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New #DisinfoReview from the EU East StratCom Task Force
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27 June 2019

*TRENDS OF THE WEEK*

Artificial Ventilation of MH17 Lies


What do you do when your disinformation campaign is running both out of time and oxygen?

You start artificial respiration.

As we head toward the trial of four suspects for downing MH17 and murdering all 298 people on board, set to start in March next year, there is increasingly less room for the Kremlin's disinformation campaign to mislead audiences about Russia’s responsibility for the tragedy.

Yet we can see that pro-Kremlin actors are persistently trying to use every opportunity to keep disinformation high on the agenda, promoting its lies with the help of social media channels.

The latest round of disinformation, after the Dutch-led international investigation team announced that the suspects will be prosecuted, has focused on recycling old claims how “all the evidence points to Russia’s non-involvement”, about the “information dumps designed” to accuse Russia, and that the missile could have been fired only from an area controlled by Ukraine. All these disinformation messages were already debunked four years ago – see the respective links.

 

Disinformation agenda on social media

Artificially  boosted or not, pro-Kremlin sources seem to be successful in their disinformation promotion task. Let’s take a step back and see how they have performed during the past year.

Data from Buzzsumo shows that, altogether, 12,759 articles on MH17 were publicly posted on social media between June 2018 and June 2019, gathering 1.6 million engagements on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.  

Of the top 30 most engaging domains covering MH17 over the given period, five pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets appear on the list: RT in English, Russian and German, news agency RIA Novosti, and Sputnik in English.

Russia Today (RT.com) is the fifth most engaging outlet on social media (to compare: BBC is the second, The Daily Beast is the first).

Next target: Georgia

Keep your oxygen mask on – there was also another disinformation frontline opened this week. The protests in Georgia against a Russian MP who took the Georgian Parliament Speaker’s seat during an annual meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy triggered an angry reaction from the Kremlin, coupled with an aggressive disinformation campaign.

It reactivated some of the most repeated messages targeting Georgia and its European integration, aiming to silence any kind of criticism towards Russia, which occupies one fifth of the country’s territory after the 2008 war: it brought back the false claims of Georgian snipers behind Maidan and “forces” conspiring both in Ukraine and Georgia to organise colour revolutions, Soros as an “anti-Christ” bringing chaos to the post-Soviet space, conspiracies of the CIA aggressively promoting gay pride to take over Georgian resources, and the US preparing a “massive group of protesters” to capture the Georgian state.
 

Now, take a deep breath of fresh air and have a look at all the disinformation cases exposed this week, going beyond targeting the MH17 and Georgia. We offer only one spoiler: No, Sweden is not teaching immigrants to have sex with Swedish women.  
 
Click here for the FULL COLLECTION of recent stories repeating disinformation.
 

*LATEST ANALYSES*

Figure of the Week: 11 120 000

Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, announced on Twitter that the Spanish RT website received 11 120 000 unique visitors in May. But what are the 11 120 000 people reading on actualidad.rt.com? The EUvsDisinfo database has some rather intriguing answers.

Read more

The Strange Similarities in Narratives in the Cases of Strache and Skripal

As a month has passed since the beginning of the scandal involving former vice-chancellor of Austria Heinz-Christian Strache, it’s time to have a look at the narratives used by pro-Kremlin outlets to describe the events.

Read more

Pro-Kremlin News Front Praising Hitler


News Front, a pro-Kremlin site, based on Crimea, is praising Adolf Hitler, questioning the holocaust and expressing sympathy with Nazi attacks on the LGBTQ community in Germany in the 30s.
Read more

*LAST, BUT NOT LEAST*

“Trolls in Your Feed”


“Trolls in Your Feed” is the name of a digital educational publication from the Danish Institute for International Studies. The publication is designed to target Danish high school students and is funded by Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Read more
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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 disinforeview@euvsdisinfo.eu.
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