“The OPCW is not a theatre”, the UK’s OPCW envoy, Peter Wilson, stated on April 26. But trying to discredit the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and use it as a platform for the disinformation campaign was exactly what Russia was attempting last week. As often, children were put in the disinformation spotlight.

First, an interview with a 11-year-old Syrian boy was internationally broadcast on Russia Today, shared on social media through In the Now – an offspring of Russia Today but with no traces of Russia in its branding – and promoted by Russian diplomats. Later the same boy was brought to the Hague to tell what he had experienced.

The interview was presented as “evidence” for the key claim of Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaign: that the chemical attack in Syrian Douma was a fake.The same disinformation was spread in several languages.

First problem is that, contrary to the reporter’s claim, according to the Intercept’s investigation the interview appears to be filmed at a Syrian army facility where Russian military advisers were present.

Secondly, numerous testimonies, findings of medical NGOs, authenticated photographs and videos, and reports from WHO partners, all correspond to gas intoxication of the patients.

And thirdly, contradicting Russia’s claim that there was an organised OPCW briefing on the subject, there was in fact no such thing. Instead, 17 countries stated that “Russia is trying to create the false impression that the OPCW has convened this meeting at Russia’s request. Nothing could be further from the truth”.

The Director General of the OPCW distanced himself from the event and “informed Russia that such a meeting, in which “witnesses” will claim to have been hired to simulate a chemical weapons attack, runs against the work currently being carried out in Syria by OPCW investigators; if these “witnesses” have useful information on the incident, they should first be presented to the FFM to be interviewed.”

Abuse of eye witnesses has a crucial role in Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaign on the Douma chemical attack. There are several reports that Syrian doctors are forced under pressure and threat to say that the chemical attack has not occurred.

See below a timeline on how Russia built two major disinformation campaigns on Salisbury poisoning and Douma chemical attack. Click on the image for interactive links to the debunks and original sources.

Children’s names and photos revealed

There is a deeply rooted tradition to use children in pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns without following any norms of journalistic ethic and practises. Children’s names and photos are revealed and published and further used to serve the aims of the disinformation campaign. We have seen this earlier with the faked story of a 13-year-old Russian-speaking German girl, Lisa, and with the years’ long disinformation campaign claiming that “Scandinavian countries take kids from Russian families”.

During the past week a further variation of the same disinformation narrative was published in Georgia, claiming that incest has been legalised in Norway and that the UN has issued a new order on “sexualising five-year-old children”. Both claims are false.

 

See all the disinformation cases reported during the past week:


related disinfo cases

Date
Title
Outlets
Country
30.04.2018
Moskovskij Komsomolets
Germany, Russia
30.04.2018
Weaponews.com
Germany, Russia
29.04.2018
Asaval-Dasavali on mediamonitoring.ge
UK, Syria, Georgia
27.04.2018
novarepublika.cz
Syria, Russia
26.04.2018
Balrad
Ukraine
26.04.2018
Russia - Ukraine - YouTube
Syria, Russia
26.04.2018
Vecher s Vladimirom Solovyovym @Rossiya 1
Ukraine
26.04.2018
Zvezda TV, Vesti.doc talk show @ Pervyi kanal
Syria, Russia
26.04.2018
Ria Novosti
US, Russia
25.04.2018
NTV - YouTube
Russia
25.04.2018
novarepublika.cz
Syria, Russia
25.04.2018
Ria Novosti
Syria, US, Russia
24.04.2018
Petr Tolstoy's "Vremya Pokazhet" - YouTube
Germany, US
24.04.2018
Petr Tolstoy's "Vremya Pokazhet" - YouTube
UK, Russia
24.04.2018
aeronet.cz
Croatia, Serbia, Syria, Russia
24.04.2018
Pervyi Kanal
Switzerland, Russia
22.04.2018
Twitter Resource, Rossia 24 - YouTube
Syria, Russia
21.04.2018
novorosinform.org
Ukraine, Russia
18.04.2018
ac24.cz
UK, US
18.04.2018
Norway, Georgia
17.04.2018
Georgia
17.04.2018
nahnews.org
Ukraine
16.04.2018
svobodnenoviny.eu
Switzerland, UK, US, Russia
16.04.2018
Facebook resource
US, Latvia
15.04.2018
ac24.cz
UK, Israel, Syria, US
11.04.2018
svobodnenoviny.eu
Syria, Russia