‘US admits to psy-ops’ is chapter 35 of Insights from the Future, a book I’m writing about technology, innovation, and people … from the perspective of the future. THIS IS NOT NEWS; IT IS A PROJECTION OF FUTURE NEWS. Subscribe to my newsletter to keep in touch and get notified when the book publishes.
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Q, meet C.
C is the new hot thing on Russia-focused Telegram channels, Discord servers, podcasts, and despite the Kremlin’s best efforts to stamp it out, the fringes of VK, the Russian social network also known as VKontakte. It’s an anti-government movement supposedly led by a high-level Russian spy in the GRU, the foreign military intelligence agency for Russia’s military, and it claims, astonishingly, that Vladimir Putin is a CIA plant who is driving Russia into the ground.
And, according to documents released to Wikileaks yesterday, the whole thing is a U.S.-led psy-ops campaign to destabilize Russia in exactly the same way Russia attacked America via QAnon.
“C has a massive following in Russia,” Ivan Ivanovich, head of the U.S.-based Modern Russia think tank. “We estimate that 90% of Russians have come into contact with C content, that about 45% are influenced by C memes and ideas, and about 10% are hard-core C believers.”
C, which stands for the first letter in the Cyrillic version of USSR — Союз Советских Социалистических Республик (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) — follows the established QAnon pattern of regular “drops” of nuggets of information or commentary on current events. Those drops are then spread to the wider culture via memes, social shares, and detailed expositions via Russian versions of Alex Jones for the crazier claims and Dan Bongino for the ones that are slightly less insane.
A key claim: Putin’s war on Ukraine was designed and inspired by the CIA in order to grind down Russia’s military might, expose it as weak, and isolate Russia on the world stage.
The result is that Russia has banned C content on VK and is doing its best to regulate or block both Telegram and Discord, as well as increase the capability of its digital Iron Curtain to block podcasts and websites that publish Russian content for a Russian audience but do so from outside Russia to evade restrictions.
“There’s also been rumblings of C-adjacent podcasters and Telegram channel owners being roughed up,” says Ivanovich. “Another died recently of a supposed heart attack in suspicious circumstances. All of which, frankly, just makes C thinking and claims seem that much more credible to the Russian fringe that follows them.”
The big news today, however, is the documentation that appeared on Wikileaks that claim C is an invention of the CIA. According to the papers allegedly leaked, the CIA has been working on a psy-ops campaign against Russia for several years, ostensibly in retaliation for Russia’s destabilization of the American polity via QAnon conspiracy theories and fake news, particularly around the 2020 election and the Covid pandemic. And one American lawmaker appeared to confirm the claims today.
“Russia’s getting what it deserves,” said Senator George Evans. “After decades of feeding fake news to weaken and divide its enemies, Russia is now getting a taste of its own medicine.”
And it’s bitter medicine indeed. According to reports from Moscow, Vladivostok, and virtually every major Russian population center, there is unrest, occasional protests, and government retaliation. Government-controlled state TV stations have been blasting anti-C news and analysis for weeks on end — which some have said is counterproductive, and it only introduces new people to the entire C set of ideas — and hundreds of C believers have been jailed.
However, government efforts to contain and eliminate C thinking have fallen short, Russia watchers claim, because the police and army are disproportionately high hotbeds of C believers.
And that, many have said, is Russian president Vladimir Putin’s biggest worry. Putin has not yet publicly addressed the rumors and conspiracies, but is said to be privately livid.
As they continue to spread, they threaten not just his war on Ukraine, but also the almost total control he has enjoyed until now over the entire Russian state.
Again, this is a chapter of Insights from the Future, a book I’m writing about technology, innovation, and people … from the perspective of the future. Subscribe to my newsletter to keep in touch and get notified when the book publishes.