Zarina Zabrisky
Jan 24, 2018 · 7 min read



At 18, I used to file nails during a class that most people did not have.

Left: No, this was not our uniform. Right: More like this (not me.) Cameras were not allowed. I have no photos. I have no notebooks, either.

Our notebooks were classified: we had to pierce them with a shoe-sawing needle, put a thick thread through two holes, tie it up and seal with hot brown wax and a special stamp: “Property of the Military Department.” We then numbered the pages. If a page went missing, we were in trouble. At the end of the class, an admin would check the notebooks, and put them in a fireproof vault — like in a bank.

Left: From Russian Internet. “Memories of the Military Department… Secret notebooks threaded together… being checked by the officer, individually and page by page, then being sealed. Classified. No extra notes. Top military secret. Yet… We had pranksters. My classmate (some artist, damn it!) in his SECRET notebook drew an ASS with an eye installed! After the lecture, the officer saw it, lined us up and went into a 30-minute rant about the aggression of imperialism and the decaying influence of the West… and about our low awareness and not being tuned to the dangerous situation in the world. He kept sticking the ASS, drawn by an innocent student on a regular piece of paper, into our faces, each and every one of us.” Right: Russian-English military-political interrogation manual.

No, I was not a spy — although I was offered to be one: undercover, working as a hard currency prostitute in luxury hotels for foreigners — I declined and never worked for any government. I wrote a novel and a few short stories following “what if” (I worked for the KGB as a spy-prostitute)” — fiction principle — but that’s another story.

Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg. In 1991, I got my first job as a personal assistant/secretary to the General Manager there. It was the first five-star hotel in the USSR, a Swedish-Russian joint venture. I know that all hotel rooms were bugged and the KGB monitored the entrance, lobby, etc. We also had many sex workers assigned to the hotel and they were always greeted and allowed to enter by the doormen, former KGB or military staff, as opposed to other Russian citizens, especially women, who were denied the entrance. The doormen and sex workers were working for KGB.

I was a language and literature major. I eventually followed up on my education and grew up to be a writer and literary performer in the US.

But… in the USSR we had to do many obligatory things to get (a decent, I must say) education. Like collecting potatoes and carrots and living in a barrack with no heating and running water for a month… And other things.

Left: In school, I learned to assemble and disassemble AK-47 and shoot a rifle. Me, shooting a rifle. Right: Not me. We didn’t have any cameras so these are photos from Internet. We also sat on buckets.

But who needs potatoes?! Back to the combat propaganda class. I wrote quite a bit about it lately and started to teach seminars about it because some of my classmates and my alma mater graduates from other eras, apparently, made a career in political technology and politics.

The president, prime-minister, main propagandist of Russia, CEO of the biggest oil company and trolls from a troll factory in Olgino all studied at LGU-Leningrad State University, Philological and Law departments. The age range varies. The curriculum, apparently, stays the same.

It is with disbelief and astonishment that I recognize their tactics and strategies in our daily life, oceans and years away. Here is one:

DEFLECTION tactic (“Look, a squirrel!!!)

Deflection is similar to Diversion.


  1. A scandalous statement, incident or word is “dumped” into the collective information space (these days, the social media and fringe media.) Boom!
Sex scandal, obscenity, disturbing images — attention grabbers, like, “SHE DID WHAAAT?!?!?”
  1. Shocking, titillating, almost exciting, always arousing a strong feeling, these “dumps” start trending.
  1. The mainstream media jumps on it. Ratings. Stories. Bonuses.

4. So does social media. And public.

From Internet archives.

5. The subject is discussed for days — chewed, gnawed, wrung dry — and eclipses all other events.

6. The government (or anyone, really) carries on with its agenda in the shade. Take a look. Have you heard of Deutsche Bank waiver? Or Rosatom?

Google trends is a good tool. As you can see from the graph, Aziz Ansari and shithole “dumps” totally overshadowed important political development.

Yeah, that’s right. During the past week, the press and social media have been focusing on a phrase “shithole countries” and a sexual encounter between an anonymous 23-year-old woman and a Hollywood actor while silencing:

1. Trump administration waived the fines for Deutsche Bank. Trump owes $130 million dollars to Deutsche Bank. It is also fined for laundering Russian money.

2. The indictment of a businessman who allegedly paid bribes to a Russian government official to win nuclear fuel transportation contracts with a Russian state-owned consortium that Michael Flynn texted during Trump inauguration. Yes, you read it right. The lawyer for this consortium is now a lawyer for Putin’s close ally Aras Agalarov, the sponsor of Trump’s Miss Universe.

Left: Putin and Agalarov. Center: Trump and Agalarov. Left: DOJ Indictment.

All findings on Rosatom by Wendy Siegelman, see more at her Twitter.

See an additional connection: Carter Page, a former Trump advisor, meeting with Uranium One by Grant Stern here:

3. Bonus: Pro-Putin candidates announced seeking Democratic Nominations showing an alarming trend of the Kremlin infiltrating and manipulating the left. Dennis Kucinich, “an asset of Putin” is running for the Democratic Nomination in the Ohio Gubernatorial Race.

And, my friends, this is just a tip of the iceberg. There is offshore drilling, FBI files open for Republicans, the government closure — look it up.

Voila. Simple.

Delay and deflect. Got it?

Oh, and if you are about to say:

What about the US?! There’s nothing you cite in Soviet propaganda that wasn’t being done here, in the run up to WWI, before the revolutions of 1917–18. “Public Relations” as propaganda, is as American as gun violence, racism and apple pie!” —

please do not bother. This is another tactic called “Whataboutism” and I am going to talk about it in my next article — although, it is not that different, as you have guessed already — yes! look over there! a squirrel… yawn.

If you want to hear about it before my article is up, watch this (he’s funny!):

Visit our page Russian Propaganda Workshops, join, follow, read articles shared and come to a free seminar

or watch videos (coming soon.) You won’t even need to pierce notebooks with needles… I promise.


*All facts and photos are in public domain and available through Google. Links to the original sources are included.

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Zarina Zabrisky

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Zarina Zabrisky is the author of IRON and CUTE TOMBSTONE, EXPLOSION, a poetry book GREEN LIONS, and a novel WE, MONSTERS. More at www.zarinazabrisky.com.