Since the start of the Putin era in 1999, relations between Russia and the West have been tenuous at best. The advent of information and communications technology (ICT) has offered an unparalleled degree of interaction between Russian society, international organizations, and global media systems, which the Kremlin views with increasing skepticism. However, rather than outright blocking content deemed detrimental to the country’s national interests, the Russian state is utilizing a “disruptionist” policy to limit western impact on political thought and expand the cultural and ideological influence of the so-called “Russian World” (Русский Мир).
Internationally, Russia’s global media systems – via RT, Sputnik, and others – aim to compete with western channels and platforms to offer an alternative perspective on world affairs consistent with values held by members of the Russian General Staff. At home, ownership structures of television networks, prominent news sites, and periodicals allow government influence on nearly every level of media consumption, with few exceptions. Meanwhile, the perilous climate for journalists severely complicates efforts to promote press freedom.
Altogether, “digital patriotism” and Russia’s updated Doctrine of Information Security underline the state’s intent and methods to control information flow, influence audiences, minimize dissent, and further the Kremlin’s geopolitical agenda.
Russia’s Relationship with the West
In 2011, the Kremlin issued an order that forced employees of western non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to register as “foreign agents” in Russia. And, in 2015, Russian lawmakers introduced a “patriotic stop list” of foreign organizations – including the National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, The MacArthur Foundation – which banned their outside funding and forced these organizations to disband operations in Russia.
Putin’s Russia continues to extol the age-old narrative of the “cornered bear,” beleaguered by the global financial system, human rights proselytizers, viciously biased western media, and well as increasing dissent from within, all of which challenge the nation’s unique, yet vulnerable legacy. Western academics and political scientists may scoff at hearing that there is a legitimate basis for this narrative and these related fears. However, Russian commentators increasingly proliferate and exaggerate this narrative.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many Russians believe that the West took advantage of Russia’s weakness during the 1990s to plunder much of its natural wealth. Adding to this feeling, the European Union and NATO have fueled Russian anger toward the West by extending NATO membership to countries along Russia’s periphery. NATO bombing missions in 1999 against Yugoslavia to protect Kosovar minorities further agitated Russia, as they were interpreted as a sign of potential further western aggression against former Communist, yet Orthodox Christian and Slavic, powers.
Putin has stated that modern Russia faces an “ideological, spiritual, and moral problem” that, left unchallenged, threatens the collapse of the nation. His idea of a “collapse” is a very realistic, even pragmatic fear, the fallout of which is deeply embedded in the memories of older Russian citizens. Indeed, the turbulent 1990s in Russia were arguably harsher than in Depression-era America; criminal networks made bribery and shakedowns part and parcel of urban life, rule of law virtually nonexistent, and essentials such as milk, cheese, and bread were only accessible through po blaty (through personal connections).
Vladimir Putin’s immense popularity throughout Russia can be attributed to a sharp rise in living standards since he became president in 2000. And the state, now financially solvent due to a spike in oil prices, has since been able to pay its dues to pensioners and public employees alike.
As such, Putin’s political legacy for middle-aged Russians is similar to that of FDR in that he has righted the country’s wrongs of the past and ushered in a new wave of post-Soviet stability. Furthermore, as a recognized nuclear weapons state under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a major player in the Syrian Civil War, Russia offers much for nationalists to boast about. Despite these feats, modern Russia is only able to preserve the semblance of normalcy only by eliminating freedoms of the press, flooding the Internet with patriotic propaganda, and sowing international dissent.
Mortgaging the Fourth Estate
Although the contemporary Russian state plays lip service to democracy in the form of regular elections, the political system – officially described as a “sovereign democracy”- is virtually a one-party state. The media operates similarly. During the Second Chechen War (1999–2000), not long after Putin was inaugurated as Russia’s new president, government security forces plundered television offices and placed them under the authority of Gazprom-Media, a state-run operation. Putin understood that “television is still the one thing that brings the country together,” so in controlling television, he effectively controls the dominant narratives of the country.
The broader news media has undergone similar changes. From 2011–2016, 12 newsrooms have been subject to intense political pressure from the state, resulting in numerous firings and organizational reshufflings. The journalists who have simply been laid off may be considered the luckiest. The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks Russia as the seventh deadliest country for journalists to operate in, just behind Iraq, Algeria, and Pakistan. Fifty-eight journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992 in direct reprisal for their work, tens more murdered under unconfirmed motives. It is in the shadow of this reality that the few remaining independent Russian-language media platforms and correspondents operate.
The Value of Values
In Putin’s 2013 presidential address to 600 decorated Kremlin dignitaries, he began referring to Russia as a “civilization state.” Civilizational terminology has been wielded by nationalist groups in Russia since the 1990s in response to economic, political, and cultural “westernization” of the country. And this discourse has become more pervasive in official Kremlin dialogue since 2008, when Putin stated that “global competition is acquiring a civilizational dimension which suggests competition between different value systems and development models.”
It is in this political environment that ideologues have repurposed the “Russian World” concept as a geopolitical driver of conservative values. The scholar Marlene Laruelle notes the frequency of the terms “morality” (нравственность) and “spiritual” (духовный) in Putin’s speeches, especially since his return to the presidency in 2012. She highlights that the Orthodox Church is also a major contributing force in the Kremlin, and that its agenda frequently overlaps with the pro-Russian European rightist parties that call on the “periphery” to resist the “system” of “economic and political liberalism and the destruction of so-called traditional values.” This conservative movement has produced the so-called gay propaganda law, the Russian Internet Restriction Bill to allegedly protect children from extremist content online, the anti-blasphemy law following the Pussy Riot trial, and a ban on obscene language in books, movies, and music.
The Neo-Eurasianists, who seek to restore Russia’s great-power status by extending its borders and invoking an apocalyptic skepticism toward the West, bear remarkable influence on the Russian General Staff. Their chief ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin, has amassed a large international audience sowing postmodernist doubt and rejecting western culture as a “local and temporary phenomenon.” Dugin vows to save Europe from Anglo-Saxon influence, admits that fascism, communism, and Atlanticist capitalism are failures in their own ways, and argues that Russia needs a fourth political theory to guide it. He envisions a united Eurasian front with the glory and prestige of the Soviet Union but more in line with the realities of the global economy. According to Dugin, “Atlanticist values” such as personal liberty, multiculturalism, and free trade should be done away with and replaced by a sort of all-encompassing Orwellian submission to a civilization-state.
Another group leading conservative thought in Russia is the Izborsky Club. Founded by high-level Soviet propagandist and hardliner Aleksandr Prokhanov, the group recognizes Russia as the sole heir to the Byzantine Empire, a “Third Rome,” and the last bastion of Eastern Orthodox civilization. Adherents to this philosophy believe that Russia is traversing a unique historical path, and its spiritual and moral values must be protected at all costs. Achieving this aim, however, is impossible without a strong leader. For this reason, the conservative elite members of the Izborsky Club venerate Vladimir Putin, whom they see as a natural successor to the legacy of medieval and imperial Russia. Prokhanov notes that Russia’s political acts in recent years, such as defeating Georgia in a short war in 2008, annexing Crimea in 2014, and founding the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015 indicate Russia’s path to “recovery” by rejecting liberal western values and embracing a blend of social conservatism and Russian exceptionalism.
“The Russians are very good at courting everyone who has a grudge with liberal democracy, and that goes from extreme right to extreme left,” says Patrik Oksanen, a writer for the Swedish newspaper group MittMedia. Across Europe, political parties are either sympathetic to or embracing these nationalistic and conservative values—the National Front (France), Forza Nuova (Italy), the Austrian Freedom Party, the Jobbik movement (Hungary), the Ataka Party (Bulgaria), Golden Dawn (Greece), the British National Party, and the Justice and Development Party (Turkey). The so-called “alt-right” in American politics would fit with this list.
This movement, which largely supports Donald Trump, encompasses millions of skeptics that tend to be prone to conspiracy theories and could generally be described as anti-immigrant and white nationalist. One commentator widely viewed as representative of this movement, Alex Jones of Infowars, has expressed a deep level of enthusiasm of Dugin’s ideas, which points to an ideological marriage of these groups. Secondly, Richard Spencer, the “hail Trump!” president of the white-nationalist National Policy Institute, is the husband of Nina Kouprianova, a translator of Dugin’s works and an avid supporter of Vladimir Putin.
From a digital perspective, Russia’s Doctrine of Information Security, updated in 2016, highlights the degree to which the ultra-conservative Neo-Eurasianists and Izborsky Club have influenced the Russian General Staff. First, the document references the term “spiritual-moral values” (духовно-нравственные ценности) no fewer than three times, and urges constructing the Russian media landscape into a sovereign sphere, free of western interference. The doctrine demonstrates that the state intends to impose stricter control of the Internet, defining it as a concern of national security. In the section titled “Main Information Threats,” the document reads:
There is a growing trend in foreign media containing prejudiced views of the state policies of the Russian Federation. Russian mass media are frequently subject to outright discrimination from abroad, and Russian journalists are obstructed from carrying out their professional responsibilities. The use of information to influence the Russian population is increasing, primarily targeting its youth, with the intent to erode traditional Russian spiritual and moral values.
Second, doctrine calls for the “neutralization of informational-psychological influence, aimed at undermining the historical basis and patriotic traditions concerning the defense of the Fatherland.” This objective is consistent with Russian military doctrine outlining hybrid warfare in which, should Russians or Russian-speakers find themselves under threat, the Kremlin can justify foreign invasion. While post-Soviet Russia’s military and information warfare campaigns are outside the scope of this essay, the links between the doctrines of war and information security cannot be understated.
Finally, the doctrine portrays the Russian media sphere as a world under siege, necessitating further “vertical control and centralization at the federal, interregional, regional, and municipal levels as well as those of computer systems, their operators, and communication networks.” As such, the doctrine presents itself as a nationalist call to arms, noting “protection of the sovereignty of the Russian Federation in the information space” as a primary objective. Only by “implementing policies aimed at the realization of national interests in the information sphere” can the state attain this goal.
White Noise as an Information Control Mechanism
The Russian state, either through direct ownership or government-controlled subsidiaries such as Gazpom-Media, has established a global media system. It includes numerous TV channels, radio stations, as well as Russian-language hybrid web-based platforms that appeal to citizens across the former Soviet republics. While the Russian government controls television, which remains the most popular media platform among Russians, the Internet remains virtually open. The Internet’s openness means that Russia’s nearly 100 million Internet users can easily access international media content that is more critical of Russia, such as the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, and others.
Meanwhile, the Russian state utilizes RT, which broadcasts in English, French, Arabic, German, and Spanish, to compete with international channels. Via RT, the Russian state provides a platform to politically-marginalized (or compromised) actors such as Julian Assange, former CNN and MSNBC commentators Larry King and Ed Schultz, as well as Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Chris Hedges – all of whom have expressed frustration with the American mainstream media. King himself noted the degree of freedom he has over his two RT shows: “to my knowledge, they’ve never edited a show. It would be bad if they tried to edit out things— I wouldn’t put up with it.” And when asked whether Russia’s funding of the channel would slant his coverage, Ed Schultz replied, “nobody’s going to tell Ed Schultz what to say or how to say it or what stories to pick.”
While RT America does bear a nationalistic slant, describing RT America cannot be reduced to saying it is pure propaganda; its broadcasting is far more sophisticated that simple flag-waving. Nonetheless, two trends in RT America’s reporting are clear: disruptionist and revisionist. The coverage of disasters in the West, such as forest fires and shooting incidents, are exceptionally disproportionate; the network seems to capitalize on any opportunity to reveal chaos in democracies and to portray the U.S. and Europe as flawed countries with ineffective political systems. Second, their coverage of Russian politics, especially concerning Ukraine, is heavy-handed and overtly biased.
By peppering their repertoire with established western journalists and commentators, who in turn invite reputable voices onto their shows, RT America is a sleek, postmodern amalgamation of the best and worst of journalism, competing with the likes of Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. It is Russia’s way of challenging the status quo of mainstream media in America.
In modern Russia, which has been referred to as “a competitive autocracy,” Putin’s high ratings are closely linked to public perceptions of economic performance. Respectively, the state utilizes a tiered system of media production to produce a patriotic skew in media narratives and keep dissent to a minimum. On one level, according to digital media expert Vlad Strukov, global media are required to express and support geopolitical interests. On another, grassroots activity is used to “aggregate and redirect information flows.” The result is a series of discussions and viewpoints in the media that revolve around varying degrees of patriotic and nationalistic debate. This framed debate creates the semblance of meaningful political discussion, but ends up developing and reinforcing “Russia” as a stand brand and disseminating the image of Putin as a mythic geopolitical hero.
Along this first tier of media production, Strukov identifies that multiple actors in Russia’s global media system, employing various political beliefs, “compete for the recognition of their particular type of government-endorsed relationship to the state presented as patriotism.” These political beliefs expressed by journalists and talk-show hosts in the media range from moderately patriotic to hardline nationalist. The degree of patriotism in global media can be moderate, whereby the country is depicted in media as an object of loyalty for its citizens, and citizens’ degree of loyalty is subject to scrutiny. Or patriotism can be extreme, nationalistic, and advance the brand of “Russia” as a bastion of conservative values, free from the moral decay and corruption of the West. Individual reporters almost never contest the views and positions of the authorities and tend to consider themselves as “missionaries of ideas rather than neutral observers.” “Stop lists” of unmentionable topics and individuals banned from appearing on television further narrow the ideological spectrum that viewers are exposed to. Because debate is constrained to this narrow spectrum, the framework of state-sanctioned media competition ultimately supports the Putin regime.
After RT’s official launch in 2005, 25-year-old Margarita Simonyan was hired as editor-in-chief with a responsibility to recruit western journalists. Due to the pro-government angle of her reporting, particularly her reporting on the war with Georgia in 2008, Simonyan gradually earned favor with Russia’s ruling elite. Strukov has produced a vast analysis of Simonyan’s tweets, LiveJournal posts (still a very popular platform in Russia), and RT coverage to identify a trend he calls digital conservatism, characterized by fervent patriotism and overt skepticism of western representations of events. Strukov deduces that media actors like Simonyan, rather than simply report events, “co-opt, reappropriate, and reconfigure existing media flows” to defend geopolitical interests in this second tier of media proliferation.
For example, Simonyan recirculates articles that reinforce narratives of the West as corrupt, inefficient, and undemocratic. She will re-tweet particularly abusive comments by American or European journalists to undermine their credibility, and bring to attention events she believes are unfairly being ignored in international media. In the news, “there is no objectivity,” Simonyan noted in an interview, “only approximations of the truth by as many different voices as possible.”
Strukov argues that the purpose of RT is not to provide clarifying information on events, but to reinforce claims of a western conspiracy against the Russian Federation. RT functions less as a news agency and more as an information aggregator, cultivating content that portrays “the state brand ‘Russia’ as an authority of fairness in the ‘unfair’ western world.” Dimitry Kiselev, a Russian journalist, was appointed by President Vladimir Putin to head the government-owned international news network Rossiya Segodnya in 2013. At a forum of media experts, he explained that neutrality has disappeared from journalism. Indeed, he says, “today it is much more expensive to kill an enemy soldier than during World War II, World War I, or in the Middle Ages.” While, he says, the business of “persuasion” has become costlier, “if you can persuade a person, then you don’t need to kill him.”
Unlike in China, the average Russian Internet user can access virtually every site he or she desires. As such, instead of blocking content, the Russian government seeks an Internet flooded with conflicting opinions frustrating the search for verifiable information. Indeed, numerous journalists have discovered that battalions of professional Internet trolls are employed by the Russian government’s Internet Research Agency to inundate the comments sections of political articles with assertions of conspiracy theories and criticism of western policies. Adrian Chen notes that, once the “trolls” have found a suitable story, they split into groups of three “where one plays the villain, criticizing the authorities, while the other two argue with him and support the government.” This mission is highly similar to RT’s global media campaign to undermine trust in traditional media and institutions, distort political discussion, and support alternative truths. Whereas today’s citizens visit the Internet to find answers, the Kremlin wants to convince users that online content is unreliable, biased, and dangerous – and give up on any hope of finding truth.
In post-Crimea Russia, there is a tertiary element: Internet memes as a form of participatory political activism. In his research into the power of Internet memes in framing political discourse during the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the scholar Bradley E. Wiggens notes that “memes are a tempting tool for the dissemination of tightly encapsulated social/political critique, and they are relatively easy to understand by many people.”
Because memes offer an easy way to code elements of ideology and political dissent into discussion, they have been increasingly employed by paid trolls and regime apologists to further the Kremlin’s geopolitical agenda. Facebook and its European analogue VKontakte are central spaces where hyper-partisan groups proliferate these memes to spread misinformation, conspiracy theories, and evocative political memes. By either attacking Western and Ukrainian political figures, portraying them as homosexuals or zombies, or by depicting Putin as cool, threatening, or messianic in his dealings with American and European politicians, the use of Internet memes will continue to further the interests of Russian state and its nationalist narratives. The image below illustrates such a meme.
Since Trump’s election, Twitter bots and bloggers with ties to the Russian state have been disseminating digital disinformation with the intent to destabilize enemies abroad and garner support at home. On January 4, 2017, the Donbass International News Agency, a small project based in the Russia-controlled Donbass region, published a story titled “Massive NATO Deployment Underway.” The story claimed that 2,600 American tanks were preparing for an invasion against Russia. In reality, a brigade in the 4th Infantry Division of only 87 tanks, had been deployed from Germany to Poland. This bit of disinformation went viral, shared over 28,000 times on Facebook, and spawned numerous posts on pro-Kremlin blogs such as therussophile.org and the conspiracy theory-peddling organization, the Centre for Research on Globalization. Soon after, the headline made the leap to the mainstream when one of the Kremlin’s official news services cited the story, claiming the US appeared to be preparing for an invasion. This story shows how the state can work in tandem with smaller or local media platforms to spread misinformation. Once this misinformation has spread to national news channels it can continue to skew its audience’s perception of geopolitical realities, even long after the misinformation is debunked.
Organic Opposition? At Home and Abroad
Considering the risks journalists in Russia face in reporting unfavorable or unmentionable stories, it is unsurprising that some have decided to move operations abroad. After the Kremlin fired and replaced the editor-in-chief of lenta.ru, Russia’s foremost progressive news site, 74 of the site’s 82 employees resigned in solidarity and established Meduza (meduza.io) in Riga, Latvia, where it continues to operate to this day.
Galina Timchenko, Meduza’s CEO, explains that because independent media platforms are currently impossible to maintain within the confines of the Russian Federation, it has been necessary to go into exile. Meduza has received funding from Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Russian oligarch-turned-philanthropist, and the site has a number of other benefactors whom Meduza’s staff decline to name.
Currently, Meduza remains the most authoritative and respected voice for Russian- and English-language news in Russia and the former Soviet Union and is the go-to source for New York Times journalists for a sober voice on Russian affairs. By publishing articles and photographs on subjects ranging from the recent anti-corruption protests to the on-going human rights abuses faced by the LGBT community in Chechnya, Meduza reports events to the “Russian world” ignored by the Russian state and its media channels. Despite this oppositional tendency, one of Meduza’s co-founders, Ivan Kolpakov wants to underline that they are “not counter-propaganda.” In fact, he notes, “we are the voice of a clear mind. And that’s why a lot of people hate us.” As of 2017, the site attracts over four million visitors per month from Russia and beyond.
From a domestic angle, two media platforms stand out. The Echo of Moscow (Ekho Moskvy) is a radio station that has consistently published and broadcast material largely unmentionable on Russia’s television and news outlets. Despite its 66% ownership by Gazprom Media, a subsidiary of Gazprom, Russia’s most profitable and largely state-owned enterprise, Ekho maintains a critical viewpoint on Russian politics and consistently features controversial or oppositional figures such as Alexei Navalny and Mikhail Khodorkovsky on its radio.
The privately-owned TV Rain is an independent, subscription-based news website known for its consistent objectivity. The organization’s Digital Media Chief Ilya Klishin notes that they cover “everything that doesn’t violate Russian criminal laws,” although vague, yet strict regulation has brought them under pressure from the authorities. “If you say on air that Crimea is not part of Russia,” for example, it could be interpreted as a “call to secession.” TV Rain was originally a broadcast network, but was shut down by Russian authorities following a program that questioned Soviet strategy during World War II. Nonetheless, Klishin says if it weren’t for that story, the Kremlin would have found another reason to rein in Rain. Like Meduza, TV Rain continually receives millions of visitors per month.
According to Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit organization, Russia ranks 148 out of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index. Despite this statistic, Russians with Internet access still have a few options for objective reporting.
Russia’s 2016 Doctrine of Information Security indicates that the state will continue to prioritize a controlled information sphere and challenge international businesses and organizations whom Russia deems threatening to its national interests. Last year, for example, the state blocked the professional social networking site LinkedIn because it did not comply with 2014 legislation, which required international companies to store Russian users’ data on Russian servers. Over 20,000 other sites have been blocked since 2016 for reasons ranging from extremism and calls for protests, drug-related content, and “publication of prohibited information.” More private citizens, including journalists, activists, and online editors have been targeted and prosecuted for online activities (such as reposting content critical of Russia’s annexation of Crimea) than before. Considering the increasingly nationalistic rhetoric appearing in its state policies and doctrine, Russia is gradually establishing “cyber-sovereignty” and following in China’s footsteps.
Nonetheless, the Russian state, via its global media system, will continue its disruptionist agenda to largely flood channels with white noise to confuse and distract Internet audiences. It hopes that they will instead tune in to state-sanctioned television and read state-regulated dailies. But despite the state’s attempts to instill increasingly patriotic and anti-western values in media consumers, “digital natives” and the creative class do not seem willing to relinquish individual liberties in favor of collective security. Indeed, considering that the latest country-wide protests were stirred up by critical YouTube video viewed over 23 million times, unresolved political issues such as corruption, criminal justice, and income inequality will continue to frustrate Russia’s attempts to sway its population.
 “Laws of Attrition: Crackdown on Russia’s Civil Society after Putin’s Return to the Presidency,” Human Rights Watch, April 24, 2013; and Alec Luhn, “American NGO to Withdraw from Russia After Being Put On ‘Patriotic Stop List,’” Guardian, July 22, 2015.
 Gordon B. Smith, “Russian Exceptionalism? Putin’s Assertion of Sovereignty at Home and Abroad,” (paper presented at the Conference on Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority at the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, April 20, 2013).
 Steven Lee Myers, The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin (New York: Alfed A. Knopf, 2017).
 Ibid, 22.
 Charles Clover, Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism (New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 2016).
 Areg Galstyan, “Third Rome Rising: The Ideologues Calling for a New Russian Empire,” National Interest, June 27, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/feature/third-rome-rising-the-ideologues-calling-new-russian-empire-16748; and Robert Zubrin, “Moscow’s Mad Philosophers,” National Review, February 18, 2015, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/398811/moscows-mad-philosophers-robert-zubrin.
 Laruelle, “The ‘Russian World,’” 22.
Chris Sommerfeldt, “Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claims he was praised as ‘a hero’ by pro-Putin commentator,” Daily News, January 11, 2017; and “Aleksandr Dugin: Putin’s Brain Joins Alex Jones,” Alex Jones Channel, YouTube, February 7, 2017.
 Ukaz Prezidenta Rossiiskoy Federatsii ob utverzhdennii doktriny informatsionnoy bezopasnosti Rossiiskoy Federatsii [Order from the President of the Russian Federation on the statement of the doctrine of information security in the Russian Federation], Prezident Rossii, May 12, 2016.
 Ibid, 5–6. (Author’s translation).
 Ibid, 9. (Author’s translation).
 Ibid, 15. (Author’s translation).
 Ibid, 12. (Author’s translation).
 Ibid, 4. (Author’s translation).
 Vlad Strukov. “Digital Conservatism: Framing Patriotism in the Era of Global Journalism,” in Mark Bassin and Mikhail Suslov (eds.), Eurasia 2.0: Russian Geopolitics in the Age of New Media (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).
 Daniel Treisman, “Presidential Popularity in a Hybrid Regime: Russia Under Yelstin and Putin,” American Journal of Political Science 55, no. 3 (2011): 590–609.
 Strukov, “Digital Conservatism,” 201.
 Strukov, “Digital Conservatism,” 191.
 Hedwig de Smaele, “Mass Media and the Information Climate in Russia,” Europe-Asia Studies 59, no. 8, December 2007, 1299–1313, 1304.
 Strukov, “Digital Conservatism,” 197–99.
 Strukov, “Digital Conservatism,” 201.
 Strukov, “Digital Conservatism,” 199.
 Katherine Ognyanova, “Careful What You Say: Media Control in Putin’s Russia – Implications for Online Content,” International Journal of E-Politics 1, no. 2, 1-15.
 Bradley E. Wiggins, “Crimea River: Directionality in Memes from the Russia-Ukraine Conflict,” International Journal of Communication 10, (2016): 451–85.
 Russia News Now, “Outgoing President Obama’s Operation “Atlantic Resolve” Against Russia: US Sends 3,600 Tanks Against Russia – Massive NATO Deployment Underway,” therussophile.org, January 5, 2017; and Michel Chossudovsky, “Political Insanity: Outgoing President Obama’s Operation “Atlantic Resolve” Against Russia: US Sends 3,600 Tanks Against Russia – Massive NATO Deployment Underway,” GlobalResearch, January 4, 2017.
 Laura Reston, “How Russia Weaponizes Fake News,” New Republic 248, no. 6, June 2017, 6.
 See Andrew E. Kramer, “How Russia Recruited Elite Hackers for Its Cyberwar,” New York Times, December 29, 2016; Ivan Nechepurenko and Neil MacFarquar, “St. Petersburg Metro Attack Included Many Students Among Victims,” New York Times, April 5, 2017; Masha Gessen, “Reporting Within the Lines in Putin’s Russia,” New York Times, July 15, 2016.
 Scott Malcolmson, “How Russia and China are Cooperating to Dismantle America’s Dominance of the Internet,” Huffington Post; and Yuxi Wei, “China-Russia Cybersecurity Cooperation: Working Towards Cyber-Sovereignty,” Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies International Policy Institute, June 21, 2016.