As world leaders gathered in Poland to commemorate 80 years since the start of World War II, Russian officials were outraged that they were not invited.

The reason the Russians weren’t invited hasn’t changed since 2014 – as the Poles made clear, it’s thanks to the Kremlin’s habit of arriving uninvited in various countries. Of course, instead of reflecting critically on Russia’s aggressive stance towards its neighbours and why this might discourage celebratory invitations, Kremlin officials predictably directed their ire at Poland. In what seemed like an orchestrated and shameless attempt at historical revisionism, Poland was incriminated by pro-Kremlin media and politicians, accused of provoking Germany to attack in 1939 and being the main instigator of WWII. While it may be a high-profile attempt to portray Russia’s role in World War II as unaggressive, it’s a historical fact that the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact directly resulted in German and Soviet military aggression against Poland in September 1939, ultimately leading to its full occupation by Germany and the USSR.

Then there was some pro-Kremlin disinformation that added an extra layer to narratives surrounding WWII, for example claiming that it had been ordered by the US in order to defeat Britain, that Hitler was an Anglophile, and that London secretly supported the consolidation of the German Army. The same article stated that while Poland was doomed to become the subject of bargaining between Berlin and London, London was full of contradictions as it also supported Poland. As a result, the US used this geopolitical situation to provoke a clash between European powers.

Continuing the theme of historical revisionism, the Kremlin went fully ballistic on social media as well:

Those thought-provoking tweets received a fair amount of attention. Out of the 97 replies to the “undemocratic Baltics” tweet, 92 oppose the statement with irony or direct negation. The next Russian tweet was even more unpopular, receiving 183 replies with 180 of them being negative, ironic or vulgar. Those replies themselves also received reactions, 797 and 1711 respectively.

Considering that this year the Russian MFA received on average 9 replies per tweet, this brazen accusation of the Baltics stands out for the strength of the response. Same goes for the 21 tweets @MFA_Russia dedicated to WWII that scored on average 51 replies – far beyond average performance.

In terms of successful responses, the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs fared rather better, getting 7 times more retweets (275 compared to 40) and 10 times more likes (652 compared to 63) than the Russians. Tweets by Rinkevics and LT MFA Stratcom together had 4 times more retweets and 6 times more likes than @MFA_Russia’s posts. In other words, there was overwhelming support for all the replies that aimed to set the record straight.

Probably the most thorough answer to the Russian MFA came from Polygraph. The article covered many comments and also a lot of reports. For example, in the 2019 Freedom in the World report, the Baltics received an excellent score, with 87 to 94 points out of 100. Russia got 20 out of 100.

In the Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation’s Transformation Index, which evaluates successes and setbacks on the path toward democratization of 129 countries, all the Baltic States were in top ten. Russia wasn’t even close, at only 70th place.

In the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, the Baltics did better than both France and the UK, which were respectively in 32nd and 33rd place. Russia came in at 149 out of 180.

Last but not least, according to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index, Latvia was 41st, Lithuania 38th, and Estonia 18th out of 180 countries. And you guessed it, Russia once again didn’t do very well with 138th place.

Envy towards Belarus

But none of these facts bother the pro-Kremlin disinformers. With a straight face, they claim that decaying Latvia and Lithuania envy the close relationship that Belarus has with Russia. In reality, only 5% of Lithuanians and 3% of Latvians don’t favour the EU, while the per capita GDP of the Baltics is bigger than that of Russia’s.

Since a pro-Kremlin disinfo campaign needs to have multiple outlets, languages, and angles, the good old theme of European values was brought up. We saw claims that Russia is more European than France, that Moscow defends European traditions, and that multiculturalism is an attack against European heritage. The message is topped off with a claim that traditionalists and Eurosceptics look to Russia with hope and take Vladimir Putin as their Messiah. Ahem…

It’s somehow fitting to end with the protests in Moscow that, according to the pro-Kremlin media, are happening only because, after the Yellow Vests and Hong Kong, they have become fashionable: “When people really want to protest, they do it like the football fans in 2002 – with violence. Or like in the 1991. And, for example, the Soviet people protested in silence.”

And that last comparison shows that while everything has changed, nothing has changed. All the protesters want is the end of abuse of power and free and fair elections.

US ordered the start of the World War II to defeat Britain
Additional details: The World War II was ordered by the US in order to defeat Britain. Hitler was an Anglophile and London secretly supported the consolidation of German Army. One day Poland was doomed to become the subject of bargaining between Berlin and London. But London was full of contradictions; it supported Poland and the US used the geopolitical situation to provoke a clash between the European forces.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Tsargrad TV
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory, no evidence given. This is one of the pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the WWII.

It was Nazi Germany who attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, which marked the beginning of the WWII. A few weeks later Soviet troops entering Polish territory on September 17.

Although the war began with Nazi Germany's attack on Poland in September 1939, the US did not enter the war until after the Japanese bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.

Keywords: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, USSR, WWII, Conspiracy
Countries: US, Poland, UK, USSR
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Hong Kong protests: US government censors Twitter and Facebook views that are critical of dominant Western narratives
Additional details: The US government has compelled Twitter and Facebook to take down pages and accounts that allegedly “spread disinformation” about current protests in Hong Kong in order to censor views that are critical of dominant Western narratives about these protests.

Beginning in 2016, Western governments used allegations about “state-induced disinformation campaigns” and imaginary “Russian interference” in order to discredit opinions that question Western narratives as “threats to liberal democratic values”. Social media companies were pressured by the US and other Western governments to censor critical views and preserve the West’s media monopoly. This strategy, first applied to Russia, is now being applied to China and the Hong Kong protests.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that accusations by Western governments about pro-Kremlin and pro-Beijing disinformation campaigns [or other state-sponsored disinformation activities] are an instrument to censor opinions that are critical of dominant Western narratives. The article also uses a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that social media companies are controlled by the US government, and therefore censor any message which is not in line with dominant Western narratives.

YouTube's decision to close 210 channels that were uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong came after an investigation proved that these channels were part of a coordinated influence campaign against pro-democracy protests made by the Chinese government. Twitter and Facebook have also taken steps to block what they described as a state-backed Chinese misinformation campaign.

Pro-Kremlin disinformation and Russian-sponsored web-based influence campaigns are not imaginary problems used to justify censorship, but are issues of genuine concern for many governments around the world, including in Europe and North America.

Keywords: Censorship, Conspiracy
Countries: Hong Kong, Russia, US, China
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After the Maidan, Crimea was supposed to become a NATO or US naval base
Additional details: Americans had stirred up the colour revolution in Ukraine. After the victory of the Maidan, Crimea was supposed to become either a NATO or an American naval base.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Armenia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Euromaidan  and encircled Russia.

Euromaidan was a result of the Ukrainian people's frustration with former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. More cases on this topic here.

The alleged encroachments of NATO countries on the Ukrainian peninsula are among the most common disinformation narratives, to justify the illegal annexation of Crimea.

The NATO expansion is also a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative. NATO does not "expand" in the imperialistic sense described by the Kremlin leadership and Russian state media, but instead considers the applications of candidate countries that want to join the defensive alliance of their own national will. NATO enlargement is not directed against Russia.

The claim that NATO was planning to base ships and missiles in Crimea is fiction. The idea has never been proposed, suggested or discussed within NATO. In the Statement by the North Atlantic Council on Crimea on 18 March 2019, NATO condemned Russia's ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea, and expressed concern by Russia's efforts and stated plans for a further military build-up in the Black Sea region.

Keywords: Encircling Russia, NATO, Euromaidan, Crimea
Countries: US, Ukraine
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Ukraine does not pay fees to the CIS and is in no hurry to leave the Commonwealth
Additional details: Since 2014, Ukraine has not paid contributions to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and does not have a representative there, but at the same time retains a number of agreements and participates in the work of industry cooperation bodies.

Representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry declared that the debt of Ukraine to the CIS exceeds 300 million rubles. Kyiv has not yet decided whether to repay the debt.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: ukraina.ru/exclusive/20190807/1024547344.html
Disinforming outlet(s): Ukraina.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In the legal sense, Ukraine is not a member state of the community, since  it did not sign the CIS Statute in 1993, but has the status of a founding state and a CIS participant state. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denied the statement of debt.

In February 2019, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Belarus, Igor Kizim, announced that Ukraine had completed the process of withdrawing from the CIS coordinating bodies and was working to end its participation in agreements concluded within the Commonwealth.

Keywords: Ukraine, CIS
Countries: CIS, Ukraine
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Macron: Putin is leading a successful strategy in Russia
Additional details: According to French President Emmanuel Macron, the world order needs to change as Western domination is declining and new powers such as Russia and China are rising. There are new forces in the world emerging and progressing, and we underestimated their capabilities such as China and the Russian strategy led successfully by Putin.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: sptnkne.ws/98PV
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Arabic
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Clear misrepresentation of quotes made by the French President during the annual French ambassadors' conference.

According to the official speech published by the Élysée Palace on its website, Macron clearly stated that “The international order is shaken in an unprecedented way, …, We are probably experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world”, adding “China is in the forefront but also the Russian strategy has been led, it must be said, in recent years with more success... and India is emerging”.

L'ordre international est bousculé de manière inédite … Nous sommes sans doute en train de vivre la fin de l'hégémonie occidentale sur le monde.

La Chine au premier rang mais également la stratégie russe menée, il faut bien le dire, depuis quelques années avec plus de succès... et l'Inde qui émerge.

Therefore, the French President has never stated a need to change the current international order but merely said that it is shaken. In addition, Macron never praised Russian President Vladimir Putin in his speech.

This is not the first time that misquotes feature in the Kremlin backed media, especially related to Russia's involvement in other countries or to its neighbours.

Keywords: Emmanuel Macron, Russian superiority, Vladimir Putin
Countries: Russia, China, France
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Ukrainian children learn how to make war in the Baltic States
Additional details: The Lithuanian Rifle Union teaches guerrilla warfare to children of Ukrainian soldiers.

In the Baltic states children are being prepared for war, as if to replace their fathers. It’s not normal. And the authorities of the Baltic countries and Ukraine continue to call Russia the aggressor.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Tsargrad, Russkaya vesna
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative portraying Russia as being encircled by enemies.

Established in 1919, the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union is a state-supported volunteer paramilitary public organization, with over 11,000 members. It seeks to develop self-confident, creative, motivated and disciplined citizens of the Republic of Lithuania ready to defend their homeland and help others in case of need.

The organisation traditionally hosts education and cultural summer camps for young people from different countries. In August 2019, such a camp was held for Ukrainian and Lithuanian children. 10 children came from the Luhansk region, another 20 were children of the soldiers from the 30th Brigade of the Ukrainian army, according to the press release. The camp was not preparing children for war. Rather they engaged in educational activities, trips to major cities of Lithuania, visited adventure and amusement parks.

See more cases about the alleged militarism of the Baltic States. 

Keywords: Ukraine, children, War preparation, Baltic states
Countries: Ukraine, Lithuania
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Presidential elections in Abkhazia were democratic, as confirmed by observers
Additional details: Observers from Germany and Austria rated the Presidential elections in Abkhazia as democratic. There had been no pressure and no major mistakes had been discovered. The elections complied with European norms.

 

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutschland
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative attempting to portray Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent and democratic regions.

In fact, the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are occupied by Russia. Russia has maintained troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia since the 2008 war. Many international organisations condemned the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, see e.g. the CSCE statement and the European Parliament's declaration.

The Parlamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a statement that the so-called ''presidential elections'' in the Georgian region of Abkhazia on 25 August 2019 were neither legal nor legitimate.

The government in Tbilisi described them as "another illegal action".

Individual observers from Germany and Austria decided themselves to arrive in Abkhazia and make public comments on the presidential elections there. Thus, their assessment of the ''elections'', as quoted by Sputnik, are their personal opinions, which do not reflect the official position of the German or Austrian governments. The German Embassy in Tbilisi stated that Germany supports the territorial integrity of Georgia.

Only a handful of countries have recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which make up around 20 percent of Georgian territory, and Moscow’s backing of the regions has drawn broad international condemnation.

Keywords: Abkhazia, Occupation, Manipulated elections/referendum
Countries: Austria, Germany, Georgia
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German observers assessed elections in Abkhazia as democratic
Additional details: Observers from Germany and Austria said the Abkhazian Presidential elections were free and fair. No significant violations were observed.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Abkhazia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative attempting to portray Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent and democratic regions. See previous disinformation case that the members of the European Parliament will observe elections in Abkhazia. 

In fact, Russia continues illegal military presence, and increasing military exercises and infrastructure reinforcements in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated that  the so-called ‘presidential elections’ in the Georgian region of Abkhazia on 25 August 2019 were not legal or legitimate.

The government in Tbilisi described the "Presidential election" in Abkhazia that took place on Sunday as "another illegal action". Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili called the election "a sham".

Individual observers from Germany and Austria decided themselves to arrive in Abkhazia and make public comments on the presidential elections there. Thus, these are their personal opinions, which do not reflect the official position of the German or Austrian governments. The German Embassy in Tbilisi stated that Germany supports the territorial integrity of Georgia.

Only a handful of countries have recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which make up around 20 percent of Georgian territory, and Moscow’s backing of the regions has drawn broad international condemnation.

Keywords: Abkhazia, Elections
Countries: Germany, Georgia
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The Minsk agreements are stalled because of Kyiv, the issue of the Crimea is closed
Additional details: It is completely out of place to say that progress is needed in the settlement of Donbas, or the return of Crimea. The Minsk agreements are stalled because of Kyiv, but the Crimea issue does not exist at all. It is closed.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Armenia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Minsk agreements, portraying Ukraine as the only violator of the cease-fire.

In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of EU sanctions on Russia to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, acknowledging Russia's responsibility to uphold the agreements. The EU has condemned systematic restrictions to the freedom of movement of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), by Russia-backed armed formations in southern Donetsk and non-government-controlled areas along the Russian border. "Restrictions of the SMM’s access continued, including at a checkpoint near Kreminets, where members of the armed formations behaved aggressively towards the Mission".

According to the reports by the OSCE Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, there are violations of the Minsk agreement on both sides of the conflict. The analysis of the Atlantic Council shows that the majority of violations can be attributed to Russia-backed armed formations.

Regarding Crimea, on the fifth anniversary of its annexation by Russia, the EU reiterated its position of non-recognition of illegal annexation and reaffirmed that it continues to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity. "Today we are further underlining our European unity and commitment to keep Crimea high on our collective agenda. We will continue to implement our non-recognition policy of the illegal annexation. We restate our firm belief that Crimea is Ukraine'', High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said.

Keywords: Minsk agreements, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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Kyiv greets Netanyahu with the slogan of Nazi collaborators
Additional details: During his official visit to Kyiv, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was greeted by the exclamation: "Glory to Ukraine!" The slogan was popularized by Ukrainian Nazi collaborators and is now an official greeting in Ukraine.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT (rt.com)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative alleging widespread Nazi sympathies among the Ukrainian people. See more cases on the "Glory to Ukraine" greeting here.

"Glory to Ukraine" far predates the Second World War and the Ukrainian nationalist movement of that period. In fact, the greeting likely originated in late 19th-century Kharkiv -- a major industrial city in the country's east -- and was later popularized by the short-lived Kholodnyy Yar Republic (1919-22) in central Ukraine.

The story thus focuses on one of the multiple historical uses of the phrase to link present-day Ukrainian leadership to Nazi collaborators. As one Ukrainian historian notes: "During the Euromaidan, this slogan basically lost its particular connection to the OUN [Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists] and became one of the symbols of the pro-European protests."

Keywords: Volodymyr Zelensky, Benjamin Netanyahu, Nazi/Fascist
Countries: Israel, Ukraine
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If Georgia joins the EU, it will lose 75% of its sovereignty and won't benefit economically
Additional details: Media and political elites propagate Georgia's accession to the EU. If Georgia joins the EU, it will lose 75% of its sovereignty and will remain independent only in 25%. Moreover, it won't benefit economically. Therefore, Georgia cannot join the EU.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Tvm.ge
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that EU member states lose their sovereignty to the EU, consistent with another narrative about undemocratic EU.

Georgia is a sovereign state recognized by the international community. The decision to join the EU is a sovereign one, made both by the candidate country and EU members. All candidate countries must fulfill the Copenhagen criteria, ie. political, economic, administrative and institutional conditions to join.

The recent study by Bertelsmann Stiftung notes that the Single Market for European countries provides higher welfare, higher productivity, and lower markups to all its members.

For instance, the Baltic States, which are often targeted by the same disinformation narrative, saw significant economic growth after joining the EU. After their accession to the European Union in 2004, till 2015 the Baltic countries’ GDP expanded at a record level. After 2004, all three Baltic countries have significantly reduced their level of unemployment.

See similar disinformation cases here, here and here.

Keywords: economy, Sovereignty, Economic difficulties
Countries: EU, Georgia
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YouTube – like Facebook and Twitter – aims to censor pro-Chinese views on the protests in Hong Kong
Additional details: YouTube – like Facebook and Twitter – aims to censor pro-Chinese views on the protests in Hong Kong. This is why YouTube has recently disabled 210 channels which publish “inadequate” views of such protests. The three social media companies seek to censor content which is supportive of Russia, China, Syria, Iran, Venezuela and other countries considered unfriendly by the US.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming Western media and social networks censor content which is supportive of  Russia, China, Syria and other governments considered unfriendly by the US, or critical of dominant Western narratives.

YouTube’s decision to take down 210 channels spreading disinformation came after the Google-owned service disclosed that channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the Hong Kong protests and appeared to be part of a coordinated influence campaign backed by the Chinese government.

According to Shane Huntley of Google’s security threat analysis group, as quoted by The Guardian, this discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter had already uncovered more than 900 accounts originating from the People’s Republic of China that were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong,” the company said, and an additional network of 200,000 accounts that were part of a broader spam campaign. Facebook subsequently said it found seven pages, three groups, and five accounts it believed were involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” out of China focused on Hong Kong. More than 15,000 accounts followed at least one of the pages, and about 2,200 joined one of the groups.

 

Keywords: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Censorship
Countries: Hong Kong, Russia, US, China
More
Ukraine will either be part of Russian civilization, or a decaying anti-Russia emanating terrorist threats
Additional details: Whatever policies Volodymyr Zelenskyy undertakes, Russia needs a serious comprehensive program of returning Ukraine, or Little Russia, into the space of Russian civilization. Otherwise, Ukraine will turn not only into a degrading, decaying country but a real anti-Russia full of Russophobia, a source of constant terrorist threat for both Russia and Belarus.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Vmeste s Rossiyey
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message presents a classic false dichotomy, as well as speculation without evidence, to misrepresent an issue. The claim is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin messaging about disintegrating Ukraine, claiming that the country is resigned to a bleak future and imminent collapse without Russia's control.

This message also contains typical claims about Ukraine being 'anti-Russian' and Russophobic. The term 'Little Russia' is derogatory and derives from imperial Russian and Russian irredentist ideology that is a favoured pro-Kremlin narrative aimed at weakening the national identity of Ukrainians and undermining Ukraine's sovereignty.

The European Union continues to support Ukraine, its territorial integrity, and sovereignty against Russian aggression. For similar cases, see here, here, and here.

Keywords: Volodymyr Zelensky, Anti-Russian, Russian superiority, Ukrainian disintegration, Russian world
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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Decaying Latvia and Lithuania envy Belarus its strategic relations with Russia
Additional details: At present Belarus and Russia actively work on a joint strategy for closer integration. Belarus is the closest Russian ally and its strategic partner. Any European state can envy this, particularly decaying and begging Lithuania and Latvia. However, even if they wholeheartedly wanted to join the Union State of Belarus and Russia, the EU would not support this idea. Hence, the Baltic states have to keep dying.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Podneprovie-info
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about socio-economic degradation of the Baltic states in the EU.

There is a public consensus in the Baltic States on the benefits of EU membership. 71% of Lithuanians and 54% of Latvians believe that EU membership is a good thing for their countries, whereas 5% and 3% of these countries' populations think the opposite, the European Parliament’s Spring 2019 Eurobarometer shows.

Latest Worldbank data shows that GDP per capita, PPP in current international $ in Belarus and Russia stand at 20,000 and 27,100. The figures amount to 28,400 and 33,300 in Latvia and Lithuania, respectively.

See earlier disinformation cases alleging that Latvia is a US vassal state, Lithuania is a "typical dying young democracy", and that the Baltic states are dying because they chose not to be with Russia.

Keywords: Sovereignty, Economic difficulties, Baltic states
Countries: Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus
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Foreign media in Russia are not restricted
Additional details: Restrictive measures against foreign media have not been applied in Russia.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Srbija
Reported by:
Disproof note:

According to the Freedom House Report ''Freedom on the Net 2018'', Russians are still able to access a wide variety of foreign sources, but many independent online media outlets within Russia have been forced to shut down in recent years due to increasing government pressure.

The Russian authorities censor a wide range of topics online, most often under the pretext of combating “extremism”. Content subject to blacklisting or removal includes LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) expression, information on the conflict in Ukraine, and material related to the political opposition.

Russia has been rated 149th out of 180 countries for press freedom, according to an annual index published by international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

More disinformation cases about media freedom in Russia are available here.

Keywords: Freedom of speech, Media
Countries: Russia
More
There is a deterioration of democracy in the West
Additional details:

RT and Sputnik are prevented from appearing in briefings and some internet software programmes are invented to automatically ban those reports deemed politically unacceptable by the authorities of the country concerned. This is a violation of OSCE obligations regarding direct access to public information [...] The Russian authorities have not taken restrictive measures against foreign media.


The situation of the Russian media in the West has become difficult in recent years. The European Parliament has adopted a resolution indicating the need to confront Russian media, where Sputnik and RT were identified as major threats [...] The adoption of such a document signals the apparent deterioration of ideas about democracy in Western society.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: sptnkne.ws/9gZ4
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Arabic
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring disinformation narrative that the Russian media is unfairly restricted, discriminated against in Europe, and that freedom of speech is restricted in certain European Union member states, while presenting Russia as respectful of media freedoms. See previous cases here.

The mentioned European Parliament resolution at no point calls for any restrictive measure in its efforts to counter anti-EU propaganda by third parties. The efforts to counter such propaganda mainly revolve around awareness-raising through campaigns, education, media and information literacy while respecting the commitments to media freedom, access to information, freedom of expression and media pluralism. The European Parliament in this resolution stressed that promoting respect for fundamental rights and freedoms should underpin the EU's action in countering propaganda.

The resolution reads: "It is essential for the EU to continue to actively promote through its external actions respect for fundamental rights and freedoms; considers that supporting freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to access information and the independence of the media in the neighbouring countries should underpin the EU’s actions in counteracting propaganda."

The freest countries in terms of press freedom are predominantly European countries, including Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Estonia, Portugal, Germany, etc.

On the other hand, Russia is ranked as “not free”, according to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press report. According to Reporters without Borders (RWB) Press Freedom Index, Russia is ranked 149th among 180 countries. 38 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1993 for preparing investigative materials on corruption, politics and human rights violations. Almost all leading media outlets in the country are controlled by persons affiliated with the authorities or the Kremlin.

 

 

Keywords: Russia Today (RT), Democracy, Freedom of speech, Media, The West, Sputnik
Countries: Russia, Europe
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Poland's entire policy towards Russia is based entirely on US support
Additional details: Polish policy towards Russia is entirely based on the support of the United States.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The article by Sputnik falsely suggests that every decision Poland makes in its foreign policy depends on the US. This is a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative, claiming that the United States fully control the foreign policy of Poland. See other examples of this message here, here and here.

Poland is a sovereign state, which shapes its own foreign and domestic policies - moreover, being a member of NATO and the EU, Poland is able to impact the formation of common foreign policies of these unions. See other examples of disinformation about Polish-American relations here.

Keywords: Anti-Russian, US presence in Europe, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, US, Poland
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The US triggered a coup in Ukraine
Additional details: The US triggered a coup in Ukraine, incited chaos, and enabled the creation of paramilitary troops to disrupt the country.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Aeronet
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given to support this claim. It is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukrainian statehood which claims that the protests were organised by US and/or the West. A similar case can be found here.

There was no coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014.

The demonstrations which began in Kyiv in November 2013 – called "Maidan" or "Euromaidan" – were not provoked from outside but were a result of the Ukrainian people's frustration with former President Yanukovych's last minute U-turn, when after seven years of negotiations, he refused to sign the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement and halted progress towards Ukraine's closer relationship with the EU as a result of Russian pressure. The protesters' demands included constitutional reform, a stronger role for parliament, formation of a government of national unity, an end to corruption, early presidential elections and an end to violence  as can be read here.

Pro-Kremlin outlets do not deny the Russian military presence in Donbas and/or the annexation of Crimea.

The European Union does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and continues to condemn this violation of international law, and that Russia’s illegal actions remain a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all States.

For more disinformation cases about Euromaidan see here.

Keywords: Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian disintegration, Euromaidan, Ukrainian statehood
Countries: US, Ukraine
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Christchurch shooting was a false flag operation
Additional details: The Christchurch shooting was a false flag operation with the purpose of restricting gun laws in New Zealand.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Aeronet
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This claim is a conspiracy theory presented without any evidence. Alleging false flag operations is a common tactic of pro-Kremlin disinformation.

The Christchurch shooter, a man named Brenton Tarrant, was a white supremacist who espoused racist and anti-immigrant views, which were detailed in a manifesto that he sent to numerous people just a few minutes before the shooting. His attack had ideological motives and there is no evidence to support the conspiracy theory that he is somehow linked to the New Zealand government or to any other government.

For more cases about the Christchurch shooting, see here.

Keywords: false flag, Terrorism, Conspiracy
Countries: New Zealand
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Twitter didn’t find any Russian effort to influence Brexit
Additional details: To explain why the British voted to withdraw from the EU, attention turned once again to the role of Russian trolls. Even Twitter began investigating the case. In the end, Twitter had to inform the British parliament that it found no evidence of Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the Brexit vote.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a misleading claim about the role of Russian troll activity on Twitter around the Brexit referendum. It is consistent with longstanding pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts to deny that Russia has engaged in electoral meddling, despite extensive proof to the contrary.

Twitter was initially criticised for its failure to provide an adequate response to the parliamentary committee seeking answers about Russian disinformation operations during Brexit. This did not mean that no evidence had been found of Russian efforts to influence the vote. In early 2018, Twitter admitted that Russian trolls had indeed targeted the Brexit vote during an evidence session with British MPs, who flew to the United States to question representatives from major technology firms as part of their fake news inquiry.

Further information came to light later in 2018, when Twitter released data showing that an army of Russian trolls sent thousands of messages with the hashtag #ReasonsToLeaveEU on the day of the Brexit vote. This army, which was linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), constituted approximately 3800 accounts.

For more disinformation cases about Brexit, see here.

Keywords: election meddling, Twitter, Brexit, Manipulated elections/referendum
Countries: Russia, United Kingdom
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Wikipedia is paid to confront Russia
Additional details: Russian philosopher and journalist Andrei Timiskov said: "Wikipedia erases information well and reformulates it to the satisfaction of the client."

"Wikipedia" has been transformed into an information source, receiving "generous donations", which are simply rewards for political tasks, culminating in the process of "sifting" the "unwanted" information. As for the donations received by the site, it is difficult to track them, as they are voluntary and the identity of the donor, either personalities or entities, may be withheld."

 

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: ar.rt.com/m970
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Arabic
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given for this claim. Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created and edited by volunteers around the world and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation a nonprofit charitable organisation. It constantly publishes its financial reports online, and anyone can take a look at the list of the foundation's benefactors of more than $1000.

Furthermore, Wikimedia has a dedicated page for their "Transparency Report", where it sheds light on the requests it receives "from governments, individuals, and organisations to disclose information about users or to delete or alter content on our projects" and how it responds to them.

A similar case was previously reported by another media outlet this year.

Keywords: Anti-Russian, Destabilising Russia, Media
Countries: Russia
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ISIS was created by deceased US senator John McCain and the CIA
Additional details: The Islamic State was created in Syria in 2011-2013 by now-deceased US senator John McCain and the CIA.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Aeronet
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given to support this claim and a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative that either the US or the West is behind the creation of ISIS/Daesh.This message is part of a broader conspiracy theory alleging that the United States has established many terrorist organizations and controls global terrorism. See similar messages here, here and here.

Keywords: Terrorism financing, Islamic extremism, Middle East, John McCain, Daesh
Countries: US, Iraq, Syria
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Novichok, the nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals, was not made in Russia
Additional details: Former British Prime Minister Theresa May lied when she claimed that the Novichok nerve agent used in the Skripal poisoning was made in Russia. The British lab in Porton Down denied that the poison was made in Russia.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Skripal poisoning in the UK, attempting to divert attention from Russia's proven responsibility for the attack. Several conspiracy theories have also focused on the Porton Down laboratory. Earlier, for example, pro-Kremlin media have claimed that Porton Down might have manufactured Novichok, and that Porton Down was responsible for the Amesbury poisoning.

As clearly stated  by Ambassador Karen Pierce, UK Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council on the 5th of September 2018, UK police and UK intelligence services have produced sufficient hard forensic evidence to charge two Russian nationals, identified as officers of the Russian Military Intelligence, GRU, for the attack against the Skripals. The investigative outlet Bellingcat has later revealed the identities of the two Russian nationals.

Furthermore, the UK investigation found that Sergey and Yuliya Skripal were poisoned using a specific Novichok nerve agent that could not have been produced by non-state actors. This was confirmed by an independent OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]  analysis.

According to the UK intelligence assessment, based on open-source analysis and intelligence information, in the past decade, Russia has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichok agents, long after it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

For similar cases see here.

Keywords: novichok, Sergei Skripal, Theresa May, Chemical weapons/attack
Countries: UK, Russia
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Foreign countries play a role in supporting Hong Kong protests
Additional details: Foreign countries play a role in supporting the protests in Hong Kong from outside. They want to destabilise China and they are trying to do so via Hong Kong. The US government has been long involved in the so-called democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNkv57gfFOo
Disinforming outlet(s): Standpunkt @ RT Deutsch [0:40-1:10]
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory without evidence.

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative casting civil uprisings in other states as US-funded "colour revolutions", also present in the cases of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Venezuela. Consistent with multiple pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the US and its global role. 

The Hong Kong protests started in June 2019 over a controversial extradition law, but have expanded to calls for Hong Kong's leader to step down, for an inquiry into alleged police brutality, for those who have been arrested to be released, and for greater democratic freedoms.

For similar cases see here.

Keywords: Protest, Colour revolutions
Countries: US, China
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There was a nationalist coup d'état in February 2014 in Kyiv
Additional details: The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has been going on since Spring 2014. The inhabitants of the region had refused to acknowledge the nationalist coup d'état of February in Kyiv and announced the establishment of the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

There was no coup d’état in Kyiv in 2014. This is a longstanding pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine's Euromaidan protests.

The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a reaction by several segments of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See the full debunk here.

Keywords: War in Ukraine, Coup, Donbas, Ukrainian statehood
Countries: Ukraine
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The Soviet Union saved Poland from ruin after WWII
Additional details: The Soviet Union saved Poland from ruin. They tore bread from their own people to feed the Poles. The Soviet Union was responsible for creating Poland's industry after WWII.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Voskresnyi Vecher s Vladimirom Solovyovym @ Rossiya 1 (27:20 - 28:06)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This case represents a manipulation of historical facts to downplay and justify Soviet aggression towards Poland. See similar cases here and here.

The Sovietization of Poland after the WWII was accompanied by terror, expropriation of privately owned land and restrictions of civil and political freedoms. Polish industry in times of the communism was governed by rules of nationalisation and planned economy, which eventually led to heavy debts and impoverishment.

The Warsaw Treaty Organisation (the Warsaw Pact) was the Soviet Union’s “external empire”, where people faced daily strife, including shortages of food and housing. Read more about life in Poland under communist rule.

 

Keywords: USSR, WWII
Countries: Russia, Poland, USSR
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24 crew members of Ukrainian ships violated Russian maritime borders in the Kerch Strait
Additional details: 24 crew members of Ukrainian ships were arrested by the Russian Coast Guard in November 2018 for violating Russian maritime borders in the Kerch Strait.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the Kerch incident.

On the 25th of November 2018, border patrol boats belonging to Russia’s FSB security service seized two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tug boat and their crews after shooting at them, wounding several Ukrainian servicemen and arresting 24 members.

Russia stated they were in Russian waters. However, according to the bilateral agreement between Ukraine and Russia, the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov are the internal waters of both Russia and Ukraine.

The agreement gives both parties the power to inspect suspicious vessels. Furthermore, both the 2003 bilateral agreement and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provide for freedom of navigation.

See here for a similar case.

Keywords: Azov sea, Kerch, International Law, War in Ukraine
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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Protesters in Moscow have no other motivation than enjoying concerts and partying
Additional details: Young people in Moscow had no serious reason to protest in prosperous Moscow. In fact, in the context of young people participating in the Yellow Vests protests in France, the protests in Hong Kong, and the protests against Brexit in the UK, it became fashionable in Moscow. The protesters have no other motivation than enjoying concerts and partying during these protests.

When people really want to protest, they do it like the football fans in 2002 - with violence. Or like in the 1991. And, for example, the Soviet people protested in silence.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrZtGy5-2dc
Disinforming outlet(s): Dobrov v efire @ REN TV (41:00 - 50:15)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the protests in Moscow.

The protests in Moscow started in July after the election committee banned opposition candidates from running for the elections to the city council - the Moscow City Duma, disqualifying their ballots because of what officials claimed were irregularities in the 5,000 signatures each had to gather to run. The protesters also demanded the right to fair elections and the right to free assembly.

See here for EUvsDisinfo analysis of disinformation surrounding protests in Moscow.

Keywords: yellow vests, Protest
Countries: Russia, UK, France
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US sanctions against Russia over the Skripal poisoning are the result of conspiratorial pressure
Additional details: The US decision to impose a second round of sanctions against Russia over the Skripal poisoning was the result of pressure by powerful forces in the US which are against the normalisation of relations with Russia for political domestic reasons, and because US elections are approaching, while Trump seeks instead to improve relations with Russia.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory; no evidence given. One of many recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about the Skripal poisoning claiming that allegations of Russian responsibility for the attack are fueled by Russophobia or by anti-Russian provocations and conspiracies.

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 1, 2019 imposing a second set of sanctions against Moscow - as mandated by the 1991 Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act (CBW Act) - for its use of a Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to assassinate Sergey Skripal and his daughter.

The United States imposed the first round of sanctions on Russia in August 2018, with a 90-day deadline for Russia to give "reliable assurance" that it would no longer use chemical weapons to escape a second round. The CBW act  mandated the imposition of new sanctions within 90 days if Russia failed to give such reliable assurance.

UK police and intelligence investigations have produced hard evidence of Russia's involvement in Skripal poisoning, sufficient to charge two Russian nationals – identified as officers of the Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) – for the attack on the Skripals.

Furthermore, the UK investigation found that Sergey and Yuliya Skripal were poisoned using a specific Novichok nerve agent that cannot have been produced by non-state actors. This was confirmed by an independent OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] analysis.

According to the UK intelligence assessment, based on open-source analysis and intelligence information, in the past decade Russia has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichok agents, long after it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Keywords: Sergei Skripal, Donald Trump, Sanctions
Countries: Russia, US, UK
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Poles killed more than 400,000 Jews during WWII
Additional details: Poles killed more than 400,000 Jews during WWII. Armija Krajova ([The National Army] killed more Soviet than German soldiers. That’s the Polish contribution to the war.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Voskresnyi Vecher s Vladimirom Solovyovym @ Rossiya 1 (27:20 - 28:06)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Poland's role in the WWII.

By the early part of 1939 the German dictator Adolf Hitler had become determined to invade and occupy Poland. Secret negotiations led on August 23–24 to the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in Moscow. In a secret protocol of this pact, the Germans and the Soviets agreed that Poland should be divided between them, with the western third of the country going to Germany and the eastern two-thirds being taken over by the USSR. On September 1 1939, Hitler attacked Poland, Soviet troops entered the territory on September 17 of the same year. From September 3 1939, Great Britain and France were at war with Germany, creating an anti-Hitler coalition together with the expelled Polish government and other countries.

Following the German and Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939, the country was divided between those two occupiers. Nazi concentration camps, aimed at exterminating the Jews, were built on the Polish territory at the time when it was occupied by Nazi Germany. While incidents of Poles attacking and denouncing Jews were recorded, substantial group of Poles risked their lives during the German occupation to save Jews from Nazi extermination.

Read more cases of disinformation about WWII here.

Keywords: Holocaust, USSR, WWII
Countries: Poland, USSR, Germany
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Poland is the organizer of WWII and its main culprit
Additional details: Poland is the organizer of WWII and its main culprit.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Voskresnyi Vecher s Vladimirom Solovyovym @ Rossiya 1 (01:28 - 02:27)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Poland's role in the WWII.

It was Nazi Germany who attacked Poland on September 1, 1939, with Soviet troops entering Polish territory on September 17.

By the early part of 1939 the German dictator Adolf Hitler had become determined to invade and occupy Poland. Secret negotiations between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union led to the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in Moscow on August 23–24. In a secret protocol of this pact, the Germans and the Soviets agreed that Poland should be divided between them, with the Western part of the country going to Germany and the eastern two-thirds being taken over by the USSR.

Read more cases of disinformation about WWII here.

Keywords: Vladimir Zhirinovsky, USSR, WWII
Countries: Russia, Poland, USSR
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WWII anniversary: The events in Poland are an anti-Russian gathering
Additional details: The [commemorative] events [on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II] are an anti-Russian gathering.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Vremya Pokazhet @ Pervyi Kanal, (time 07:20 - 08:33)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about the West's anti-Russian actions.

Poland's decision not to invite the Russian delegation to WWII commemoration ceremony has to do with Russian aggression against Ukraine. Krzysztof Szczerski, chief advisor to the Polish president, stated in March 2019 that the anniversary ceremony will be held “in the company of countries with whom Poland now cooperates closely for peace, based on the respect for international law, for the sovereignty of nations and of their territories”. This point was reiterated by Jacek Sasin, Polish deputy prime minister in July, who said: "I think it would be inappropriate to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the armed aggression against Poland with the participation of a leader who today treats his neighbors using the same methods."

See earlier disinformation cases alleging that Poland attempts to destroy the world order by not inviting Russia to commemorate the start of WWII and that the real reason behind the refusal to invite Russia is the Russian ban on the imports of Polish apples.

Keywords: Anti-Russian, WWII, Russophobia
Countries: Russia, US, Poland, USSR
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George Soros has a hidden agenda for the Georgian people
Additional details: George Soros has designed a special plan for Georgia. He is plotting to make Georgians forget their history and mix them with other nationalities. 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Georgia and the World
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This claim is a conspiracy theory presented without evidence. Conspiracy theories surrounding philanthropist and billionaire George Soros have long been circulating in pro-Kremlin media. For similar cases, see here.

 

Keywords: Conspiracy, George Soros
Countries: Georgia
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The EU imposes gender neutrality on Georgian kindergartens
Additional details: Based on EU recommendations, the Georgian government introduced gender neutral education in kindergartens. Under the new rules, children will not be distinguished by their gender. Children will decide for themselves whether they want to be a girl or a boy in the future. 

 

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Facebook page "Antiliberal League - ანტილიბერალური ლიგა"
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given to support this claim. This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the moral decay of Europe and propaganda of the morally corrupt West. The Georgian government’s 2017 professional standards on preschool education outline an inclusive approach to children, i.e. that they should be equally involved in all preschool activities despite their religion, ethnic background, gender, etc. Teachers should not discriminate against children based on their gender and should facilitate their full and equal inclusion in the preschool education programme. These standards stipulate nothing about allowing children to choose their own gender.

 

 

Keywords: children, Western values, Conspiracy, Europe
Countries: EU, Georgia
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The Moldovan Government is a "puppet" of George Soros
Additional details: The Moldova's minister of justice Ms Stamate did not work in vain at the Soros Foundation. After the training she is set up and acting not in the public interest, but according to the clear instructions of foreign curators.

The main goal of the prime minister and her ministers is not the welfare of the Moldovan Republic, but only the creation of conditions for the external management of the state.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Eho.md, Newsmd
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory, reinforcing a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative that pro Western political parties or activists are under external control exercised by George Soros or the US, following a foreign agenda from the external ”curators”.

The Soros Foundation has been working in Moldova since 1992, financing and promoting programs and activities in areas such as media, justice and human rights, good governance, and public health with the aim to support the development of an open society. Since then, dozens of Moldovan specialists have been employed by the foundation or collaborated in its programs. Many of them have continued their careers in various organizations, including in government structures. From the current government two ministries from 12 Government members have previously worked in Soros Foundation programs.

Similar cases here and here.

Keywords: Conspiracy, George Soros
Countries: Moldova
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US brought Poroshenko to power via armed coup
Additional details: In 2014, the US brought Ukrainian President Poroshenko to power by way of an armed coup.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative painting the 2013-14 events in Ukraine as a Western-backed coup, and casting the country as a failing state incapable of making its own domestic or foreign-policy choices.

The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a reaction of numerous parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See the full debunk here.

Petro Poroshenko won the presidency in a free and transparent nationwide poll, as reported by the OSCE. The only parts of Ukraine where voters were barred from participating in the election were Crimea (then recently annexed and occupied by Russia) and parts of the Donbas (occupied by Moscow-backed armed groups) (ibid., pp. 5-6).

Keywords: Encircling Russia, US presence in Europe, Coup, Petro Poroshenko
Countries: Russia, US, Europe, Ukraine, EU
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Cultural genocide and the loss of 1300 primary schools awaits Ukraine
Additional details: Cultural genocide and the loss of 1300 primary schools awaits Ukraine.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Federal News Agency - riafan.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The article doesn’t give any evidence or proof or links to the source(s) about the closure or loss of 1300 primary schools in Ukraine.

The author fails to mention that the article refers to art schools in Ukraine. (As there are 1303 art schools in Ukraine in 2019).

The “body” of this article has pictures of the peaceful protest near the presidential administration in Kyiv, held by Ukrainian art schools educators, musicians, outstanding artists and students on the 1st of September. One of the organisers of the protest - Ukrainian singer Taras Topolya mentions that the aim of the event was to draw the new Government's attention to a number of unresolved issues around the reforms to Specialised Music Education. The reforms to art education are not supported by teachers of educational institutions and parents. As the protesters say, certain controversial issues were removed by a decree issued on the 29th of August by the ex-Ministerof Culture of Ukraine, but some issues remain unsolved.

Keywords: Ukraine, culture, education
Countries: Ukraine
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NATO is laying the foundations for Greater Albania by turning Montenegro into its military base 
Additional details: NATO intends to turn the entire country of Montenegro into its military base by "occupying" locations like Sinjajevina, Andrijevica, Berane and the border of Montenegro. The Municipality of Andrijevica has been deliberately chosen as a location for new NATO military barracks because of its proximity to the Albanian border. That is also the case with the old airport in Berane, which NATO plans to turn into its military base. The citizens of Montenegro need to resist this occupation and militarisation of the country.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Tanjug
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The video clip and accompanying text are a combination of two recurring disinformation narratives: that NATO is building military bases in Montenegro, which is therefore being “occupied by NATO”; and the narrative about “Greater Albania”, a new state which would supposedly consist of Albania, Kosovo and parts of Montenegro and North Macedonia.

NATO has no plans to build a military base in Montenegro, nor has the country's government announced any such plan. Moreover, a source from Montenegro’s Ministry of Defence has recently described the persistent claims about NATO bases as “refuted so many times in the past 10 years, that it’s pointless to even discuss it anymore”.

Pro-Kremlin sources in the region tend to attach this claim to any news about building or reconstruction of military objects in Montenegro, especially since the country joined NATO in 2017. This was the case here as well: the military barracks to be built in Andrijevica are not a NATO military base or barracks. In November 2018, the Government of Montenegro passed the Strategic Defence Review of Montenegro, which lists the new barracks in Andrijevica as one of its military infrastructure priorities (document available here). This will be the barracks of the Armed Forces of Montenegro, built in accordance with NATO standards.

There is no viable information that Berane is considered for a future military airport, let alone a NATO base, despite the rumours which circulated in similar sources two years ago. The Strategic Defence Review of Montenegro does not mention any plans for military objects in Berane. The claim that such a base will be built in Sinjajevina is also false (see a debunking of that claim by a Montenegrian fact-checker here).

Finally, no evidence (or even a reasonable explanation) was given in the article to support the claim that building new military objects in Montenegro was a step towards creating “Greater Albania”.

Keywords: Military, Occupation, NATO
Countries: Albania, Montenegro
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There are only two countries at the G7 which are against the return of Russia
Additional details: If you start to analyse the positions within the Seven itself, then in fact, the position is not so clear. Only two countries are strongly opposed. This is Canada, which set the return of Crimea as a required condition, and Great Britain.

 

 

 

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Vremya pokazhet @ Pervyi kanal [14:05 - 14:45]
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Pro-Kremlin disinformation about the G7 and the return of Russia to this organisation. See a previous case: G7 is only a facade for the Global Rulers and the Western leaders are merely marionettes of the shadow rulers

At a news conference before the beginning of the G7 summit in France on 24 August, Donald Tusk said there are more reasons than ever for keeping Moscow out. Russia was expelled from the grouping, previously known as the G8, in 2014 for illegally annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and for supporting separatists in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine – a war that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014. Germany, France and Britain have also rejected the idea of inviting Russia back into the G7.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also stated that "We are in agreement that a return of Russia to the G7 cannot happen unless substantial progress is made in terms of the problems with Ukraine". French President Emmanuel Macron commented that Russia could rejoin the G8, so long as the conflict in Ukraine is resolved.

Keywords: G7, Anti-Russian
Countries: Russia, Canada, UK
More
Vassal Eastern EU countries obey US in order to counter Western Europe
Additional details: Brussels has provoked the collapse of industry in the Eastern Europe; the result is unemployment, impoverishment of the population and its mass exodus to more prosperous countries of Western Europe. Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania suffer the most under Brussels' pressure.

The shattering of the unipolar world in recent years has led to an exacerbation of the contradictions between Europe and the United States. Transatlantic unity is breaking up.

Although the pretended reason of obeying NATO and US' policy is countering the "Russian threat", in reality Romania, the Baltic states, and Poland are using the US to counter Western Europe.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Latvia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is a conspiracy theory, consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about the "Evil West".

There is no proof that the Eastern EU countries would act against Brussels or the Western countries. Consequently, there is no proof that the unemployment levels are part of the "Brussels' plan". According to Eurostat, unemployment level for the whole EU is low (6.3%); Poland has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU. Unemployment rates for Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia are below EU average, while in Latvia and Lithuania there are slightly above it.

Keywords: NATO, Conspiracy, The West
Countries: Bulgaria, Russia, US, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Baltic states, Lithuania
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OPCW report on Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack ignores data ruling out Assad's involvement
Additional details: The 2017 OPCW report on the Khan Shaykhoun chemical attack provides an extensive analysis of the incident, but somehow overlooks the fact that the closest any government aircraft came to the settlement that day was 5 km. This effectively rules out the possibility of an airstrike and casts doubt on the version holding Damascus responsible for the attack.

Secondly, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission's (FFM) analysis does not explain how some victims of the attack could have been transported to a hospital 125km away from Khan Shaykhoun just 30 minutes after the incident.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT News @RT, time: 16:48-18:20
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative denying the Assad regime's responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria, and questioning the integrity of the OPCW.

Both observations pertaining to the 2017 Khan Shaykhoun attack are taken grossly out of context. The joint OPCW-UN report on the incident does state that "the closest to Khan Shaykhoun that the aircraft had flown has been approximately 5km away" (p. 24, para 28), but immediately goes on to cite a weapons expert as saying that "it would be possible for such an aerial bomb to be dropped on the town from the aforementioned distances" (ibid., para 30).

The JIT analysis also notes "discrepancies" in the timeframes and locations of hospital admissions (p. 31, para 77), but does not consider them "of such a nature as to call into question the aforementioned findings" (p. 10, para 46(i)).

Keywords: OPCW, Khan Sheikhoun, Chemical weapons/attack, Propaganda, Syrian War
Countries: Syria
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Under pressure, OPCW fails to assign blame for Ghouta chemical attack
Additional details: Although many were quick to blame the Assad government for the 2013 chemical attack on Ghouta, questions remain as to who launched the sarin projectiles which killed hundreds of civilians. The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has been tasked to do precisely that, but it has been unsuccessful.

The big question is to what extent the OPCW and the UN have been subjected to external pressure to generate particular findings. It seems that the mission which was established to find out who bears the blame for chemical attacks is quite selective as to which facts to look for.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT News@ RT, time 13:33-19:10
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The report advances recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives attempting to acquit the Assad regime of all responsibility for chemical attacks in Syria, and casting doubt on the integrity and independence of the OPCW.

It is true that responsibility for the August 2013 Ghouta attack is yet to be assigned. However, the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission was never meant to either gather evidence pertaining to the attack or apportion blame for it, in large part because the FFM would not exist for another eight months. It was set up on 29 April 2014, was granted a field mandate covering the period between 3 and 31 May 2014, and produced its first summary report on 16 June 2014. Even if the OPCW had been in charge of the probe, it would not have been able to identify the culprits - the organization was only granted the authority to do so in June 2018.

Moreover, the FFM mission was not established to identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks, but to "identify facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”. Assigning blame was originally the responsibility of the UNSC Joint Investigative Mechanism, before its mandate expired in late 2017. In April 2018, Russia vetoed the Security Council resolution to extend its mandate.

The Ghouta attack was investigated by a UN Mission set up by the UN Secretary General, and its findings were contained in a report published in September 2013. The OPCW and the WHO played an important but auxiliary role throughout the process (ibid., p. 4).

The charge that both the OPCW and the UN are subject to "external pressure" is made without evidence. The fact that the statement is framed as "the big question" and left unsupported by facts betrays its real function - to confuse, rather than inform. See here for our list of resources on pro-Kremlin disinformation techniques.

Keywords: OPCW, Chemical weapons/attack, Propaganda, Syrian War
Countries: Russia, Syria
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The EU is built on anti-European values, Russia is real Europe
Additional details: Following the meeting with Vladimir Putin, Emmanuel Macron published a post in Facebook calling Russia "a deeply European country" and hoping to see Europe "extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok." However Macron's acceptance of Russia into Europe is not a reason for joy. In fact, present-time Russia is more European than France. It is Moscow who defends European traditions and a high level of European culture, not Paris.

The EU replaced ancient European fundamental traditions with a cocktail of liberalism, feminism, LGBT-activism and anti-European leftist rhetoric.The present-time EU values are not European values but their negation.

The doctrines of tolerance and multiculturalism are also an attack against European heritage. The less valuable aspects of Western culture such as scientific achievements, comfort, and liberalism are triumphing, whereas its core values, that is Christianity, European individualism, the rule of law, intellectual freedom, and high culture are undermined.

Traditionalists and Eurosceptics look at Russia with hope and take Vladimir Putin as Messiah. Therefore, who has to accept whom into Europe is an open question.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Teleskop
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is in line with a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the West's moral decay aimed at portraying Russia as superior to the West in terms of values and morals. 'Threatened values' is one of the most common narratives used by pro-Kremlin outlets.

See earlier cases alleging that in contrast to Russia, western Europe is abandoning Christian roots and that unlike Russia, the West is not about fairness or solidarity and it degrades traditional values and endangers societies. Furthermore, all-Russian history is highly moral as opposed to the Western one, which is full of violence and evil, and all high-ranking politicians in the Baltic states are likely implicated in paedophilia.

 

 

Keywords: Euro-scepticism, Emmanuel Macron, European values, Vladimir Putin, LGBT
Countries: Russia, EU, France
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Even Trump and his colleagues don't argue with the results of the Crimean referendum
Additional details: Russia saw the US's intention to establish an American or NATO naval base in Crimea. Russia managed to organise the defence of the Russian-speaking population of the peninsula and a referendum. Even Trump and his colleagues do not argue with the referendum's results.


 

Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Armenia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The article contains several recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the annexation of Crimea.

The claim that NATO or the US was planning to base ships and missiles in Crimea is fiction. The idea has never been proposed, suggested or discussed within NATO.

Crimea is a part of Ukraine and was illegally annexed by Russia. In 2014, Russian troops obliged the parliament of Crimea to organise a referendum, which was deemed illegitimate under international law, and then formally annexed the peninsula and brought it under Russian territorial control. Following the covert invasion by “little green men,” the referendum in Crimea was conducted hastily and at gunpointbarring impartial observers from entering the peninsula. A year after the illegal annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

The referendum has not been recognised by any international body. On the date of its announcement, the 27th of  March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution stating that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula.

On the 5th anniversary of Crimea's annexation, the EU reiterated its position of non-recognition of illegal annexation and declared that it continues to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine, supporting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 

 

Keywords: Donald Trump, Referendum, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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The West develops the 'old enemy image' of Russia
Additional details: [Context: The Russian proposal of a common "House of Europe" from Vladivostok to Lisbon]

The new-old enemy image of Russia serves the West above all to distract from its own social and democratic dismantling.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutschland
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russophobia and about Western belligerence towards Russia.

While aware of pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns, the West is trying to keep open channels of communications and cooperation with Russia. For instance, NATO as the Western organisation created cooperation bodies – the Permanent Joint Council and the NATO-Russia Council – to embody its relationship with Russia. It also invited Russia to cooperate on missile defence. The Warsaw Summit Communique 2016 describes NATO's official policy towards Russia: "The Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia. But we cannot, and will not, compromise on the principles on which our Alliance and security in Europe and North America rest."

The EU and its member states have maintained a clear policy of reaching out to Russian society and youth, mainly through the Erasmus+ student exchange programme and other people to people contacts, in line with five guiding principles of relations with Russia.

For background, see EUvsDisinfo analysis "The “Russophobia” Myth: Appealing to the Lowest Feelings" here.

Keywords: Anti-Russian, Destabilising Russia, Russophobia, The West
Countries: Russia, The West
More
Ukraine lost 10 million citizens after the social genocide in 2014-2019
Additional details: During another “five-year madness” after the coup d’état, in 2014-2019 Ukraine lost almost 10 million citizens who were victims of the social genocide resulting from “100 successful reforms”. The people died or left the country searching for jobs.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Antifashist
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about  Ukraine, its economy, and how it was ruined after 2014. It also repeats a disinformation narrative about the Euromaidan events in 2013-2014, portraying them as a coup d’état.

The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was an organic reaction by numerous parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See the full debunk of this disinformation claim here.

In the 2014-2019, the population of Ukraine has decreased from 45,2 million to 44,6 million people. According to the State Statistical Service of Ukraine, during 2015-2017 more than 1,3 million workers left Ukraine. According to the UN, in 2017 there were 5.9 million migrants from Ukraine in the world. The United Nations includes all immigrants who are born in but do not live in a country.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the reforms after 2014 increased the growth rate of Ukraine's gross domestic product to 3 percent a year. The IMF predicts a similar rate for the long term. The EU also acknowledges substantial progress in reforms, especially in such sectors as healthcare, decentralisation, public administration, public procurement and the environment.

Keywords: Economic difficulties, Coup, Euromaidan
Countries: Ukraine
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Howl all over Italy: the Italian economy is dying without Russia
Additional details: Howl all over Italy: The Italian economy is dying without Russian tourists and real-estate buyers.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: radiovesti.ru/brand/60948/episode/2196813
Disinforming outlet(s): Polnyi Kontakt @ Vesti FM time 20:35
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about economic difficulties in EU countries resulting from the sanctions policy against Russia.

The Italian economy has been steadily recovering after the 2008-2009 financial crisis and a decline in 2014. Since 2015, the Italian GDP has increased from 1.80 to 2.07 trillion USD.

The improvement in the Italian economy was recently confirmed by a 2018 report from the IMF: “The Italian economy has been recovering modestly from the global financial and Euro area sovereign debt crisis.” The report highlighted, among other things, progress in raising employment and labour force participation, the decline of unemployment, and banks’ nonperforming loans. Continuing issues with the Italian economy are due to “longstanding structural weaknesses” such as sluggish income growth, elevated unemployment, and high public debt.

Tourism in Italy has risen in recent years. The Italian Government Tourist Board (ENIT) informs that, in 2018, Italy was visited by a record 94 million tourists. In 2017, the number of tourists to Italy grew by 2.8 percent. As a result, tourism is becoming more important to the Italian economy. In 2018, international visitors added 41.3 billion Euros to the economy, equivalent to 1,5% of the GDP.

 

Keywords: economy, Economic difficulties, Sanctions
Countries: Russia, Italy
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Climate change is pretext to put Russia under the yoke of economic oppression
Additional details: By creating the climate change hoax, the globalists are eager to extract money from the signatories of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. It goes into trillions of US dollars and it is Russia that has to pay nearly the largest part of this sum. Hence, this is a way to keep Russia under the yoke of economic and financial oppression.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Stoletie
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory, presented without evidence.

Climate change is a scientific fact. Humans are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth's temperature by burning fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests and farming livestock. This adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming. Preventing dangerous consequences of the climate change is the  key priority for the EU. 

The conspiracy theory perpetuates a false claim that Russia has to carry a heavy burden associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In fact, as a transition economy, Russia is not obliged  to make contributions into the Green Climate Fund associated with the Paris Agreement at all. However, it can do so voluntarily with any amount that it wishes.

See an earlier disinformation case alleging that the international bankers created the "Global Warming" hoax.

Keywords: Climate, Secret elites / global elites, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, West
More
The US is responsible for the death of 3 million Vietnamese in the Vietnam war
Additional details: US bombing, use of chemical weapons, napalm and phosphoric bombs as well as the ground operations of the US army caused the death of 3 million Vietnamese in the Vietnam war.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The exact number of casualties in the Vietnam War, particularly the number of deaths caused specifically by US military operations, is not known because reliable data is not available. Estimates vary considerably, but none come close to approaching the figure of 3 million. The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry cites several of these studies. For example, Guenter Lewy estimated that around 220,000 civilians in South Vietnam were killed in US, Army of the Republic of Vietnam and other allied land operations. In another study, Benjamin Valentino attributes 110,000-310,000 “counter guerrilla mass killings” to U.S. and South Vietnamese forces during the war. Estimates for the number of North Vietnamese civilian deaths resulting from US bombing range from 30,000-65,000, while higher estimates place the number of civilian deaths caused by American bombing of North Vietnam in Operation Rolling Thunder at 182,000.

Finally, according to an official estimate by Hanoi made in 1995, the total number of civilian deaths in the whole war was almost 2 million people, which is four times higher than other estimates. Even if this number is accurate, it is still significantly less than the 3 million claimed in this article.

 

 

Keywords: War crimes, Military
Countries: US
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