Prof. Dr. Jana D. Javakhishvili (Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia)


The paper reflects on how collective traumatic experiences can be utilized for populism, understood as a political strategy, by destructive political leadership. Two case studies are presented. The first case study explores how unprocessed collective traumatic experiences are utilized in contemporary Russia by the populist political leader for political mobilization. The second case study reflects on how the tactics of the Russian hybrid warfare in the republic of Georgia is utilizing unprocessed collective traumas and is exploiting cultural and anti-establishment populism of country’s political leadership. The analysis reveals that undigested collective traumatic experiences create fertile soil for populistic manipulations and, in case of destructive political leadership might lead the country/society to the malignant socio-political developments, including war.  


Unprocessed collective traumatic experiences of large groups[1], depending on political leadership (constructive vs destructive), and followers’ conscious and unconscious wishes and needs (Volkan, 2019), could turn into stimulus for growth and development for a nation or become a serious risk factor for narcissistic regress (Volkan, 2009). In the first case the process is based on authentic mourning of collective trauma, making meaning of painful trauma-related experiences, and concluding corresponding lessons that allow and inspire the large group to work on making the surrounding world a better place to live (Hopper, 2003; Volkan, 2007). Unprocessed collective trauma, in contrary, could be utilized by destructive political leader for political manipulations (Volkan, 1997; Volkan & Javakhishvili, 2022; Kyle & Gultchin, 2018). The paper reflects on this last kind of unhealthy developments based on the examples of contemporary Russia, and its hybrid warfare against Republic of Georgia.

The first section of the paper describes psycho-socio-political phenomena influencing dynamics of a large group after being exposed to collective traumatic experiences. The second section of the paper is dedicated to the analysis of how unprocessed societal trauma is utilized by the Russian political leadership for populism. The third section sheds light on how Russian hybrid war in the republic of Georgia is building on the unprocessed collective traumas and exploiting cultural and anti-establishment populism (Kyle & Gultchin, 2018) practiced by the Government of the country. The last section draws conclusions from the analysis.

Taking into consideration that there are theoretical distinctions between the different understandings of populism – as of political strategy (Jansen, 2011), or political ideology (e.g., Mulde, 2004), or political style (e.g., Panizza, 2005), in this paper, based on the commonalities between these three theoretical understandings (Gidron & Bonikowski, 2013), the holistic vision of the phenomenon is employed with the main focus on populism as a political strategy (implying certain political ideology and style).

1. Traumatic Experiences of Large Groups and Related Psycho-socio-political Phenomena

The description of the psycho-socio-political phenomena presented in given chapter is based on the ideas of the psychoanalysts who dedicated their theories to exploring unconscious life of groups (Bion, 1961), and especially – large groups (Hopper, 2003; Volkan, 1997; Volkan, 2002; Volkan, 2006; Volkan, 2009; Volkan, 2013). Based on these theories, a picture of how socio-political life of a large group/nation may develop, after being exposed to collective traumatic experiences related to man-made catastrophe/violence is presented.

When generation which was directly exposed to collective traumatic experiences does not manage to mourn out related grief in an authentic way and achieve closure, the undigested trauma is transmitted, or as Volkan calls it – deposited (Volkan, 1997) to the next generation, as “an unfinished business”, and a task to finish it. If next generation again fails to deal with such a heritage, trauma transmits to the next generation, becomes part of collective narratives and shapes large group’s identity. Evidence reveals that not only trauma, but resilience that helps to deal with the painful past may also transmit from generation to generation (Kazlauskas et al, 2017). 

Mourning plays a crucial role in dealing with the painful past (Klein, 1975; Hopper, 2003; Volkan, 2006). When authentic process of collective mourning cannot be applied, collective traumatic experiences remain un-mourned and are passing to the next generation. If collective trauma is related to man-made catastrophe/violence, the situation implies “Victim-Aggressor-Bystander” triangle (Hopper, 2003); one of the possible scenarios here is that bystander takes a role of a savior, which turns the triangle into so called “Bermuda Triangle” (Berne, 1964). Eric Berne used this metaphor to indicate that there is no solution or closure in a “Bermuda” type relationship. In such cases, so called “pathological mourning” may take place. Earl Hopper describes three modes of non-authentic mourning (Ibid):

Sentimental mourning – when those who are exposed to traumatic experiences consider themselves as victims (victimized by aggressor) and are pity of themselves; this might reveal directly – e.g., via sentimental yelling, or indirectly – via art, poetry, memorials, memorization strategies, etc.

Revengeful mourning – when those who experienced trauma are urging for revenge. The target of revenge could be aggressor, but it could also be other object, easier accessible individual/group/community/society, whom the enemy image is projected on.

Victorious mourning – when loss is perceived as a victory and instead of mourning, individual/group/community/society celebrates it.

In contrast to non-authentic mourning, an authentic mourning is focused at dealing with the past. If trauma is related to man-made violence, and therefore implies Victim-Aggressor-Bystander triangle, there are preconditions facilitating authentic mourning. Namely, aggressor needs to confess (it does not matter honestly or not) his misdeeds; bystander needs to validate and confirm that what aggressor did to victim/survivor – these really took place; victim/survivor needs to receive moral, material, and procedural compensation/satisfaction (Lederach, 1995) for suffering. The societal processes of authentic mourning imply multiple tracks/dimensions, which are in synergy with each other (Javakhishvili, 2018; Hopper, 2003; Volkan, 2006):

Justice: corresponding legal processes, as are criminal investigation, lustration, court proceedings, if possible – transitional or restorative justice supported by creation of the corresponding institutional mechanisms as, e.g., truth and reconciliation committees, etc.

Scientific investigation and publications: studying the past from the point of view of historical, political, economic, social, or other relevant sciences, concluding corresponding lessons, publishing evidence, etc.

Memorization policies: memorization of the history of oppression and suffering, as well as lessons learned via different means: museums, books, art, exhibitions, music, memorials, etc.

All these contribute to informing public, maintaining inclusive public discussions, concluding lessons learned, and based on that – forming constructive, meaningful public discourses contributing to prevention of violence in the future.

If there is a good will to deal with the past from the side of political leadership and society, all the described above constructive processes may take place and well processed collective traumatic experiences serve as a background for posttraumatic growth, development, and societal wellbeing (Volkan, 2007). Though there are a lot of obstacles preventing formation of a good will for dealing with the painful past; among them – shame and guilt related to misdeeds among aggressors, inability to prevent atrocities among bystanders, helplessness among survivors.

If there is no good will to deal with the past, Faulkner’s saying – “the past is never dead. It is not even past” becomes even more actual. In this case, sense of humiliation, helplessness, rage, embitterment, and fear of annihilation prevail in the societal discourses, and society lives in a survival mode and stagnation (Hopper, 2003; Volkan, 1997; Javakhishvili, 2014; Javakhishvili, 2018). In this case, the societal life is mainly driven by the basic assumptions about what could help them to survive (Bion, 1961; Hopper, 2003):

Dependency basic assumption means that society is looking for a savior, messiah; once such a leader is identified/emerges, followers put all the responsibility for own survival on leader’s shoulders. Followers feels themselves helpless and resourceless, while “savior” (leader) is perceived as omnipotent and resourceful. At the same time, the group is envious towards such an omnipotent and resourceful leader. This corresponds to Melanie Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position in the course of human development (Klein, 1975) and reflects immaturity of a large group. As leader fails to meet unrealistic expectations of the followers, part of the society becomes frustrated with the leader, searches and identifies an alternative leader; at this stage, envy turns into hatred against leader and this is how Fight & Flight (F & F) basic assumption starts to unfold.

F & F basic assumption splits society into two sides fighting against each other, and assuming that if the other side disappear (e.g., would be exterminated) it would help the society to survive. A lot of energy is spent on enmity and internal struggle, instead of development.

Paring basic assumption assumes that a large group will survive if it would grow/expand; therefore flirting, sexual relationships, marriage and childbirth are encouraged within the group/society.

Incohesion basic assumption, according to Earl Hopper, causes the most primitive mode of societal dynamic. It implies extreme forms of zero-sum mentality (Rozicka-Tran et al, 2015) and fragmentation of society to multiple subgroups – hating, fighting and trying to exterminate (symbolically or physically) each other. As a result, the culture of intolerance and hatred prevail, societal institutes do not function properly, and societal life is stagnated.

In the normal societal dynamic, all these basic assumptions appear in a transient way – they are interchanging each other and what is most important, stepping out and giving space to so called Work-group mode (Bion, 1961) of societal dynamic. Work-group mode means, that society is united around constructive consensual mission/task and culture of solidarity, tolerance and cooperation prevail (Hopper, 2003). But if the group struggles with un-mourned grief and therefore – unprocessed collective trauma, it may not move to the work-group mode and is being stuck in the basic assumptions-based societal dynamic. This might cause and at the same time – indicate societal regress to the earliest stages of development. Volkan describes the features of leader-followers’ relationships in case of narcissistic regress of a large group (Volkan, 2009):

 – Manipulation by the leader by pressing on societal trauma or constructing it

– Rallying around the leader at the cost of compromising certain aspects of own individuality

– Mass introjections – the society “eats” (accepts without criticism) the propaganda coming from the political leader/elite

– Mass projections – the group projects its unwanted, suppressed “bad” parts on the “other”

– Psychologizing the boundaries of various sub-groups within a large group, causing the minor differences to become major issues that cannot be tolerated

– Based on all this – division on “we” (leader and his/her followers) and “they” (a different group that the enemy image is projected on).

The described above creates a fertile soil for populism and political manipulations and, at the same time this develops as a result of populism and political manipulations, thus – creating a vicious circle, containing a high risk for violence, including military attack and different kinds of war (in contemporary times, including hybrid war).

2. Utilization of Collective Trauma: Case of Russia

2.1. Unprocessed traumas from the 20th Century

The famous in Russia journalist Vladimir Yakovlev, whose grandfather was a KGB officer and grandmother – KGB-affiliated agent provocateur, after exploring his family history, discovering truth, and struggling to reconcile with it, writes[2]:

At schools we were told about atrocities that German fascists committed. At universities – about atrocities committed by Chinese Red Guards or Cambodian Khmer Rouge. But our teachers forgot to tell us that the most terrible genocide in the history of mankind, unprecedented in scale and duration, was committed not in Germany, China or Cambodia, but in our own country. And survived this horror not Chinese or Koreans, but three consecutive generations of your own family. It often seems to us that the best way to protect ourselves from the past is not to know it. But in fact, it’s worse. What we do not know continues to influence us, through childhood memories, relationships with parents. Not knowing, we are simply not aware of this influence and therefore are powerless to resist it… It doesn’t matter who exactly for each of us is the personification of this fears, whom exactly each of us sees as a threat today – America, the Kremlin, Ukraine, homosexuals, Turks, “perverted” Europe, the fifth column… What matters is whether we realize or not to what extent our personal fears today, our personal sense of an external threat, are only ghosts of the past, existence of which we are so afraid to admit”.

Yakovlev speaks of the trauma related to the Soviet repressions and totalitarian regime, which is not acknowledged in Russia and is not dealt with, while according to the experts’ estimations, there were at least 11 ml repressed in the Soviet Union[3] (Roginski & Zhmekova, 2016). During Yeltsin’ s presidency there were certain steps implemented for dealing with the past. E.g., the non-governmental organization “Memorial”[4] initiated by people who survived repressions and their family members, was exploring KGB archives, investigating cases, memorizing victims, and thus facilitating authentic mourning. Since Putin came to power the organization was more and more restricted, government attempted to register it as a “foreign agent” (based on the corresponding legislation initiated by Putin’s regime[5]). The organization did not accept to be registered as foreign agent (as that was the most widespread false accusation of the Stalin’s repressions victims), and in 2021 it was closed.

Another unprocessed collective trauma of Russian society is the painful experiences related to the “Great patriotic war”, as World War II (WWII) is called in Russia. Here again, non-authentic mourning was applied from the very beginning – the war was narrativized by Soviet propaganda as the Russia’s greatest victory over fascist Germany which attacked the Soviet Union unexpedingly, and Russia – as the “savoir” for the rest of the world. Correspondingly, the mode of Victorious mourning was implied which did not leave space to authentic mourning. In the widely disseminated in Russia narratives the fact that the war started not when Germany attacked Russia, but when Germany and Russia divided the Europe in between of themselves via Molotov-Ribbentrop’s pact, is not reflected. Therefore, the justice dimension of dealing with the past was never applied to the WWII related collective trauma, and no lessons are learned. This turned the WWII theme into the tool for political manipulations. The Soviet narrative, used by Putin’s government, shifted from the victorious mourning to the mode of revengeful mourning, via projecting an enemy image (“Fascist”) onto new objects – the West, Ukrainians, Georgians, and also – as Yakovlev writes – “America, liberals, ‘perverted Europe’”, etc. Speaking of the current invasion of Ukraine, Russian officials are speaking of “Special military operation for denazification of Ukraine”; 400 saboteurs who were sent to Kiev 3 weeks ahead of the war to participate in the street battles and direct bombings during the assault to take Kiev, are called by Russian officials “400 antifascists”.   

2.2. Constructing the “Substitutive trauma” as a tool for political manipulations

Having two massive unprocessed collective traumas in the background, the Russian society as a large group is vulnerable towards utilization of trauma-related feelings for political manipulations by destructive political leadership. In fact, Vladimir Putin’s propaganda created a new, “substitutive trauma” for his electorate – collapse of the Soviet Union. The socio-political life of contemporary Russia is very much shaped by the construction of this shared substitutive trauma and realization of the dependency basic assumption. Putin is represented here as an omnipotent leader, while Russian population – as followers, rallying around him.

On the threshold of the 20th and 21st Centuries, when Vladimir Putin became firstly a prime minister, then an acting president and finally – an elected president (in 2000), he was positioning himself as a strong leader that is capable to solve “the Chechen issue”[6]. His success in defeating Chechens enhanced support among Russian electorate and thus reinforced instrumentalization of military aggression and terror for solving internal as well as external political problems. Having a KGB background, and a peculiar personal and family background related to the WWII traumas (Volkan & Javakhishvili, 2022), Putin’s political agenda turned into the long-long-term plan (and corresponding effort) to reanimate the Russian empire and recolonize the former Soviet republics.

To establish this agenda as the Russian national project Putin’s government put in place the political strategy implying set of psycho-political tools that will be analyzed in the following sections.  

2.3. Trapping Russian society into Bermuda triangle via construction of “Substitutive” trauma, shared victimhood and enemy image

On April 25 of 2005, in his address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Putin conceptualized deconstruction of the Soviet Union as the Largest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century and appealed to the meeting (and larger Russian audience) to work on reconsolidation of the nation[7]. Later he brought statistics revealing that at the moment of the collapse of the Soviet Union 25 ml Russians were living in the different former Soviet republics and for them this was a “drama” – to wake up one morning and found themselves in foreign countries. “Nobody asked these 25 mln Russians whether they like or not to live in another country” – stated Putin[8]. By the means of these populistic statements, he attempted (and succeeded) to construct a shared “substitutive” (to the totalitarian repressions-related and WWII-related) trauma and feeling of shared victimhood within his electorate.

Substitutive trauma means that this is a pseudo-trauma, constructed to attract and attach feelings and emotions related to the two mentioned above major unprocessed collective traumas of the Russian population. In reality, deconstruction of the Soviet Union not traumatized but liberated from the totalitarian regime not only colonies but first of all Russian population itself. Nevertheless, Putin succeeded in his attempts to facilitate projection of the feelings related to the Soviet past and WWII onto deconstruction of the Soviet Union. An image of perpetrator was projected on the West, whom (together with the Soviet Communist Party elite) Putin blamed in collapse of the Soviet Union.

To institutionalize narrative corresponding to the “Substitutive” trauma, in 2013 Putin ordered to produce a “single track” history handbook based on the unified narrative for the Russian public schools, excluding any diversion from its framework[9]. Putin ordered to exclude “inconsistencies and possibiliies for different interpretations or double-meanings” and “to propose the unified historical-cultural standard” within the new framework. A special attention was paid to the history of WWII including the issues around Crimea[10],[11]. The final revision of the history handbooks based on the newly elaborated framework was implemented in 2016-2017.

In parallel to rewriting history, Putin interprets current geopolitical developments in a way to present the West (and especially NATO) as an enemy of the Russian statehood – e.g., in his speech on February 24, 2022, justifying invasion of Ukraine, he stated that NATO “is steadily expanding, the military machine is moving and approaching our borders…To you and me simply have not been left any other opportunity to protect Russia, our people, except of the one that are forced to use today.”[12]

Together with marking the external enemy, propaganda creates and targets “internal enemies” – not surprisingly – non-supporters, e.g., people/organizations who try to defend values of liberal democracy, those who think critically and criticize Putin’s regime, which is characterized by one of his ideological supporters A. Dougin as “a monarchy with authoritarian rule and absolute power of the monarch”.[13]

Positioning as a savior is peculiar to Putin. Even his PR strategy for internal use corresponds to the image of savior: in his promo videos he fights Ussuri tigers, puts GPS collars on polar bears, dives and makes archeological discoveries, etc. To maintain and realize this image, he is constantly creating Manichean binary divisions, identifying (or inventing) and fighting internal and external enemies – terrorists, Chechen population, oligarchs, Georgia, Ukraine. His victories in these wars are accompanied with the increased electoral support (Levada Center, 2020):

Graphical user interface, chart, line chart

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The diagram well reflects fluctuations of Putin’s rating following his attacks on internal and external “enemies”: the Second Chechen war in 2000, “anti-terroristic operations” in the Northern Caucasus in 2002-2006, war with Georgia in 2008, occupation of Crimea in 2014, military campaign in Syria in 2015, full-scale war with Ukraine in 2022 (Maksimov, 2022).

Attempts to reanimate the Russian Empire are supported by the number of propaganda tracks, pop-culture is one of those:

E.g., in 2017, by initiative of the Russian State Duma member Ana Kuvichko, the video clip of the pop-singer and composer Antonov’s song[14] was recorded together with the schoolchildren from the Volgograd no. 44 Cadets school and widely disseminated via internet. The clip uses the Soviet symbolics; the song is about multiple enemies of Russia, among others – “nasty USA” (“a hegemon”) and “opinionless Europe”; intention of Russia to return back the lost territories”, such as are  Kurile Islands, Baltic countries, Southern borders” is articulated.Our best friends are our army and navy. We vote for peace in the World but if the chief commander would call us to fight – uncle Vova, we are with you”[15] are singing the schoolchildren together with the member of Russian Duma. Another illustration is the large-scale concerts dedicated to the invasion of Crimea organized annually with participation of the Russian pop-stars. In 2022, on the annual concert held immediately after invasion of Ukraine, popular pop singer Oleg Gazmanov proudly sang a song that “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, Caucasus,… and Baltic countries as well – this is my country, I was born in the Soviet Union, I am made in USSR”, to the accompaniment of the enthusiastic young attendees of the concert and Putin’s approving gaze.

Putin’s role as of a savoir is fed by the ideology derived from the Russian pseudo-scientific intellectuals from the 20th Century – e.g., Lev Gumiliov, sone of the two famous in Russia poets – Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Gumiliov. Nikolai Gumiliov was executed by KGB when Lev was 9 years old; Anna Akhmatova survived execution and imprisonment but was afraid of being repressed all her life long. Lev Gumiliov spent almost 2 decades in the Soviet Gulags (in between of the two Gulag terms he fought for Berlin in 1945). After Stalin’s death he was released, built his scientific carrier, and produced a narcissistic theory according to which Russians are considered as genetically different, having a special energy (so called “passionarity”) and mission to change the World. He was considering Russia not as a unique (Euro-Asian) civilization uniting and protecting (and “saving”) many other sub-civilizations.

Especially popular Gumiliov’s narcissistic ideas became in Russia after collapse of the Soviet Union, in the context of absence of the national project, ideological vacuum and ongoing national identity crisis. His theory was turned into ideology by the new generation of Russian ideologists as are Aleksandr Dougin, Piotr Shchedravitski, Efim Ostrovski and others. They produced the ideological frame/concept of so called Russki Mir (Russian World) which Putin’s political strategy is widely based on. Russki Mir has three dimensions: cultural-civilizational – stressing uniqueness of Russian civilization as the unique frame uniting many different civilizations; geopolitical – assuming control of certain territories, power distribution and territorial claims; and, religious – stressing importance and power of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russia is supposed to “protect” Russki Mir inside and outside Russia – i.e., compatriots abroad, meaning former Soviet citizens as well as Russian speaking minorities in former Soviet countries (Jilge, 2016 Kudos, 2010; Tiido, 2015). To justify territorial claims, within the frame of Hybrid war, Russia is establishing and funding a lot of “Russian language and culture” organizations in the former Soviet countries, to “plant” or reanimate there “Russki Mir”, as new generations in these countries do not speak Russian.

2.4. Institutional tools for “Patriotic upbringing”

Children and youth are one of the major targets of the State propaganda in Russia. Especially interesting in this regard is so called “patriotic upbringing” strategy. A special institutional tool – the generously funded “National Program of the Patriotic Education of Citizens of the Russian Federation” is created and have been implemented in the country since 2001, via series of the 5-years national action plans[16]. The program has a number of directions, and special institutional tools are developed for their implementation. As an illustration we describe below two instruments created for so called “military-patriotic up-bringing” of the young generation:

“Unarmia” (Juniors’ Army) – the Hitlerjugend’s type organization for adolescents from 11 to 18. This organization was launched in 2016, by the Minister of Defense of Russian Federation Sergei Shoigu personally, under patronage of the Ministry of Defense. From 108 members in 2016, the organization expanded to 270,000 in 2018. The members are using military bases of the Russian army, are taught how to shoot, how to orient in the unknown geographical location, participate in the projects exploring places of WWII battles; they are also supposed to take care of WWII veterans[17]. In 2021 the Russian media covered a case that happened in Novosibirsk where four youngsters from Unarmia attacked a summer camp for schoolchildren, with shooting from the weapons with blanks[18].

– “The youth anti-fascist movement Nashi” (“Ours”), established by Putin’s administration in 2005, is targeting youth above 18 (mainly university students but not only). The movement was created as a pro-regime force to fight opposition (including street opposition) and mobilize/assure electoral support, as a reaction to the “Orange revolution” in Ukraine in 2004 (Atwal & Bacon, 2012). The official objectives of “Nashi” movement sound civilized enough: to defend souverenity and integrity of Russia, to support development of a functional civil society and to modernize the country via “personnel revolution”. At the same time, at the launching meeting of the movement, one of the leaders and founders of it Vasilii Yakemenko stated that “Nashi” considers Russia as the (“historical and geographical”) center of the World, threatened by “an unnatural alliance of liberals and fascists, Westerners and ultranationalists, international foundations and terrorists, united by a common hatred of our President Vladimir Putin[19]. Examples of the projects implemented by “Nashi”: “Our Army” – sending the leaders (so called “commissars”) of the movement to the Russian army for service, creating for them special conditions (for physical exercise and education), meanwhile “commissars” maintain ongoing communication via social networks to popularize army life; “I want Three” – the project encouraging young families to have not less than 3 children (see above the Paring basic assumption); “Our Common Victory” – the project on collection of interviews and videos about WWII, and acknowledging Stalin as a father figure and savoir.

2.5. Instrumentalization of the WWII for political propaganda

2.5.1. When the Past becomes the Present

During the last two decades in Russia a lot of media products, e.g., TV shows, debates, TV series have been dedicated to “The great patriotic war”. Thousands of historians have been working on exploring different aspects of WWII, even tiny little details of particular battles; a lot of studies were and are implemented, books published, conferences organized. In 2018, at “The national conference of patriotic education” presentations of the following studies reveal preoccupation with the WWII theme by the researchers: “Field rocket artillery of the Voronezh Front during the defensive battles of the Battle of Kursk”, “The Kursk Bulge is a battle of technology and spirit. Its meaning for patriotic education of Russian youth”, “Factors of military everyday life, thoughts and feelings of soldiers in letters from the fronts of the Great Patriotic War”.

Gradually, WWII became an actual reality in the country which is indicative of what Vamik Volkan calls “time collapse” (Voklan, 1997; Volkan & Javakhishvili, 2022). Nine of May Parade, dedicated to the Victory of the Soviet troops over fascism could serve as an illustration of this gradual transformation. From 2005 to 2021 the 9 of May parades gained more and more importance and corresponding pompousness. In his speeches held on this day Putin declares that “The great patriotic war” is a holy war and people who were killed in this war are saints.[20] As the war is qualified as holy, war artefacts – e.g. the flag which went through the whole war from the beginning to the end – are canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church.

In parallel, Putin blames the West in trying to rewrite the WWII history. In 2020, in response to the European parliament’s resolution on “Importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe” Putin wrote a nine-thousand-words article in The National Interests with the title “The Real Lessons of the 75th Anniversary of World War II” to promote his narrative of WWII, accusing the West in starting the war and justifing Molotov-Ribbentrop’s pact of August 1939[21].

2.5.2. “The Great Patriotic War” for consumption of children and youth

“The great patriotic war” is one of the major focuses of the national program for patriotic (or, “military-patriotic”) upbringing. Informing about WWII became a part of the policy of education in the country. On the websites of the kindergartens there are special pages with the recommendations for parents on why and how they need to speak about “The great patriotic war” with their preschool age children. The children-style drawings of battles, hospitalized wounded soldiers, Lenin’s and Stalin’s portraits are presented on these pages[22],[23]. For the 70th anniversary of WWII (2015) many kindergartens and schools staged plays on “The great patriotic war”, performed by children together with their teachers, implying very similar scenarios (happy life before the war, attack from the side of fascists, battles accompanied with losses, and – celebration of Victory). Children and youth organizations are encouraged by the system of education to explore WWII history, battles, track lost soldiers’ graves. As a result, young people became preoccupied with “The great patriotic war”, they know details of the battles and discuss these details among each other as actual topics.

Another example of propaganda is the “Children’s Book on War”[24] composed by the journalists of the newspaper owned by the Moscow government, for the 70th anniversary of the “Great Patriotic War”. The book contains 35 diaries of the Soviet children describing their painful WWII related experiences (hunger, deaths of family members, necessity to deal with the corpses of the dead relatives, etc.). It is not known whether the published stories are authentic or not. The introductory words for the book are written by the two public figures: writer Daniil Granin and artist Ilia Glazunov. In his introduction, Granin, a veteran of WWII and honorable citizen of Sankt Petersburg, writes: 

Today, in the epoch of rethinking of key human values, when the fecal masses of fascism are again marching through Europe, testimonies of children of war are especially important. These testimonies are helping us to return back to ourselves, to the land where we were born (the Soviet Union)… For children of our epoch voices of children of war will be more understandable… It’s one thing when a teacher is speaking about the war in front of the blackboard, and it’s another thing when your peer is speaking with you about it, no matter that there is a 70 year long distance in-between of them.”

Ilia Glazunov in his introduction recalls how he watched the German war prisoners marching across the Moscow Garden Ring back in 1945:

“This dull stream was endless. Some walked proudly, pretending not to pay attention to the crowding Muscovites. Standing in the crowd, I observed with burning interest those who had recently bombed my great city of Petrograd, despising the “inferior Slavic race.” I looked at them with victorious disgust… and hatred. I was already 14 years old. No one then imagined that the vanquished would live better than the victors … And the millions of Russian soldiers who died on the battlefields would be horrified and would not believe that terrible times would come – collapse of our great state, for which they gave their lives … Today we must upbring an elite of our state, the new generation – courageous, full of energy, devoted to our great Fatherland. This would be worthy of the winners of the Great Patriotic War.”

The hatred openly articulated by Glazunov and Granin resonates with the Putin’s “confession” on his attitude towards Germans: “We were up-brought based on the Soviet books and movies (about WWII – J.J.)…and hatred[25]. The introductions from the “Children’s Book on War” mirroring Putin’s discourses, reveal how, due to time collapse, an enemy image and hatred that Russian society had against “German fascists” is projected on the contemporary Europe who “lives better than victors”, giving an example of malignant envy described by Melanie Klein (Klein, 1975).

2.5.3. Instrumentalization of the Russian Orthodox Church

Russian Orthodox Church plays a prominent role in propaganda. One of the illustrations is a case of the newly built Russian military church. Russians have a long-term tradition of building military churches, following victories or preceding military battles. As during the Soviet era the state was atheistic, no church was built following the victory in WWII, and to fill in this gap it was decided to build in Moscow a church dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the victory, as well as all the other victories by the Russian army. The construction started in September of 2018 and finished on May 9, 2020. The newly built church was blessed by the Patriarch Kirill and opened on June 22d – the day which Russia considers as start of the Great Patriotic War (Hitler’s first attack on the Soviet Union). According to the Russian Orthodox Church’s official information, this is the highest (95m) and largest (can accommodate 6,000 persons) orthodox Christian church in the World. Almost every architectural detail of the building contains WWII-related symbols, e.g.: the main dome’s diameter is 19.45m (and corresponds to the year of the Victory – 1945); the diameter of the little dome is 14.18m (corresponds to the number of days that the war continued – 1418); the central stairs are made of German murmur which, according to the Minister of Defense of Russia – Sergey Shoigu, symbolizes defeat of Germans, or “trampling the Germans” as he told in his live interview at the opposition TV channel Dozhd[26]. The icons in the church, besides saints, contain portraits of the Russian military leaders – including Stalin. There was a special icon prepared and exposed with Putin’s face, but he refused to leave it on the wall stating that it is early. The church is full of the Soviet symbols (e.g. hammer and sickle); the canonized red flag is also located there.

2.5.4. Russian army-driven populism

In line with Putin’s aggressive politics and reawaking the WWII sentiments within the society (as particular form of time collapse) the military forces in Russia gained positive attention from the side of both public and also state – which started to invest more in military-industrial complex. According to some analysts (Soldatov & Borogan, 2022), the Military forces and their leader Sergey Shoigu, due to the successful operations in 2014 (Crimea) and 2015 (Syria), became more and more influential in domestic policy-making. The successful military operation in Crimea and Syria was used by Shoygu (and Putin) for public relations – e.g., in 2019 a large-scale mobile exhibition of the weaponry and military hardware sized from Syria was organized. The exhibition was installed on the train, which traveled from Moscow to Vladivostok, and implemented 60 stops on its way to there, inviting locals to enjoy the exhibit. Shoigu on his own way contributed to the time collapse in Russian society – since 2017 he ordered to change the modern military uniform to the military uniform from 40-ies – so called “Winner uniform”, which became fashionable in general population. Even military outfit shops for children are operating. In addition, Shoigu abolished the rear military uniform thus symbolically stating that army should be ready for battle at any time and at any location, there are no war-free zones in the country (before then there were different uniforms for battlefield and rear).

To sum up, described above malignant developments that took place in the Russian Federation since beginning of the 21st Century prepared grounds for the Russian attack on Ukraine. As famous Russian short stories and playwriter Anton Pavlovich Chekhov used to say, “If in Act One you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last Act”.[27]

3. Russian Hybrid Warfare against Georgia

According to experts’ opinion, importance of reflecting on and understanding Russian hybrid warfare in Georgia goes far beyond Georgia, as the country is often used by Russia for piloting its hybrid operations before replicating them in other countries and geopolitical contexts (Nilsson, 2018; Bolkvadze et al, 2021).

In the analysis below, the notion of “Russian Hybrid War” (or “Russian Hybrid Tactics”[28]) is understood as “combination of the threat of military force with political, economic, diplomatic, subversive, and information-based tools to establish dependencies and pressure points that can potentially be utilized to destabilize an adversary and reduce the costs of conventional military action – but also to realize political goals vis-à-vis a counterpart without resorting to military force” (Nilsson, 2018, p. 19).

3.1. Background information

For the first time Georgia regained independence from Russia in 1918, after being Tsar’s Russia’s colony since beginning of the 19th Century. The first Georgian Democratic Republic founded in 1918 and striving for integration with the West lasted for just 3 years, as in 1921 the country was reinvaded, now by the Communists’ Russia. For the second time Georgia regained independence at the beginning of 1990-ies. The country is independent now for already more than 30 years and implemented a number of successful steps towards Euro-Atlantic integration, but the Russian threat is still actual.

The 20th Century for Georgia was full of traumatic experiences, related to the Lenin’s Red Terror and Stalin’s Great Purge, that resulted in repressions (imprisonments, executions, exiles, deportations) of up to 10% of the country population (Junge, Tusurashvili & Bonvech, 2015). Another 10% of Georgian population was killed in WWII[29]. After regaining independence in early nineties, the country went through multiple – political, social, economic crises, and, Russia-catalyzed civil war and two inter-ethnic political conflicts, which escalated in August of 2008 as a 5-days war with Russia. Since 1990-ies 20% of Georgian territories are occupied by Russia, two important regions (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) are cut off from the rest of the country, and up to 6% of general population is forcibly (internally) displaced.

Collective traumas related to the totalitarian past, WWII, civil war and military conflicts of 90-ies, and 5-days war with Russia remain unprocessed and un-mourned. From 2003 to 2012 the young pro-Western government (United National Movement – UNM) implemented a number of successful reforms and significant steps in the direction of Euro-Atlantic integration, efficiently fought corruption and managed to actualize work-group dynamic (Hopper, 2003) in the country. At the same time, they did not put enough efforts in dealing with the past, easily slid to authoritarianism and lost trust among the majority of electorate. The elections in 2012 split the country into two sides – UNM and their supporters vs Georgian Dream party (current government) and their supporters, which triggered Fight and Flight basic assumption based societal dynamic.

The Georgian Orthodox church is very influential in the country. According to the sociological studies of the last two decades, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox church is the most respected person in the country (IRI, 2020[30]). Although Georgia is a secular state, the church tries to intervene in governance and succeeds as has an effective leverage to convince the acting governments (now already for decades) to listen – influence on the electorate. Majority of Georgian population are believers and have their “spiritual fathers” who advice on how to live, what to prioritize, during the elections – whom to vote for (Javakhishvili, 2018).

Two very influential actors in the country – both government and the Georgian Orthodox Church imply cultural and anti-establishment populism strategies (Kyle & Gultchin, 2018) to maintain power. For the government the ex-government team and their supporters (almost 50% of the country population) are “outsiders”. For the church – minorities and liberally minded people and institutions, those who try to contribute to the democratic developments and those who are perceived as threat for the traditional patriarchal values. Due to that, culture of “We vs They” binary division and mutual hatred prevail in the societal discourses, which creates a fertile soil for the Russian Hybrid war operations.

The ongoing information war that is part of the Hybrid tactics, widely uses populistic messages that are “landing” on the feelings and emotions related to unprocessed collective traumatic experiences of the Georgian society and related annihilation fear.

3.2. Russian Hybrid Warfare modes in Georgia

The current Georgian government steaks to the formula “Not to irritate Russia” that caused a full-scale unfolding of the Russian hybrid warfare operations in the country, which imply the following modes:

Military aggression. Besides occupation of the two important regions of the country, full-scale war in 2008, and occasional bombings of the Georgian territory in 2009 and 2011 (Nilsson, 2018), since 2008 Russia regularly moves the barbered wire separating the occupied territories from the rest of Georgia dipper in the country and thus “swallows” new territories. Due to such “borderization” (or creeping occupation), a fragment of the British Petroleum-operated pipeline, transporting oil from Azerbaijan to Georgia, ended up on a Russia-controlled side, which endangers oil transit through the country (ibid). Georgian peasants living in the conflict zone are gradually losing their lands (and therefore harvest), cemeteries where their family members are buried, houses; in addition, they are exposed to severe human rights violations as the occupation forces are regularly (illegally) detaining locals (including minors), keep in the Russia-controlled territories and asking to pay “fine” for release; there are cases of torturing and killing of detainees[31]. According to the Georgian Security Service, only in 2017 there were 178 persons detained illegally[32].

Isolating Georgia from the West. Russia tries to prevent Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, via demotivating both sides: on the one hand – the West (e.g., via anti-American campaign that is currently implemented by the group of the Georgian parliament members), and on the other hand – the Georgian population, by demonstrating that the country will pay high cost for any further step towards the Euro-Atlantic integration (including threat of military aggression).

Increasing Georgia’s economic dependency on Russia. In 2013, Russian market reopened for Georgian wine and agricultural products after being closed since 2006 (as a response to the pro-Western strategy of the previous government). This is creating an additional leverage for pressure from the Russian side and increasing Georgia’s vulnerability.

Spying and subversive actions. Especially scandalous case of revealing Russian spies in Georgia took place in 2006, when a number of agents were revealed and in response, Russia deported a large number of Georgian economic migrants from Russia. After the current government started its term in 2012, the spies imprisoned by ex-government were released. During the last 10 years no new cases of spying or subversive actions were revealed, though the confession of a young man that was spying in Georgia for Russian Intelligence Service[33] gives reasons to think that Georgia is not completely spy-free zone nowadays.

“Planting” pro-Russian political parties. Since end of 2012, several pro-Kremlin political parties emerged and one of them succeeded in having representation in the parliament with 10% of electoral voices and promotes so called “neutrality” which in fact is about isolation from the West and integration into Eurasian union that Putin tries to build based on the “Eurasionism” and Russki Mir ideology.

“Planting” pro-Russian media. One of the institutional tools of Russian propaganda – TV Sputnik – was banned in Georgia in 2014 after a short-term pilot attempt to broadcast, but it is still very active in the country as a Georgian-language internet TV and website. In addition, in the last several years at least 4 pro-Russian Georgian TV broadcasters (one of them – internet television) are functioning, and each of those targets particular segment of Georgian population in a systematic way: urban youth, urban adults, regional youth and regional adult-population.

“Planting” ultra-nationalist/fascist groups. The funding sources of the newly emerging ultranationalists/fascists pro-Kremlin groups in Georgia are not transparent, though about some of them it is revealed that they are connected with Gerchikov Fund (established by the President Medvedev for Hybrid tactics’ implementation). The language and messages of these groups are the same as it is used in Russia to stigmatize liberally minded and pro-Western oriented people/organizations, Western countries. The targets of aggression are also the same – LGBTQ community, independent (from the government) media and journalists, Western-funded non-governmental organizations, human rights defenders, etc. On July 5 of 2021, on the day that LGBTQ pride was supposed to be hold, the groups of ultranationalists committed “pogrom” of the LGBTQ community offices; while LGBTQ community members escaped and thus survived pogrom, the fascists bitten up the cameraman who was filming the pogrom. In a result of injuries, the cameramen died in a few days. The law-enforcement response to this crime did not go in a transparent and just way.

Disinformation, trolls and Bots factories. Both conventional and social media is used to disseminate disinformation. Usually this is orchestrated process, is focused at fragmenting society and spreading culture of hatred (Kinturashvili et al, 2021). The message-box of trolls contains anti-western, pro-Russian, anti-Ukrainian, pro-church, pro-Stalin, often also pro-governmental messages.

Georgian Orthodox Church as an agent of pro-Russian influence. The orthodox Christian church in Georgia as well as in Russia was repressed in the last Century following the Russian Revolution in Russia and recolonization by Russia in Georgia. During the Red Terror, clergymen were identified by Lenin as a social class to repress. In contrary, Stalin reanimated the orthodox church due to pragmatic reason – to turn it into the instrument for control of the population. The Russian and Georgian churches remain in close cooperation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As Georgia failed to implement lustration after regaining independence in 1990-ies, the Georgian patriarchy and majority of clergyman are under influence of the Russian Orthodox church which closely cooperates with Putin’s regime. Consequently, the Georgian Orthodox Church became a powerful transmitter of Russian propaganda in the country.

“Planting” Russki Mir. Since 2012, so called “Georgian-Russian cultural cooperation non-governmental organizations” started to emerge which are working on teaching (free of charge) Russian language, promoting and creating venues for Russian-Georgian cooperation of political scientists, young scientists, “folk diplomats” and other groups under the umbrella of “Eurasionism”. In 2017 one of such organizations sent a group of Georgian schoolchildren to the summer camp “Artek” (famous in the Soviet times) in the occupied Crimea, to study Russian language, which was preceded by the school contest in writing on the topic “What Russia means to me” for selecting right participants. Another track for disseminating Russki mir in Georgia is Russian tourism – e.g., in 2017 the Georgian National Agency for Tourism allowed the Russian pro-Putin TV channel Rossia to win the Georgian state tender (1,3 ml USD) and promote tourism in Georgia among the Russian population. This and similar efforts caused huge wave of Russian tourists in the last several years; many bought estate and moved to live in Georgia, especially in the see-side city Batumi, which Russians now call “a Russian-language town”. In the first 6 months of the Russian-Ukrainian war, several hundred thousand Russian citizens entered Georgia – some for tourism, most of them – to escape sanctions[34]; many of them are registering businesses and intend to stay and live in Georgia. The Georgian civil society, alarmed by the scale of the increasing presence of Russki Mir that has security-related implications for the country, appeals to the government to introduce visa regime, but without success.    

3.3. Key messages of the Russian Propaganda in Georgia

According to the Media Development Foundation, which regularly (annually) monitors anti-Western propaganda in Georgia, the structure of the corresponding narratives is “three-tiered and pursue the aim to 1) cultivate fears, 2) sow despiar and skepticism, and 3) portray co-religious and powerful Russia as the alternative to the West.” (Kintsurasvhili, 2021, p. 9).

Key message of the ongoing Russian propaganda in Georgia are based on the annihilation fear of the Georgian population, deeply rooted in collective traumas related to the totalitarian past and wars, where Russia is an evident and uncontested perpetrator. To substitute Russia by alternative “enemy”, Hybrid tactics implies again creation of a “substitutive trauma”. Namely, the populistic style messages are used, focused at reactivation of negative emotions and fears in relation to the Ottoman empire (due to attacks and related territorial losses that took place in Medieval Centuries, before end of the19th Century), projection of those emotions and fears onto contemporary Turkey, and thus change perception of Russia from perpetrator to savior. In 2021 there was an unsuccessful attempt to provoke territorial dispute with Azerbaijan and thus spread an enemy image from Turkey to Azerbaijan as well.

The populistic message box implied by the Russian propaganda in Georgia is as follows:

“The West (especially Europe, but also America) is trying to take away our Georgianness”. “Georgiannes” is an ambiguous notion, that is not defined. This message is usually “blended” with the number of following messages: Europe supports LGBT propaganda, homosexualism and pedophilia, integration with Europe means to accept homosexual marriages and pedophilia and thus betray Georgian cultural and religious traditions (and “Georgianness”).

“Do YOU want war?!”. This message became especially actual and widespread “argument” since Russian invasion of Ukraine. The message box here implies the following messages: the West (especially – NATO) wants to engage Georgia in war with Russia similarly to Ukraine; Ukraine fights not own struggle; the West wants Georgia to fight instead of themselves.

“We need to keep neutrality not to irritate Russia”. The term “neutrality” here is again undefined and implicitly means pro-Kremlin stance. This message sometimes is coupled with the message “Recall, what America did with the native Americans!!”. In fact, the “be neutral” message means:  “keep away from NATO, from the United States, from the West and be with Russia, otherwise you would annihilate”.

“If you are speaking of KGB agents you need to speak of Western agents as well”. This is very much in line with the described above Putin’s “foreign agent” law. The message box here consists of the following: Western humanitarian organizations are foreign agents who are spying and trying to provoke changes for own (states’) benefits; Non-governmental organizations and media organizations funded by foreign foundations are bribed, they are “grant-eaters” and liberals ( or “liberasts” – a pejorative name for liberals);  they are betraying our national/traditional values and sacrificing our Georgianness for their own benefits”; “The civil society is corrupt, not credible, not trustworthy, they are our enemies”.

“If Russia is an occupant, then Turkey is an occupant as well”. This message attempts to create a time collapse and move Russia from the role of an aggressor (who currently occupies 20% of Georgian territories) to the role of a savior. Message box here is as follows: “Turkey is our enemy”; “Russia believes in the same God as we do, only Russia can defend us from the Muslim Turkey”; “Turkey is a member of NATO, Turkey is an enemy, therefore NATO is an enemy as well”;  “Integration with NATO means invasion of Georgia by Turkish army”.

“Gareja is Georgia!”. This is another variation on “Turkey is our enemy” theme, trying to spread an enemy image towards Azerbaijan as well. In 2021 a Russia-affiliated Georgian businessman brought a map to the attention of officials and public in Georgia, based on which some started to argue that current border division between Georgia and Azerbaijan is not valid, and Georgia should claim territory (part of the Gareja desert where David Gareja Monastery complex is located) from Azerbaijan. This was followed by the populistic information campaign “Gareja is Georgia” attempted to create tension between Georgia and Azerbaijan, which did not happen, but the attempts are still going on.

“Only Russia can return us back our lost territories!”. Sometimes this message is formulated as “If we reunite with Russia, Russia will give us back Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region (Georgian name for South Ossetia – J. J.)”. This message is paradoxical and counting on losing effective contact with reality, as does not take into consideration that this is Russia who catalyzed conflict and separation of these two regions from Georgia.

“The Lugar Laboratory produces new viruses and bacterial weapons in Georgia”. The Lugar biomedical laboratory was founded by the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health with support of the United States in 2011. It is the leader biomedical laboratory in the region and plays an important role in management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2017 Russia targets Lugar laboratory and spreads disinformation to deliver a message that “America is dangerous for Georgia and Georgia allied with America is dangerous for the rest of the World”.

“If you do not want to be a Russian colony, then do you want to be an American colony?!”. This artificial binary construct contains an evident “either or” thinking error, and an implicit message: “Better be Russian colony!” because “It is not possible to be independent, sovereignty is myth, free choice is myth, democracy is myth”.

To summarize, the Russian hybrid war against Georgia implies systemic multitrack hybrid tactics focused on fragmentation of the societal fabric, cultivating hatred, and spreading nihilism within the Georgian society. This resulted in splitting the Georgian society into multiple hostile fragments, which is indicative of the incohession basic assumption (Hopper, 2003).


The analysis presented in the paper explores so called “software factors” (Volkan, 2009) – those that relate to psychology of a large group and leader-followers’ relationships, vs factors of realpolitik, and demonstrates that not taking care of software factors creates risks for malignant developments on a political (“hardware”) stage.

Unprocessed/undigested collective traumas could become an instrument for political manipulations in the hands of populist destructive political leader. In case of Russia, we witnessed malignant socio-political developments that resulted in narcissistic regress of the Russian society as a large group and bloody war against Ukraine, which caused dozens of thousands of deaths. The war is not over yet, people are still dying every day, and the threat of using nuclear weaponry is still actual.

Hybrid warfare is less visible but may cause significant damage to the targeted society as happened in Georgia during the last 10 years. It can disorient, fragment, demoralize society and again, lead to the societal regress. The collective undigested trauma is a risk factor which decreases ability of the society to adequately react and resist to malignant hybrid tactics imposed by Russia. Populistic style of the Georgian government facilitates hybrid warfare operations at large extend.

Based on the stated above, it is important to assure that societies and all the relevant stakeholders including politicians understand importance of dealing with the past, and know (and learn) how to deal with it in just, reparative, meaningful way. Not less important is for the stakeholders to be aware of and sensitive towards populism, to have capacity to recognize and respond to it at earlier stages.

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[1] Under the term “large group” we mean the notion proposed by Vamik Volkan – hundreds, thousands or millions of individuals united by shared identity (Volkan, 2013).

[2] Yakovlev, V. (2016). I was called Vladimir in honor of my grandfather. Retrieved on August 15, 2022 from:

[3] Separate statistics for Russian population is not available.


[5] The foreign agent law was introduced in 2012 as a reaction to non-governmental organizations’ protest against Putin’s return to presidential post after he served as a prime minister during Medvedev’s presidential term. Initially the law targeted only those NGOs that were receiving funding from abroad; in 2017, 2019 and 2021 the law gradually amended to cover more and more target groups (foreign journalists, media organizations and finally – Russian citizens publishing on certain themes).

[6] Chechnya fought for independence since collapse of the Soviet Union (as a self-declared Independent Republic of Ichkeria). Putin inherited this problem from his predecessor president Boris Yeltsin; the war in Chechnya lasted from 1999 to 2009, ended with defeat of Chechens and regaining of control by Russians (and pro-Russian leadership of the current Autonomous Republic of Chechnya).

[7] Putin: Collapse of Soviet is a Genuine Catastrophe. Putin’s Annual State of the Nation Address. The Associated Press. URL (retrieved at March 6, 2022):

[8] Putin’s Annual State of the Nation Address:

[9] Kovalyova, A. (2013). Is Vladimir Putin Rewriting Russia’s History Books? NBC News. URL (retrieved on March 7, 2022):

A Russian source on the same topic:

[10] Media Portal “RIA Novosti”: Putin Ordered to add chapters on Crimea and Sevastopol to History Handbooks. URL (retrieved on March 6, 2022):    

[11] Media Portal President ordered to prepare the unified concept/framework for teaching history in public schools of Russia. URL (retrieved on March 6, 2022): 

[12] Fact Checking DW: How Putin Justifies the Invasion of Ukraine. URL (Retrieved on March 7, 2022)

[13] “60 minutes” by Schachar Baran, interview with A. Dougin, 2016 (retrieved on August 22, 2022):

[14] Video clip of the Song “Uncle Vova we are with you”  

[15] Clip by the State Duma Delegate together with the school children: “Uncle Vova we are with you!”: ; The same clip by the author together with his school-aged son:

[16] “State Program “Patriotic Education of Citizens of Russian Federation 2011-2015”. URL (Retrived on August 22,2022):

[17] About Unarmia Movement. URL (Retrieved on March 7, 2022): 

[18] Shooting in Novosibirsk summer camp by four adolescents from Unarmia (in Russian):

[19] The Movement “Nashi”. Wikipedia. URL (Retrieved on March 7, 2022):

[20] Jana Javakhishvili;’s interview with Georgian Historian David Jishkariani (2021). Dario Radio. URL:

[21] Gould-Davies, N. (2020). What Vladimir Putin Tells Us About His Relations to The West. International Institute of Strategic Studies. URL:

[22] E.g. Kuznetsk city kindergarten site with the page “Preschoolers about the war: The Great Patriotic War”.

[23] E.g. Moscow Kindergarten no.47 page on why and how to speak with preschoolers about The Great Patriotic War:

[24] Children’s Book on War (in Russian language):

[25]  This is a fragment from Putin’s column (“Life is Simple and Cruel”) in the newspaper “Russian Pioneer” dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the “Great Patriotic War”. Retrieved on August 26, 2022 from:


[27] Rayfield, D. (1997). Anton Chekhov: A Life. New York: Henry Holt and Company

[28] Some politicians and political analysts prefer to use the term “Russian Hybrid Tactics” (Schadlow, 2015; Nilsson, 2018) as they are afraid that the word “war” might be understood as distinct efforts while “tactics” stands for systematic efforts; I would not agree with this opinion as the word “tactics” could serve as a nice euphemism replacing the explicit word “war” which openly warns about malignant processes that take place in reality

[29] The Big Soviet Encyclopedia (1981). The Georgian SSR. P.99 (in Georgian)

[30] IRI (2020). Public Opinion Survey of Residents of Georgia. June-July 2020. International Republican Institute. Retrieved on August 28, 2022, from: 

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