Weapons of mass derision: Is Russian comedy the Kremlin's secret weapon?
NATO analysts studied Russian comedy TV programs over the past nine years and concluded that they serve the Kremlin's political objectives and are directed against the West.
NATO's Strategic Communications Center (StratCom) is sounding the alarm about the threat of Russian humor. On March 17 in Riga, Latvian specialists presented the report, "StratCom laughs: in search of an analytical network," that was the result of nine years of research.
The authors conducted a content analysis of four popular comedy programs on Russia's Channel One TV since 2008. Special focus was given to the Club of the Merry and Witty, also known by it's Russian initials, KVN, which is one of the oldest comedy shows on Russian television.
Discrediting Western leaders
StratCom specialists are especially concerned by the way evening comedy shows - Projector Paris Hilton, Evening Urgant, Yesterday Live, and Maxim Maxim - depict Western leaders. NATO analysts concluded that Russian TV comedians depict Western leaders in a negative light in order to discredit them. Russian TV devotes the most amount of time to American politicians.
"George Walker Bush has been portrayed in the most negative light – both personally and professionally, as a person of extremely low intelligence, hated by people all around the world," said the report. Among the Bush jokes is one where President Obama, when playing with White House employees' children, says that the first to urinate on the rug was George Walker Bush.
Speaking about French presidents, the analysts concluded that they were never portrayed as the leader of an influential western European state.
"We see two rather simple men (Nicolas Sarkozy and Francoise Hollande) who struggle to overcome the challenges of their everyday lives like any average person." The authors of the report were also displeased with the way German Chancellor Angela Merkel is presented. "Her role as one of the leading politicians of the European Union is almost completely ignored."