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The Soviet Information Machine: The USSR’s influence on Modern Russian Media Practices & Disinformation Campaigns


Oli Rose Vorster

Occidental College, US
About Oli
Oli Vorster is a non-binary activist and current undergraduate Diplomacy & World Affairs student at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. Through living abroad in Italy, interning for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, and working for the Northern California World Trade Center, Oli has developed a passion for international human rights agendas and promoting sustainable development, including climate action policies, freedom of the press civil liberties, LGBTQ+ rights, and feminism campaigns. Oli currently writes for the Occidental College Law Society, hosts a political podcast for the Young Initiative on Global Political Economy, and is the current Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Associated Students of Occidental College.
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Following the breakup of the USSR in the 1990s, the legacy of the state information machine remains alive today. The Kremlin still exerts control over domestic and foreign media, capitalizing on digital technology to form disinformation campaigns. This mirrors Soviet information control throughout most of the 20th century where the Union perpetuated ideological and political dominance over the masses. Popular mechanisms during the soviet era were state-sponsored censorship, both over domestic and foreign information, and state propaganda campaigns, which centered around glorifying the image of the country’s communist elite. Today, Putin and his government walk a delicate balance unknown to the communist leaders, regarding the legality of the state agenda. The Kremlin must leave the country open enough to legally be within the bounds of modern media and censorship laws, but behind the scenes still retain control over the country’s information channels. This has led to the use of intermediaries, such as media companies, which are utilized as a covert form of control to enforce modern legal censorship systems. I will interrogate institutionalized systems of information control used by the modern-Russian state and Soviet Union, drawing on censorship laws, propaganda campaigns, legal documents, and U.S Department of Justice investigations to make my case. I argue that while the scale and mechanisms for state control may have updated with modern times, control over information within the Russian government still mirrors its Soviet counterpart, perpetuating a domestic neo-authoritarian media space (Becker, 2014, 149).
How to Cite: Vorster, O.R., 2021. The Soviet Information Machine: The USSR’s influence on Modern Russian Media Practices & Disinformation Campaigns. LSE Undergraduate Political Review, 4(2), pp.106–112.
Published on 31 Dec 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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