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New #DisinfoReview from the EEAS East StratCom Task Force
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Issue 51 - 13 December 2016

Beware of NGOs, they are evil

 
Throughout the last period, we have seen pro-Kremlin outlets focusing on defaming various humanitarian NGOs, as well as humanitarian work done by Western governments.
 
This all started already in late November when Russia Today (now simply “RT”) attacked the Syrian Civil Defence, a group of 3,000 volunteers known under the name White Helmets (http://theatln.tc/2djwa6C). Based on one Mannequin Challenge video (the latest viral video craze http://bit.ly/2fT2VLo), for which the organization has already apologized (http://cnn.it/2gtZ07j), Russia Today spreads the message that all White Helmets videos are faked (http://bit.ly/2f7W5Bu) - without supporting this accusation with a single piece of evidence.
 
A Czech outlet specialized in spreading pro-Kremlin disinformation continued by attacking the Czech NGO People in Need. According to Protiproud (http://bit.ly/2gs3zhL), this organization only performs intelligence activities and serves the interests of the National Endowment of Democracy and George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. Again without any evidence for this accusation.
 
Then the NTV channel (http://bit.ly/2gMHNG8) attacked Amnesty International, accusing it of having terrorist links - because the organization had in the past advocated on behalf of the Chechen Akhmed Chatayev. After he was arrested in Ukraine in 2010, the NGO called on the Ukrainian parliament not to extradite Chatayev to Russia, as he would be at risk of “torture and ill-treatment” (http://bit.ly/2gD92V3). Akhmed Chatayev was later one of the people involved in the Istanbul terror attack in June 2016.
Broadening the humanitarian theme, the Russian Ministry of Defence then accused the UK government of not providing any humanitarian aid (“not a single gram of flour”) to civilians in Aleppo. “It seems that the UK government has lost an objective view of what is happening in Syria, including Aleppo, due to Russophobia,” said the MoD spokesman, as quoted by Russia Today: http://bit.ly/2htqDKZ. Both the Ministry and the TV channel failed to mention that the UK is in fact one of the biggest international donors and has spent over 2 billion pounds on humanitarian aid in Syria (http://bit.ly/2hp9ORV). They also omitted to mention that, if the aid was not reaching Aleppo, it might have been caused by the fact that Russia vetoed the proposal in October to end aerial bombardments in order to secure humanitarian aid to Aleppo (http://bit.ly/1O5yESF).
 
This effort continued on an American pro-Kremlin site. Zerohedge.com published its “investigation” showing that ten NGOs (i.a. MOAS, Médecins Sans Frontières, Save the Children) are smuggling immigrants into Europe on an industrial scale (http://bit.ly/2fWFm4K), and that they do it with the full consent of the Italian and European authorities. Of course, the article contains no evidence for these accusations. This conspiracy was soon translated into Czech disinformation outlets (e.g. http://bit.ly/2gzTkIh).
 
On Sunday, we saw the culmination of this campaign against Western humanitarian support in Voskresnoye Vremya on Russia’s Pervyi Kanal TV channel. The headline says it all: “Nests of Spies in Hotspots: Under the Disguise of Volunteers, Secret Agents Rule in Donbas and Syria” (http://bit.ly/2gsfPM5). According to Pervyi Kanal, the White Helmets help terrorists, and People in Need help people only selectively in order to provoke public distress. Apparently, the Czech NGO is also looking for possible agents to work for Western and Ukrainian secret services.
 
People in Need warned about this disinformation campaign already a couple of days ago, mentioning yet another Russian TV channel involved: http://bit.ly/2ggYQje. Unfortunately, NGOs and human right activists operating in Russia itself have also become a frequent target of similar disinformation attacks (see e.g.  http://bit.ly/2hFpGiG).

Visa genocide!


The recent period also involved multiple pieces of disinformation regarding the visa liberalisation process for Ukraine. Russian outlet Lenta.ru invented the story that Ukraine has proposed that it accepts Middle Eastern migrants in exchange for visa-free travel into the EU (http://bit.ly/2hb0JMB). This piece of disinformation was promptly translated e.g. into Czech (http://bit.ly/2heihrw).
 
Other outlets specialized in spreading disinformation, such as Sputnik (http://bit.ly/2gi83o7), focused on scaring Europeans, and multiplied the many times refuted (see e.g. http://bit.ly/2hrUtDG) disinformation that Ukraine is full of Nazis who would invade the EU – also disregarding the fact that the visa will last for 90 days only.
 
And then there is the astonishing new term, “visa genocide”. In case you are not familiar with it, this is apparently what the EU applies to Russian citizens in Crimea, at least according to Russia Today (http://bit.ly/2giBFBC). Detailed debunking of this claim was brought by Polygraph (http://bit.ly/2gl1ea2), one of the new initiatives countering fake news we informed you about last week (http://bit.ly/2hg87Jc).

We don’t want spheres of influence. Or actually, we do

 
Once again, the major Russian talk shows presented the eternal claim that whatever happens in the West, it is usually a clear sign of Russophobia.
 
Thus, we learned from Vladimir Solovyov that Angela Merkel has a complex of an East German woman, and that she and her party spread anti-Russian hysteria (http://bit.ly/2hiw8wI; you will find the precise time-codes of the quotes in the full PDF table again). Solovyov didn't mention that the recent statements about destabilizing propaganda or cyberattacks from Russia against Germany were made not only by Angela Merkel, but also by the head of the German secret service (http://reut.rs/2hrO1fL).
 
The pathological Russophobia of the EU and in particular the Baltic States will inevitably lead to an end of these two blocks, so we were told in another talk show, Vremya Pokazhet (http://bit.ly/2hd5c40). Here we could also hear that the West deceived Russia in the 1990’s (http://bit.ly/2hd9Izi) - although the details of precisely how are sketchy.
 
And one final quote from Vladimir Solovyov’s show. There is nothing wrong with “spheres of influence”, and Russia is going to prove it. Let us remind the author of this statement about one sentence from a document signed by Russia: “NATO and Russia will seek the widest possible cooperation among participating States of the OSCE with the aim of creating in Europe a common space of security and stability, without dividing lines or spheres of influence limiting the sovereignty of any state” (http://bit.ly/1B9ft2s). (Image: Pervyi Kanal on Youtube)
Download the FULL TABLE (.pdf) of disinformation pieces
collected for the Disinformation Review issue No 51

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.
Copyright © 2016 European External Action Service, All rights reserved.

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