Sniper Massacre and Fictitious Atrocities


On February 20, 2014, 44 Ukrainian civilians were massacred by snipers on the Maidan. Ukrainian President Yanukovych at the time agreed to leave office, as the protesters would no longer accept him and the Russians were happy to get rid of him as well. He fled his garish mansion that included records of cash payments to his advisor Paul Manafort who later resurfaced in the US as campaign manager for Donald Trump in his successful 2016 presidential election campaign. The downfall of Yanukovych provided cover for the Russians in their efforts to disintegrate the Ukrainian state. As Timothy Snyder said,

“In a few days between the sniper massacre of February 20 and the Russian invasion of February 24, shocking but fictitious reports appeared about Ukrainian atrocities in Crimea, and about refugees from the peninsula who needed urgent assistance. Russian military intelligence created fictitious personae on the internet to spread these stories. A group of paid internet trolls in St. Petersburg, known as the Internet Research Agency, was at work to confuse Ukrainian and international opinion. This was by now a signature of Russian foreign policy: the cyber campaign that would accompany a real war.”


I don’t know if they ever read Hannah Arendt, the brilliant political philosopher, but Putin’s propagandists learned what she said, namely that it was not necessary to convince people of the truth of their outrageous claims. All that was needed was that people were confused so that they did not know what to think, and this was sufficient to open the door to fascist manipulation. That insight proved invaluable in Ukraine in 2014, the UK in 2016 and most astonishingly, the US in 2016.

That is an essential insight into fascist propaganda and how it works its incredible magic. That is why the sleep of reason and decay of belief in truth is so important. As Goya said, and a I have quoted many times, it brings forth monsters. That is what we see in Ukraine today and what we saw in both the UK and US in 2016.

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