BBG Media

Russian President Vladimir Putin may have staged his own disappearance to score propaganda points against gullible Western media. His purpose might have been to divert Western and Russian media attention from the brutal murder of Boris Nemtsov and from Putin’s own disastrous adventure in Ukraine. The objective would be to refocus Russia’s and world’s attention on Putin himself.

In an op-ed in Digital Journal, Ted Lipien wrote that while Western media should have reported on Putin’s apparent disappearance from public view, many journalists and analysts, who focused heavily on rumors of death, a coup, a birth of a child or an illness, have missed various other far more plausible explanations, such as a deliberate diversion by Putin’s propaganda experts. Western and Russian media gave the conspiracy theories more hype than they deserved, thus playing into Putin’s hands.

One of the media outlets that may have fallen too much for Putin’s possible propaganda ploy appears to be Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). The Digital Journal op-ed points out that the apparent disappearance of Putin should have been reported as news, but with much less hype. Media reports should have offered more in-depth analysis, which RFE/RL did in parts of some of its reports, but without exploring the diversion/propaganda theory behind Putin’s disappearance from public view. The Voice of America had one report in English on this story with less hype, but the VOA report also failed to explore the possibility of the Kremlin deliberately spreading false rumors to the media while denying them publicly.

The Digital Journal op-ed’s author is a former acting associate director of the Voice of America. Disclaimer: He is one of the founders and supporters of BBG Watch.

READ MORE: Op-Ed: Disappearance of Putin is most likely a propaganda ploy, Ted Lipien, Digital Journal, March 14, 2015