Autor - European Values

The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West: An Overview of RT’s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact

European Values Think-Tank presents a new Kremlin Watch Report,  “The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West: An Overview of RT’s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact”, authored by Monika Richter, Kremlin Watch Analyst. The Report is accompanied with an appendix document, the RT Guest List.

Summary:

This Report provides a detailed overview of the history, agenda, and evidence of impact of the Kremlin-funded international broadcasting network RT (Russia Today). In recent months, RT has come under increasing scrutiny for its role in the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign against the West. Unlike other agents of this campaign, which operate primarily behind the scenes and whose ties to the Kremlin are less overt, RT operates out in the open, pushing its pro-Kremlin agenda under the guise of ‘free speech’ and ‘alternative’ journalism aimed at counteracting the alleged bias of the mainstream media.

Thanks to this public visibility and its close ties to the Russian government, RT is seen as the official ‘face’ of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign in Europe and the United States; consequently, it often receives disproportionate attention and blame within Western policy circles for its contribution to the Kremlin’s destabilisation efforts. At the same time, many people in Europe and the US, including politicians and other persons of influence, continue to exhibit troubling naïveté about RT’s political agenda, buying into the network’s marketing ploy that it is simply an outlet for independent voices marginalised by the mainstream Western press. These ‘useful idiots’ remain oblivious to RT’s intentions and boost its legitimacy by granting interviews on its shows and newscasts.

This Report aims to resolve these conflicting realities, first, by identifying and describing the malignancies of RT’s editorial strategy, which unambiguously qualify the network as a Kremlin disinformation outfit, and second, by setting the record straight about the extent and nature of RT’s impact, which is frequently overstated to the detriment of sober analysis and apt strategic response.

Download it in PDF.


RT Guest List:

This document presents a list of 2326 persons of public significance (primarily from Western nations) who have appeared as guests on Russia Today (RT). The purpose of this list is to illustrate the scope of the problem: to identify individuals who, either due to unawareness of RT’s political agenda, or indeed explicit support of it, lend their names and credibility to a pseudo-news network and proxy agent of the Kremlin that peddles conspiracy theories, disinformation and various toxic forms of denialism in service of undermining democracy.

Regardless of their intent, these appearances amount to complicity with and legitimisation of the Russian propaganda machine. RT is not a neutral media platform; its raison d’être is to disparage and demoralise the West at all costs, and all content it airs is calibrated to serve this purpose. Thus, even guest appearances made in good faith – e.g., motivated by the desire to offset some of RT’s more toxic and hyperbolic narratives – are ultimately counterproductive.

The list is derived from the online episode archives of 17 RT shows. The guests are divided into seven categories:

  • US Politicians and Political Figures, Government Representatives (incl. Diplomats), and Military Leaders
  • British Politicians and Political Figures, Government Representatives (incl. Diplomats), and Military Leaders
  • European and Other International Politicians and Leaders
  • Writers, Journalists, Commentators and Political Activists
  • Academics, Researchers, Think-Tank Experts and Legal Professionals
  • Entertainment Personalities, Professional Athletes, Cultural Influencers and Other Celebrities
  • Miscellaneous Persons of Public Interest

Guests in each category are listed in alphabetical order (last name, first name), along with the shows on which they have appeared, their total number of appearances, and hyperlinks to all the relevant episodes. Names highlighted in yellow are particularly noteworthy for their public status. Please see the summary worksheet for more information on compilation.

Download the RT Guest List HERE.


     

 

 

 

 

Monika Richter

Kremlin Watch Program Analyst

PROFILE: Monika joined the Kremlin Watch Program in March 2017. She became interested in the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign with the onset of the Ukraine crisis in 2013, and subsequently devoted her graduate research to the effectiveness of this campaign with target audiences in the West. Her Masters thesis involved an online survey experiment with 1,200 U.S. participants that tested the attitudinal effects of exposure to Russian coverage of the Ukraine war. The study received national media coverage in the U.K. as the first controlled experiment on the impact of Kremlin-sponsored broadcasting aimed at Western citizens.

At Kremlin Watch, Monika focuses on the disinformation scene in the U.S. and the broader challenges of fighting information pollution in the age of unchecked digital media. She holds degrees in Politics and International Relations from the University of Oxford, St Antony’s College (MPhil) and the University of St Andrews (MA). Born to Czech emigrant parents and raised in the U.S., she speaks native Czech and English, as well as German (B2). Her full profile is available on LinkedIn.

Registration

 

1) Registration fee

  • There is no registration fee

2) Dress code

  • Business formal

3) Language of the conference

  • English – no interpretation

4) Venue

  • Prague City Centre, disclosed upon request

5) Costs

Organisers do not cover travels expenses & Accommodation for Government & Parliamentarian participants and their staffers. We can, however, help you find appropriate accomodation near the venue.

6) Meals

During the conference, meals will be provided by organizers (all day catering, including coffee breaks, lunches, dinners, you will find more details in the section program)

7) Participants

120 allied government experts, participation only upon invitation and confirmation by the organizers.

Our Track Record on Trainings

HOMEAFFAIRS – INTERNAL SECURITY FORUM PRAGUE: 2015

Since 2015, the European Values Think-Tank has organized the annual Homeaffairs: Internal Security Forum in Prague as a platform for experts and policy makers in the field of internal security. Every year, governmental officials from all over Europe come to Prague to exchange policy ideas together with leading experts.

Part of the conference is the Homeaffairs Academy, where junior governmental officials receive briefings from senior experts and take part in workshops tailored to finding solutions to the topic at hand.

In its first year, the conference focused on the rise of the Islamic State as one of the primary security issues in the region, counter-radicalization strategies and global security. Among the speakers were:

  • David L. Aaron (senior fellow in the RAND Corporation)
  • Roland Freudenstein (Head of Research and Deputy Director of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies)
  • Gilles de Kerchove (EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator)
  • Haras Rafiq (Managing Director of the Quilliam Foundation)

HOMEAFFAIRS – INTERNAL SECURITY FORUM PRAGUE: 2016

In 2016, the focus of the conference was on the European Agenda on Migration and Security. Among the speakers were:

  • Ruud Koopmans (Director of the Research Unit Migration Integration, Transnationalization, WZB Berlin Social Science Center)
  • Oldřich Martinů (DeputyDirector of Governance, Europol)
  • Irfan Saeed (Director of the Office of Countering Violent Extremism, Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism, U.S. Department of State, USA)
  • Bassam Tibi (Professor emeritus of International Relations at the University of Göttingen, Federal Republic of Germany (TBC)

The Homeaffairs: Internal Security Forum Prague will take place for the third time in late 2017.

Our Plans

4European Values Think-Tank is now setting up Training & Briefing Modules which will be tailored for specific groups from Europe and Euroasia.[spacer height=”1px”]
Selected proven Western specialists have agreed to lead specific Modules focusing issue related to a threat coming from Russia and ISIS.[spacer height=”1px”]
In the early stages of the project, 16 Modules tailored for four major participant groups. For each of partners and donors, specific combination of the modules would be put together so it fits the need of specific participant group.[spacer height=”1px”]
The general plan is to offer two to three day programs in Prague for groups of 40 participants, which would rotate in two 20-person groups with the lecturers. Generally, two modules per day would be conducted, so there is enough time for informal networking among participants and with the lecturers. Principally, four to six modules would be delivered to the participant group during the two to three day program.[spacer height=”1px”]

Participant Groups
A. General government security officers
B. Advanced government specialists
C. Think-tankers & activists
D. Journalists[spacer height=”1px”]
More details are available on demand.

Our Credentials & References

Our team has been invited to deliver briefings in 20+ allied and partner countries since 2016. Our primary hosts are security and intelligence-related government institutions.

References are available on demand.

We have extensive experience in hosting closed policy events. Here are references based on our STRATCOM SUMMIT conference 2016.

“The Czech Republic is taking a leading role in Europe’s response to disinformation, thanks to European Values Think-Tank- one of the top European think-tanks on this issue.”

  • Giles Portman, Head of EEAS East STRATCOM Team

“The 2016 StratCom Summit in Prague was organised at a crucial time when Russian disinformation is increasingly targeting Western audiences, trying to sow confusion, distrust and division. I came away from the Summit encouraged by the level of awareness and expertise across Europe, its governments and organisations, who are all actively engaged in countering Russia’s disinformation operations.”

  • General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee

“The Prague STRATCOM SUMMIT was an excellent forum for getting to grips with the problem and especially in bringing together so many national StratCom teams, because to succeed we must work together.”

  • Mark Laity, Head of STRATCOM at NATO SHAPE

“I returned from Prague STRATCOM SUMMIT with 5 pages full of different ideas which might improve our STRATCOM system.”

  • Major Linas Idzelis, STRATCOM Team of Lithuanian Armed Forces

“The 2016 Prague STRATCOM SUMMIT was a great possibility to get to know different people working in that specific field of interest as well as their respective experiences and opinions. The discussions both restricted to state experts and open to all participants have broadened my horizon and gave extremely valuable insights to the overall topic of StratCom.”

  • Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Schiller, Centre of Operative Communication of Bundeswehr