Information-psychological warfare in Russian security strategy

Authored by: Katri Pynnöniemi

Routledge Handbook of Russian Security

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815396710
eBook ISBN: 9781351181242
Adobe ISBN:


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The research on information-psychological warfare has been one of the major themes of Russian military science since at least the 1960s and the development of the reflexive control theory (Thomas, 2004). One can go even further in the history, to Chinese strategist Sun-Tzu, or to the publication of Lenin’s essay On Guerrilla Warfare in 1906, where he anticipated practices and strategies to be used in the political struggle for power. The set of measures ranged from assassination of political enemies to the stimulation of mass consciousness for active, but controlled, actions supporting the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia (Pynnöniemi, 2016, 31–32). Much later, these tactics became known as ‘organisational weapon’. This term refers to organisations or organisational practices that are torn from their ‘normal’ context and used in the ways that are ‘unacceptable to the community as legitimate mode of action’ (Selznick, 1960, 2). These practices include, but are not limited to, the creation of unconventional tools of intervention, the direct weakening of the propaganda targets and the neutralisation of the opposition. As concluded in a study first published in 1950s, these tools were used ‘to control directly the arena of conflict’ (Selznick, 1960, 7).

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