case, the fakes were the result of attacks synchronized in time and space on a number of Russian leading companies. It did not work out. Are private detractors of real companies involved in the appearance of duplicate companies which using the consonance of names were going to inflict financial or image damage which can be calculated with many zeros? Or are some special services are involved in this process? Apparently, we will know it much later. Do not forget that the information-psychological warfarebetween states has its levels: tactical, operational and strategic ones, and each of them has its own problems to solve.
In the second case, a charismatic billionaire Donald Trump with his business success for several decades stimulated a several dozen of small Russian entrepreneurs to register their companies under the name “Trump”. It was done at a crucial moment in the election campaign (several weeks before the voting) to prove Trump’s illegal ties with Russia. Mr. Trump had to make excuses about things he had never done, and he has to do it even now, during the presidency. His political opponent can be pleased. It damages the foreign policy effectiveness of D. Trump. Moreover, it affects the national prestige of the country, and its national interests suffer. I think if Clinton Hillary had won, she would have to justify herself in dubious connections with Russia. Back in April 2016 John Schindler, a former analyst for the National Security Agency is calling on Hillary Clinton to explain the details of her campaign chief’s connection to the Kremlin. Then there were other similar attacks. Fake reality has a considerable effect on political processes, international relations and in some ways deforms them with exacerbating individual problems and the international situation on the whole.”
Evgeny N. Pashentsev. Doctor in History, Leading Researcher at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, director of the International Centre for Social and Political Studies and Consulting (ICSPSC). Professor at the Chair of Philosophy of Language and Communication in Lomonosov Moscow State University. Author or editor of 33 books and more than 100 academic articles. Member of the Advisory Board of Comunicar (Spain) and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Political Marketing (United States of America).