I have mentioned Masha Gessen’s book, The Future is History, in a previous post.  I highly recommend the book if you want to understand modern Russia, and how the current Russian mafia state grew out of the post-communist USSR. Gessen’s book will give you a clear and disturbing understanding of what went on in the background, and how Russia arrived in the present day.

Digging deeper, the word “hypernormalisation” turns up. From the Wikipedia page outlining the movie of the same name, here is the first paragraph of explanation:

The word hypernormalization was coined by Alexei Yurchak, a professor of anthropology who was born in Leningrad and later went to teach in the United States. He introduced the word in his book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (2006), which describes paradoxes of Soviet life during the 1970s and 1980s.[3][4] He says that everyone in the Soviet Union knew the system was failing, but no one could imagine an alternative to the status quo, and politicians and citizens alike were resigned to maintaining the pretense of a functioning society.[5] Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the fakeness was accepted by everyone as real, an effect that Yurchak termed hypernormalisation.[6]

The bold italics are my own, to emphasise in less than two sentences where the new Russia comes from.  It is a creation, a societal delusion in the 1970’s and 1980’s that was enforced by a feat of advertising and theatre from the 1990’s onward; it is a monumental hoax perpetrated on 150 million people. (And not just on Russia- to be fair we cannot leave out the rest of the world. Having survived Trump’s attempt at creating the same in the U.S.- this time- we are not very far off. The question is, can we survive it again?) As a side note, the documentary Hypernormalisation, begins in New York in 1975, with Donald Trump.

If you have a free two hours, you can watch the BBC documentary on youtube here: Hypernormalisation by Adam Curtis.

For more on one of the minds behind the creation of Putin, and the latest iteration of the Russian delusion, you can read about Vladislav Surkov on wikipedia. To summarise, he (probably) served on the GRU intelligence staff, studied theatre direction, and worked in advertising and public relations for some very influential Russians.  He is credited with creating Putin’s image, he is an expert at doublespeak, and seems to have perfected the mobile truth that characterises the Russia of the past 60 years or so.

A prime example, Surkov is one of those who claims “there is no Ukraine,” and backs it up with fiction, lies, conspiracies, and historical revision, feeding it to a gullible, depressed, confused, and beaten Russian populace.  And thus we arrive at the present day.

A final note on this post- please do not take any of this as the gospel truth. It is information that is available on the internet. Hypernormalisation, the documentary… borders on the conspiratorial… crosses the line in fact, here and there. Take everything with a grain of salt, and do your own digging. My personal philosophy on information I receive- even that which I see with my own eyes- vacillates between “trust but verify” and “never trust anyone.”  Proceed with caution.