Zarina Zabrisky
8 min readSep 14, 2017


Seven Years of Reporting

I have been reporting on the Russian cyberwar against the US since 2015. Forced to study “combat-propaganda” or “spetz-propaganda” at LGU, Leningrad State University, in order to get my degree in English and American Literature, I understand the principles and strategies behind the Kremlin campaign. Putin, Medvedev, and Sechin attended the same school.

The main goal of spetz-propaganda is to cause confusion in the enemy’s population.

It is critical to understand the basics in order to resist brainwashing.

Below are my articles on the theory, strategies, and history of propaganda.

  1. A brief history of mind war in Russia: a story of brainwashing.

2. First photo report of pro-Putin propaganda on the streets of San Francisco in 2015 and analysis of the post-modernist tendencies of the Russian trolls.

5. A MUST-READ. A translation of Vladimir Yakovlev’s article explaining several basic principles of combat propaganda.

6. Theory: Roland Barthes’ Mythologies applied to the Russian myth-making.

7. A practical guide to some propagandist’s visual methods.

8. Facts about RT (formely Russia Today):

9. Mind wars: what, why and how they do it.

10. A MUST READ: Political technology and an example of mind manipulation.

11. The U.S. alt-right as the Kremlin agents.

12. A MUST READ: Practical guide to checking for a Russian propagandist.

13. A MUST READ: Illustrated guide on Russian propaganda strategies used in Ukraine, Germany, and the USA.

14. Multiple Russian state TV stations and mass media sources reported a fake story about a special “Putin Birthday Burger” served in a NY restaurant as a special tribute to Russia and a Russian state TV channel invited Amsterdam residents to sample Russian cheese and find it superior to the Dutch cheese and report the violent acts performed by the Muslim refugees in Holland.

15. A MUST READ: When Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google provided evidence of Russian agents running a political campaign during the elections of 2016, instead of denying these activities, Russian political strategists came up with a new strategy: minimizing the scope of work, forces, and expenses.

16. Music as a propaganda tool. Member of Parliament Anna Kuvychko sings along with the uniformed cadets, students of a military-style college about reclaiming Alaska and heading for the last battle for “Uncle Vova” (diminutive for Vladimir Putin.) The song is seen as an opening shot in Putin’s bid for another six years in the Kremlin.

17. Deflection is a propaganda tactic. A scandalous statement, incident or word is “dumped” into the collective information space. Shocking and titillating, these “dumps” start trending. The mainstream media jumps on it. The subject is discussed for days and eclipses all other events, often important events.

18. The use of sex scandal for propaganda purposes.

19. PUTINCON. On March 16, 2018 — three days before Vladimir Putin became president of Russia for another six-year term — twenty-five international luminaries, including the former president of Estonia Toomas Ilves, prosecutor Preet Bharara, investor Bill Browder, the Guardian senior correspondent Luke Harding, former world chess champion Gary Kasparov, and other prominent political analysts, journalists, historians, forensic accountants, psychologists and cybersecurity experts from around the world, presented the analysis of the current political situation in the world, with focus on Vladimir Putin and offered concrete measures to push against the Kremlin hybrid war.

20. How “lone wolves activists” are used for political goals. More on neo-Nazis, militia, and white supremacists and why you should pay attention:

21. Reporting on May 5–9, 2018 events in the US: The demonstration of military might in combination with the soft power campaigns raises concerns about the Russian expanding aggression against the West. “Understanding just how extensive and coordinated Russia’s operations against the West represents the first step in confronting — and defeating — Putin’s increased aggression, particularly as it becomes clear that the 2016 election interference was just a starting point. “If there has ever been a clarion call for vigilance and action against a threat to the very foundation of our democratic political system, this episode is it,” former director of national intelligence James Clapper said this spring. “I hope the American people recognize the severity of this threat and that we collectively counter it before it further erodes the fabric of our democracy.”

*This article is used as a supporting document in an effort to revoke the New York State Senate Resolution J4960, commemorating the 4th Annual New York Immortal Regiment March organized by the Russian Youth of America.

22. Putin’s Russia’s ideology is patriotism. Using history as a weapon, the Kremlin wages psychological war against the Russian people and the West. Riding the eerily familiar concepts of the “genetic code of a nation,” the grandchildren of Stalinist executioners turn history into a mass control tool and the ground for covert and overt military invasions into other countries.

23. Russia supports separatist movements in California, Texas, and worldwide (Ukraine, UK, Catalonia, Kurdistan). The Russian secret service has a long history of funding separatist groups and movements around the world through business companies and installing puppet regimes in other countries. Tim Draper, a millionaire behind the proposal to split California has ten years of working relationship and financial involvement with the Russian government and oligarchs.

24. This article explains a Kremlin propaganda technique “political pluralism imitation.” The Russian-state-owned and funded mass media has been employing this model in Russia for a while. Lately, the Kremlin-linked agents are implementing it in the US and other Western countries. The goals differ; the mechanism is the same.

25. Read on to discover how the Russian secret services agents and officials close to the Kremlin ran an operation to organize an armed para-military biker club network throughout the US in 2012–2016, approached Trump personally, invested millions of dollars into Trump-brand luxury property, curtailed the operation due to the public scandal and how a non-biker with family and career connections to the top US politicians lobbying for the Russian oligarchs is currently continuing to mobilize and politicize existing biker base in the US.

26. This article focuses on both aspects of a “psy-op:” psychological and operational and emphasizes the critical importance of creating a new way of thinking in response to unconventional warfare. What do Satan, soccer, black cats, Russian Orthodox Patriarchs, and judo wrestling have in common? Why do you need to care about Russian literature?

27. The investigation into the publication history of Brett Kavanaugh’s friend and alleged accomplice in an attempted rape reveals an Internet influence campaign conducted by the Kremlin.

28. A brief summary of the hybrid war.

29. How to speak to the brainwashed (a step-by-step guide):

30. How do the Kremlin narratives travel from the Kremlin to you? An interview with Ukrainian political and military analyst Alexander Kovalenko.

You can also watch seminars Russian Propaganda Explained:

PS. I wrote the following in January 2015. I repeat it now:

“In the age of psychological and information wars, the mind is the only weapon and the only defense.

Coming to the street with a loudspeaker and shouting is as efficient as shooting feathered arrows and throwing darts into the heart of a nuclear mushroom.

It might feel good but if we care about the fate of the world, we need to turn to ‘thinking passionately’, in the words of Hannah Arendt.

We need to resist slowly and diligently, with poise and determination, keeping our feelings restrained, keeping our vocabulary precise and acute, using our minds and hearts, not fists, shooting words like bullets — to strip the Mind Monster of its imaginary power and open up the zombie-box that closed over Russia. [and America.]”

This is Chapter 1 of CLUSTERCLICK, a photo novella documentary by Zarina Zabrisky. Check out other chapters below or for the full adventure click here.

*All facts and photos are in the public domain and available through Google. Links to the original sources are included.

** Click and hold the clapping hands on the left bottom corner so more Medium users can read it. The longer you hold it, the more claps the article gets and more people will be able to find out this article. Share on social media: we need independent research.



Zarina Zabrisky

Zarina Zabrisky is the author of IRON and CUTE TOMBSTONE, EXPLOSION, a poetry book GREEN LIONS, and a novel WE, MONSTERS. More at