When I described yesterday an article "Cutthroats 2.0" by Denis Korotkov published in the Russian Novaya Gazeta newspaper, telling about the atrocities of the Wagner PMC in Syria, I noted the fact that it was the FSB's informational blow on the FSB rivals. But I couldn't even think how painful it would be for Lubyanka guys.
Over the past two days, the FSB has taken to almost all of its information platforms, perhaps, besides The Insider, to respond to Shoigu's media attack. And this dramatic effort illuminated brightly the wide range of such affiliates. But, most importantly, the row reached the Kremlin level.
Yesterday Putin's spox Dmitry Peskov in response to a journalist's request to comment on the NG publication branded it fake news: "The Kremlin generally has a negative attitude to fake news, be it on the situation in Syria, international affairs, or the coronavirus. All in all, it's a very bad, negative practice."
Well, what else could we expect from Peskov? But that doesn't mean the report was fake and that the Kremlin actually sees it that way. However, I'm not here to focus on the Kremlin's main tower. I'd rather pursue the issue of the ongoing confrontation between other two towers – the FSB and the defense ministry.
The FSB's response came at a lightning speed, starting from the Federal News Agency (FAN), which stated that Korotkov had released a false report. The fact that FAN works in coordination with the FSB can be seen through many of their publications, most of them being unprofessional and failing to withstand criticism, albeit rather popular. The latest one, accusing Korotkov, is just the same kind – filled with lies, including a false statement that none of the participants in the brutal execution of a Syrian deserter had been identified.
Well, it is a lie, though. The killers had been identified and their names announced back in 2019. One of them is Stanislav Dychko, a former policeman from Stavropol.
Also, Russian information platforms claim that the "fake report" emerged due to PMC Wagner's successful missions in other countries, therefore being an attempt to discredit the group. In fact, Wagner has been suffering failures lately – ranging from Mozambique to Libya.
Pravda.ru soon joined the media carpet bombing. The publication, which itself had been seen spinning fake news, suddenly presented their own probe into the photos newly-released by Novaya Gazeta, calling them "staged" and (sic!) an ISIS job! At the same time, in their own investigation, they used doctored photos taken half a year ago, where the Syrian's crucified corpse was replaced with the ISIS flag. Of course, FAN became a real fan (yes, I know) of this investigation, so they were sure to share it.
But it wasn't only the federal-level media outlets who were involved in the latest smear campaign. Even small-scale third-grade sites such as "Slovo i Delo" spun a video of some source claiming on camera that Korotkov had admitted preparing a fake report about PMC Wagner. Well why wouldn't they just air a video of someone claiming Korotkov admitted plotting a hit on Putin. That would be more efficient, wouldn't it?
Then, on April 22, FAN publishes an "investigation" into Turkish PMCs in Syria, thereby clogging the media field and shifting public focus away from PMC Wagner. I should remind you that last year, as the story of Wagner's atrocities unfolded, they tried to hush it down by covering a story on war crimes of British specops troops in the Middle East and reanimating the tearful story of a Cossack captured and killed by ISIS back in 2017.
So we can clearly see how Shoigu annoyed the FSB by taking out of the back shelf the rest of what he's had in stocks on that stinking Wagner story – and it seems that Yevgeny Prigozhin's "media troops" weren't prepared for the move.
However, the blaze that is now raging around the junk PMC Wagner really is remans just an information battle, which is a protracted prelude to a real confrontation between the two security agencies. As their funding is being depleted in view of the difficult economic situation, this confrontation will further intensify and escalate.
To say the least, we should now expect more action in media domain on both sides. The first step will probably be to involve the widely-exploited The Insider to deliver a counterblow to the GRU. The second is to involve Patriarch Kirill, who has a common business with Yevgeny Prigozhin. In this case, the patriarch will play the role of the one instilling narratives about the sacred mission of Russian soldiers in distant lands. And the response to all this may well be the third step – third-party resources supervised by the Russian defense ministry spinning reports on the use of chemical weapons by Wagnerites in Libya.
For now, head of the Libyan Ministry of Internal Affairs, Fathi Bashaga, has already made the corresponding statement on the use of nerve gas.
So we're to see much more. But the flaming towers I'm seeing are already keeping me satisfied.