Former U.S. Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Gordon Humphrey, R-N.H., called for a blitz of social media communications with people directly in Russia to spread the idea of freedom instead of the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We can reach the Russian people directly using the multitude of popular social media sites and messaging services already there. More than 35 million Russians now use the encrypted app, Telegram. Younger Russians especially, are using the internet for news and information from outside of Russia, and this is the demographic we need to reach,” the pair said in an opinion piece in The Hill Saturday. “Our messages to the Russian people reflect and defend their interests and encourage them once again to have the confidence to demand freedom and a better life.”
Lieberman, a former Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 2000, who served as a senator in Connecticut from 1989-2013, and Humphrey, who served New Hampshire from 1979-1990, said they believe that previous use of things like the Voice of America newscast help by getting some information inside Russia, but “news is not advocacy.”
“Advocacy marshals truth and fact to influence thinking and behavior. Advocacy in Russia to its people would describe Putin’s crimes, his corruption, and his mismanagement,” the pair said in the opinion piece. “Advocacy will persuade the Russian people they deserve peace, not war; they deserve grandchildren, not sons coming home in coffins; they deserve honest government, not kleptocracy; they deserve to live as well as Westerners, not as increasingly impoverished subjects of Putin. And advocacy will inspire the Russian people to fight for all that they deserve.”
The pair said that while Putin has strict censorship on some social media platforms in the country, the use of virtual networks can still help those outside of Russia reach out to the citizens there.
“Putin’s censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, has blocked access to some sites such as Facebook, but Russians still reach those sites using virtual private networks [VPNs],” the article said. “Sale of VPN services have soared in recent months.”