EU to Establish Propaganda Cell in Former Soviet States

The East StratComTeam will be tasked with spreading propaganda aimed at convincing people from former Soviet states that EU policies and reforms can improve their lives. However, reaction to the plan has been lukewarm at best, with one unnamed diplomat dimissing the plan as a "piece of crap".

Tue, Jun 23, 2015
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The European Union has announced a plan to counter what it calls “Russian propaganda” with a mix of positive messages, funding for media organizations, and new regulations, the EU Observer reported.

The EU's foreign service has reportedly drafted a nine-page paper outlining the project, which will be discussed at a general affairs council by European ministers today. The paper is said to be critical of Russia's alleged “misuse of communication tools”, and calls for the promotion of EU policies in former Soviet nations.

The project will lead to the creation of the “East StratComTeam” by September of this year. It will be tasked with developing “dedicated communication material on priority issues” for dissemination to press services, EU leaders and EU member states. The purpose of the material, which will be published in Russian and local languages, is to help citizens of former Soviet states understand the positive impact that EU policies and reforms can have on their lives.

Besides its new propaganda team, the EU is also planning to “raise awareness of [Russian] disinformation activities amongst the general public,” in cooperation with unnamed NGOs. As part of this effort, EU institutions will offer “targeted training and capacity building of journalists and media actors” in countries like Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

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“It's a piece of crap”

Although the plan looks good on paper, the EU Observer noted there's a lack of enthusiasm from the countries it's supposed to be helping. The paper was decribed as a “pragmatic, low-level approach” by one diplomat, while another contact from a “former Iron Curtain EU country” chose his words very carefully when he said the document was “a piece of crap”.

That might be because they're comparing the plan to a seemingly more robust effort from the U.K.'s government, which recently created the “77th Brigade” to target Russia and the Islamic State in psychological operations.

The British propaganda team is made up of 1,500 armed forces personnel, and will use social media as its main vehicle for disseminating the U.K. government's message.

“It’s much less to do with funding new institutions or schemes,” Daniel Korski, an advisor to British PM David Cameron, told the EU Observer. “It’s more about rapid reaction by politicians and institutions, so that when a statement is blatantly false, we're quick to debunk it and to say what we stand for”.

Image credit: Curtis Gregory Perry via Flickr.com

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