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Issue 25 -  3 May 2016

Ukraine: full-scale offensive


As we see the military situation in the East of Ukraine deteriorating in the last weeks, the same has happened on the information front. The country that is the victim of Russian military aggression over the past two years is also targeted heavily by the disinformation campaign, with the most prominent pro-Kremlin anchors setting the tone of the debate.
 
We saw a member of the Kremlin think-tank (Russian Institute for Strategic Studies) spreading conspiracy theories about the “Rothschilds” supporting Petro Poroshenko, so that he can establish a Russophobic regime in Ukraine (http://bit.ly/1NWBIxx). We saw another video-blogger repeating the many times refuted disinformation about Russian-speaking minorities being oppressed, or wiped out, in Ukraine (http://bit.ly/1NCNmmA). We saw English (http://bit.ly/1Tpf7eU) and Czech (http://bit.ly/1SFq7IP) media repeating this piece of disinformation as well.
 
This information aggression was further amplified by leading pro-Kremlin TV stars. Dmitry Kiselyov presented his “investigation” according to which the USA treats Ukraine in the same way Adolf Hitler treated this country (http://bit.ly/1r84R3D). The whole story is built on a fake Hitler’s quote. Vladimir Solovyov’s show tried to persuade the audience that Russians are turned into slaves in Ukraine (http://bit.ly/1YZqqhW). Stories about allegedly oppressed Russian minorities were also repeated during Pyotr Tolstoy’s show (http://bit.ly/1QJjpfa).
In the same show only two days later, the Ukrainian President was called “Führer”; and the Ukrainian city of Odessa was described as the last bastion of Russian culture in Ukraine (http://bit.ly/1O5RHcU). And in the table, you can find numerous claims about Ukraine being governed by Nazis, and other similar well-known disinformation.

Although regular readers of the Disinformation Review will be quite familiar with most of the claims, we still give this particular disinformation the highest priority. Russian military aggression during 2014 was also accompanied by a heavy disinformation campaign that aimed to blur the truth about the state of events in Ukraine and facilitated Russia’s actions. And although the pro-Kremlin outlets never stopped their disinformation regarding this country, during the last weeks the amount and the aggression of the disinformation targeted at Ukraine has significantly risen.
In one of Tolstoy’s shows from last week the threat was expressed directly: Russia might “liberate” Ukraine and annex not only Crimea, but also South-East of Ukraine and the city of Odessa (http://bit.ly/24tuef5).
(Image: Vesti nedeli on YouTube)

First, invent a conspiracy; then enjoy its recycling


The tragedy of MH17 is one of the most recurrent subjects for media spreading disinformation. This week, we have seen how media will quickly repeat and suggest that the downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane MH17 was caused by a shot from a Ukrainian fighter jet rather than a ground-to-air missile. Media, including the Daily Mail and the Express, were using a BBC documentary which puts forward a number of theories as to why the aircraft exploded.
 
In fact, the BBC does not give credibility to this conspiracy theory that originated in pro-Kremlin media almost two years ago. “Contrary to their headline, experts in fact tell the programme it was unlikely a Ukrainian fighter jet could have shot down MH17, as they cannot fly at such high altitudes,” states the BBC’s explanation (http://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/apr/25/bbc-sunday-express-mh17-ukraine-jets). Nevertheless, numerous Russian sources repeated the disinformation that the BBC will prove Ukrainian guilt in the tragedy (http://bit.ly/1QCeD2V). This disinformation was multiplied by European media (http://bit.ly/1VDXka3) (http://bit.ly/24mxRTV).

Be afraid of Europeans, they are inhumane!


To justify the portrait of the West as an enemy, pro-Kremlin media often describe Europeans and Americans in the darkest possible terms. Thus, in one of the TV shows monitored by members of our network, we heard that the world does not like Russia and Russians for their strength and reliability; or that Poles are destroying the graves of Soviet soldiers (http://bit.ly/1SWe6Ra).
 
A German propagandist working for the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, Margarite Seidler, went even further. In her video-blog, she describes that Europeans have not only legalised incest, but they also lobby for necrophilia and soon they will want to legalise cannibalism (http://bit.ly/1rkx5c3). (Image: Margarite Seidler on YouTube)
READ THE LATEST DISINFORMATION REVIEW: ISSUE TWENTY-FIVE
Thank you very much for your reports, we are looking forward to new ones.

The Disinformation Review is taking a break for the May bank holidays and will be back on 13 May with the Disinformation Digest.

East StratCom Task Force
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The Disinformation Review collects examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation all around Europe and beyond. Every week, it exposes the breadth of this campaign, showing the countries and languages targeted. We're always looking for new partners to cooperate with us for that.
The Disinformation Digest analyses how pro-Kremlin media see the world and what independent Russian voices say. It follows key trends on Russian social media, so you can put pro-Kremlin narratives into their wider context. And finally… some Friday Fun before the weekend!
DISCLAIMER: The Disinformation Review is a compilation of reports received from members of the mythbusting network. The mythbusting network comprises of over 450 experts, journalists, officials, NGOs and Think Tanks in over 30 countries. Please note that opinions and judgements expressed here do not represent official EU positions.
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