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On The Home Front In Russia's Information War

If you want to understand the roots of Russia's "information war" against the west, the best place to start is in what shows up, routinely, on the TV channels at home. 

We've just received a leaked copy of what looks to be a nearly-completed television exposé from one of the state-controlled Russian channels. It makes Breitbart look like PBS Newshour. 

On the face of it, the 29-minute video is a fairly standard, if shocking, attack on George Soros, the Hungarian-born philanthropist who has been turned into a hate figure by the Kremlin-controlled media. In March 2016, the NTV network carried a similar "documentary" entitled "Debtors of the State Department," alleging that Russia's opposition media were being secretly funded by the US government and Soros. 

This new video appears intended to mark the launch of a presidential election campaign by film director Nikita Mikhalkov. 

Our source - an insider at one of the national channels - says his bosses are awaiting an okay from the Kremlin before putting the final touches to the piece and dropping it into the schedule. 

For some months now it has been rumoured in Moscow that arch-conservative Mikhalkov will act as a stalking horse for Vladimir Putin's run for re-election in March 2018. 

The Oscar-winning filmmaker uses his televised program Besogon TV to rant about liberals, westerners and modernisers, and to preach toxic views Putin can't publicly express. 

How toxic? The TV film is a half-hour collection of out-of-context quotes from and fake facts about Soros and assorted Russian "liberals" such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny - people who the video claims are seeking to "lobotomise" Russians and seize power on the West's behalf. 

The film's doom-laden voice-over narration states: "According to their plan two things need to be done to seize power in Russia: Firstly, stir conflict among local elites and, secondly, turn Russians into obedient, reliant cattle, manipulated by the West." 

It's a chilling reminder of the power of propaganda and the devastating potential for distortion when an authoritarian state controls the media. We've added English subtitles. Watch it here.

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