New #DisinfoReview from the EU East StratCom Task Force
9 March 2017


Fake news à la russe

Pro-Kremlin outlets have engaged on the “fake news” debate this week, managing to find angles to criticise Western countries and present Russia in a positive light.
The English version of Sputnik informed that the EU is spreading fake news about Russia among its citizens and now intends to spread it also among Russians. As an example of such fake news it gives e.g. the “annexation of Crimea” or the “Russian invasion of Ukraine”. Just one problem - Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and military intervention in the East of Ukraine both happen to be true; you will find the debunks in the table again.
The current global discussion of fake news was also covered in Vladimir Solovyov’s show. The anchor himself mocked how the West was trying to teach Russians basic standards of journalism: “The West itself now calls its media 'a lying press'”. A few days later REN TV's anchor announced that “many experts” now confirm an unprecedented popularity of Russians abroad - with Vladimir Putin being the most popular of them all. He did not tell us the names of these experts. We found an opinion poll that would suggest otherwise.


Hatred and lies. “News” about Ukraine

With the heightened level of hostilities in Donbas, the disinformation campaign targeting Ukraine remains the main issue for the pro-Kremlin oriented outlets. And the language remains significantly violent.
The usual disinformation about Ukraine being a nazi state - governed allegedly by “the same people” who collaborated with Nazi Germany (or their descendants) - was accompanied by calls for a “denazification” of Ukraine, to be performed by Russia. The similarly repeated disinformation about Ukraine performing a genocide of Russians in Donbas was accompanied by calls for annexation of the whole Ukraine.
In other outlets, it is actually “the West” which, we learn, intends to clean Ukraine of its population. According to the official TV channel of the Russian Ministry of Defence, need this purge in order to gain space where they can send refugees.
There were also some more amusing pieces of disinformation. We learned that Ukrainian children have been making cannons for their fathers (based on a picture taken seven years ago in a kindergarten - in Russia); and, based on no evidence whatsoever, that a religious holiday will be liquidated.
In this atmosphere, it will probably come as no surprise that in Solovyov’s show we heard that Russia and NATO have in fact been dividing Ukraine for the past 300-400 years: self-evidently untrue.
The cannons made by Russian kindergarten kids seven years ago.

Columbian Chemical Plant Revival

In September 2014, the hoax about an alleged chemical plant disaster was spread in the US information space. This sophisticated disinformation operation, which was conducted mostly via social media, was orchestrated by the troll factory in Saint Petersburg. As part of this campaign, also fake news sites were used “confirming” the accident.

The same tool was used also at the end of February - a fake website pretending to be the Belgian newspaper Le Soir was created, claiming that Emmanuel Macron’s campaign has been funded by Saudi Arabia, since he is their preferred presidential candidate in France. Of course, the real Le Soir denied they had ever produced such a story. Another attack on Mr. Macron similar to the previous ones confirms that he is among the most prominent targets of the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign in Europe these days.
Crosscheck quickly debunked the false claims.
Click here for the FULL TABLE of recent stories repeating disinformation (.pdf).


Do it again

The Moscow Times has revealed excerpts from a Russian military textbook on psychological warfare, which can shed some light on methods used for disinformation. It includes a familiar story.
Read more

Check your sources

French fact checkers Les Décodeurs have launched Decodex, a new tool for checking the credibility of online news sources, which seamlessly integrates into your browser.
Read more

Russian TV offers money for staged "action" in Sweden?

Did Russian TV reporters offer money to youth in Stockholm's Rinkeby suburb for some staged "action" in front of the camera?
Read more


"Shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships"

It is not just the EU and the broader West that considers propaganda a problem that ought to be addressed. Deep inside the Russian State Duma, it turns out there is one Member of Parliament leading what seems like a life long struggle against propaganda – but from the West.

In his past as a legislator in St. Petersburg, Vitaly Milonov became famous for his crusade against what he saw as "gay propaganda". Now he has set his sights on the latest film adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast". As CNN reports, Milonov called the film "a blatant, shameless propaganda of sin and perverted sexual relationships" and has petitioned the Russian Minister of Culture not to show the movie, "if the ministry found 'elements of propaganda of homosexuality'." (Image: Disney)
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Every Thursday, the Disinformation Review brings you the latest cases of news articles carrying key examples of how pro-Kremlin disinformation finds its way in international media, as well as news and analysis on the topic. The review focuses on key messages carried in international media which have been identified as providing a partial, distorted or false view or interpretation and/or spreading key pro-Kremlin messaging. It does not necessarily imply however that the outlet concerned is linked to the Kremlin or that it is pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. The Review is a compilation of cases from the East Stratcom Task Force's wide network of contributors and therefore cannot be considered an official EU position. Likewise, the news articles are based on the analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force, so information and opinions expressed there cannot be considered an official EU position. Any errors or misrepresentations should be reported to the East Stratcom Task Force for correction at
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