A former economic advisor to the Russian government breaks down the telltale signs that a recent anti-America rally in Moscow was staged by Russian authorities – Thelocalreport.in


Russian President Vladimir Putin at a ceremony in Moscow on November 9 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Federal Medical-Biological Agency.SERGEI BOBYLYOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

  • People were filmed marching through Moscow and calling for nuclear strikes on the US.

  • A Russia expert described what he said were telltale signs the rally was staged by the Kremlin.

  • The expert said the rally indicated the Kremlin’s propaganda machine might be losing steam.

Clad in orange and black, a small crowd marched through the streets of Moscow, clutching USSR flags and neatly written signs. Two men in black jackets walked ahead of them, filming on their phones.

“A flight task for the Sarmat missile!” a man at the head of the crowd sang in Russian.

He pumped his fist into the air, chanting: “On Washington! OnWashington!” Bored faces in the crowd joined in after some delay.

Every few seconds, the leader interjected with a new cheer.

“We will go to heaven as martyrs! They will simply croak!” he yelled, echoing the words of President Vladimir Putin. He called for nuclear strikes on the US, demanding attacks on American “decision-making centers.”

It’s unclear when the rally was held, but the videos were distributed on Russian Telegram channels on Saturday. Russian media dubbed the rally “the March on Washington,” highlighting the display of pro-war sentiment in Russia.

In reality, there were clear signs it was a staged affair, one Russia expert told Insider.

“It was obvious,” said Anders Åslund, who served as an economic advisor to the Russian government when it overhauled its economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “You have one chap who goes in front and shouts, 50 people walking in a clear formation, signs cut out from the same material, all written in the same handwriting.”

In a city where protests always see some sort of police presence, law enforcement was notably absent in the video, said Åslund, now a senior fellow at the Stockholm Free World Forum, a think tank in Sweden.

Åslund also said it was unlikely the rally was held by a rogue organization operating independently.

“They wouldn’t even be allowed to stage a protest,” he said. “The Kremlin wants to control everything—they want full control.”

Unlike at the recent rally, the Russian police previously arrested over a thousand people protesting Putin’s mobilization of reservists.Contributor/Getty Images

How the Kremlin is managing public war sentiment

Some elements of the “March on Washington” show how the Kremlin is managing public sentiment about Russia’s war in Ukraine, Åslund said.

For one, he said, few people were present at the rally compared with previous demonstrations.

“They’ve done this many times outside the US Embassy, ​​on other matters,” Åslund said. “The numbers were definitely much more than this.”

He said that the rallygoers were most likely paid actors and that the smaller size of the crowd indicated that fewer Russians were willing to appear as though they supported aggression against the West.

Most of the protesters also seemed to be doing the minimum, tepidly holding their phones or flags in the air and chanting only when prompted by the crowd leader.

“They were not paid much, so they did the minimum,” Åslund speculated. “It was very low-budget.”

Even Russian pundits on state TV disapproved of the rally, with the media host Sergey Mardan calling it a “gross clown show,” according to a translation by the Daily Beast reporter Julia Davis.

Nikita Danyuk, a Russian political scientist at the Institute for Strategic Studies and Predictions, told Mardan the rally was so extreme it was “discrediting patriotic movements” in Russia and could be used as fuel for Ukrainian propaganda.

“I don’t know who signed off on this,” he said. “Honestly, when it’s happening in the center of Moscow, it’s done on camera, you can see it’s coordinated. They’ve obviously received some kind of permission.”

“If you try doing that without coordination, specially trained people will arrive quickly and you won’t be able to do anything,” Danyuk added.

Mardan noted that the crowd probably had to get permission from the Federal Security Service, the main successor to Russia’s KGB.

‘The ultimate end of their imagination’

Then there’s the rally’s message.

“It’s the ultimate end of their imagination,” Åslund said. “What’s at the top of their heads — what would we like? Bomb Washington. What can we bomb them with? Sarmat.”

The Sarmat is a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry dozens of nuclear payloads. Previous demonstrations in Moscow in October also featured protesters clamoring for Sarmat strikes on the US. They paraded a black rocket on the streetswhich appears to have been reused in the most recent staged rally.

As for why Moscow would bother with such a low-effort act, Åslund compared it to a classic Soviet-era practice to continually churn out propaganda, even if it’s unlikely to convince anyone.

“Nobody will listen to this,” Åslund said. “They have gone back to the tactics of the Soviet Union. Hammer, hammer, hammer. Fill the space with monotony.”

Read the original article on Business Insider


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