BRIEF: Russia spent 1.9 bil USD on propaganda and state media in 2022 and will pay 1.6 bil USD in 2023
Debunk.org • May 5, 2023
Propaganda plays a crucial role in hybrid warfare, and these agencies serve to control the narrative both within Russia and internationally. As independent media in Russia are shut down or forced to move abroad, state-funded media outlets remain protected and well-funded, allowing them to further the Kremlin's interests and narratives on a global scale.
The most significant differences between monthly spending in 2021 and 2022 occurred between February and March (up 328%) and October and November. The Russian Federation increased funding for state-owned media.
- 2022: Spent 1.9 billion USD (143 billion RUB) on mass media.
- 2023: Allocated 1.6 billion USD for propaganda efforts.
Most funds will go to three central agencies: VGTRK, RT (former Russia Today), and Rossiya Segodnya. VGTRK received 25.8 billion RUB for pro-Kremlin content. RT faces reduced funding and sanctions but plans to expand in Serbia and Africa.
- Jelena Milincic, who describes herself as “pro-Russian and pro-Putin oriented,” will head an RT Balkans broadcast outlet in the coming year, according to the editor of RT. Milincic is the daughter of the editor of Sputnik.
- Moscow Times wrote about the plans in December 2022:
- Zvezda, which is run by the Russian Defense Ministry, will see its funding nearly double in 2023.
A news website called RT Balkan is already operating, and RT plans to begin local language TV broadcasts no later than 2024, according to the statement. RT chief editor Margarita Simonyan tweeted that: "We have launched RT in the Balkans. Because Kosovo is Serbia."
Propaganda plays a crucial role in hybrid warfare, and Russian soldiers restrict access to information in occupied areas.
- Independent media in Russia shut down or moved abroad; state-funded media was protected. VGTRK, Russia's largest state media holding, has a slightly declining popularity but increased funding in 2023 to 25.8 billion RUB (USD 349.7 million).
Russian television lost foreign sponsors and was affected by sanctions, but it still has a substantial budget. RT has been banned in several countries but increased its presence in the Global South, Latin America, Africa, and some European regions.
- RT (former Russia Today) is the leading agency in terms of funding; however, its budget decreased in 2023 to 26.3 billion RUB due to organizational changes, branch closures, and sanctions.
- Funding for Zvezda, TASS, and Rossiya Segodnya was also analyzed; Zvezda received a significant budget increase in 2023 to 3.5 billion RUB (USD 47.4 million), TASS budget increased to 4.7 billion RUB, and Rossiya Segodnya's financing remained the same at 9.4 billion RUB.
The report published by Debunk.org provides strong evidence that Russia will continue to invest significant resources into information manipulation at home and abroad.
Debunk.org, VsI, is an independent technology think tank and non-governmental organization researching disinformation and running educational media literacy campaigns. Debunk.org carries out disinformation analyses in the Baltic countries, Poland, Georgia, and Montenegro, as well as in the United States and North Macedonia with their partners.
Kremlin spent 1.9 billion USD on propaganda last year, the budget exceeded by a quarter
Since the media was compared to a weapon by Russian officials and propagandists on multiple occasions, the increased spending on the military goes hand in hand with growing funding for state-owned outlets. In 2022, the Russian Federation contributed approximately 143 billion RUB (1.9 billion USD) from the federal budget for mass media and has already allocated 1.6B USD for this year. This analysis was carried out by Debunk.org analysts Aleksandra Michałowska-Kubś and Jakub Kubś. Summary In 2022,