After a summer break from reporting on disinformation we are now back in business, and so are many of the regular disinformation mouthpieces.

The overwhelming majority of disinformation we have seen over the last two weeks is focused on that perennial target: Ukraine. We have seen several of the usual narratives: “Ukraine is not a state”, “Ukraine is abandoned by Europe”, “there is no Ukrainian independence”. But the most repeated piece of disinformation was the old favourite linking Nazis and Ukraine. So, the country was accused of being a neo-Nazi monster created by the West, as well as being occupied by Nazis who follow in the footsteps of Goebbels. There was no specific mention of the actual occupation of parts of Ukraine (see page 35 in the study).

Press repeat

German Foreign Minister Gabriel was also targeted by disinformation outlets, as he congratulated Ukraine on its independence day by using the words “Slava Ukraini” – meaning “Glory to Ukraine” – on Twitter. These words were quickly reported as a supposedly “well-known” Nazi slogan from the Second World War, in another case of inventive historical revisionism. In fact, the term Slava Ukraini has been used at least since 1919, and it became popular again in Ukraine after the 2013-2014 Maidan protests.

Ukraine was also presented as a victim of the “Evil West” in some outlets – another recurring disinformation theme. As we described thoroughly earlier this week, the infamous hacker group CyberBerkut (see page 39) claimed to have proof that Ukraine is merely a testing ground for secret US experiments. Of course, there was no proof presented of these alleged biological testing sites, a claim that we have seen several times before e.g here; and here.

Earlier this summer, the same story popped up in Armenia – as described in this report by the Union of Informed Citizens NGO. In a similar story, a Czech outlet claimed that an outbreak of measles in Ukraine was caused by US labs producing biological weapons.

Manipulation as a method

Both Georgian and Russian outlets published a supposed scoop this week – that the former chief of British intelligence service MI6 disclosed Western plans for Russia’s fragmentation in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

This was manipulation, indeed. Not the plan referred to, revealed in an interview which in fact never happened and was never published by the Guardian. But the manipulation of using a stooge website to trick us into thinking that we were reading a genuine Guardian article. It is a trick we have written about before here and here, and it can be a very effective way of spreading disinformation, since it is more likely to get picked up by real media if it parades as real media.

This time, the damage seemed relatively easily averted, since the Guardian quickly debunked the story. And yet, a full five (!) days later, the fake article still made its way to Russian state TV. It was Vladimir Solovyov, the host of one of Russia’s most popular political talk shows, who referred to the article, claiming: “some say it’s true, some say it’s not”. In a classic method of pro-Kremlin disinformation, he later suggested that it was almost impossible to know what the truth is nowadays.

But it’s not. You just have to look at the facts – and want to.

Disinformation cases reported in the previous week


related disinfo cases

28.08.2017
Facebook resource
Germany
02.09.2017
Facebook resource
Turkey, Germany, Syria
25.08.2017
rian.com.ua
Ukraine, US
25.08.2017
HispanTV
Ukraine, US
05.09.2017
svpressa.ru
Ukraine
26.08.2017
Russia Today (RT)
Ukraine, Germany
21.08.2017
svpressa.ru
Ukraine
31.08.2017
Vremya pokazhet @ Pervyi Kanal, 1:19:16
Ukraine
31.08.2017
Petr Tolstoy's "Vremya Pokazhet" - YouTube
Russia, Ukraine
27.08.2017
Rossia 24 - YouTube
Russia, Ukraine
20.08.2017
Ria Novosti
Ukraine
23.08.2017
Facebook resource
Turkey, Russia, Georgia
29.08.2017
Asaval Dasavali (printed newspaper)
Russia, US, Georgia
14.08.2017
Facebook resource
Moldova
17.08.2017
Sputnik Moldova - Russian
Moldova, Russia
22.08.2017
Sputnik Moldova - Russian
Moldova, Ukraine
01.09.2017
NTV Moldova
Moldova
29.08.2017
ac24.cz
Bulgaria, Russia
30.08.2017
ac24.cz
Africa
29.08.2017
czechfreepress.cz
North Korea, US
07.08.2017
Facebook resource
Moldova, Russia, US
22.08.2017
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
Russia, Syria
21.08.2017
amp.kp.ru
Russia, US
15.08.2017
kolokolrussia.ru
UK, Russia, US, Georgia
23.08.2017
ac24.cz
Israel, US
23.08.2017
zvedavec.org
Ukraine, US
21.08.2017
vlasteneckenoviny.cz
Czech Republic, Belgium
16.08.2017
Saqinform
UK, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia
29.08.2017
Interfax
Russia, US, Finland, Sweden
28.08.2017
Baltnews Latvia (old)
Latvia