New Disinformation Digest from the East StratCom Task Force
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  • Analysis: Brexit: What's in it for Russia?
  • Response: Chat about the EU-Georgia Association Agreement
  • Analysis: Return to Stalinism?
  • Like EU vs Disinformation on Facebook!
  • Analysis: How Russian media portray European leaders
  • Friday fun: Peak tourist season in Crimea

Brexit: What’s in it for Russia?

Russian discussions have focused on the question: "What's in it for Russia?" Leading daily Kommersant concluded that "Brexit gives new trump cards in Moscow's hands. The UK's exit may temper the ambitions of the EU and push it towards a policy that will lead to an end to the sanctions." Triumphant notes came from Alexey Pushkov, Head of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, who called the referendum result the "Western voters' revolt against the ruling system and traditional politicians" on Twitter. Russia's largest newspaper, tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda interviews an expert who argues that Brexit is the result of conspiracy by the Rothschild family.

The Russian blogosphere also discussed vividly. Leading the ranks of pro-Kremlin opinion formers, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mariya Zakharova reiterated the popular Russian idea that EU foreign policy is under US control, and blamed the UK for being the strongest lobbyist for sanctions against Russia. Zakharova compared the UK to a host who refuses to pay the restaurant bill, leaving it up to his guests to pay the price (for the sanctions against Russia).
Brexit as seen by Russian caricaturist Sergey Elkin, via
Among independent voices, commentator Yulia Latynina called the result of the referendum "an uprising against Brussels" and compared the EU to the Soviet Union, calling it "an enormous socialist state". Alexander Baunov of Carnegie Moscow also examined Russia's stake in Brexit, claiming that Russia was rejoicing in the Brexit. He makes the case that Russia has contradictory interests: The country is in fact, he said, interested in European unity because it creates stability; however, it is also interested in seeing Europe cutting ties with the US. Because the UK is seen as a lobbyist for transatlantic ties, Russia also has a stake in a British exit from the EU. Like many others, Baunov sees the UK as ”the most pro-American EU country […] prone to listen to Eastern European countries’ concerns about Russia." This is why he thinks that Brexit will serve Russia's interest. Read Alexander Baunov’s article in English.

Let's chat about the EU-Georgia Association Agreement

Today the EU-Georgia Association Agreement fully enters into force. To mark this day, the East StratCom Task Force has produced an animation explaining the Agreement in the form of a mobile phone chat. It will be uploaded later today on the Facebook page of the European Union in Georgia.

Return to Stalinism?

Summer has come to Russia, and the current parliamentary assembly, elected in 2011, has been dissolved before the 18 September elections. The outgoing Duma this week passed a package of anti-terrorist and anti-extremist laws, labelled “Yarovaya’s package” after Duma deputy Irina Yarovaya.
Russian independent voices expressed deep concern across the board. Among them was leading critical media Meduza, which spoke of “some of the most repressive laws in post-Soviet history”. The new laws on “failure to report a crime”; “justifying terrorism on social media” and the law that obliges internet communication providers to cooperate with the national security bodies on deciphering encrypted communication have been singled out for criticism. For an overview of the package, read Meduza’s article in English.
Debates over antiterrorist legislation infringing on the freedoms of speech and assembly are not unique to Russia. However, there is an awareness in Russia of the government’s willingness to apply legislation on “extremism” as a means of silencing political opposition. This week, popular blogger Ilya Varlamov showed in numbers how Russian court rulings that limit freedom of speech have skyrocketed in the past years.
The pink colour shows number of court rulings handed down for ”extremist propaganda on the Internet”; deep red colour stands for rulings on grounds of ”extremist propaganda” outside the internet. (Source:
Varlamov’s text was entitled “1937 is back” with a reference to the most intense year of Stalin’s repressions and showed a photo of a handcuffed Kirov governor Nikita Belykh, who was arrested this week on charges of corruption. A key characteristic of Stalin’s repressions was the systematic persecution of government officials and members of the country’s political elite. (Image: Dmytro Zolotukhin on Twitter)
Like us on Facebook! The new EU vs Disinformation page brings you fun facts, interesting reads and engaging videos revealing manipulation and disinformation in the pro-Kremlin media. Like the Twitter account @EUvsDisinfo, the Facebook feed be will be both in English and in Russian. Click here to see the new page.

How pro-Kremlin disinformation portrays European leaders

Czech think tank Evropské hodnoty (European values) has presented a thorough analysis of the media coverage of individual European leaders in the Russian media. It covers over 59 million articles from more than 22,000 sources in the period between January 2014 and May 2016 and shows the change of Russian media behaviour at the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict.
The study concludes that Russian media focus more on leaders of particular European countries, rather than on the representatives of the EU. And that it chooses its favourite politicians based on how friendly they are towards the current regime: "The Kremlin disinformation campaign works very hard to portray the European leaders accordingly to their inclination to support Russia. The more favourable those personalities are to Vladimir Putin's regime, the stronger voice in the international community they have according to the Russian-speaking outlets," the authors write.
Read the study "How Russian Propaganda Portrays European Leaders".

Friday fun: Summer peak in Crimea

Tourism has reached its summer peak in Crimea, Alexey Chernyak, head of the Crimean parliamentary delegation for tourism has announced. He said that the number of tourists who chose the peninsula as their holiday destination has grown by 27% compared to last year. Crimean authorities also estimate that the total number of visitors might even reach 7 million this summer, which is 1.5 million more than in 2015.
Despite the alleged surge in popularity for the peninsula, potential visitors need not despair. As the Krim.realny portal reveals, the latest images demonstrate that one might still be able to find an empty sunbed or some room for a towel on the "overcrowded" beaches of Crimea.
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 Weekly Digest is based on the analysis of the EU East StratCom Task Force; opinions and judgements expressed do not represent official EU positions.
Copyright © 01/07/2016 European External Action Service. All rights reserved.

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