As we have noted on our Twitter account, the German authorities have recently warned of the risks of the disinformation campaign targeting Germany. Disinformation we have collated since our last review would appear to corroborate this concern.

Late last year, Russian state-media RIA Novosti ran with a story that 700,000 Germans had had to flee Germany because of Chancellor Merkel’s policies (http://bit.ly/2iH7siG) – despite no credible source confirming such information. In fact, according to the German statistical office, around 140-150,000 Germans leave the country every year (http://bit.ly/1xB61Fl).

Given last year’s events, it comes as no surprise that disinformation oriented outlets picked New Year’s Eve in German cities as a subject of their reporting. The English speaking outlet Breitbart, which focused on pro-Kremlin messaging during the recent US elections, published a story about 1,000 Muslims in Dortmund setting on fire the oldest church in Germany: http://bit.ly/2i6DaVf. To justfiy its claims, the American outlet referenced reporting by local Dortmund news site Ruhr Nachrichten – which however quickly debunked and condemned the story for using “our online reports for fake news, hate and propaganda.” (http://bit.ly/2ibTumJ). As Ruhr Nachrichten documented, the disinformation was further used by other media and by social media users, many of them using neo-Nazi vocabulary. All this despite the fact that German police in fact reported that given the date, it was actually a quiet night (http://bit.ly/2igqfjC).

germany

In a similar vein, a Czech pro-Kremlin outlet invented a story about repeat sexual harassment during New Year’s Eve in Cologne (http://bit.ly/2hXjCqv) – again, despite the fact that, in truth, no such incidents were reported: http://bit.ly/2ilJD1t.

All this comes less than a year after the now infamous “test-case” of how a disinformation campaign would work in Germany: the Lisa case, in which pro-Kremlin media falsely reported that a thirteen-year-old girl had been raped by migrants. In all cases, the disinformation tries to fuel the most negative emotions of the general public towards refugees, something which has proved to be a favourite strategy of pro-Kremlin media across Europe over the past year.

Talking about facts is an attack on our freedom!

The pro-Kremlin campaign against institutions fighting disinformation that we reported about already last year continued in the beginning of 2017.

Most originated in Czech disinformation-oriented outlets, and were clearly reacting to the establishment of the new government unit for countering terrorism and hybrid threats (including disinformation). In the table you will find multiple claims such as that the new centre will prosecute people who do not have the “right” opinion, that it will “create truth”, and that it is an attack on freedom of speech.

So just to make it clear again: the new Czech centre will only highlight and warn against dangerous disinformation. Setting the record straight is not a violation of the freedom of speech. And intentionally misleading and lying is not an “opinion”. It is simply misleading and lying.

Disinformation cases reported in the previous week

European politicians and officials cooperate with the migration wave organizers
Additional details: European politicians and officials cooperate with the migration wave organizers. Mainstream media are silent about it.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2i5tWwv
Disinforming outlet(s): parlamentnilisty.cz
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory with no evidence given.

Keywords: Mainstream media, Migration crisis
Countries: Europe
More
In the alleged fight against "fake news", Facebook has given...
Additional details: In the alleged fight against "fake news", Facebook has given third-party fact-checkers the access to private data and private messages.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2jtFcDl
Disinforming outlet(s): ac24.cz
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

Untrue. Third-party fact-checkers will have the right to analyze only the shared content (i.e. not the private): http://bit.ly/2gO3OFX

Keywords: Facebook
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EU is sending 140 million euros to Sudan
Additional details: EU is sending 140 million euros to Sudan. In exchange armed groups in Sudan will carry out a massacre of migrants in order to prevent migration crisis in Europe.
Language / Targeted audience: Lithuania
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iJeULX
Disinforming outlet(s): Versijos.lt
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

No evidence given for this conspiracy theory. The picture used in the article is a AFP-picture of crimes commited by IS in 2014.http://huff.to/2hXCYM4

Keywords: Migration crisis
Countries: Europe, Sudan, EU
More
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine does not patrol...
Additional details: The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine does not patrol the area of Debaltseve due to indifference.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2i8vVAg
Disinforming outlet(s): Miastok
Reported by: Oleksandr Nykonorov, journalist for Depo.ua, blogger, researcher
Disproof note:

No evidence presented. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine has a Forward Patrol Base in Debaltseve. In times of intense fighting the Mission has evacuated the base for security reasons but around the 23 December the reports show that the monitors were in the area of Debaltseve http://bit.ly/2izq4zW and that is also the case now http://bit.ly/2izj46o.

Keywords: OSCE
Countries: Ukraine
More
Citizens of Ukraine-controlled city of Krasnohorivka burned three militants from...
Additional details: Citizens of Ukraine-controlled city of Krasnohorivka burned three militants from nationalistic volunteer battalion while they rested in sauna, which proves that the locals hate the banderist thugs.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iIqGqj
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik CZ
Reported by: Collected by the Prague Security Studies Institute within the framework of the Centre for International Relations‘ project co-financed by the Visegrad Fund
Disproof note:

The cause of fire (that occurred 21.12.) is unknown and it is being investigated. The involvement of local citizens was not proven: http://bit.ly/2j4EXuh // Repeating disinformation about "nazis governing Ukraine".

Keywords: War crimes
Countries: Ukraine
More
The 9/11 terror attacks in the US were in fact...
Additional details: The 9/11 terror attacks in the US were in fact organised by US intelligence agencies.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2jafCQe
Disinforming outlet(s): REN TV on youtube (02:20)
Reported by: Oleksandr Nykonorov, journalist for Depo.ua, blogger, researcher
Disproof note:

Often used conspiracy theory disproven by e.g the independent bipartisan 9/11 Commission Report http://bit.ly/2j6K3JT, http://bit.ly/2iwak0Q.

Keywords: 9/11, Secret services, Conspiracy
Countries: US
More
The tragedy of the Tu-54 with the Alexandrov choir might...
Additional details: The tragedy of the Tu-54 with the Alexandrov choir might have been the American revenge for Russia's hacking of US elections Barack Obama was speaking about earlier.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iIlF1j
Disinforming outlet(s): Protiproud
Reported by: Collected by the Prague Security Studies Institute within the framework of the Centre for International Relations‘ project co-financed by the Visegrad Fund
Disproof note:

No evidence for this conspiracy theory given.

Keywords: Alexandrov choir, Elections, Barack Obama
Countries: Russia, US
More
700,000 Germans have left the country because of Merkel
Additional details: 700,000 Germans have left the country because of Merkel.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iH7siG
Disinforming outlet(s): RIA Novosti
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

No evidence to support the claim. According to official German migration statistics, around 140 000 Germans migrate from the country every year, regardless of reason. http://bit.ly/1xB61Fl

Keywords: Angela Merkel
Countries: Germany
More
Daesh was created and trained by the US
Additional details: Daesh was created and trained by the US.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iVhlt9
Disinforming outlet(s): REN TV on youtube (07:00)
Reported by: Oleksandr Nykonorov, journalist for Depo.ua, blogger, researcher
Disproof note:

Often repeated disinformation. In 2014 the US created the Global Coalition to counter Daesh http://bit.ly/1ziAxlq. Western military action in Syria and Iraq has clearly targeted Daesh. Western support for the Syrian opposition's success in retaking Dabiq represented a major defeat for Daesh.

Keywords: Daesh
Countries: US
More
Ukrainian authorities have banned Santa Claus since he is associated...
Additional details: Ukrainian authorities have banned Santa Claus since he is associated with Putin, and are now encouraging satanic rituals instead.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2j94UcI
Disinforming outlet(s): Novorosinform.org
Reported by: Oleksandr Nykonorov, journalist for Depo.ua, blogger, researcher
Disproof note:

No evidence given for this conspiracy theory. The "satanic rituals" referred to are the Halloween celebrations in October.

Keywords: Satanism, Vladimir Putin
Countries: Ukraine
More
Russian media is being discriminated in the Baltic states as...
Additional details: Russian media is being discriminated in the Baltic states as the freedom of speech is restricted.
Language / Targeted audience: Lithuania
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iLJ2og
Disinforming outlet(s): Versijos.lt
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

The Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania suspended broadcasting of RTR Planeta for 3 months since they were found guilty of instigating war and national hatred, violating directive 2010/13/EU http://bit.ly/28PAfvX at least twice during a 12 month period.http://bit.ly/2iYmsIy. That has nothing to do with "freedom of speech".

Keywords: Freedom of speech, Media
Countries: Russia, Baltic states
More
US Senator John McCain is a supporter of Daesh
Additional details: US Senator John McCain is a supporter of Daesh.
Language / Targeted audience: Lithuania
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iPSPfa
Disinforming outlet(s): Laivaslaikrastis.lt
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

No evidence presented for this conspiracy theory. US Senator John McCain among others visited Lithuania on 29 December 2016. On the same day disinformation about the senator was spread in order to compromise him in the eyes of the Lithuanian people.

Keywords: NATO, John McCain, Daesh
Countries: US
More
A "Maidan" (overthrowing of the president) will take place in...
Additional details: A "Maidan" (overthrowing of the president) will take place in Belarus.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iXmxwG
Disinforming outlet(s): Politrussia.com
Reported by: Oleksandr Nykonorov, journalist for Depo.ua, blogger, researcher
Disproof note:

No evidence presented and no reports from credible sources concerning this.

Keywords: Colour revolutions
Countries: Belarus
More
Women were sexually attacked during the New Year's Eve, e
Additional details: Women were sexually attacked during the New Year's Eve, e.g. in Cologne.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2hXjCqv
Disinforming outlet(s): euportal.parlamentnilisty.cz
Reported by: Collected by the Prague Security Studies Institute within the framework of the Centre for International Relations‘ project co-financed by the Visegrad Fund
Disproof note:

There were no incidents of that kind in Cologne due to strict police measures: http://bit.ly/2ilJD1t

Keywords: Sexual harassment, Cologne assaults
Countries: Germany
More
Law enforcement authorities in the EU member states do not...
Additional details: Law enforcement authorities in the EU member states do not protect victims of criminal migrants.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iXl5ds
Disinforming outlet(s): REN TV on youtube (11:40)
Reported by: Oleksandr Nykonorov, journalist for Depo.ua, blogger, researcher
Disproof note:

No evidence presented for these claims. All EU countries are governed by the rule of law, where everyone should be treated equally before the law.

Keywords: Migration crisis
Countries: EU
More
The EU will impose a terror tax on Bulgaria and...
Additional details: The EU will impose a terror tax on Bulgaria and other member states, similar to the terror tax introduced in France.
Language / Targeted audience: Bulgaria
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iIEgcX
Disinforming outlet(s): The Bulgarian Times
Reported by: PhD Candidate
Disproof note:

There is no official indication whatsoever, that the EU or Bulgaria will adopt any such measure. More importantly, the EU does not have a direct role in raising taxes or setting tax rates. The amount of tax you pay in each member state is decided by the government in every member state, not the EU. http://bit.ly/2ij9kNm

Keywords: Terrorism
Countries: Bulgaria, EU, France
More
The Ukrainian Armed Forces are decimated by the current flu...
Additional details: The Ukrainian Armed Forces are decimated by the current flu epidemia and the spread of SARS.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iuAelC
Disinforming outlet(s): Zvezda
Reported by: Oleksandr Nykonorov, journalist for Depo.ua, blogger, researcher
Disproof note:

No evidence given for the claims. Whereas it is indeed a flu season in Ukraine (as in many other European countries), around 69% of those affected were children. http://bit.ly/2j90G4X. There are no reports of the Ukrainian Armed Forces being decimated, nor of the spread of SARS.

Keywords: Diseases, War in Ukraine
Countries: Ukraine
More
The Czech Center against terrorism and hybrid threats (CTHT) will...
Additional details: The Czech Center against terrorism and hybrid threats (CTHT) will enable prosecution of people for having a different opinion.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iumuHn
Disinforming outlet(s): aeronet.cz
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

The CTHT will publish statements when a potentially harmful disinformation appears: http://bit.ly/2iUrVma Setting the record straight when a disinformation, i.e. a factually wrong message, appears has nothing to do with "opinion".

Keywords: Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, Terrorism
Countries: Czech Republic
More
The Czech Center against terrorism and hybrid threats (CTHT) aims...
Additional details: The Czech Center against terrorism and hybrid threats (CTHT) aims at creating and distributing the only permitted truth and the only allowed opinion.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2jjRppP
Disinforming outlet(s): parlamentnilisty.cz
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

The CTHT will publish statements when a potentially harmful disinformation appears: http://bit.ly/2iUrVma. Setting the record straight when a disinformation, i.e. a factually wrong message, appears has nothing to do with "opinion".

Keywords: Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, Terrorism
Countries: Czech Republic
More
A mob of 1,000 men who chanted "Allahu Akhbar" set...
Additional details: A mob of 1,000 men who chanted "Allahu Akhbar" set fire to Germany's oldest church on New Years Eve in Dortmund.
Language / Targeted audience: English
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2i6DaVf
Disinforming outlet(s): Breitbart
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

The report was attributed to local news site Ruhr Nachrichten, which answered by accusing Breitbart of “using our online reports for fake news, hate and propaganda.” In fact, St.Reinold is not Germany's oldest church - that would be the Cathedral of Trier - and a small fire had started on some netting on scaffolding around the church, not the roof, due to one firework. And while Breitbart states that the "fireworks were launched at" the church, there was no indication from local news outlets or from the fire services that the fire had been started intentionally. The fire was small and lasted 12 minutes before firefighters put it out, Ruhr Nachrichten reports. Police told local media that overall it was a quiet night.http://bit.ly/2igqfjC

Keywords: Terrorism, Migration crisis
Countries: Germany
More
The Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats (CTHT), which was...
Additional details: The Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats (CTHT), which was recently established under the Ministry of Interior, will carry out the censorship of the Internet. The CTHT is similar to the censorship functions of the communist dictatorship.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iPxQJs
Disinforming outlet(s): czechfreepress.cz
Reported by: Collected by the Prague Security Studies Institute within the framework of the Centre for International Relations‘ project co-financed by the Visegrad Fund
Disproof note:

The aim of the Centre against terrorism and hybrid threats in this field is to monitor the development of disinformation campaigns, to propose legislative or field countermeasures and to spread awareness of the public and expert society (http://bit.ly/2eeP1Bn).

Keywords: Internet, Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, Censorship, Terrorism
Countries: Czech Republic
More
The West is to blame for the plane crash in...
Additional details: The West is to blame for the plane crash in Kaliningrad Airport on the 4th of January, as well as for the lack of emergency preparedness at the airport.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2hWiDVQ
Disinforming outlet(s): Regnum.ru
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

No evidence or explanation given for the claims. Actually, Kaliningrad’s acting governor, Anton Alikhanov has stated that he takes responsibility for the problems at the airport after the crash. http://bit.ly/2j7KX5g

Keywords: Kaliningrad, The West
Countries: Russia, The West
More
The EU is losing interest in Moldova and Moldova should...
Additional details: The EU is losing interest in Moldova and Moldova should therefore turn towards the Eurasian Union.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2hYru68
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Moldova
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

No evidence given. The EU's imports from Moldova increased by 5% from €1.16 billion to €1.22 billion in 2015. The European Union is Moldova's biggest trade partner. Around 62% of its exports are sent to the EU, followed by Russia (12%). The Association Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Moldova was signed in June 2014 and has only been in full effect since July 2016.http://bit.ly/2fq1Euh

Keywords: EEU
Countries: Moldova, EU
More
A well-known chocolate brand uses child labour in Romania
Additional details: A well-known chocolate brand uses child labour in Romania.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2i5fhBF
Disinforming outlet(s): Rossiya 1 Vesti (25:55)
Reported by: East StratCom Network
Disproof note:

The story first appeared in British tabloid The Sun in November 2016 http://bit.ly/2fmuStk and was disproven as fake a couple of days later by Deutsche Welle http://bit.ly/2i885jl. On the Romanian television channel Digi24, the children's mother denied the British tabloid's story. She said it had been staged, and that she'd been told the British journalists were filming an advert for Kinder Surprise. She hadn't understood everything that was said to her in English.

Keywords: Big business
Countries: Romania
More
A young member of the Democratic Party (US) was killed...
Additional details: A young member of the Democratic Party (US) was killed for providing secret documents to Julian Assange. It was not Russia who hacked the DNC.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2i5jg0P
Disinforming outlet(s): protiproud.parlamentnilisty.cz
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theories with no evidence given. The American intelligence community concludes the DNC hacks were performed by Russia: http://bit.ly/2iRbS9b

Keywords: Julian Assange, Democratic Party (US)
Countries: Russia, US
More
Barrack Obama intends to start a war bigger than all...
Additional details: Barrack Obama intends to start a war bigger than all the other wars he is already involved in, to declare martial law, remain in power and stop Donald Trump. Obama is also responsible for the creation of Daesh.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2iUAUDF
Disinforming outlet(s): parlamentnilisty.cz
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theories with no evidence given.

Keywords: Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Daesh
Countries: US
More
Estonian President refused to congratulate Orthodox Christians on Christmas
Additional details: Estonian President refused to congratulate Orthodox Christians on Christmas.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2jv8MYS
Disinforming outlet(s): Baltnews.lv
Reported by: Biedriba Novosti
Disproof note:

The Estonian President always makes one greeting that goes out to everyone. http://bit.ly/2i9tbxz The previous President of Estonia was accused of the same thing last year http://bit.ly/2iby61a.

Keywords: Christmas, Christianity
Countries: Estonia
More
The Vatican has officially recognized self proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk...
Additional details: The Vatican has officially recognized self proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2i6tWMR
Disinforming outlet(s): Whoswhos.org
Reported by: Oleksandr Nykonorov, journalist for Depo.ua, blogger, researcher
Disproof note:

No evidence of these claims and no reports of any such statements on the official website of the Vatican State or in any credible media outlets.

Keywords: DPR, LPR
Countries: Vatican, Ukraine
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