New Disinformation Digest from the East StratCom Task Force
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  • Propagandists for parliament!
  • Disinformation in Georgia targets EU
  • 5 ways to troll your Facebook feed
  • Friday fun: The vision thing

Propagandists for parliament!

Sunday’s elections for the Russian State Duma were broadly criticised for numerous cases of fraud. For an overview of this problem, we recommend independent election observer NGO Golos’ interactive map of election violations in Russia, which gathers all reported cases (so far 3,738 cases). The EU reacted with a statement highlighting restrictions to fundamental freedoms and political rights in the run up to the elections.

However, not only cheating with ballots was a problem in Sunday’s election. As the Digest has reported, disinformation was systematically used for discrediting opposition politicians and other independent voices. Incidentally, in this context some well-known Russian propagandists were lucky to find their way to parliament. The Disinformation Digest acquaints you with two in particular:
Pyotr Tolstoy

Yes, the host of the talk show Vremya Pokazhet (“Time will tell”) on Russian state TV Channel 1 (Pervy Kanal) is the great-great-grandson of the famous Russian novelist. Tolstoy’s show ranks among the most frequently mentioned in the Disinformation Review where the East StratCom Task Force documents pro-Kremlin disinformation. Mr Tolstoy's show sees carefully selected experts and Russian populist politicians compete in the arts of conspiracy theory, war-mongering and outright lies. His speciality is to invite one dissident to his show (but always only one, and often a foreigner): someone who disagrees with the pro-government majority on the show. He or she then gets to play the role of a scapegoat and is being shouted at and interrupted by the majority. Obviously, the aim of this technique is to legitimize intolerance towards and stigmatization of those who dare to question pro-Kremlin narratives. Mr. Tolstoy’s plan is to “make the authorities aware of the views of ordinary people”, so he told Radio Govorit Moskva on Tuesday. (Image via Pervy Kanal)
Vitaly Milonov

The claim to fame of this new Member of Parliament is his role as “gay hunter” in his native St. Petersburg. Author of the original St. Petersburg city law that banned “homosexual propaganda towards minors”, Mr. Milonov has mixed religious conservatism with populist and tabloid-friendly activities, including attacks on gay clubs, on an LGTB film festival and on massage parlours. He has also propagated banning a Madonna concert in Russia and has been accused of making anti-Semitic statements.

Interviewed by local St. Petersburg media, Mr. Milonov said: “I'm unique. I am a St. Petersburg social and cultural phenomenon. I am irreplaceable. I will go to work in the State Duma, but I will live in St. Petersburg. I have no plans about becoming a part of the gray mass. First, I’m red haired. Secondly, I plan to have as much work as possible done [in Moscow]." (Image via

Disinformation in Georgia targets EU

The Georgian Institute for Development of Freedom of Information has recently analysed the characteristics, main messages and impact of pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts in Georgian society.
The paper identifies four main goals of pro-Kremlin disinformation in Georgia:
  • incite anti-Western sentiments in Georgia,
  • disrupt Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspiration,
  • promote Kremlin's global policy and
  • introduce confusion, fear and hatred among the population.
The main messages and myths of Kremlin propaganda presented in the paper are based on the findings of the Myth Detector project which analysed media coverage from 15 July 2014 to 25 July 2016. Most of the myths identified by the project are related to the EU (28%), which could be due to the successful cooperation between the EU and Georgia.
The paper concludes that the ongoing disinformation campaign conducted by pro-Kremlin outlets constitute a threat to Georgian national security and democratic development, as well as prevents Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, discredits Western values and undermines public trust in the government and political institutions.
The paper also highlights that the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign intensified in 2013, and that since then public support towards Western institutions has been steadily declining in Georgia. The disinformation campaign has thereby already influenced the Georgian political agenda and may have an effect on the upcoming parliamentary elections, concludes the paper.

5 trolls on your Facebook feed

The NATO Centre of Excellence in Strategic Communications has analysed the trolling tactics used to pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts in Latvia in a recent study. 5 types of trolls stand out for the authors:
  • The aggressive troll, which uses typical trolling tactics to annoy other users. Unlike a genuine troll, however, the pro-Kremlin variety is not interested in prolonging the argument. This may because of the imperfect language skills of trolls located abroad.
  • The Wikipedia troll posts factual information from Wikipedia and other sources, but takes them out of context to mislead the audience.
  • The attachment troll has a different strategy: He only posts a few words with links to a news article or video. But the information reached via the link carries pro-Kremlin messages.
  • The "Blame the US conspiracy troll" disseminates information based on conspiracy theories and blames the US for creating international turmoil. This troll stands out for the length of its comments.
  • Finally, the bikini troll combines a profile picture of an attractive lady with naive and mostly anti-US comments. Despite the simplicity of the message, say the authors of the study, the bikini troll "in fact significantly affects the internet community as it is often not recognized as a troll".
The East StratCom Task Force has developed social media images to raise awareness of these different trolls. Four of them can be seen above while we invite you to discover the bikini troll on our Facebook page EU vs Disinformation.
Friday Fun: Russian caricaturist Sergey Elkin comments on the elections for the State Duma last Sunday in Russia. "I saw no violations", says Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Election Committee. (Image: Sergey Elkin on Facebook)
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 Digest is based on the analysis of the EU East StratCom Task Force; opinions and judgements expressed do not represent official EU positions.
Copyright © 23/09/2016 European External Action Service. All rights reserved.

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