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Tactics and tools How Russian propaganda uses “third party” tactics

Third party is a propaganda tactic in which propaganda seeks and publicizes a third, independent opinion in order to validate its messages. The target audience finds it easier and more likely to trust an independent opinion that is not related to the stakeholders. This technique is used not only in propaganda, but also in advertising and marketing. Journalists, media, scientists, and experts are used as independent sources.

Pro-Russian telegram channels regularly use as a third opinion quotes from Western media, speeches by politicians and experts, often taking them out of context or distorting them in order to confirm their propaganda messages, to give them greater independence and authority. We wrote about this in more detail in a study on the MediaPost telegram channel, created by Russian propaganda specifically to distort and use Western media content for their own purposes.

In practice, this tactic, for example, works like this: one of the pro-Russian anonymous telegram channels in its message refers to an article by the Polish journalist Endzhey Bielecki for the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, which allegedly contains information that despite Poland’s insistence, the United States will not support Ukraine’s entry into NATO that Ukraine will be given only modest security guarantees and will have to put up with territorial losses. This is how propagandists use the authority of the Polish newspaper as an “independent source” to confirm their messages. Disinformers reinforce their thesis that Western aid to Ukraine will soon be seriously curtailed and our state will be left face to face in the war with Russia.

The Russian propagandist in the message of her personalized telegram channel used the data of the British betting company Smarkets. Based on betting odds, it claims that Ukraine will not win the war, will not become a member of NATO or even the EU. The argument is that bookmakers “know how to count their money”. The propagandist also focuses on the results of the voting of bookmakers’ clients, who also do not believe in Ukraine. That is, the disinformer used the authority of the bookmaker to allegedly confirm her propaganda messages in order to create the appearance that Ukraine would lose in the war with Russia and would never become a member of the EU and NATO.

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