Disinfo: The West uses Russian protest movements as a fifth column to destabilise Russia


The West – the US and its satellite, the EU - uses a fifth column and a sixth column inside Russia to destabilise Russia and attack its sovereignty. The 5th column is made up of protest movements and the liberal press in Russia. The 6th column is made up of Russia’s liberal pro-Western elite that enjoys a dominant position in Russia's economy, educational system, foreign policy, and culture. The 5th column and the 6th column both have the same supervisors, sources of support, and systems of communication. The sixth column secretly sympathises with protest movements but is outwardly loyal to Putin. Russian actors that support and develop a culture of liberalism are usually involved in providing classified information to the West and in organising direct actions of sabotage and destabilisation in Russia.


This article repeats a narrative, increasingly spread by pro-Kremlin outlets, claiming that the West is waging a hybrid war against Russia. This narrative fits into the broader disinformation themes about the West’s allegedly belligerent and hostile agenda against Russia, about its alleged plans to destabilise and encircle Russia, and about Western support for “colour revolutions”.

The article’s message is also consistent with the recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Western intelligence services have recruited Russian opposition politicians and independent journalists to conduct espionage, sabotage and destabilisation operations against the Russian state. It adds a new twist to this narrative by alleging that many highly influential top-level Russian officials have also been recruited as Western intelligence assets and are also carrying out such operations. There is no factual evidence to support the article’s claims.

Kremlin disinformation often targets political opponents and other critics claiming that they are Western intelligence assets. This narrative dates back to Soviet times and has been refurbished by the Kremlin, especially after 2012, when a law that branded foreign-funded NGOs as “foreign agents” was passed by the Russian Parliament. Critics argued that the term “foreign agent” implied spying for a foreign government and was aimed at harming the image of members of the opposition and human rights and environmental groups working in Russia.

Recently political opposition figure Alexey Navalny has been repeatedly accused by pro-Kremlin media of being a CIA or an MI6 agent.

The idea that Western intelligence services control not only the Russian political opposition but also many powerful representatives of the Putin regime has been theorised by Aleksandr Dugin, who created the concept of the “sixth column”. This concept is used in the article and refers to top-level Russian officials who allegedly pretend to be Putin loyalists but are agents of Western intelligence and are carriers of “liberal globalist ideology“. The allegedly “liberal” figures in the Russian government are labelled “the sixth column” by this theory. For Dugin, the sixth column, unlike the overt opposition figures of the fifth column, is firmly entrenched within the corridors of power. The fifth column narrative is the basis for the repressive laws introduced in 2021 against the Russian independent media. Since April, officials have designated seven newsrooms and 20 individual journalists as “foreign agents,” and banned one outlet as “undesirable.” The federal censor has blocked a handful of news websites, forcing several publications to close down permanently. Between June and September this year, at least 14 non-governmental organisations with foreign registration have been placed on the list of ‘undesirable organisations’ by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

Read similar cases claiming that the West is waging a hybrid war against Russia using NGO’s and activists, that Navalny works with the CIA and receives instructions from this Agency, and that Navalny is a member of a Western-backed fifth column acting inside Russia.


  • Reported in: Issue 259
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/09/2021
  • Article language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia
  • Keywords: West, Alexei Navalny, Encircling Russia, Hybrid war, Colour revolutions, NGO, Anti-Russian
see more

Disinfo: Leaving Afghanistan, the US military shot at the crowd of Afghans, killing children

The Americans were leaving [Afghanistan], suffering casualties and shooting indiscriminately, even killing children. At the Kabul airport, they suddenly began firing at the crowd and then struck from the air without discerning who is who. So, what? And who is counting? The lives of Muslims do not matter.


The Americans have never shot deliberately at the crowd at the airport. On 16 August, there was an incident when a crowd of Afghans trying to leave the country broke into the airfield, interfering with takeoff. In this situation, the military fired several shots into the air.

At least five people were reported killed, although a witness said to Reuters it was unclear if they had been shot or killed in a stampede. A US official told Reuters two gunmen had been killed by US forces after they appeared to fire into the crowd.

Disinfo: Unlike the US, the USSR entered Afghanistan at the request of the legitimate government

Unlike the US in 2001, when the USSR entered Afghanistan in 1979, it did at the request of the Afghan government of the time with representation at the UN.


The claim is false, part of a long-term effort by the Kremlin to whitewash and instrumentalise the history of the country, and in this case specifically the Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.

Declassified US and Soviet documents show that the USSR invaded Afghanistan out of fear that president Hafizullah Amin, who had recently toppled and killed pro-Soviet president Nur Taraki, was considering switching sides towards the West. During a Politburo meeting on December 12, 1979, Soviet leadership decided to intervene in the power struggle in Afghanistan against Amin, first launching a covert operation to try to murder him. After efforts to poison Amin failed, Soviet leaders approved sending a military contingent to the country following an “appeal of the government of Afghanistan”. This alleged appeal, hoisted by the USSR leadership at the time, only emerged after the Soviet invasion had already begun and Amin and some close aides had already been killed by Soviet paratroopers. The appeal was already seen sceptically at the time and has been proven by historians to be a mere pretext for the invasion, launched after Soviet military team ‘Zenit’ had seized the radio-television centre in Kabul.

Disinfo: The West hinders Georgia’s normalisation of relations with Russia

The West does not allow Georgia to sit down and talk to Russia one-on-one. Such discussions would allow the [Georgia-Russia] relations to normalise and would start positive shifts in all directions. It would finally reveal the face of the West and prove that it was the West that hindered the settlement of relations during this time.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the belligerent West trying to encircle Russia. Consistent with a common pro-Kremlin narrative on “lost sovereignty” challenging Georgian statehood, as if Georgia is ruled by the West. Pro-Kremlin outlets often claim many countries, not under Moscow's control, became Western puppets.

Contrary to the claim, the West does not hinder Georgia from normalising relations with Russia. Georgia broke off diplomatic relations with Russia because the latter attacked Georgia in 2008, occupying 20% of the country and recognising the occupied regions of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as independent states. Many international organisations condemned the further occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, see e.g. the CSCE statement here and the European Parliament's declaration.