Relying on expert testimony and existing footage, Active Measures documents the surprisingly interconnected rise of two men, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. This film examines the evolution of Soviet influence techniques into modern warfare tactics that manipulated elections in several democratic nations, culminating in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Active Measures exposes what is possibly the largest and most effectively executed espionage operation in history.



“Riveting and Authoritative”

-Toronto Star


Jack Bryan

Writer, Director, Producer

Marley Clements

Writer, Producer

Laura DuBois


Original Interviews With:

Hon. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State (2008–2012)

Pres. Toomás Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia (2006–2016)

Pres. Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia (2004–2013)

Sen. John McCain, Senate Armed Services Committee

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Senate Judiciary Committee

Rep. Eric Swalwell, House Intelligence Committee

Steven Hall, CIA Chief of Russia Operations (1985–2013)

Amb. Michael McFaul, U.S. Ambassador to Russia (2012–2014)

Nina Burleigh, Newsweek Correspondent

Craig Unger, Journalist and Vanity Fair Contributing Editor

Amb. James Woolsey, Director of Central Intelligence (1993–1995)

John Mattes, Bernie Sanders Organizer, Investigative Journalist

Richard Fontaine, President, Center for New American Security

Michael Isikoff, Author, Russian Roulette

John Dean, White House Counsel to President Nixon (1970–1973)

Dr. Herb Lin, Director Cyber Policy and Security, Stanford University

Clint Watts, Former FBI Special Agent on Joint Terrorism Task Force

Evan McMullin, U.S. 2016 Presidential Candidate, CIA Operative (1999–2010)

Dr. Alina Polyakova, Foreign Policy Fellow, Brookings Institution

John Podesta, Chair, Hillary for America, Founder, Center for American Progress

Jonathan Winer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Law Enforcement (1994–1999)

Jeremy Bash, CIA Chief of Staff (2009–2011), Pentagon Chief of Staff (2011–2013)

Amb. Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (2005–2009)

Scott Horton, International Law and Human Rights Attorney, Columbia Law School

Heather Conley, "Kremlin Playbook" Author, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Amb. Steven Pifer, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (1997–2000), U.S. Department of State (1978–2004)

Asha Rangappa, FBI Special Agent on Counterintelligence (2002 – 2005), Associate Dean of Yale Law

Molly McKew, Information Warfare Expert

Alexandra Chalupa, DNC Consultant

act·ive mea·sures

/ˈaktiv ˈmeZHərs/


Active Measures is a Soviet term for the actions of political warfare conducted by the Soviet and Russian security services to influence the course of world events, in addition to collecting intelligence and producing "a politically correct" assessment of it.

Classic and modern propaganda techniques

The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person, ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect.

Is a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument. Example:In 2006, after Russians murdered Alexander Litvinenko in London, the Russian embassy in London responded to accusations with, “why not mind your British business thoroughly and ask why nobody has been until now held responsible for the British dead in the War in Iraq?”

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Example:A Dutch journalist asked the US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, why he would claim there are no-go zones in the country when there aren’t. Hoekstra responded with, “I didn't say that. That's actually an incorrect statement, we would call it 'fake news.'” Then the journalist played a clip of him saying exactly that, proving him wrong, and then asked him why he’d call this fake news to which Hoekstra responded with, “I didn’t call that fake news, I didn’t use the word today.”

Breeding the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth or even facts, because everything is disguised to reflect advantageously on one group or another.

This is the main method of political agitation leveraging our tribal nature. Under an external threat, real or imaginary, a nation, obedient to instincts, rallies around a leader. The mechanisms of perception inherent in us are simplified in the event of danger, turning the world black and white. Example: Regarding Mexicans, Trump stated: “They are not our friend, believe me. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

With the help of stigmatization - branding, insulting and creating negative images - propagandists put into our consciousness primitive pattern-labels, which personify evil, based on cliched, symbolic thinking. Example: “global elite,” “rednecks,” “thugs,” “towel-heads,” “wetbacks.”

Generalizations often presented as statistics to drown out opposition. This is hammered home until those who disagree become afraid to voice a dissenting opinion counter to the generally accepted one.

The idea is to own all forms of political discourse, to not let any independent movements develop outside of its walls. By doing this, those in power can exploit all narratives and render them absurd. The result is an array of voices, working away at global audiences from different angles, producing a cumulative echo chamber of support.

Voters invariably prefer tempting and obviously impossible promises over boring, more realistic ones. The sober politician therefore always loses in front of a silver-tongued charlatan.

Substitution of the true cause is false. Often, substitution goes beyond the boundaries of sanity and the logic of events. Example: Censorship is necessary in order to protect children from pornography.

This is submitted as a priori, not requiring proof: if A, then B, although in fact B does not at all follow from A. Example:If Putin leaves, then Russia will fall apart.

A tautology in which the first part of the statement refers to the second, and the second supports itself by referencing the first as proof. Example:Official media do not lie, because official media never lie.

When a single whole is divided into parts, and each part is considered as a single whole. Example:The liberal opposition camp is promoted by propagandists as if they comprise the entire Russian opposition despite the fact that there are conservative factions in the opposition as well. But in the minds of the inhabitants, the phrase "oppositionist-liberal" has become inseparable.

In appearance, the harmless "allegedly", "attributed", "as if", "some", "so-called" are used to breed suspicion and escape hatches. Example:Compare the following: "Friends of Putin were mentioned in the anti-corruption investigation" and "Some alleged friends of Putin were mentioned in the so-called anti-corruption investigation."

Simple, straightforward lying.

How To Use Propaganda

Have you spread propaganda on Facebook without knowing it?

Find out here

Track Russian propaganda on Twitter in real time

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The Internet Research Agency

In an effort to modernize long-standing Active Measures campaigns, entities affiliated with the Russian government formed the largest troll factory in the world in 2013. Its goal was to sow division in The West and infiltrate the 2016 US Election. Here's how it worked:


Two offices in St. Petersburg (Olgino [59°59′42.7″N 30°07′49.7″E] and Savushkina St.[59°59′03.5″N 30°16′19.1″E]), one in Moscow and others across Russia.

Work hours

12-hour shifts every two days from 9am-9pm.


1000 in main office alone.


A blogger's quota is ten posts per shift, each post at least 750 characters. Each blogger is in charge of three accounts. A commenter generally posts 126 comments per day and two posts per account.

Operating Budget

20 million rubles ($400,000)/month.


LiveJournal; VKontakte (Russia’s Facebook); Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; the comment sections of Russian news outlets; and the comments sections of international media platforms.

View source ↓


IRA Infiltration in the USA

Using Active Measures, Russian trolls stoked American fears and bred divisiveness using social media. Because of the sheer quantity of posts needed to reach saturation, trolls used a library of images and memes to feed the flames and sow chaos.

Active Measures in America

Learn more about specific examples of Active Measures Russia has taken against the US in advance of the 2016 presidential elections.

The Columbian
Chemicals Plant
explosion hoax

The Columbian Chemicals plant explosion was a hoax claiming an explosion at a chemical plant in Centerville, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. On September 11, 2014, reports of an alleged explosion were sent to local residents via text messages and spread through various social media.

Jade Helm 15

The Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories were based on the Jade Helm 15 United States military training exercise which took place in multiple U.S. states in the summer of 2015, starting on July 15 and ending on September 15. The announcements of these training exercises raised concerns and led to speculative interpretations.


Operation INFEKTION was a KGB disinformation campaign to spread information that the United States invented HIV/AIDS as part of a biological weapons research project at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

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To find out more about a few of our interview subjects, click on the links below.

Website sources

Propaganda techniques: (“ Propaganda techniques”, n.d.) (“ Spiral of Silence”, n.d.) Bates, Jordan. “ 12 Psychological Tactics Donald Trump Uses to Manipulate the Masses”. High N.d. Chertok, Paula. “ How Russia’s worst propaganda myths about Ukraine seep into media language”. Euromaidan Press, April, 4th, 2016. Goble, Paul, A. “ 15-point checklist of Putin regime’s propaganda techniques”. Euromaidan Press, April 19th, 2016. Herbert, Wray. “ Heuristics Revealed”. Association for Psychological Science, October, 2010. Leonor, Alex. “ A guide to Russian propaganda. Part 2: Whataboutism”. Euromaidan Press, August, 31, 2016. Lichfield, Gideon. “ 21st-century propaganda: A guide to interpreting and confronting the dark arts of persuasion”., May 13th, 2017. Waldman, Katy. “ From Theater to Therapy to Twitter, the Eerie History of Gaslighting”. Slate Magazine, April, 18th, 2016. Zorina-Alexandrove, Elizabeth. “ Propaganda: instructions for use”., April 16th, 2012.
How to use propaganda: Akadjian, David. “ T. Daily Kos, August, 20th, 2017.hree Russian propaganda techniques being used by the Trump administration—and how to fight them”. Daily Kos, August, 20th, 2017. Arendt, Hannah. “ The Origins of Totalitarianism”. Via Open Culture, January 24th, 2017. Goble, Paul, A. “ From Theater to Therapy to Twitter, the Eerie History of Gaslighting”. Slate Magazine, April, 18th, 2016.
IRA: (“ Internet Research Agency””, n.d.) Adler, S. (producer), McEwen, A. (producer); Bressler, B. (reporter), Maynes, C. (reporter). (February 20th, 2018). The Curious Case of the Russian Flash Mob at the West Palm Beach Cheesecake Factory. Chen, Adrian. “ The Agency”. The New York Times, June 2nd, 2015. Parfitt, Tom. “ My life as a pro-Putin propagandist in Russia’s secret 'troll factory'”., June 24th, 2015. Cole, S. (producer). (April 14th, 2017). Maybe Pay Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain [This American Life]. Retrieved from“ The Other Mr. President.
IRA infiltration in the USA: (“ http://xn--80acbo6d9a.xn--p1ai/index.php”, n.d.) Heath, Alex. “ 18 political ads you may have seen on Facebook that were actually made by Russian trolls”. Business Insider, November 2nd, 2017. Michel, Casey. “ These are the Facebook posts Russia used to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign”. ThinkProgress, October 6th, 2017. O’Sullivan, Donie; Byers, Dylan. “ Exclusive: Fake black activist accounts linked to Russian government”. CNN, September 28th, 2017. Schreck, Carl. “ Russian Trolls' Vast Library Of Insulting Images”. RFERL [Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty], April 4th, 2015. Sebastian, Clare; Lister, Tim. “ Sebastian, Clare; Lister, Tim. ”. CNN, October 6th, 2017. Tornie, Rob. “ Here's what fake Russian Facebook posts during the election looked like”. The Inquirer, October 6th, 2017. Walker, Shaun. “ The Russian troll factory at the heart of the meddling allegations”. The Guardian, April 2nd, 2015.