WATCH: In Russia, being good at hockey gets you an AK-47 instead of a trophy
We’ve all seen those Hollywood scenes where the MVP of the game get hoisted onto the shoulders of his teammates and presented a trophy by their coach. But in Russia, they do things a little differently: they arm you with an AK-47 and take a picture.
In a video posted to YouTube on September 10, head coach Ramil Saifull of the Russian team Izhstal Izhevsk can be seen walking into the change room, gun in hand, legs spread, with a proud look on his face.
A former national security adviser to the prime minister told military officials that Canada’s perception of the threats posed by Russia and China need to be clearly recognized, especially as the United States shifts towards a more isolationist economy, reports the CBC.
“The risks posed by these two countries are certainly different, but they are generally based on advancing all their interests to the detriment of the West,” said Richard Fadden, former national security adviser to Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper.
“Their activities span the political, military and economic spheres.”
Fadden, who also served as head of CSIS and as deputy defence minister, made the comments at the annual Vimy Ridge Dinner in Ottawa.
Russia and China have both shown a willingness to “use virtually any means to attain their goals,” while the U.S. has shown at various instances that it’s willing to withdraw from global trade.
The rise of American isolationism, Fadden says, means Canada will need to seek new avenues in addressing global crises without the United States, and instead, with other allies.
But in order to do so, Fadden says, Canada needs to recognize drastic changes that have occurred on the world stage over the last decade.
Canada should “recognize our adversaries for what they are, recognize we have to deal with them, but draw clear limits to what we will accept,” he said.
According to Fadden, Ottawa and our federal leaders need to recognize that the post-Cold War world order “with comprehensive U.S. leadership is gone, and is not coming back in the form we knew.”
While serving as CSIS director years ago, Fadden noted the rise of Chinese influence throughout Canadian municipal and provincial politics.
“The West does not have its act together as much as it could and should,” said Fadden.
Fadden echoed similar sentiment as former U.S. national security advisor Susan Rice, who recently told the CBC that she believed Huawei phones, made by a company who American officials believe is puppeteered by the Chinese communist party, posed a major threat to national security.
“It’s hard for me to emphasize adequately, without getting into classified terrain, how serious it is, particularly for countries involved in the Five Eyes,” said Rice explaining the severity of the threat, while suggested the signals intelligence alliance (Five Eyes) between U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia would be put into serious jeopardy if Canada went ahead with Huawei 5G.
Fadden also pointed out that radicalization was occurring beyond the confines of Islam and violent right-wing terrorism has become a growing concern.
“Right-wing terrorism is growing and, like its cousin jihadist terrorism, it is a globalized threat,” he said. “We will ignore it at our peril.”
A Russian man has been arrested for throwing a cat at a policeman after an altercation started between the two parties, according to Global News. The attack occurred in an apartment complex in a dilapidated area of Moscow.
The man who threw the cat, Gennady Shcherbakov, faces charges of violence against the police. Despite the incident happening over a year ago, Shcherbakov was only charged on Wednesday. He has a maximum prison sentence of five years.
The cat-throwing started when the police came to Shcherbakov’s Moscow apartment in response to a noise complaint.
The police report that the man was found with the cat in the stairwell of the apartment. When the police attempted to speak to him, the man shook the cat like a coke bottle and lobbed the creature at the policeman. The cat seriously scratched the policeman.
WARNING: Graphic content.
A 660 pound Russian circus bear viciously savaged its handler, before turning its attention towards the terrified audience. This led to the Russian government launching an official investigation, reports Fox News.
In the video, the 16-year-old bear is forced to push a wheelbarrow on its hind legs. After completing the act, the bear spun around, launching itself at its owner.
Another trainer is captured kicking the animal to little avail. After it had finished with the handler, the bear moved towards children and families in the audience. Fortunately, the bear was wearing a muzzle, which prevented it from invoking lethal damage. Soon after, other trainers came to the rescue, subduing the beast with an electric taser.
In Russia, circus bears have been a long-standing tradition, despite Western outcry over animal abuse. After the video went viral, some commentators took to Twitter to condemn the audience and the handler for perceived animal cruelty. Actor Ricky Gervais even went as far as to suggest the handler deserved it.
A new report from Alberta-based Sergey Sukhankin, a Research Fellow at the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation, argues that Russia’s increasing interest in acquiring parts of the arctic owned by Canada is likely fueling their propaganda efforts in the country. He believes these efforts will only grow as Canada’s election begins and the political landscape becomes even more divisive. However, he is optimistic regarding Canadian resilience and unity.
“The Kremlin has a growing interest in dominating the Arctic, where it sees Russia as in competition with Canada,” writes Sukhankin. “This means Canada can anticipate escalations in information warfare, particularly from hacktivists fomenting cyber-attacks.
“Perceived as one of Russia’s chief adversaries in the Arctic region, Canada is a prime target in the information wars, with Russia potentially even meddling in the October 2019 federal election. Ottawa should be ready for a new surge in cyberattacks, disinformation and propaganda levelled against Canada in the near future.”
Sukhankin believes that Canada has been a major target of Russian propaganda since it deployed its military contingent on the shores of the Baltic Sea, which prompted a slew of new propaganda efforts, “in the guise of cynical comments ridiculing the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and disseminated by pro-Kremlin information outlets.”
According to Sukhankin, two legitimate threats in the disinformation campaign will be trolls and bots. As he explains, trolls play an important role in undermining the legitimacy of all political candidates and are effective in diminishing one’s own image of their country and leaders. The goal is to negatively psychologically impact a nation’s citizens so that they lose faith in their home country. Bots function by mass generating an artificial consensus, making it appear that many people are for are against one event or proposition, while there may be few.
Sukhankin has identified four major themes which are likely to emerge from various Russian media outlets (and proxies) or have already emerged.
Theme 1: Canada as a safe haven of russophobia and (neo)fascism.
Theme 2: Canada as part of the colonial forces in the Baltic Sea region.
The first two themes are obviously meant to appeal to those on the political Left. The goal is to extend colonization narratives to favourably include Russia while simultaneously undermining Canadian patriotism, inspiring protests and possibly pro-Russian activism.
Theme 3: Canada as Washington’s useful satellite.
Theme 4: Canada as a testing ground for the practical implementation of immoral
The latter two themes are clearly meant to appeal to those on the political Right. The third theme also diminishes patriotism by making Right-wing individuals feel like they are governed by politicians who are bought and owned by foreign nations, in this case, the U.S. It is further designed to decrease profitable relations between Canada and its allies.
The fourth theme appeals to the socially-conservative in the country, spurring on a loss of faith in the normative landscape of the country with narratives such as ‘the world is run by pedophiles’ and that the Canadian government is working towards legalizing pedophilia. At the same time, outlets which push this message promote the socially conservative Russian Orthodox Church as an alternative, which has also aided in the propagation of this messaging.
As one can see, both sides of the political spectrum can find validity for their beliefs in the form of Russian propaganda; thus, both sides are vulnerable to such propaganda’s influence.
“[Modern Russian propaganda] is carefully designed to appeal to the full political spectrum and it focuses on undermining Western institutions rather than promoting Soviet ones,” writes Sukhankin. “While this disinformation campaign sticks to simplistic narratives, its structure is anything but simple. Not limiting itself to cyber- and information components, the campaign is also composed of psychological operations, public affairs, military threats, strategic communications, bribery and corruption.”
One problem which often arises, which Sukhankin points out, is that calling Russian propaganda “fake news” often bolsters Russian propaganda. This is because saying that all Russian news is a lie is false. When people hear that blanket condemnation and then see something from Russia Insight or RT that is true, people lose faith in their own institution’s ability to accurately disseminate information. The narrative is broken, and people become more open to the idea that most of what these outlets publish are true.
In his final thoughts, Sukhankin warns that it is likely that we will see various outlets stir up a number of sensitive issues, such as Islamophobia or the Francophone population and its rights. While he says the main targets of such information will be those of Russian-decent, it is likely the reach will be much greater and that this will lead to an even more divisive campaign season.