Historical revisionism gets a modern spin as the pro-Kremlin media label the events of January 13, 1991 in Vilnius a “colour revolution”.

An otherwise mediocre mouthpiece of state-sponsored pro-Kremlin disinformation, “BaltNews” did something remarkable last November. In just one headline -“The first colour revolution in the USSR took place in Lithuania”- it managed to sum up the core tenets of pro-Kremlin disinformation.

The headline, followed by an “interview” with a former propaganda specialist in the Soviet army, indeed ticked all the propaganda boxes:

  • engaging in historical revisionism – check;
  • discrediting democratic movements by labelling them as orchestrated “colour revolutions” – check;
  • hammering the same old disinformation narratives year after year – check!

Thirty years ago, on January 13, 1991, thousands of Lithuanians gathered at the TV tower, the Radio and Television headquarters and the Parliament building in the capital, Vilnius, to take a stand against Soviet troops deployed to crush Lithuanian independence. The Freedom Defenders Day, as it is known now, was one of the key moments leading up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Three decades later, it is a major target of pro-Kremlin disinformation.

This year, pro-Kremlin outlets alleged that “American fascists” and “local collaborators” used the events of January 13, 1991 to destroy the USSR. Such claims seek to revise not only Lithuanian but also Russian history, ignoring the fact that thousands of Muscovites took to the streets in January 1991 to support Lithuanian independence.

A peaceful protester standing in front of a Soviet tank in Vilnius, January 1991

Baltic States in focus

According to pro-Kremlin media, the independence of the Baltic States is a historical nuisance or an American “plot” at best. This week we saw claims that the Baltic States receive instructions on how to react to key international events from the US state department via fax, that the US is pushing Lithuania to buy American gas and that Lithuania, guilty of strained relations with Russia, is not even an independent state!

One may be surprised, then, that Lithuania, along with Poland and Ukraine – which according to the pro-Kremlin media lack any kind of meaningful political agency – were accused of continuing their alleged active interference in Belarus. In the world of pro-Kremlin disinformation, logic and consistency are optional.

Colour Revolution in America

Unconstrained by facts, pro-Kremlin media uses the moniker of “colour revolution” every time it seeks to undermine democratic movements around the world. Usually, a “colour revolution” implies that malicious external forces – most frequently the US – are fuelling the popular protests. We have seen such claims in the cases of Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Hong Kong and Belarus.

This week, following the storming of the US Capitol building by an angry mob, Russian state-controlled TV turned to the familiar trope and tried to convince its domestic audiences that a colour revolution, orchestrated by the “Washington swamp”, took place in the US itself. Multiple pro-Kremlin outlets operating in Spanish, English and other languages relayed the message and claimed that the “deep state” orchestrated election fraud and lured the protesters to the Capitol building in order to impose a one-party system in the US and usher in an era of neo-liberal fascism. The disinformation concepts of “swamp” and “deep state” were not invented by pro-Kremlin media, nonetheless it shows a remarkable ability to appropriate and amplify them.

Anti-Semitism, never too far away from conspiracy theories and apocalyptic predictions, also proved appealing to pro-Kremlin outlets, which claimed that Zionists control both political and military leaderships of the US.

The events in Washington last week showed, once again, the real-life consequences of disinformation. For pro-Kremlin media it brought not only moments of glee, but also an opportunity to discredit democracy in America in the eyes of both domestic and international audiences, and reinforce disinformation attacks on Joe Biden, the president-elect of the United States.

Vaccination disinformation competing for attention

Busy covering global events through a lens of disinformation, pro-Kremlin media nonetheless found time to reinforce its narrative of “vaccine wars”. The West, it said, is against the Sputnik V vaccine as it is afraid of competition. The European Union was accused of refusing to buy the vaccine for political reasons, NATO allegedly aimed at containing Russia by discrediting the Russian vaccine and Ukraine was blamed for what pro-Kremlin media described as the planned destruction of its own people.

Yet despite the lies and vitriol spread by pro-Kremlin media, the vaccination against COVID-19 has already started across the EU, which is conducting talks with more companies to secure an even greater number of vaccines. Meanwhile Lithuanians are commemorating their victory against Soviet occupation and the next president of the United States will be inaugurated next week.


related disinfo cases

Date
Title
Outlets
Country
13.01.2021
  • News Front - Russian,
  • rusdozor.ru,
  • Seldon.News
Ukraine
12.01.2021
  • SouthFront - English
US
12.01.2021
  • Tsargrad TV
Moldova, Ukraine
12.01.2021
  • RT Arabic ,
  • dowwar.com
US
11.01.2021
  • observateurcontinental.fr,
  • reseauinternational.net
EU, France, US
11.01.2021
  • Baltnews Lithuania
USSR, US, Lithuania, Russia
11.01.2021
  • rubaltic.ru
US, Baltic states
11.01.2021
  • Rossia 24 - YouTube
US, Ukraine
10.01.2021
  • Sputnik Lithuania - Russian,
  • RT Russia,
  • lenta.ru,
  • 1prime.ru,
  • Izvestia,
  • regnum.ru,
  • vz.ru
China, Russia
09.01.2021
  • One World,
  • Oriental Review
US
09.01.2021
  • News Front - German
Russia
09.01.2021
  • Sputnik Spain,
  • RT Spanish
US
09.01.2021
  • Sputnik Czech
US
08.01.2021
  • Sputnik Czech,
  • Sputnik Czech
US
07.01.2021
  • Tsargrad TV
US
07.01.2021
  • Tsargrad TV
US, Russia
07.01.2021
  • SouthFront - English
US
06.01.2021
  • Ukrainskoe Dosie @ Ukraina.ru - YouTube
Ukraine, Russia
06.01.2021
  • SouthFront - English
US
06.01.2021
  • Sputnik Lithuania
Lithuania, Estonia, Baltic states, Latvia
06.01.2021
  • almarsad.co,
  • Al Minasa Press,
  • alshbaka.net,
  • RT Arabic ,
  • Arabnews 24,
  • arabsource.net,
  • daralakhbar.com,
  • dowwar.com,
  • eshraag.com,
  • essahra.net,
  • essahra.net,
  • Head Topics,
  • hiwaralssaea.com,
  • imlebanon.org,
  • invesmag.com,
  • iq.shafaqna.com,
  • kol-masr.com,
  • l0n.news,
  • l0n.news,
  • libyajeel.com,
  • libyanews.co,
  • mayadeeniraqya.com,
  • nabd.com,
  • nabd.com,
  • nabd.com,
  • New Hub,
  • almshd.com,
  • almshd.com,
  • newsformy.com,
  • newsformy.com,
  • raialyoum.com,
  • rtarab.com,
  • ru4arab.ru,
  • sada-ar.com,
  • Sahafaty,
  • shamra,
  • snb.sa,
  • syria.shafaqna.com,
  • tayyar.org,
  • Theworldnews.net,
  • wsn.news
UK, Ukraine, Russia
06.01.2021
  • Sputnik Poland
Vatican, Poland, US, Belarus, Lithuania
06.01.2021
  • Sputnik Poland
Poland, Belarus
06.01.2021
  • Ria Novosti,
  • RT Russia,
  • gazeta.ru,
  • RBC.ru,
  • sevastopol.su
UK, Ukraine, Russia
05.01.2021
  • novorosinform.org
EU, Italy, US, Russia
05.01.2021
  • Sputnik Lithuania - Russian
US, Lithuania, Russia
05.01.2021
  • RT Arabic ,
  • dowwar.com,
  • Khabar Masr
US, Russia
05.01.2021
  • rusvesna.su,
  • Kadara
Ukraine, Russia
05.01.2021
  • News Front - Hungarian,
Ukraine
05.01.2021
  • RT Arabic - YouTube,
  • RT Arabic
EU, US
05.01.2021
  • Al-Binaa,
  • alahednews.com.lb,
  • almarsad.co,
  • alshbaka.net,
  • alwehda.gov.sy,
  • ar.farsnews.ir,
  • iranpress.com,
  • RT Arabic ,
  • asharqalarabi.org.uk,
  • dotalkhaleej.com,
  • essahra.net,
  • Golantimes,
  • hadfnews.ps,
  • l0n.news,
  • libyajeel.com,
  • lomazoma.com,
  • masralyoum.net,
  • almshd.com,
  • news.alnaeem.tv,
  • newsformy.com,
  • sabaharabi.com,
  • sana.sy,
  • syria-24.com,
  • thawra,
  • youm7.com
EU, Syria
04.01.2021
  • novorosinform.org
France, US, Russia
04.01.2021
  • Geopolitica.ru - Italian,
  • Geopolitica.ru - English
US
04.01.2021
  • Geopolitica.ru - Italian,
  • Geopolitica.ru - English
Italy, US
04.01.2021
  • Geopolitica.ru - Italian,
  • Geopolitica.ru - English,
  • Geopolitica.ru - Italian,
  • Geopolitica.ru - English
US
04.01.2021
  • RT Germany
Syria, Germany
04.01.2021
  • RT Germany
Germany
04.01.2021
  • Sputnik Poland
EU, Poland, Belarus, Lithuania
04.01.2021
  • RT Germany
Germany, Ukraine, Russia
03.01.2021
  • News Front - Spanish
EU, US
03.01.2021
  • News Front - Spanish
EU, UK
02.01.2021
  • Sputnik Armenia - Russian
US, Russia
02.01.2021
  • Sputnik Abkhazia - Russian
Ukraine, Russia
01.01.2021
  • TASS - Russian,
Belarus
01.01.2021
  • RT English
US, Russia
31.12.2020
  • Sputnik Spain,
  • Sputnik Spain
US
30.12.2020
  • News Front - Russian
China, Ukraine, Russia
30.12.2020
  • News Front - Russian
EU, Latvia
29.12.2020
  • musavat.com
Azerbaijan
29.12.2020
  • Sputnik Georgia - Russian
EU, Russia
25.12.2020
  • Pervyi Kanal - YouTube
EU, Russia
24.12.2020
  • abrag.akwadon.com,
  • afaq.tv,
  • alabraj.org,
  • alliraqnews.com,
  • alshbaka.net,
  • RT Arabic ,
  • bawabaa.org,
  • burathanews.com,
  • eltakrer.com,
  • iraqakhbar.com,
  • kachaf.com,
  • kol-masr.com,
  • lomazoma.com,
  • mawazin.net,
  • nabd.com,
  • nafeza2world.com,
  • newsformy.com,
  • Sahafah 24,
  • sahafah24,
  • shamra,
  • Syria friends
Russia
23.12.2020
  • ytro.ru,
  • 360tv.ru,
  • Yandex.ru
EU, US, Russia
23.12.2020
  • politnavigator.net
Ukraine, Russia
23.12.2020
  • eadaily.com
Poland, Belarus, Russia
22.12.2020
  • alwatanonline.com,
  • Sputnik Arabic,
  • lomazoma.com,
  • newsformy.com,
  • pucnews.com,
  • sana.sy,
  • syria-24.com,
  • syriahomenews.com,
  • urdupoint.com,
  • urdupoint.com
EU, France, Sweden, Germany, Russia
21.12.2020
  • 24.ae,
  • 5lejnews.com,
  • abrag.akwadon.com,
  • abu-link.com,
  • addiyar.com,
  • al-hadath.com,
  • albidda.net,
  • aliwaa.com.lb,
  • almarsad.co,
  • almasryalyoum.com,
  • alsaa.net,
  • alshbaka.net,
  • alshbaka.net,
  • amad,
  • RT Arabic ,
  • ashariealjadid.com,
  • belbalady,
  • daaarb.com,
  • dostor.org,
  • dotalkhaleej.com,
  • ekhbary.com,
  • el-ressala.com,
  • elaosboa.com,
  • elaosboa.news,
  • elbalad.news,
  • elbalad140.com,
  • elgornal.net,
  • eltakrer.com,
  • emaratyah.ae,
  • eshraag.com,
  • extranews.tv,
  • fatehgaza.com,
  • fatehgaza.net,
  • fehobmasr.com,
  • fenks.co,
  • gulf-one.com,
  • gulfeyes.net,
  • hamrinnews.net,
  • hawaalsham.com,
  • Head Topics,
  • Khabaralyoum,
  • Khabar Masr,
  • Khabar Masr,
  • Khabar Masr,
  • kol-masr.com,
  • kolalarab.net,
  • ksa24.com,
  • lialynews.com,
  • libyanews.co,
  • masrawyfm.com,
  • mawteni48.com,
  • Misr Alan,
  • misrelgdeda.com,
  • misry4news.com,
  • mutalee.com,
  • mwatan.news,
  • nabd.com,
  • nabd.com,
  • nabd.com,
  • nabd.com,
  • nabd.com,
  • nafeza2world.com,
  • news.miralnews.com,
  • newsformy.com,
  • albaathmedia.sy,
  • nile.eg,
  • najah.edu,
  • rtarab.com,
  • ru4arab.ru,
  • saadaonline.net,
  • sahafaa.net,
  • sahafahnet.com,
  • Sahafaty,
  • Sahafaty,
  • shorouknews.com,
  • shuaanews.com,
  • syriafiles.net,
  • Syria friends,
  • watira.com,
  • yemen-now.net,
  • yemenscope.com
Norway, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, US, Russia
21.12.2020
  • almanar.com.lb,
  • alshbaka.net,
  • alwafd,
  • Sputnik Arabic,
  • Sputnik Arabic,
  • iraqnews-in.com,
  • lebanon.shafaqna.com,
  • lomazoma.com,
  • elnel-news.com,
  • newsformy.com,
  • newsformy.com,
  • urdupoint.com,
  • urdupoint.com,
  • urdupoint.com,
  • urdupoint.com,
  • urdupoint.com,
  • urdupoint.com
Russia
21.12.2020
  • News Front - Russian
Ukraine, Russia
20.12.2020
  • Baltnews Lithuania
US, Lithuania
19.12.2020
  • Sputnik Greece
Russia
19.12.2020
  • Ritm Evrazii
Ukraine
17.12.2020
  • Sputnik Lithuania - Russian,
  • Sputnik Lithuania
Lithuania, Russia
17.12.2020
  • Sputnik Italia
Germany, Russia
17.12.2020
  • oroszhirek.hu
Russia
11.12.2020
  • News Front - Bulgarian
Russia
09.12.2020
  • RT France - YouTube,
  • RT France - Twitter,
  • Facebook resource,
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
France, Germany, Russia
09.12.2020
  • RT France - YouTube,
  • RT France - Facebook,
  • RT France - Twitter,
  • Embassy of the Russian Federation in France
Ukraine, Russia
09.12.2020
  • News Front - Bulgarian
Ukraine
09.12.2020
  • News Front - Hungarian
US, Ukraine
07.12.2020
  • musavat.com
France
07.12.2020
  • yap.org.az
Azerbaijan, Turkey, Ukraine
07.12.2020
  • News Front - Hungarian
US
05.12.2020
  • News Front - Spanish,
  • News Front - Russian,
  • News Front - English,
  • News Front - German,
  • News Front - Bulgarian
EU, Belarus
02.12.2020
  • musavat.com
Azerbaijan, US
02.12.2020
  • Sputnik Azerbaijan
US
01.12.2020
  • Polnyi contact - Radio Vesti
Iran, Belarus
21.11.2020
  • Geopolitica.ru - Italian,
  • Geopolitica.ru - English
13.11.2020
  • Baltnews Lithuania
Lithuania
07.01.2020
  • Moskovskij Komsomolets
Moldova