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Tactics and tools How Russian propaganda uses “fake dilemma” tactics

A fake dilemma is a propaganda tactic in which the propagandists offer only two options. At the same time, in general, the “choice” option required by propaganda is obviously beneficial.

For example, the phrase “who is not with us is against us” has been well-known since Soviet times, it is a classic embodiment of the fake dilemma tactic. Either “you are with us” and enjoy all the privileges of “your own” - obviously a beneficial option - or “you are against us”: you are the enemy, and the attitude towards the enemies of the people in Soviet times was tough.

This tactic was used by Russian propaganda in the internal information space during the so-called “shared mobilization”. Russian men were also offered two choices: either go to the front to “defend homeland”, or join the ranks of “traitors”. Moreover, even in the manuals that were prepared in order to minimize the negative moods of the mobilized, that is, those who left Russia after the announcement of mobilization, they recommend ridiculing them, calling them “refugees” and “those who wait”, while emphasizing that words should be avoided that will hint to listeners that people left the country against their will.

The Russians also use this tactic in the temporarily occupied territories, offering Ukrainians Russian passports. The essence of the dilemma: either you get a Russian passport and have the opportunity to work, earn money and somehow survive; or, keeping the Ukrainian passport, you are an enemy. The danger lies in the fact that the effectiveness of tactics increases in direct proportion to the length of time under occupation. Many people are running out of resources, and hence the ability to resist the invaders.

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