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Tactics and tools How Russian propaganda uses the tactics of appeal to the people

Appeal to the people, or argumentum ad populum, is a propaganda tactic based on a logical flaw. It consists in the fact that a certain statement or idea is considered correct because it is considered as such by all or most people. And most people do not seem to be wrong. Propagandists often use this method when the process of gathering evidence and constructing rational arguments to support their position is too long or costly.

This argument can be misleading for two reasons:

a) The person who puts it forward does not always have complete, exhaustive and reliable data on the “majority”. Speaking of the “majority”, a person usually relies on his personal experience and the experience of their acquaintances, often representing a very limited socio-economic profile, unacceptable from the point of view of statistics;

b) The generally accepted opinion on this issue may be erroneous. For example, in Ancient Greece, the vast majority of its inhabitants believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth, but this does not mean that it really is.

 Russian propaganda does not always give a logical argument and tactics of “appeal to the people” to this example. Yes, anonymous pro-Russian telegram channels regularly publish videos where Ukrainians are dissatisfied with something, and transfer the opinion of one or several people to the whole nation in the lead-in to them. This may relate to the provision of the army, treatment and social guarantees for veterans, mobilization, tax and price increases, corruption of officials, arbitrariness of law enforcement agencies and other sensitive topics during martial law. We should also mention one of the most vivid images of Russian propaganda of the beginning of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine - “grandmother with a red flag”. The purpose of this myth is to show that allegedly the inhabitants of Ukraine support and rejoice at the Russian occupation. In fact, the Ukrainian pensioner Anna Ivanivna came out with a Soviet flag to, as she thought, the Russian military, in order to convince them “not to smash Ukraine”.

Russian President Volodymyr Putin said in February 2023 that the majority of Russians supported the war against Ukraine (the so-called special military operation). This statement has no grounds, because it is impossible to conduct impartial sociological studies of this issue in a totalitarian society. Here Putin appeals to the Russian people, trying to keep their favor and support.

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