Marguerite Afra Sapiie, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said the term "Russian propaganda" that he used to describe his rival's campaign strategy for the 2019 presidential election had nothing to do with the Russian government.
The incumbent recently stirred up controversy after suggesting that challenger Prabowo Subianto's campaign team had employed a foreign political consultant and such propaganda tactics to spread slander and hoaxes
"We are not referring to Russia as a country in this case," Jokowi said on Tuesday evening, adding that "This is not a matter of state affairs. "[Russian] President Putin and I have a very good relationship."
In a recent speech, Jokowi said that "another campaign team" in the election had disseminated hateful propaganda with the help of a foreign consultant.
He did not specifically mention Prabowo by name, but the insinuation was made clear as he cited the opposition's blunders, like the misinformation on seven containers of ballots from China that had been tampered with to advantage the incumbent. The Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno campaign team has denied the allegation.
While Jokowi did not mention the so-called foreign consultant's country of origin, he explained that "Russian propaganda" referred theoretically to the production of "lies, slander and hoaxes".
On Tuesday, Jokowi said he had borrowed the phrase from a 2016 publication of the RAND Corporation – a non-profit American think tank that specializes in global policy – titled "The Russian 'Firehose of Falsehood' Propaganda Model: Why It Might Work and Options to Counter It" (https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PE100/PE198/RAND_PE198.pdf).
The publication characterizes distinctive features of "Russian propaganda", including the dissemination of "partial truth or outright fictions".
"Outpourings of lies and hoaxes can cause uncertainty and doubt [among the public]," said Jokowi, adding that the tactic spread narratives that were unsupported by concrete data.
The Russian Embassy issued a statement on Monday denying any intervention in the upcoming election, saying that Jakarta was a close friend and important partner to Moscow. (swd)