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New #DisinfoReview from the EEAS East StratCom Task Force
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Issue 42 - 4 October 2016

So many stories that you must not trust anything!

During the last week, pro-Kremlin media focused mainly on spreading disinformation about the MH17 tragedy; and once again, they used a notorious technique that needs to be highlighted over and over again.

“Unlike in Soviet times, disinformation from Moscow is primarily not selling Russia as an idea, or the Russian model as one to emulate. In addition, it is often not even seeking to be believed. Instead, it has as one aim undermining the notion of objective truth and reporting being possible at all,” writes Keir Giles in The Next Phase of Russian Information Warfare (http://bit.ly/2dBmouN). Similar words can be found in Peter Pomerantsev’s and Michael Weiss’s The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money (http://bit.ly/2d8bOf9).

How does this “undermining the notion of objective truth” work? It is in fact very easy - pro-Kremlin media spread as many different explanations of events as possible, so that it seems that even the only “explanation” that is backed by relevant facts is simply one of many different possibilities.

In the last Disinformation Digest, we showed you how pro-Kremlin outlets started spreading disinformation immediately after the MH17 disaster (http://eepurl.com/chQYq1), and we counted at least nine different versions spread by regime-loyal “media”. After the press conference of the Joint Investigative Team last week (http://bbc.in/2dmfMTe), the disinformation machine renewed its activity in this regard.

Thus, we heard from a new YouTube channel that the tragedy was in fact a special operation carried out by Ukraine and its Western supporters - all this only in order to discredit Russia (http://bit.ly/2dwTlte). In a heavily quoted disinformation article, RIA Novosti multiplied the statement of an “expert” claiming that the BUK that killed 298 people was fired from the territory controlled by Ukraine (http://bit.ly/2dmbQSP) - this disinformation also made it to English (http://bit.ly/2dtfigX) and Dutch media (http://bit.ly/2dcXFmd).

A Czech disinformation article commenting on a Russia Today video, which repeats some of these disinformation attempts, involuntarily summarizes the intended aim of all these activities by pro-Kremlin media: “It will never be possible to say who fired… The truth will never be known...” (http://bit.ly/2dkasQD)

We could see a similar technique being used also regarding the bombing of the humanitarian convoy in Syria. Also here, pro-Kremlin outlets try to push as many stories as possible, to divert the attention from the single explanation that is solidly proven - as did Pervyi Kanal’s show Odnako, accusing the US of the bombing (http://bit.ly/2diKAaK).

Crimea is like Kosovo

One more typical tool of the disinformation campaign - this time not a technique, but a repetitive argument.

“Crimea is the same as Kosovo” is a sentence that gets repeated in different variations many times in the outlets specialised in spreading disinformation. This time, it was the Czech website Parlamentni Listy repeating this claim (http://bit.ly/2czQovc).

Let us just repeat why this claim is wrong. For starters, no third country annexed Kosovo, which is now recognized as an independent country by a majority of the Euro-Atlantic countries.

Secondly and most importantly, in Kosovo there was a war with thousands of casualties and hundreds of thousands of refugees, which the Western countries stopped. There was no war in Ukraine nor any specific threat to Russian minorities until the Russian military aggression began. (Image: Marco Frieber on Flickr)

Conspiracies forever

Let us quote from The Menace of Unreality once more. “The aim of this new propaganda is not to convince or persuade, but to keep the viewer hooked and distracted, passive and paranoid, rather than agitated to action. Conspiracy theories are the perfect tool for this aim. They are all over Russian TV.”

And you will find a lot of conspiracies in the table, most of them from the Russian TV channels: “the CIA is planning an assassination of Vladimir Putin” (http://bit.ly/2cTsf14); “the Ukrainian army is using biological weapons” (http://bit.ly/2dD0sn6); “the US declared war on the whole of humanity” (http://bit.ly/2cVTkAR); and even “scientists have proved that parallell universes exist” (http://bit.ly/2dzyiGF), or “humankind was brought to Earth by aliens from the Belt of Orion” (http://bit.ly/2cVwgiW). (Image: REN TV on YouTube)

Download the FULL TABLE (.pdf) of disinformation pieces
collected for the Disinformation Review issue No 42

East StratCom Task Force
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Thank you for sending your reports. 
For new contributions, please e-mail jakub.kalensky@eeas.europa.eu
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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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