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


Ukraine: Crimea three years on

On Saturday we remembered that it has been three years since Russia illegally annexed a part of Ukraine. This was highlighted by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini's statement reiterating that the European Union does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and continues to condemn this violation of international law, and that Russia's illegal actions remain a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all States.

But it was not only the European Union that focused on Ukraine this week. As usual, also a considerable amount of pro-Kremlin disinformation was pointed in this direction. Russian state TV's  'Vremya pokazhet' programme devoted a significant amount of time to the question "With whom is Ukraine fighting?" – we provide some answers here, here and here. In the show, Ukraine was described again as an anti-Russian creation. It was claimed that it is forbidden to speak Russian in Ukraine - an often repeated disinformation. And it was stated that the country is falling apart since no political force supports a united Ukraine - in fact it is only the Russian-backed separatists in Donbass and the Russian administration of Crimea annexed by Moscow that do not support the idea of a united Ukraine.
Russia's Defence Ministry TV channel Zvezda was also actively disinforming about Ukraine this week, claiming widespread hunger among the population and spreading fake statements from officials in Ukraine concerning the lack of a budget for the Eurovision song contest to be held in Kyiv in May.
Russia Today predicted social unrest due to these supposed food shortages, distorting the statements of an economist talking on another issue as shown by Stopfake. Czech outlets claimed that Natalia Savchenko had called for soldiers to overthrow the Ukrainian government and described the Ukrainian army as being on the verge of a total collapse in morale. Neither story was substantiated.


Horrible Europe

Extremely negative depictions of life in Europe also continued to trend this week. We saw reports of the EU as an autocratic structure that cannot be held accountable by its member states; of an EU supplying drugs to Moldova; and of an EU somehow planning to get rid of paper money as a way to gain full control over the movements of its populations.

We also saw the allegation that member states had orchestrated the diplomatic row between the Netherlands and Turkey last week deliberately to bring about the disintegration of the Union – with the explanation that Germany wants to create the "new Europe".  And of course, we heard once more the hackneyed allegations that the EU supports neo-Nazis.
According to Sputnik, the EU is supplying drugs to Moldova.
Click here for the FULL TABLE of recent stories repeating disinformation (.pdf).


Not a laughing matter

An analytical paper by the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga says that “humour elements have been used as tools of strategic political communication” in Russia.
Read more

Let the wolf guard the sheep

Russia Today, fully funded by the Russian authorities, has started a fact checking project, which is tellingly called "fake check". What's in there?
Read more

Germany announces next steps against fake news

Last week, the German government announced that they wish to increase the pressure on social networks to stop defamation, hate speech and fake news.
Read more

Twitter as a fool tool

The Russian diplomatic online club: that is how they call it when the Russian Embassy to the UK recruits volunteers help Twitter bots spread the Embassy's tweets.
Read more


"Because of Crimea. We basically took it."

"Who taught you that?" - so this school boy is asked after he has written "We are not slaves!" on the blackboard. The problem is not the handwriting, which is perfect. The problem is the slogan, which has been used by Russia's opposition at protests against the Russian authorities.
This week, disinformation and its role in the Russian school system became topical after independent Russian outlet Meduza published a recording of a conversation in a school class in Bryansk in South-Western Russia. Read more about the conversation. (Image: Facebook)
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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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