Magdin: Russian propaganda tries to poison Romania's key partnerships, not make Russia better player

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Russian propaganda's stake "is not as much a matter of turning Russia into a better and more trustful partner, but rather of poisoning Romania's key partnerships", political analyst Radu Magdin said on Tuesday.

While being a member of the NATO Emerging Leaders Working Group, Magdin participated, alongside Andreas Umland, from the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation from Kiev and Iulia-Sabina Joja (from Global Focus, Romania), in the panel "Countering Russian Disinformation" of the "Defence and Dialogue in Eastern Europe" event.

"Russian propaganda's or disinformation apparatus's stake is not as much a matter of turning Russia into a better and more trustful partner (...) but rather a matter of poisoning Romania's key partnerships, like the partnership with the United States and to compromise two brands — European Union and NATO", Radu Magdin told AGERPRES.

He opined that, in what propaganda and disinformation is concerned, "Romania is insufficiently prepared". "At this point, we are in the monitoring stage, while thinking of the tools that will help us fight the disinformation in question", he said. However, he went ahead to say, in Romania, "it is very hard to impose such an idea of a favorable attitude in the relation with Russia". "There is no way that Russia could be seen, in the Romania mass media and social media, as "the good boy" or "the good girl", said the analyst.

Radu Magdin believes that a very important tool in fighting propaganda would be through achieving a certain "media literacy" of the citizens.

"Basically, the best thing you can do in fighting disinformation or propaganda is not just to periodically utter "Stop, this is fake!" or to point that something is not quite OK, but to teach people how to approach the media and how to classify the information", he added.

Moreover, Magdin highlighted that "social media literacy is also important — for one needs to know how to identify a fake account or a propagandistic piece of news in the Twitter or Facebook areas".

"The way I see it, right now, the EU member states face different stages in respect to how they deal with this. Regardless if we speak of EU or NATO member states, there are states that are aware that "we face a problem" and do something about it, states that, although they are aware of the problem, they do nothing about it and states that are neither aware nor, of course, do something about this," said the analyst in more detail.

He also added that in the first category belong the states that had recently had elections and he gave France as an example. "During the elections we are able to identify more clearly that key moment when propaganda enters into stage or when its stake — namely to lower confidence in authorities (...) to create the idea of conspiracy and, a very important aspect, to make the truth seem relative, to induce the idea that "everyone lies," becomes obvious", he pointed out.

Magdin confessed that he wants the tool for fighting disinformation to be based on raising the standards in terms of how people are consuming the information.

"When all that we do is to react to propaganda and disinformation when we face it, then it means that we have already lost the bet. Our interest is to raise the social standards to such a level where people would say "OK, I admit, something is wrong with this piece of news, definitely, they are trying to toy with us, to manipulate us", the analyst pointed out.

The "Defence and Dialogue in Eastern Europe" event, organized in Bucharest over July 31-August 5 by EAD Society, brings into talks the current security challenges faced by Romania and the NATO members states. AGERPRES (RO — author: Ana-Maria Ludatser, Oana Ghita, editor: Mihai Simionescu; EN — author: Cristina Zaharia, editor: Adina Panaitescu)

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