Changing a virtual concept: unethical PR technology against Patria AMV’s in Lithuania

This case study explains one of the propaganda technologies used to manipulate public opinion.

Vuima juodas PR_200pxAs early as 2005 a Russian communication expert Антон Вуйма published a book on various unethical communication technologies and described a virtual concept (виртуальное понятие) as:

Каждое виртуальное понятие имеет у людей определенный типовой набор шаблонов. Эти шаблоны различаются в зависимости от государств и социальных групп. Новую модификацию понятия люди пытаются присоединить к одному из типовых шаблонов. В каждом шаблоне естественно есть место для переменных. При помощи PR можно попытаться создать новый шаблон или модифицировать какой-либо старый.
Создавая новые шаблоны можно получать неожиданные возможности, от новых схем получения собственности, до получения контроля над значительными группами людей и даже государствами. Естественно всё это будет юридически безупречно.

It is very likely, that we have a real case of a such technology in action today in Lithuania.

Basic facts

A few weeks ago (mid of November) one of the participants in the tender to provide armoured vehicles for the Lithuanian army – Patria – started publishing local press releases (via PR agency, local affiliate of H&K network) on its participation and proposal details:

BNS_SC_Patria

An initial stage was quite a success and serious concerns about transparency of the tender were publicly expressed.

On December 1st, a Kremlin-related portal ekspertai.eu re-published an article from another unethical medium (laisvaslaikrastis.lt), which was based on “Patria” press release information and supplemented with an aggressive headline on potential corruption allegations:

ekspertai.eu_šarvuočiai

On December 7st, a defence journalist Vaidas Saldžiūnas published an anti-Patria and pro-Boxer commentary in the leading news portal delfi.lt, where this article was presented as a proof on strange origins of Patria proposal:

Saldžiūnas_Patria

How it works?

A.Vuima describes such a technology as a change of virtual concept:

  1. An original idea is perceived according to it’s original circumstances.
  2. A manipulator needs to provide a new “envelope”, which would provide a completely new environment for the initial content.
  3. The target audience will change it’s perception according to the new “envelope”, though the contents remained the same

That’s the Patria case in Lithuania:

  1. Nobody notices original press releases.
  2. A manipulator (competitors?) has achieved Patria’s initial publicity in Kremlin-related media.
  3. The target audience judges Patria’s content as Kremlin-related or Kremlin-supported.
  4. The Lithuanian army will have nothing with anything Kremlin-related.

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