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National Observer: Russia used state-funded propaganda outlet to whip up support for the ‘Freedom Convoy’ and undermine the Trudeau government
February 10, 2023
Note: This article is based on Caroline Orr Bueno’s research published as “Russia's Role in the Far-Right Truck Convoy: An analysis of Russian state media activity related to the 2022 Freedom Convoy” in The Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare...
Homegrown protesters who participated in Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” last year had no idea, but Russia used a state-funded propaganda outlet in an effort to exploit their grievances, amplify social divisions and delegitimize the Trudeau government. The convoy’s three-week occupation of downtown Ottawa clogged the capital and prompted the government to invoke the Emergencies Act before police cleared the blockades.
It’s hard to say how successful the Russian propaganda campaign was, but for the first time, we can see how it operated.
Russian state-funded propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today), which has been called an “information weapon” by its own editor-in-chief, produced a higher volume of convoy-related coverage than any other international media outlet. Fox News stepped up to produce the second-highest amount of coverage just as Russian propaganda decreased.
The RT site describes the outlet as a global TV news network providing news “overlooked by mainstream media,” current affairs and documentaries featuring “alternative” perspectives and acquainting international audiences with a Russian viewpoint on major global events. Despite RT’s description of its coverage, the “alternative” perspectives it offers are actually just news-like productions of Russia’s foreign policy goals and interests, according to the U.S. State Department.