CBC have reported today that a recent “viral video” that showed a woman dumping bleach on to the crotches of men accused of spreading their legs “disgustingly” on the Moscow subway was in fact a fake video, with paid actors funded by the Russia Government.
The video was, unsubtly, posted on “In the Know” a popular Facebook based viral video platform that is funded by Russia Today (a Kremlin-funded media). It garnered millions of views and plenty of vitriolic reactions from people rightly outraged by such behavior.
In the montage, “activist” Anna Dovgalyuk assaulting numerous men. The clip was shared hundreds of thousands of times and gained wide spread media coverage when it was released. Justifiably, plenty of people were suspicious of the authenticity of the video.
However it is now established that the video is staged, as a St. Petersburg (Russia-based online news site has published interviews with the men in the video who have said they were paid to appear.
The aim of the video seems to have been to stir up anti-feminist sentiment in the west and act like a sort of false flag attack, and it seemed to have worked.
The video now acts as a warming and as an indictment on the state of our media. In today’s 24 hour news world there is a rush to be first to publish which leaves little to no time to investigate or fact check.
Russia seems to understand this and is stepping up its disinformation campaign to further cause divides among westerners.
It would be easy to try to work out a “message” or agenda of some sort but it appears as usual the Kremlin only aims to divide, knowing that it can’t fight the west head on, so instead it’s bent on trying to get the west to fight itself.
Putin and his advisors have long used this tactic in Russia, funding both right and left wing groups to distract the populous and keep power concentrate at the top. People like Vladislav Surkov (link) most known for implementing this tactic.
Simultaneously, many people worldwide believe that “President” Donald Trump is Russian puppet, under control of Putin. More likely, it is simply Russia’s interest to have a divisive president, Trump being the most divisive in America’s history.
Many media outlets reported on the story wrongly and need to be more accountable with their journalism, however in today’s social media world, users need to be just as vigilant with what they share and who is posting it.
We also need to be wary of Kremlin tactics, which are to pit nations in the West against each other using radical methods of echo chambers, fury, and anxiety. With the election of Trump and the victory of Brexit, Putin has a huge head start.