TSAREV: Beware of Russian disinformation

All of our political parties should be united to help end Russian aggression and protect Canada’s political institutions from disinformation and destabilization.

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Those familiar with the history of the Cold War know well that the USSR vigorously attempted to destabilize and influence the domestic politics of Western democracies.

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Due to its ideological position, the Soviet Union supported mainly left-wing organizations in the West, ranging from radical and violent Marxist groups to moderate and established social democratic movements.

President Valdimir Putin’s Russia, however, has gone further — in addition to using the left, the traditional mouthpiece of the Kremlin, to a similar if not greater extent, it is now also trying to use groups from the populist right to amplify its message and destabilize our society.

Putin’s propaganda, like the Russia Today channel, specifically targets the populist right by pointing out the flaws and weaknesses of our traditional politicians and domestic policies, while portraying Russia as a bastion protecting traditional values ​​from decadent Western liberalism. .

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Unfortunately, this strategy fell on fertile ground, including in Canada. According to a recent Léger poll, asking Canadians whether they support Ukraine or Russia in the ongoing war by intention to vote, the highest percentage of those who side with Russia are found among supporters of the PPC, followed by CCP supporters.

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Traditionally, right-of-center voters tend to criticize mainstream narratives, especially if a government they don’t support is actively promoting it. Just because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expresses a point of view, for example, some people feel compelled to stick to a diametrically opposed point of view.

While it is true that on many subjects our Prime Minister certainly deserves a lot of criticism, that does not justify the blind acceptance of anything that is contrary to what his government says, because even a broken clock is correct twice a day. Just because the Liberal government condemns Russian aggression and tries to support Ukraine does not mean that this is a partisan issue and that we should buy into a narrative that is against it, which would be the false narrative that Russia wants us to believe.

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Unfortunately, especially those on the populist-leaning right, of which the best example is the People’s Party of Canada, seem to take this uncritical approach and thus help Vladimir Putin to justify his unacceptable aggression against Ukraine and to sow division in our own country. .

PPC leader Maxime Bernier recently took to social media to call Canada’s response to the war in Ukraine a “mass psychosis” that “replaced the mass psychosis of COVID.” He also criticized our imposition of sanctions against Russia and shared articles claiming that “Russia is doing us a favor” and that “NATO enlargement” was responsible for the war in Ukraine.

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Ironically, these words from a right-wing populist are surprisingly similar to the arguments of Cold War-era Western Marxist groups whose job it was to defend the communist dictatorship in the USSR.

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With most COVID-19 restrictions lifted, some populist right-wing politicians and commentators are eager to embrace a new subject on which to oppose the government in everything it does or says in order to get more clicks and views on their social networks.

We should not fall for such manipulations and deceptions. The current situation in Ukraine is a non-partisan issue.

All of our political parties should be united to help stop Russian aggression and protect Canada’s political institutions from disinformation and destabilization.

— Denis Tsarev is a Toronto-based political analyst who has worked on numerous human rights projects in Russia and other former communist countries

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