Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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Vladimir Putin doesn't tweet and he claims he doesn't have a smartphone. At first sight, the Russian president's reluctance to adopt the hyperconnected world's technology might seem at odds with the widespread belief that he signed off on a campaign to undermine the United States via social media. Eight decades after the Elders of Zion seeped into the public mind, one of the KGB's most effective disinformation campaigns began.In 1992, Yevgeny Primakov, the head of the Russian foreign intelligence, reportedly admitted the disinformation, codenamed "Operation Infektion," was initiated by the KGB.Primakov himself became a victim in 1999, when he was seen as a credible electoral challenger to Putin, who was then prime minister and preparing to run for president for the first time. Although the connections between Russian TV and intelligence agencies is speculative, state broadcasters in the Putin era are noted for exaggerated or outright false reports that apparently serve Russian interests.Perhaps more humorously, state channels have obediently gone along with Putin's "action man" appearances, in which he engages in manly feats that sometimes are later shown to have been staged – including his alleged discovery of ancient Greek pottery while scuba diving and shooting a tiger that purportedly was about to spring upon a group of cameramen.
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