Conspiracy theorists and their curious credulity regarding Russia

Asymmetric conspiracism: when the only valid official version is that of the Kremlin

For years, but especially after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has gained followers among conspiracy theorists.

Putin's protocols: a conspiracy that was hidden by spreading conspiracism
Russia: a curious and significant gap in the world of conspiracy theories

The Kremlin's lies to deny the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Two years ago I explained here how Russian propaganda dedicated itself to lying and misinforming about the imminent aggression against Ukraine, and did so, to a large extent, by trying to discredit Western governments that had been warning that the large deployment of Russian troops next to the border with Ukraine and for months it was not just another exercise. Russian state media talked about "anti-Russian hysteria", "absurd rumors", "disinformation" and "hysterical publications" to lie about his true plans and deceive millions of people, starting with his most enthusiastic fans.

The ideal attitude so that real conspiracies go unnoticed

A common characteristic of all conspiracy theorists is the belief that there are powers that hide the truth from us and that systematically deceive us about all kinds of issues, from the arrival of man on the Moon to the 5G networks. Conspiracy theories have an incentive for their believers: the feeling of believing themselves to be possessors of that hidden truth that the vast majority of people ignore. Even the most ignorant person can feel above others by assuming belief in these conspiracies.

Obviously, it is healthy to distrust political power. In fact, it is what we should all do: adopt a critical position with all governments, and not allow ourselves to be blinded by our affinities. But one thing is healthy distrust and another thing is believing that everything is a conspiracy. In fact, and as I have said on occasion, this attitude of believing that everything is a conspiracy makes you in the ideal position for real conspiracies to go unnoticed, since if everything is a conspiracy, then nothing is, because there comes a time when you do not know how to distinguish reality from fiction.

The reasons for the finity between many conspiracy theorists and Russia

It is striking to see the large number of conspiracy theorists among Putin's admirers. It is not difficult to imagine the reasons. Firstly, conspiracy theories are more frequent at the political extremes, which is where distrust in political power reaches its greatest degree. These same extremes are where the most illiberal positions occur, which are the ones that best connect with Putin's eclectic ideology, which mixes old tsarism with nostalgia for the Soviet era.

On the other hand, the hostility of many conspiracy theorists is directed especially at Western governments and institutions, a hostility that the Russian propaganda media has consciously fueled. And it is at this point where we find a paradox, with what we could call asymmetric conspiracism. It would be logical for a person who believes in all kinds of conspiracies to also see them in Putin's regime, but that is not the case. For many conspiracy theorists, all official versions are lies except those of the Kremlin.

A regime that lies and hides the facts with absolute shamelessness

It is a simply ridiculous attitude, if we take into account that Putin's regime lies blatantly and systematically, as it did by denying that it was going to carry out an invasion of Ukraine when it was already planning it, or even by forbidding the Russian media from talking about "war" when referring to what is happening in Ukraine, being forced to use the official terms "special military operation" if they do not want to be punished. Let us also keep in mind that the political regimes that deserve the least credibility are authoritarian ones, since in them there are no basic contrasting elements of the official versions that exist in a democracy, starting with freedom of press.

This week we have seen again how far the Russian dictatorship can go in its falsification of reality with the concealment by the Russian state media of the claim of ISIS after the terrorist attack to the Crocus City Hall in Moscow. Putin's admirers have gone from falsely accusing the US of creating ISIS (without further ado that the US has been fighting this terrorist group along with other Western countries) to simply accusing Ukraine because Moscow dictated that slogan, although there were no facts to support it.

When evidence matters less than prejudice

In the end, what remains evident is that no matter how much they think they are smarter than the rest of the people, many conspiracy theorists are gullible who simply swallow all the Kremlin's nonsense, for example. ridiculous as they are, while doubting any fact that is amply proven. For these people, the only one that tells the truth is a lying and criminal regime, Putin's, simply because that regime is close in one way or another to their ideology.

In this way, the same ones who see false flags and gruesome conspiracies everywhere, they simply deny the complaints of former members of the FSB about the involvement of that security service in criminal acts, and they see nothing suspicious in the fact that one of them, Aleksandr Litvinenko, was murdered by a scandalous poisoning. They don't conceive that the successor organization to the Soviet KGB is capable of things like that, but then they swallow all kinds of stories about the CIA or the Mossad, even though there is not the slightest bit of evidence to support them. In the end, the evidence is the least important: the only thing that matters is seeking the satisfaction of seeing your prejudices confirmed.

How long would those people last in Russia?

The great advantage that these admirers of Putin have is precisely that they do not live under his regime. They are like totalitarians who complain that there is a lack of freedom in democracies, but they see nothing wrong with the dictatorships they support, dictatorships that persecute, torture and murder people for the mere fact of disagreeing. How long would those Putin admirers last in the Russia they love so much? How long would it take them to be arrested or killed in Russia if they questioned the Kremlin's official version of anything?

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