Happy Halloween everyone! Even if this holiday is not widely celebrated where you live, who doesn’t appreciate the fun of trick-or-treating or the ancient Celtic traditions behind All Hallows Eve? But for pro-Kremlin messengers, Halloween is yet another apparition of an invasive Western culture that is hell-bent on corrupting traditional Christian values. This week, a Russian MP suggested that those who celebrate Halloween today will play with rubber women (ahem…sex dolls) tomorrow. Read the full story here. The suggestion is as ridiculous as it is sinister. It plays into the larger pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative targeting mainly Eastern European audiences that any step towards the West will lead down a path of moral degradation and loss of national identity. Thus, the Georgians were told this week that in order to join NATO, they will have to legalize gay relationships; warned that George Soros together with pro-Western politicians will destroy Georgian values, culture and nationality; and reminded that Georgian language and culture were dearly protected under the USSR. None of these statements have any basis in reality.

Disinformation tricks

As the saying goes, the devil’s greatest trick was to convince the world it did not exist. Apparently learning from the best, the pro-Kremlin media are trying to pull a trick and convince their audiences that the truth cannot be known. They do this in various ways, for example by spinning elaborate conspiracy theories to sow doubt and confusion: this week, the pro-Kremlin media claimed that instead of killing the leader of Daesh, the US may have actually evacuated him. Other times, they disseminate contradictory messages about the same subject. For example, Lithuania is both under external control and a totalitarian state! (May we also remind you of the 150+ different disinformation narratives about the Skripal poisoning?). And most insidiously, the pro-Kremlin media relentlessly smear those whose duty it is to investigate and report the facts. Buzzfeed and Bellingcat – which conducted independent journalistic investigations into the downing of flight MH17 and the Skripal poisoning – were accused of spreading anti-Russian disinformation. The OPCW, whose reports on the chemical weapons attacks in Syria fly in the face of attempts to whitewash Assad’s crimes, was blamed for suppressing key evidence in its investigations. And as a cherry on top, French president Emmanuel Macron was accused of “modern-day racism” for calling out RT and Sputnik as agents of influence and propaganda in the past, while Sputnik Deutsch claimed that Russia has never done anything bad to anyone in the information field. Ofcom, the UK media regulator that recently fined RT for breaching the impartiality rules, would probably disagree.

Pro-Kremlin treats

This week EUvsDisinfo story on how the pro-Kremlin media are desperately seeking recognition for the illegal annexation of Crimea was highlighted by @RussianEmbassyC. This is hardly the first time that the social media accounts of Russian diplomatic representations spread disinformation. This time we were treated to a full collection of disinformation tactics and narratives in a single tweet: there’s a whataboutist reference to Europe’s colonial past, disinformation about the illegal annexation of Crimea, a reference to the West’s double standards and even a nod to a conspiracy theory about the masters of the world. Coincidentally, this week Sputnik also kept hammering the same disinformation message about a “democratic referendum” in Crimea in English, Arabic, and Serbian. This “referendum” is not recognized either by the EU or the United Nations. Meanwhile, Russian state-controlled TV channels continued to treat their domestic audiences to seemingly endless disinformation about Ukraine, claiming that the EU has turned away from Ukraine, that Ukrainian autocephalous church is a US project and that Ukraine wants to preserve itself as an anti-Russian project.

And finally…zombie narratives

Some 2000 years ago, the Celts believed that on the night of what is today called Halloween, the ghosts of the dead return to Earth. Perhaps in the same spirit, the pro-Kremlin media resurrected a number of disinformation narratives that originated years ago and have been repeatedly debunked. One example is the Pentagon’s alleged biological experiments in Georgia’s Lugar lab, with the earliest case in EUvsDisinfo database dating back to 2016. Another is the allegation that Georgian snipers shot Maidan protesters in Ukraine back in 2014 (a case that dates back to 2017 at least, and has been extensively debunked). There were also claims that Ukraine is about to disintegrate (going back to 2016). Such “undead” (or should we say zombie?) messages illustrate how much pro-Kremlin disinformation relies on constant repetition and redundancy to create the illusion that multiple independent sources repeat the same message. Much like zombies, this disinformation is out to devour your brain.


related disinfo cases

29.10.2019
Ria Novosti
USSR, Russia, Finland
25.10.2019
Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Russia, Belarus
28.10.2019
Sputnik Spain
US, Syria
21.10.2019
Sputnik English
Russia, US
25.10.2019
Sputnik Italia
Russia, US
23.10.2019
RT English
Syria
27.10.2019
gazeta.ru
Russia, Baltic states, Lithuania, US
25.10.2019
Tsargrad TV, Ria Novosti
Russia, Ukraine
24.10.2019
regnum.ru
Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus
22.10.2019
Imhoclub, Sozh
Russia, Ukraine, Belarus
23.10.2019
Tsargrad TV
UK, Russia, US, Germany
25.10.2019
Geopolitica.ru - Italian
Russia
28.10.2019
Ria Novosti
Africa, Middle East and Africa, Russia
26.10.2019
5-tv.ru
Russia
28.10.2019
News Front - Georgian
US, Georgia
25.10.2019
Sputnik Georgia - Russian
US, Georgia
24.10.2019
Sputnik South-Ossetia
Georgia
28.10.2019
Polit.info
22.10.2019
Sputnik Italia
Syria
28.10.2019
Sputnik Moldova, Sputnik Moldova - Russian, Sputnik Estonia - Russian, Sputnik Kazakhstan - Russian, Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Moldova, US
27.10.2019
Rossia 24 - YouTube
US
27.10.2019
Rossia 24 - YouTube
Greece, Ukraine, US
25.10.2019
60 minut @Rossiya 1 - YouTube
Russia
27.10.2019
Rossia 24 - YouTube
Ukraine, US
25.10.2019
RT English
Russia, France
25.10.2019
Geopolitica.ru - Russian
Russia, Ukraine
23.10.2019
Pervyi Kanal
Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Syria
24.10.2019
Pervyi Kanal
Ukraine
22.10.2019
Sputnik English
Russia, Ukraine
26.10.2019
RT France - YouTube, Sputnik France
Russia, US
24.10.2019
Marshalpress
Georgia
24.10.2019
Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Lithuania
22.10.2019
Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Lithuania, Belarus, US
25.10.2019
News agency REX
Ukraine, Georgia
23.10.2019
Saqinform
Georgia
23.10.2019
Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Hungary, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Poland
24.10.2019
Sputnik Belarus - Russian
Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, US
24.10.2019
Ria Novosti
Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, US
24.10.2019
Sputnik France
Malaysia, Russia, Ukraine, The Netherlands
25.10.2019
Sputnik Poland
Russia, US
19.10.2019
Sputnik Germany
Russia, US, France
25.10.2019
60 minut @Rossiya 1 - YouTube
Russia, Ukraine
25.10.2019
Sputnik France
US, Syria
03.10.2019
svpressa.ru
Russia
24.10.2019
Pervyi Kanal
Ukraine
09.10.2019
Georgia
25.10.2019
Sputnik Armenia - Russian
Ukraine
22.10.2019
Sputnik Serbia - Cyrillic
Serbia, Russia
21.10.2019
Ria Novosti
Ukraine, Belarus, Poland
21.10.2019
fondsk.ru
Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland
22.10.2019
Sputnik Arabic
Russia, US
22.10.2019
Sputnik Arabic
Russia, Ukraine
17.10.2019
Cezarium.com
Greece, Russia, Ukraine
17.10.2019
Teleskop, Sozh
Kazakhstan, Russia, Baltic states, Belarus
21.10.2019
Sputnik Armenia - Russian
UK, Ukraine
20.10.2019
Sputnik Serbia - Latin
Serbia
19.10.2019
Moldavskie Vedomosti, Komsomolskaya Pravda - Moldova, newsmd.md
Moldova, US
17.10.2019
RT Germany - YouTube
Afghanistan, Kosovo, US, Germany
15.10.2019
Dudinka.mk
North Macedonia
15.10.2019
60 minut @Rossiya 1 - YouTube
Norway, Russia