Pro Kremlin demo 2015 in the Russian capital: There are Putin fans in Moscow - but not only there.
Photo: Sasha Mordovets / Getty Images
Germany is packed with Putin fans.
Not a digital stone under which a dozen Putinists would not come out at every opportunity to praise, defend or conjure up their Vladimir.
Putin is the patron saint of German network troublemakers.
But not only on the Internet, German politics are also downright soggy with Putinists.
First and foremost, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who has now caused more damage with his Gazprom morals than Helmut Kohl with his black coffers.
The whole AfD, half of the Left Party, perhaps a quarter of the SPD as well as a few key figures in the FDP, CDU and CSU could, in case of doubt, agree that one still has to speak lovingly to Putin when he is on Russian state television Camera eats babies.
People like Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) would then possibly emphasize that Putin has not yet been legally convicted of baby food and warn against a hasty moral judgment, because the clocks in Russia were different.
People like Klaus Ernst (Left Party) would then ask what it would bring Putin to eat babies and bring up an American conspiracy.
People like Alexander Gauland would likely sow doubts about the real benefits of babies and recall the ancient tradition of baby eating.
Incidentally, Armin Laschet is also noticeably often on a cuddly cuddle course with Putin, maybe someone in the CDU party to the West will still be interested in time for the upcoming chairman election.
Sascha Lobo, arrow to the right
Born in 1975, is an author and strategy consultant with a focus on the Internet and digital technologies.
In 2019 his book "Realitätschock: Ten Lessons from the Present" was published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch.
In his "Debate Podcast", Lobo responds to responses to his columns.
In the meantime it has been proven that Putin critic Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, the most Russian of all poisons.
Coincidentally, the substance that Russian agents used in an assassination attempt two years ago, Potzblitz.
And yet across the German-speaking Internet there are hordes of people who know one thing very, very well: it couldn't have been Putin.
The following analysis aims to approach the internet phenomenon "German Putin fans".
Anti-liberal patriarchy junkies
In the minds of this fanatic, Putin is an antidote to the "softening of the West".
By this they understand feminism, the rights of minorities as well as the comprehensive liberalization of society including the greater mixing of different cultures and the fight for basic rights for all.
The Ukrainian-born author Marina Weisband, who spoke to the German public about the crime annexion and the subsequent conflict, has been aggressively attacked by Putin fans and probably also paid "trolls" since 2014 and says: "I still have to meet the male Putin fan, who has respect for women. "
This type enthusiastically absorbs the hyper-male stagings of Putin's propaganda machine and sees itself confirmed in its longing for a supposedly simpler, less complex society with simple role models.
For them, Putin is the tough, authoritarian father figure who solves the problems that in their eyes were caused by women, gays and foreigners.
A man-made motto: "Forward into the world of yesterday", of course with a bare upper body riding a horse.
Misguided friends of Russia
The great cultural nation that Russia has been for centuries is absolutely worthy of any Fantum.
That is why Putin poses as a symbol not only for the present, but also for the past Russia.
Putin strategically aims to equate his person with the country in the mind, with the figure of the powerful, tough, but also kind national father.
A surprising number of people who think clearly and rationally fall for this, who would swear at any time that Angela Merkel is not Germany.
There are also many people with personal ties to the country among these Putin fans.
And because, on the other hand, in many opinion-forming, western minds - also in the media and in politics - a significantly simplified, sometimes unfair image of Russia has an impact, the misguided friends of Russia are turning their injustices into arguments in favor of Putin.
Anti-American & Anti-EU
In Germany, anti-Americanism is extraordinarily capable of connecting with a large number of different milieus and groups, from left-wing to right-wing extremists, in the flavors anti-capitalist to anti-freedom.
Some people who have problems with the complexity of the world see Putin as an antithesis to the USA, and if you hate one, you have to love the other.
This black-and-white thought pattern is enriched by Russian propaganda with a lot of hostility towards NATO, regardless of history, present and gray values.
A common ground is a deep rejection of "those up there".
Benjamin Bidder, former SPIEGEL correspondent for Russia, says: "Many see Putin as an ally in the proxy war against the establishment."
This is why the same pattern of rejection works, mostly mixed with the open anti-liberalism of the first type towards the EU.
With astonishingly little knowledge of almost everything, this type of fanatic sees Putin as a redeemer from real threats such as the USA, the EU or a complicated reality.
Trump fans & conspiracy theorists
Because logic only plays a very subordinate role in the German pro-Putin scene, it is easily possible that ardent anti-American and ultra-nationalist Trump fans are putin drunk in each other's arms.
Trump fans emulate their idol and are generally as authoritarian, nationalistic and anti-liberal as Trump himself. And Putin, whose politics can be described with exactly these three adjectives.
With this type it becomes clearest that Putin is often only used as a cipher for the rejection of the liberal democracy of western design.
Putin chants could often be heard at the various Corona demos in recent months, here Putin serves as the godfather of the strife with the present as a whole.
Everything that goes bad is Merkel and the EU, but all hopes rest on Putin or Trump.
Right-wing extremists & left-wing nationalists
There are few places where a transverse German front is as tangible as it is in Putinism.
It is hardly surprising that right-wing extremists love Putin's anti-liberal, anti-Western and anti-democratic stance.
The left fans, on the other hand, ignore the new right and racism-tinged Putin positions and cling to Putin as a descendant of the ancient left allies from the Soviet era.
This is only possible in a left-nationalist taste and only if "left" is still defined as it was in 1959. So not progressively in principle, but largely related to the question of social justice for white men.
Putin serves these fans as a promise that a different, rigid, yesterday's world with social homogeneity is possible.
But stop with a minimum wage.
Professional propagandists and their tools
The fact that these (and more) different types of Putin fans are so present on the German network is no coincidence, but
the result of extensive propaganda work.
Since Putin annexed Crimea at the beginning of 2014, there have been significantly more pro-Putin comments in the comment areas of the major media.
There is a decades-long tradition of Russian propaganda accompanying the conflict, and with the attack on the Crimea at the latest, state-controlled, political communication in social media was raised to a new level of quality.
The billionaire oligarch known as "Putin's cook" made a major contribution to this.
He is considered to be the head behind the so-called "troll factories", which are nothing more than digital propaganda units.
Initially rather clumsy and experimental, they are now producing quality propaganda because they have recognized social media as a blessing for their job - the offensive pursuit of Russian, or more precisely: Putin's interests.
They work in association with Russian state-controlled propaganda media such as "RT Deutsch" or, in the more left-wing variant, "redfish".
The news-like appearance of the articles by "RT Deutsch" is spread on social media and supplemented by individual accounts and groups that have been built up over many years by an emotional address.
The core message works right and left - it is the corruption and weakness of the West that should also make Russia stand out stronger.
This propaganda approach can work because it works with the self-doubts of Western liberal democracies - that is, the constantly loud and widely discussed question of the socially correct path.
This form of self-examination in the form of debates got a boost with social media and is actually a strength of the West.
Because in this way, previously unimagined progress is possible, the best examples of this are #Metoo, Fridays for Future and #blacklivesmatter, which would never have developed their clout and modernization energy without social media.
The Russian propaganda machine turns this self-examination into the worst, and because liberal democracy always brings with it change, actual or self-perceived modernization losers in particular belong to the target group.
The simple dualism - if the EU is wrong somewhere, Putin must be right - belongs in the toolkit.
Right at the front, however, is the instrumentalization of the doubt, as can already be seen in the mission statement of "RT Deutsch": "'We show the missing part of the overall picture'. That is precisely the part that is otherwise kept secret or cut away."
From the start, it is assumed that everyone is always keeping something secret.
In this way, not only can confusion be caused and every nonsense can be presented as somehow legitimate or even equal opinion.
There is also a simple, psychological trick hidden in it.
Anyone conveying such a message implicitly says: You cannot trust anyone - except me, the bearer of this truth.
The many Putin fans in the German-speaking network are, to put it simply, a consequence of social liberalization, which made skeptics and resentment-minded people very receptive to modern Russian propaganda.
Most Putin fans can be seen as useful dachshunds for Russian influence in liberal democrats, wherever free debate is possible.
This is a little more difficult under Putin, and this is not only reflected in the poison attack on Navalny.
According to the organization "Reporters Without Borders", Russia was ranked 149th out of 180 in terms of press freedom in 2019.
But Vladimir Putin's biggest fan is outside of Germany.
Namely in the White House.
Not only does Donald Trump make politics as by Putin's grace and credible experts call him "Putin's puppet", Putin's puppet.
No, Donald Trump himself wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin in 2007.
The most important sentence in it: "As you have probably heard, I am a huge fan of yours!"
Icon: The mirror