Peter Pomerantsev (Russian: Питер Померанцев; born 1977 in Kiev) is a Soviet-born British journalist, author and TV producer. His father is the writer and broadcaster Igor Pomerantsev. He is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics, where he co-directs the Arena program. He is also an Associate Editor at Coda Story, a position he has held since at least 2015.
Pomerantsev was born in 1977. In 1978, he moved with his parents to West Germany, after his father, broadcaster and poet Igor Pomerantsev, was arrested by the KGB for proliferating anti-Soviet literature. They later moved to Munich and then London where Igor Pomerantsev worked for the BBC World Service. Pomerantsev’s mother, Liana Pomerantsev, is a documentary producer. Her credits include Gulag, which won the Grierson Award for Best British Documentary; The Beslan Siege, which won Prix Italia; and The Train, which won a BAFTA.
Pomerantsev attended Westminster School in London and the European School in Munich. He studied English Literature and German at the University of Edinburgh. He attended the Higher Courses for Script Writers and Film Directors in Moscow. After university he moved to Russia in 2001. He "jumped jobs" between think tanks and was a consultant on European Union projects until he went to film school.
Pomerantsev lived largely in Moscow between 2001 and 2010, working in TV. Between 2006 and 2010, following a stint in London, he worked on programs broadcast on Russian entertainment channel TNT. His credits included Creative Producer on ‘Привет Пока', the Russian version of the Sony format ‘Hello-Goodbye’. Part of the time he was employed at production company ‘Potemkin Productions’.
Starting in 2011 Pomerantsev wrote about Russia, with articles in Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly and other magazines. He coined the term "post-modern dictatorship" to describe Vladimir Putin's regime.
Pomerantsev’s memoir of his time in Russia, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia, was released by Faber and Faber in the UK in 2015 and Public Affairs in the US in 2014 (where it is known as Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia). It has since been translated into over a dozen languages. In the book Pomerantsev provides insight into how the Russian state apparatus uses "black PR" to manipulate truth, while the Russian public — accustomed to the lies of the Soviet regime — remain cynical and assume that all of "Kremlin's reality is scripted". The New York Times noted the "book is written in different genres, a sort of intellectual docudrama. Mr. Pomerantsev concedes that some of the dialogue he quotes is from memory."
Pomerantsev was project chair for the Information Warfare Initiative of the Center for European Policy Analysis. He also led the Beyond Propaganda programme within the Legatum Institute's Transitions Forum, where he was a Senior Fellow. Pomerantsev has been at the fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna.
Pomerantsev has given testimony on the subject of information warfare and media development to the US Congress Foreign Affairs Committee, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the UK Parliament Defence Committee.
Views and opinions
In a short animated film on BBC Newsnight, Pomerantsev introduced the idea of the "post-modern politician". He argued: "President Trump and President Putin share a disdain for facts - and that this is part of their appeal". He developed related themes in pieces for Granta and the Financial Times, where he argued that fact-driven political discourse is connected to the idea of a future. Pomerantsev wrote about Putin’s information guru Vladislav Surkov, ‘the hidden author of Putinism’.
Information warfare and propaganda
In a 2014 essay for The Atlantic, ‘The Menace on Unreality” on the Kremlin’s Hall of Mirrors, Pomerantsev explored how information warfare has changed in the 21st century. He has also contributed to think tank studies about propaganda and information war, and edited a series of studies on the subject, including subjects ranging from ISIS’ use of social media to media literacy.
Investigation into suicide of Ruslana Korshunova
Pomerantsev investigated the suicide of Russian model Ruslana Korshunova for a documentary. He revealed that her death was linked to the Rose of the World. The cult-like group's "training sessions" are modeled after the defunct Lifespring where participants go through grueling physical and mental sessions. Korshunova lost weight and became aggressive, her friends reported after months of training. She then went to New York City, looking for work. On 28 June 2008, She jumped from the balcony of her apartment and died instantly. No signs of a struggle were found in her apartment and her death was ruled as a suicide. She was buried at Khovanskoye Cemetery in Moscow.
In a May 17, 2015 post at Pando.com, Mark Ames, a former resident of Moscow and editor of the city's now-defunct English-language paper Exile and former Russia Today reporter, questioned whether Pomerantsev was transparent with his motives on Russia. He condemns Pomerantsev for associating with colleagues with anti-Putin positions; including Legatum's Chris Chandler, Jeffrey Gedmin, Anne Applebaum, Ben Judah, and Bill Browder. Writing in Forbes magazine, Melik Kaylan responded to the criticisms:
‘The attacks suffer from egregious factual inaccuracies. Pomerantsev is not nor has ever been a 'lobbyist' for anyone. To say this about Pomerantsev is like saying Orwell was a paid lobbyist against totalitarian systems.
2015 Samuel Johnson Prize, finalist, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
2015 Pushkin House, shortlist, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
2015 Gordon Burn, shortlist, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
2016 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje
2012 Society of Press In Asia ‘Excellence in Lifestyle Coverage’ Award
Public appearances and podcasts
On Start the Week with Andrew Marr, BBC Radio 4
On This American Life, PBS
- Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia
- Published in the US by PublicAffairs (November 2014) ISBN 978-1-61039-455-0
- Published in the UK by Faber & Faber (December 2015) ISBN 978-0-57130-802-6
- Published in German ("Nichts ist wahr und alles ist möglich") by Penguin Random House (April 2016) ISBN 978-3-421-04699-4
- Published in Italian ("Niente è vero, tutto è possibile") by Minimum Fax (2018) ISBN 9788875219772
- This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality
Notes and references
- Castle, Stephen (February 14, 2015). "A Russian TV Insider Describes a Modern Propaganda Machine". New York Times. p. A6.
- Science, London School of Economics and Political. "Peter Pomerantsev". London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
- "About Coda Story". Coda Story. 2015-11-15. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- Findeis, Milena. "Pomerantsev Igor - ZeitZug.com - Literarische Online-Sammlung". www.zeitzug.com (in German). Retrieved 2017-10-10.
- "Liana Pomerantsev". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
- Pomerantsev, Peter (2016-06-16). "Diary". London Review of Books. pp. 46–47. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
- Pomerantsev, Peter (2014). Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia (First ed.). New York, NY: PublicAffairs. p. 4. ISBN 9781610394550.
- "Peter Pomerantsev | Authors | Faber & Faber". www.faber.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
- "Peter Pomerantsev". Cepa.org. Center for European Policy Analysis. Archived from the original on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
- "Peter Pomerantsev wins 2016 Ondaatje Prize". IWM. 2016-05-24. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- News, VOA. "US Congressional Hearing Looks at Countering Russian Propaganda". VOA. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations". www.foreign.senate.gov. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "The rise of the postmodern politician". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- Pomerantsev, Peter. "The Hidden Author of Putinism". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- Pomerantsev, Peter. "How Vladimir Putin Is Revolutionizing Information Warfare". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- Science, London School of Economics and Political. "What we do". London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- Pomerantsev, Peter (January 1, 2011). "Disconcerting new answers in model's suicide". Newsweek.
- Connelly, Sherry (November 16, 2014). "Tragic leap of Ruslana Korshunova reveals dark underbelly of the new Russia and its 'lost girls,' author claims". New York Daily News.
- "Wayfarer". RT International. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
- Kaylan, Melik. "Top Kremlin Critics In The West Face Media Smears On The Home Front". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
- McLaren, Iona (2015-09-22). "Samuel Johnson Prize 2015 longlist announced". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- "2015 Book Prize". Pushkin House. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- "Gordon Burn Prize 2015 shortlist: what the judges say | The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- Kerr, Michael (2016-05-23). "Peter Pomerantsev wins 2016 Ondaatje Prize". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2017-10-11.
- "Joseph Nye on Soft Power, Start the Week - BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- "The Other Mr. President". This American Life. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
- Russia: A Postmodern Dictatorship? by Peter Pomerantsev | October 2013 Lecture for the Legatum's Transition Lecture Series [PDF]
- Pomerantsev's writing at TheAtlantic.com
- Pomerantsev's contributions at Granta.com
- Pomerantsev's writing at NewsWeek.com
- Pomerantsev's contributions at the London Review of Books
- Pomerantsev's writing at Politico