This week, European citizens head to the polls to vote in the European Union’s ninth parliamentary elections. 751 MEPs will be elected to represent over 512 million people from the EU’s 28 member states, thus assuming major influence over European policy-making for the next five years.

This edition of the Disinfo Review follows up on our first EU Elections Update: The Long Game.

 

A new “normal”?

Over the last few weeks, increasing attention has been devoted to the question of foreign (read: Russian) interference in the EP elections. With several high-profile cases of Kremlin-orchestrated meddling still vivid in our collective memory, the EU campaign period has been plagued by apprehension about how the Kremlin may seek to sway and/or undermine the electoral process this time around. In response to these concerns and to the growing demand for scrutiny of Russia’s influence efforts, a number of research and monitoring initiatives emerged in recent months to track, expose, and analyse election-related disinformation, as well as support the EU’s own evolving efforts to mitigate the problem, which include mounting pressure on social media companies to tackle their key role in facilitating the spread of disinformation.

But in the final days leading up to the vote, their findings appear to be anticlimactic: expectations of a massive coordinated influence campaign, targeted hack-and-leak operation, or other dramatic cyberattack have seemingly fallen short. The observed level of disinformation and manipulated online activity has been pretty much, well… normal. And much of it, importantly, now appears to be home-grown – motivated by populist, anti-establishment attitudes that are gaining traction across certain segments of the European electorate, and not coordinated directly by Russia or its immediate proxies (but certainly promoted by them!).

Compared to past elections, it may indeed seem like we have gotten off easy. But before we breathe a collective sigh of relief, let’s ask ourselves – is this a “normal” that we are willing to accept?

Because here is what this new “normal” actually means: it means that the Kremlin’s strategy is succeeding. It means that we risk becoming desensitized – even habituated – to the subversive efforts of a hostile foreign power aimed at damaging our democratic institutions and processes, and the values that have been essential to building a peaceful and prosperous post-World War II Europe.

The Kremlin’s five years of disinformation campaigns and related influence efforts do not suggest that it wants a Europe that is peaceful or prosperous. Rather, they suggest the opposite: that the Kremlin wants to see Europe fractured from within, weakened by EU secession efforts, national independence movements, and civil strife; a Europe that is inward-looking and that will not frustrate Russia’s strategic interests in the shared neighbourhood and farther abroad. Most importantly, the Kremlin wants a Europe that cannot or will not defend liberal-democratic values – nor inspire them elsewhere.

 

 

Following the bread crumbs

None of the above is speculation. Each of these claims derives directly from disinformation narratives originating in pro-Kremlin and Russian state media that we have been collating in the EUvsDisinfo database since 2015. We have meticulously documented evidence of the Kremlin’s enduring and assiduous disinformation campaign against Europe and the EU, including its institutions, policies, and values. Politicians who support the EU are routinely denigrated, ridiculed, or accused of corruption, while Eurosceptic voices are given prominence. And in the weeks and months leading up to the EP elections, these efforts have clearly persisted in multiple languages: every edition of the Disinfo Review includes cases of recurring disinformation narratives concerning the EU, ranging from deliberate distortions of reality to outright falsehoods. Behind the scenes, the trends are confirmed by our external media monitoring and data analysis team.

This week was no exception – in fact, we saw a slight increase in the overall number of stories attacking the EU. These covered a broad range of topics and deployed many common themes and narratives. For example, on the EU’s democratic (il)legitimacy, we saw stories claiming that lobbyists are the EU’s real rulers, that the EP has no power, and that the EU is a deeply undemocratic construct only serving the interests of a small wealthy elite. The migration issue was also exploited, memorably in one completely false story claiming that the Vice President of the European Commission said that “monocultural states must disappear and mass migration of Muslim men is a means to this end.” Pro-Kremlin media also played on the related narratives of “threatened values” – suggesting that Europe is abandoning its Christian roots (unlike Russia) – and “lost sovereignty” – claiming that Western Europe is dominated by the United States. Other stories included claims that the EU portrays itself as being ideologically superior to its constituent national governments.

The 10th anniversary of the EU’s Eastern Partnership program also received significant attention this week. The EaP was tied to a long list of sins by the pro-Kremlin media, including accusations that it is a concealed EU colonisation project, that it provoked the war in Donbas, and that its goal was always Russia’s isolation. According to one story, Belarus’s president skipped the summit in Brussels due to the possibility of being “physically eliminated”. Apparently, the EU capital may now be a hub for political assassinations!

 

 

Where do we go from here?

These examples, of course, are hardly an exhaustive list of the anti-European disinformation that is presently in circulation and being churned out every day by an ever more diffuse network of sources. This network, as noted earlier, is expanding and appears to be increasingly home-grown, motivated by politics of grievance and anti-establishment attitudes that, in some cases, are an organic reaction to the perceived failings of the European project and out-of-touch elites, combined with new economic and cultural insecurities fuelled by globalisation.

But that is not true in all cases. That’s the story the Kremlin would like you to believe, which conveniently whitewashes its concerted five-year campaign to destabilise Europe (and the West more broadly), precisely through the amplification and cultivation of these and other fringe voices, as well as opportunistic exploitation of crisis situations, like the Notre Dame fire, to push mendacious narratives.

The real story – one that should stoke our deep moral outrage, not inspire acceptance of a new “normal” – is that Russia’s seeds of subversion, carefully planted and cultivated for over half a decade, have successfully taken root and are now thriving independently. Today, on the eve of the European elections, the Kremlin merely hopes to reap what it sowed.

This strategy, importantly, is not new; it derives from the old-school Soviet practice of “active measures”. In a famous 1984 interview, Soviet defector and ex-KGB propagandist Yuri Bezmenov explains that the first objective of active measures is the demoralization of a society. He describes a slow process of brainwashing, ideological subversion, and psychological warfare that aims, over many years, to alter its target’s perception of reality. A society that is demoralized cannot effectively defend itself or act in its self-interest. Sound familiar?

But Russia also deserves recognition for its remarkable foresight about how our new digital tools and changes in our media and information environment could be weaponised to exploit and aggravate existing weaknesses. The Kremlin also figured out how to turn our strengths against us: in today’s digital ecosystem, core democratic values like free speech, transparency, and unrestricted access to information have transformed into vulnerabilities ripe for abuse. The digital world, as Timothy Snyder recently said, “spins ever fewer facts ever thinner, and into ever broader fantasies.” This is why, he explains, the populists are also the digitalists: for them, the flaws in our digital information architecture are actually made for purpose.

The Kremlin has shown us the tools which enable us to undermine ourselves from within. It pioneered the tactics and methods over many years, testing them first on its own citizens and eastern European countries (namely Ukraine), before exporting them to the West. And even though we saw the warning signs relatively early on, we have remained the proverbial frog in the boiling pot. If we are still to jump out in time, we cannot now sit back and complacently accept the “new normal”.

 

 

Russia is not part of the armed conflict in Donbas and does not provide the representatives of self-proclaimed republics with material or technical support
Additional details: Russia is not part of the armed conflict in Donbas and does not provide the representatives of self-proclaimed republics with material or technical support.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the lack of evidence of the presence of Russian troops involved in war in the East of Ukraine.

There is irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has stated that “the information available suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February 2014 when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government".

The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation"

At the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014, NATO leaders condemned Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in the strongest terms and demanded that Russia stop and withdraw its forces from Ukraine and along the country’s border.  NATO leaders also demanded that Russia comply with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities; end its illegitimate occupation of Crimea; refrain from aggressive actions against Ukraine; halt the flow of weapons, equipment, people and money across the border to the separatists; and stop fomenting tension along and across the Ukrainian border.

According to the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Russian special forces and troops operated to mobilise, lead, equip, and support separatist militias in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine from spring 2014 to the present, although their presence was denied by Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine in 2015.

For a similar case see here

Keywords: Eastern Ukraine, War in Ukraine, Donbas
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Western Europe is a subordinate to the Anglo-Saxon world, which is dominated by the US.
Additional details: The world consists of a number of competing civilisations. Western Europe is a Germanic-Roman civilisation which is, at present, subordinate to the Anglo-Saxon one. The latter is dominated by the US. Germany is fed up with this situation and lately has been attempting, unsuccessfully, to break free from the Anglo-Saxon chains.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Belarus
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is a conspiracy consistent with one of the most common pro-Kremlin narratives alleging that certain countries are no longer truly sovereign.

Germany and the US have close partner relations as two sovereign and independent countries.

See also earlier disinformation cases alleging that Germany is a vassal of the US, Germany is the executor of US hegemony over Europe; The USA is controlling Europe through occupied Germany; Germany will have to choose between defending Europe's interest and catering to Washington.

Read also about the concept of big conspiracy used by the pro-Kremlin media.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon, Conspiracy
Countries: Europe, The West, US, Germany
More
The Eastern Partnership Programme is a destructive anti-Russian project
Additional details: The Eastern Partnership Programme, which at the beginning was created to solve the issues of interaction of the post-Soviet countries with the EU, has turned into a destructive anti-Russian project.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: ukraina.ru/exclusive/20190514/1023579664.html
Disinforming outlet(s): Ukraina.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative accusing the West, and in this case the EU, of encircling Russia.

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint policy initiative which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union (EU), its Member States and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Read more about the Eastern Partnership and its priorities here.

The Eastern Partnership initiative is not against any country; it is a mutually beneficial and constructive platform for countries in the region to build a closer relationship with the EU, if they so choose. The EU does not demand that any of its partners make a choice between the EU or any other countries. It stands for good neighbourly relations. The Eastern Partnership respects the individual aspirations and ambitions of each partner country.

Read more on the most repeated myths about the Eastern Partnership initiative here.

Keywords: Ukraine, Diplomacy with Russia, Eastern Partnership, Encircling Russia, Anti-Russian
Countries: Russia
More
The Eastern Partnership Programme provoked the war in Donbas
Additional details: The Eastern Partnership programme is the reason why the military conflict in Donbas has lasted for five years.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: ukraina.ru/exclusive/20190514/1023579664.html
Disinforming outlet(s): Ukraina.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative accusing the West, and in this case the EU, of encircling Russia and initiating a war in Ukraine.

The Eastern Partnership programme is not directed against any country, including Russia.  It is a joint policy initiative which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union, its member states and six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Furthermore, there is irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court recognised that “the information available suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation".  The international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February 2014 when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government.

Keywords: Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine, Eastern Partnership, War in Ukraine
Countries: Ukraine
More
The Eastern Partnership Programme is a concealed form of colonisation
Additional details: Member States [of the Eastern Partnership Programme] had to adopt European standards, to subordinate to the European foreign policy in order to break up the political and economic interconnection of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] countries.  The programme did not assume equal relations between Ukraine, Moldova and the EU, but was rather a veiled form of colonisation.[...]
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: ukraina.ru/exclusive/20190514/1023579664.html
Disinforming outlet(s): Ukraina.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Western aggression and the Eastern Partnership Programme

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint policy initiative which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the European Union (EU), its Member States and its six Eastern neighbours: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Read more about the Eastern Partnership and its priorities here.

The Eastern Partnership initiative is not against any country; it is a mutually beneficial and constructive platform for countries in the region to build a closer relationship with the EU, if they so choose. The EU does not demand that any of its partners need to make a choice between the EU or any other countries. It stands for good neighbourly relations. The Eastern Partnership respects the individual aspirations and ambition of each partner country.

Also read more on the most repeated myths about the Eastern Partnership initiative here.

Keywords: Ukraine, Eastern Partnership, Europe
Countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia
More
Ukraine's claims for rights to the Kerch Strait are completely inappropriate
Additional details: Claims presented by Ukraine to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea concerning the country’s rights to the Kerch strait are completely inappropriate. Questions of sovereignty over the Crimea as an integral part of the Russian Federation and the adjacent maritime zone, in principle, can not be the subject of any legal proceedings.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian, RIA Novosti Crimea
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The disinformation message is a response to the hearing on May 10 at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea of Ukraine’s case concerning last year’s detention by the Russian Federation of three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews. Russia declined to participate in the hearings claiming that the International Tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to hear this case.

According to international law, Ukraine has a right to use the Black and Azov Seas. The illegal annexation of Crimea does not deprive Ukraine of the right to navigate in its internal waters.

In 2012, Ukraine and Russia concluded an additional agreement ensuring safe navigation in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait.

Article 44 of the UN International Convention on the Law of the Sea states that bordering states are not allowed to hinder international shipping in the strait.

Both Russia and Ukraine are party to several treaties, laws and regulations that guarantee the free use of those seas by both countries. In December 2003, Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement on cooperation on using the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. The agreement states that any vessel, including warships, can freely move through the waters of the strait and the surrounding area.

 

 

Keywords: Azov sea, Kerch, Crimea
Countries: Ukraine
More
Petro Poroshenko deliberately created complications for the Zelenskyi administration through a new law on the Ukrainian language
Additional details: At the end of his term, the fifth president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, managed to harm the new president of the country, Volodymyr Zelenskyi.  In order to complicate the Zelenskyi administration’s work and provoke social tensions in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, before the inauguration of Zelenskyi, specially signed a new law "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language".
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH0Hs6niuew
Disinforming outlet(s): 60 Minut @ Rossiya 1 time 50:40, 1:01:00
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory, consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the language law in Ukraine. See previous cases here.

The Verkhovna Rada passed the law "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language", on April 29, 2019. The law establishes mandatory use of the Ukrainian language in most areas of public and communal life, including the mass media.

The law was submitted to a vote by the Verkhovna Rada in back 2017. In October 2018, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the draft law on the state language in the first reading.  At the end of February 2019, it began consideration of the second reading, which lasted almost two months. The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, signed the law, in line with his Constitutional powers at the time.

Keywords: Volodymyr Zelensky, Petro Poroshenko
Countries: Ukraine
More
The lobbyists are real rulers of the EU
Additional details: The industry lobbyists are the real rulers of the EU.
The true rulers of the EU are, therefore, the international owners of the banks and corporations that hide behind such gigantic financial organisations and that live all over the world. They do not identify with Europe and certainly not with the people living here.
From the very beginning, the EU has been less about the welfare of people who have been beguiled with open borders (for cheap workers from Eastern Europe) rather than, for example, about the abolition of rights to social security, employment protection and dismissal protection fought for by the labour movement, which are being dismantled by the lobbyists.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory and recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the undemocratic EU and on the failed European values.

The EU's broad priorities are set by the European Council, which brings together national and EU-level leaders. Directly elected MEPs represent European citizens in the European Parliament. The interests of the EU as a whole are promoted by the European Commission, whose members are appointed by national governments. Governments defend their own country's national interests in the Council of the European Union. Read more about the EU decision making process here.

Interest representation (lobbying) is regulated at the EU level. The EU Transparency Register oversees what interests are being represented at EU level; who represents those interests, and on whose behalf; with what budgets. Among others, it has a public website where organisations representing particular interests at EU level register and update information about their interests. A Code of Conduct also sets out the rules for all those who register and establishes the underlying principles for standards of behaviour in all relations with the EU institutions.

 

 

Keywords: Euro-scepticism, EU disintegration, European values, Secret elites / global elites, Conspiracy
Countries: EU
More
The European Parliament has no powers in the EU
Additional details: The European Parliament has no powers in the EU.

The European Parliament is not allowed to adopt or decide anything, but only has an advisory function. Policy in the European Union is not decided by the EU Parliament, but by the Commissioners in the EU Commission, who are appointed or dismissed by the EU President.

In fact, not much would change if we had no EU Parliament. It is a representative body. It used to be possible to do without a directly elected parliament and the EU could continue to exist without it.

 

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

Recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative questioning the EU institutions' legitimacy and powers and seeking to discourage voter turnout in elections.

The European Parliament is a directly-elected institution. Since 1979, it has been elected by EU voters every 5 years. The last elections were in May 2014.

The European Parliament is one of the EU's two law-making bodies. It has constitutional-type and ratification powers.  It passes EU laws, together with the Council of the EU, based on European Commission proposals.  It has budgetary powers, scrutiny over the executive, hears citizens’ petitions, and appoints the European Ombudsman.  A detailed overview of the European Parliament’s role in the European decision-making process can be consulted here.

As EU co-operation evolved with time, the European Parliament progressed from a purely advisory role to one of co-decision on an equal footing with the Council. The Lisbon Treaty expanded the number of policies which are subject to ordinary legislative procedure to virtually all areas including the areas of freedom, security and justice, external trade, environmental policy and the common agricultural policy.

 

Keywords: Euro-scepticism, EU elections 2019, European Parliament, EU disintegration, Europe
Countries: EU
More
The EU portrays itself as ideologically "better" than its member states
Additional details: The EU portrays itself as ideologically "better" than its member states.

In the vociferous election campaigns, it is emphasised that the European Union is an ideologically "better" political institution than the national governments of the individual member states.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given. Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on the EU as a disunited and disintegrating bloc, on the corrupt and undemocratic EU and on the failed European values.

The European Union does not portray itself as ideologically "better" than its member states.  The EU is a political and economic union of 28 Member States. The EU's values are common to the EU countries in a society in which inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination prevail.  These values are an integral part of our European way of life: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and human rights.  This means that each member state of the EU is considered as equal.

These values form the basis of the EU and are laid out in the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Charter of fundamental rights. They are common to the EU and all member states.

Political decisions in the EU are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizens. The EU is governed by the principle of representative democracy, with citizens directly represented both at Union level in the European Parliament and also Member States represented in the European Council and the Council of the EU.

Keywords: Euro-scepticism, EU disintegration, European values, Europe
Countries: EU
More
There is no evidence of Russian interference in Western elections
Additional details: There is no evidence of Russian interference in Western elections.
It is almost a tradition: as soon as elections take place somewhere, preferably in Western countries, warnings of possible Russian influence make the rounds. In the run-up to the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament, this concern is also a worry for those responsible in the EU countries. However, there are no indications of any such activities from the Russian side.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutschland
RT Deutsch
RT Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that allegations of Russian interference in electoral processes in the EU and in the West are spread by European elites in order to divert attention from the real problems of  EU countries.

Disinformation produced and/or spread by Russian sources has been reported in the context of several elections and referenda in the EU, as noted in the EU's action plan against disinformation.

Ahead of the European elections 2019, Microsoft registered cyberattacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organisations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and that are often in contact with government officials.  Microsoft continues to investigate the sources of these attacks, but is confident that many of them originated from a group called Strontium, also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU.  Read more here.

Moreover, numerous investigations have provided convincing evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and in elections across Europe and in the US - see more information here, here and here.

See here for the list of the reports on Russian efforts to influence elections in various European countries.

 

 

Keywords: EU elections 2019, election meddling, Anti-Russian, Elections, The West
Countries: Russia, EU
More
Kyiv is not going to fulfil the Minsk Agreements
Additional details: Ukraine has repeatedly tried to solve this issue by force. This is what led to the Minsk agreements.  The words of the commander of the military operation, Sergei Naev, that they 'would need just one day of military action to liberate the occupied territory', once again confirm that the Ukrainian side is not going to fulfil the Minsk agreements.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Minsk agreements.

In the interview with "TSN. Tyzhden", which is being discussed, General Sergiy Naev only answered the journalist's question about how long the liberation of occupied territories would take. At the same time, General Sergiy Naev noted in the same interview that at the moment there are no immediate plans for the returning the occupied territories, and the operation first and foremost has a stabilisation function.

 

Keywords: Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine, War in Ukraine, Minsk agreements
Countries: Ukraine
More
Bloomberg started information war against Russia and works against Belarus-Russia relations
Additional details: Bloomberg wrote about Vladimir Putin's insidious plot concerning Belarus and referred to an anonymous source close to the Kremlin. The anonymous source is a trick, as in reality it does not exist. Anything can be published based on references to the "sources close to the Kremlin". Bloomberg does its best to turn Belarus and Russia against each other to prevent the establishment of the Union State between the two countries. Bloomberg will continue writing about political and economic disagreements between Belarus and Russia, and its future allegations will be based on the "sources close to the Kremlin". It was indeed Bloomberg who started an information war against Russia, and it was Bloomberg who was at the head of all international conflicts.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Podneprovie-info
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is conspiracy which is consistent with repetitive pro-Kremlin narratives about the West staging an anti-Russia information war, West's attempts to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations, and about Western media outlets as subservient to Western political elites.

On 24 April 2019 Bloomberg published an article, titled Putin’s Term Limit Stirs Fears of a Takeover in Belarus. It says that Russia's recent slash of economic subsidies to Belarus fuels fears in Minsk that the Kremlin may look for Belarus' possible absorption. According to the article, three people close to the Kremlin said to Bloomberg that "Putin may lay plans to head a unified state with neighboring Belarus to sidestep a constitutional ban on remaining president after 2024."

The use of unnamed sources does not violate journalist ethics under certain conditions. It is justified when information from source is important to the story, could not be obtained any other way and the source is credible, the International Journalists' Network explainer says.

After an increase in tensions between Belarus and Russia in December 2018, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko himself publicly spoke about Moscow's interest to incorporate Belarus under the cover of 'deep integration'. Belarusian and Russian state-owned and state-controlled media regularly report about political and economic disagreements between the two countries. Episodic Bloomberg publications about Belarus-Russia relations do not stand out in this respect.

See a similar recent disinformation case alleging that Russian company Rosneft is an object of defamatory campaign by Reuters and other western media.

Keywords: Anti-Russian, Media, Information war, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, The West, Belarus
More
Ukraine is a degrading state
Additional details: If one would compare Ukraine to a hotel, one could say it sank to the ranking of a two-star hotel. Ukraine is degrading rapidly. The situation for the Ukrainian people is very sad.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: youtu.be/4YfHy7RlN10?t=393
Disinforming outlet(s): 60 minut @ Rossiya 1 time 06:40
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given. Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine as a failed state.

 

Keywords: Ukraine, Abandoned Ukraine, Economic difficulties
Countries: Ukraine
More
There are more than 4 million refugees in Germany
Additional details: About 3 million Afghan refugees are stuck in Iran. Tehran with the great effort delays them, not allowing to continue their way further to Germany or France. If the Afghans succeed in entering Europe, Germany will be doomed. There are already more than 4 million refugees (mainly from Syria). And France is not in the best shape although there are not so many migrants there.But the situation in North Africa shows that Paris will still be weeping because of this problem.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Armenia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the migration crisis in Europe.

Exaggerated and unproven information on 4 million refugees in Germany. No evidence or reliable sources given. During 2015 and 2016, Germany admitted more than one million persons seeking protection. Germany reported the largest total number of immigrants (917.1 thousand) in 2017. According to a recent (February 2019) factsheet from the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), the number of refugees in Germany is 1,4 million.

Keywords: migration, Refugees, Islamisation
Countries: Iran, Germany
More
In contrast to Russia, western Europe is abandoning Christian roots
Additional details: Western Europe is moving away from its Christian roots. The western European society gets dominated by materialism and pursuit of money. Western Europeans are disappointed with the Christian church primarily because of the way of life of local priests, which is full of materialism and debauchery. European culture has abandoned Christianity, and is getting absorbed by Muslim migrants. In contrast, the Russian Orthodox Church has preserved the original Christian spirit. Eastern Slavs are more likely to sacrifice themselves and their lives for the others.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sozh.info
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the Islamisation of Europe, in line with a similar narrative on the morally decaying West.

Despite the dropping levels of religious practice in Europe, the majority of western Europeans still identify themselves as Christians, a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center shows. According to the same survey, 31% of western Europeans who identify themselves as Christians attend religious services at least monthly. At the same time one of the 2018 polls in Russia concluded that 17% of Russians who identify themselves as Orthodox Christians attend church at least monthly.

See a collection of earlier disinformation cases concerning the Orthodox church.

Keywords: Orthodox Church, Russian superiority, Muslim/Islam, Conspiracy, Christianity
Countries: Russia, The West
More
George Soros controls Ukrainian leader
Additional details: Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy and numerous members of his team are stooges of George Soros and the Liberals.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The story advances the recurring pro-Kremlin narrative painting Ukraine as a geopolitical hostage of the United States, and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory portraying philanthropist George Soros as a menace bent on weakening Russia and meddling in its "sphere of influence."

No sources are presented for the claim, and not a single member of Zelenskyy's team are named. The imagined links between Soros and Zelenskyy were first reported by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official newspaper of the Russian government, in a February 2019 article which counts "friends of George Soros and other globalists" among members of Zelenskyy's election team, without further elaboration.

The Soros-Zelenskyy angle has since been picked up by pro-Kremlin websites in Russia and Ukraine, although the stories are usually unburdened by evidence. In a rare stab at fact-based reporting, one Russian website draws a link between Soros and Zelenskyy's economic adviser by noting that, in 1993, the latter enrolled in an Estonian university where the tuition fee for his first year of study was partly covered by the Soros Fund.

Keywords: Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine, US presence in Europe, Puppets, Ukrainian statehood, George Soros
Countries: Ukraine, US
More
Western powers try to keep Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the dark
Additional details: Western governments use different methods to prevent awareness in the public on the tremendous Soviet contribution to victory over Nazi Germany in World War II and its suffering. This censorship is a defence mechanism of capitalism, to keep in the dark that there was an alternative to it and many people fought and died for that alternative.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): News programme @RT Spanish on 09.05.2019 time 22.50-23:33; 26:35-26:55, Sputnik Spanish
Reported by:
Disproof note:

An unfounded claim, not supported by evidence. European political leaders were present at Victory Day celebrations until the Russian aggression in Ukraine; media, scholars and historians in Europe are regularly describing the Soviet war effort. In several European countries, memorials are in place to commemorate Russia's contribution to the victory over Nazism.

As it is often the case in historical issues, the 'adequate' degree of attention paid to the different fronts in World War II is a subjective matter. However, affirming that there is a deliberate and concerted effort to ignore the USSR role in WWII in Western countries and that different methods are used to achieve it is a falseness. Actually, Vladimir Putin's government has consciously exploited the epic of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany for political reasons, and minimised the role played by other Allied powers.

You can see other examples of this exploitation here and here.

Keywords: World War 2, USSR
Countries: USSR
More
The Netherlands tried to hide important evidence of the MH17 disaster
Additional details: The Netherlands tried to hide important evidence of the MH17 disaster. Amsterdam wants to protect the Ukrainian authorities at all costs and blame Russia for the shooting down of the plane.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring MH17-related disinformation. According to the Dutch Council of State, it is necessary that the information remains confidential, as it is likely that disclosure thereof could jeopardise the proper functioning of the committee.  The Council found this more important than the interest of disclosure.  "The interest of disclosure does not outweigh the interest protected by the refusal, such as the relations of the Netherlands with other states and international organisations, respect for the privacy of the parties involved and the protection of personal policy views", the Council ruled.

The information that the Dutch militants are looking into how to use a BUK-missile to hit other military aircraft is pure conspiracy.

Background

Many competing and contradictory stories promulgated by Russian state-controlled media on MH17.

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team has concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskiy (or: Pervomaiskyi). At that time, the area was controlled by pro-Russian fighters.  The BUK-TELAR was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH-17, was taken back to the Russian Federation.

On 24 May 2018, JIT stated that the BUK-TELAR that was used to down MH17 originates from the 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade, a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation.

Keywords: MH17
Countries: Russia, Ukraine, The Netherlands
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Not a single air defence system of the Russian armed forces has ever crossed the Ukrainian border
Additional details: Not a single air defence system of the Russian armed forces has ever crossed the Ukrainian-[Russian] border.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

One of the multiple pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the downing of the MH17 flight.

The JIT has been able to identify a large part of the route concerning the arrival and the departure of the BUK-TELAR.  This was the result of intercepted telephone conversations, witness statements, photographs and videos that had been posted on social media, and a video never shown before which was obtained from a witness.  The system was transported from Russian territory into eastern Ukraine and was later transported on a white Volvo truck with a low-boy trailer.  The truck was escorted by several other vehicles and by armed men in uniform.

The Joint Investigation Team has concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskiy (or: Pervomaiskyi). At that time, the area was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. The BUK-TELAR was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH-17, was taken back to the Russian Federation.  

24 May 2018, JIT stated that the BUK-TELAR that was used to down MH17 originates from the 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade, a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation. The JIT reached this conclusion after extensive comparative research.  Several images of the BUK-TELAR with which MH17 was downed are available.  Analysis of those produces a number of characteristics.  The combination of those is so special that they can be considered as a fingerprint.  This fingerprint has been compared with numerous images of BUK-TELARS, both Ukrainian and Russian ones. The only BUK-TELAR on which this combination of characteristics also was found, is a BUK-TELAR that was recorded several times when it joined a convoy of the 53rd brigade on 23 – 25 June 2014. 

Furthermore, a joint international open source investigation led by Bellingcat has identified conclusively that the person of interest known as ‘Andrey Ivanovich’ or ‘Orion’ whose identity is sought by the Joint Investigating Team in connection with the criminal investigation into the downing of MH17, is in fact Russian citizen Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov.  Ivannikov was an officer of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Ministry of Defence (GRU), and served in that function until at least as late as September 2017.  During his undercover deployment to LNR, he coordinated and supervised the military activities of Russian militants, pro-Russian separatists and “private army” contingents from the Wagner group.  Ivannikov also supervised the procurement and transport of weapons across the Russia Ukraine border.  He held these functions at the time of the downing of MH17. 

The European Union and NATO have called on the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility and to fully cooperate with all efforts to establish accountability.

On the basis of the JIT’s conclusions, the Netherlands and Australia are convinced that Russia is responsible for the deployment of the Buk installation that was used to down MH17.  These two governments are formally holding Russia accountable. 

Keywords: MH17
Countries: Russia, Ukraine, The Netherlands
More
The West refuses to call the coup attempt in Venezuela 'a coup'
Additional details: In their efforts to support and legitimise the coup attempt in Venezuela led by self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó, the West refuses to call it ‘a coup’.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MVLggzGfhQ
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Spanish
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Affirming that “the West refuses to call it a coup” is a deliberate misrepresentation of reality, in line with Russia's long-term disinformation narrative about "Western-block interference" in Venezuela. You can see other examples of this narrative here and here.

Actually, there is no cohesive Western response in this regard, since every country adopted its own approach in conformity with its internal and foreign policy towards Venezuela. The US, Canada and 19 EU countries recognised Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela, while some others, such as Italy, refrained. The US tried to have Nicolás Maduro's Ambassador to the UN removed, but couldn't get support from other Western countries.

The US media were cautious about these events, talking of “a military uprising”, because the Trump Administration itself is denying they constituted a coup, since Juan Guaidó is “the legitimate interim president of Venezuela” with a right “to take command of the Venezuelan military”, according to US National Security Advisor John Bolton. There is a strong reason for this, because the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 requires the suspension of all foreign aid to any country that suffers a military coup. However, many European media openly talked of ‘failed coup attempt’, among them The Guardian, Financial Times, Euronews, Le Monde, Il Giornale or Cinco Días, just to name a few. Some others used the term, attributing it to the Venezuelan authorities. Also, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said that it was "an undeniable obviousness" that a coup attempt had taken place.

Keywords: Juan Guaido, Nicolas Maduro
Countries: Venezuela
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The EU and the US violate the rights of Russian journalists
Additional details: Over the past five years, there were hundreds of examples when rights of Russian journalists were violated in the Baltic States and other European countries, and in the US. They deport Russian journalists, freeze their accounts, restrict their activities, conduct unfounded searches in the offices of Russian media. International human rights organisations, and leaders of some European countries, mostly ignore these violations.

 

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

No evidence given. The claim was disseminated with reference to the case of Kirill Vyshinsky - head of RIA Novosti's Ukrainian branch, who was detained by SBU for treason.

An attempt of whataboutism and counter-accusations as international organisations often criticise Russia for violating the right to freedom of speech and rights of journalists. In fact, in 2014 Russia expelled an American journalist for the first time since the collapse of the USSR.

According to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press report, Russia is ranked as “not free.” 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 the persons affiliated with the authorities or the Kremlin.

The freest countries in terms of press freedom are the EU countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Estonia, Portugal, Germany, etc. The US press freedom index ranks 48th out of 180 countries. According to Freedom of Press 2017 report, the US is ranked as a "free" country, while the EU countries being "free" or "partly free".

The claim is the part of a bigger narrative of alleged Western attacks on Russian journalists. Similar cases can be found here, here, here and here.

Keywords: Human rights, Freedom of speech
Countries: Europe, Russia, US
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The Council of Europe is Russophobic and rulings from the Strasbourg Court are anti-Russian
Additional details: It is questionable, if Russia really needs membership of the Council of Europe in its present Russophobic form.

The negative attitude of the Russian public towards the European Court of Human Rights is partly explained by its regularly biased, anti-Russian judgments.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Belarus
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russophobia.

Russia's voting rights in the Council of Europe were suspended after it illegally annexed Crimea. The voting rights have since been restored.

The claim that the European Court of Human Rights adopt anti-Russian rulings is ungrounded. The share of the Court's rulings on Russian-related applications where at least one violation of the European Convention of Human Rights was found by Court is not outstanding, the Court's 2018 Annual report shows. According to it, in 2,365 out of the 2,501 Russian-related cases at least one violation was found, that is in about 95% of cases. For example, the corresponding statistics was 1,273 and 1,434 cases for Romania (89%), 1,274 and 1,304 cases for Ukraine (98%). Hence the corresponding shares for some other CoE member states is around as high as for Russia, sometimes even higher.

Russia leads among other CoE member states in terms of pending cases in the ECtHR with 11,750 cases currently pending, which is a total of 20.9% of the backlog of cases, the same report from the Court shows. It is followed by Romania (8,500 cases) and Ukraine (7,250 cases). However, this figure does not mean anti-Russian bias as it just reflects the large numbers of applications lodged to the ECtHR by the nationals of given CoE member states.

See earlier disinformation cases about the Council of Europe and its bodies.

Keywords: Council of Europe, Anti-Russian, Conspiracy
Countries: Europe, Russia
More
Ukrainian language law deprives people of their rights and freedoms
Additional details: Ukrainian language law makes it almost impossible for the Russian-speaking population [in Ukraine] to use the Russian language.  This applies not only to the Russian language, but also to Hungarian and others [...] That is, the law deprives people of their fundamental rights and freedoms.  Moreover, the Constitution and the procedure of consideration were violated.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur7j1J-Xocw
Disinforming outlet(s): Nash TV Channel (18:40-19:15)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Ukrainian language law and discrimination against Russian speakers.

The Verkhovna Rada passed on April 25 the law "On ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language".  The law establishes mandatory use of the Ukrainian language in most areas of public and communal life, including the mass media, education, science, etc.

However, the law does not forbid the use of Russian and other languages in private communication and religious ceremonies. Moreover, Russian and other languages can be present in book publishing, the press, including radio and television, education and the service sector.  The law allows the use of other languages in the healthcare system and in law enforcement.  Ukrainian language, though, is preferred.

In addition to this, the law stipulates that in accordance with the European Charter for Regional Languages and Languages of National Minorities, the government should develop a law safeguarding languages rights of minorities during the six months after the language law enters into force.

For background on the Ukrainian language laws, see here.

Keywords: Ukraine, Human rights, Russian language, Ethnic Russians
Countries: Ukraine
More
PACE will be destroyed without Russia
Additional details: If Russia does not return to PACE (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), Turkey and several other countries will leave after it. It will become a marginal club. This organisation will be destroyed without Russia and several other countries.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: axar.az/news/planet/370242.html
Disinforming outlet(s): Axar.az
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Council of Europe, including its imminent collapse without Russia.

After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia's voting rights in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) were suspended. However, they were recently restored. 

 

 

Keywords: Council of Europe
Countries: Russia
More
The Bundestag suggested frightening Russia by introducing German police in the Donbas
Additional details: Hände hoch! Bundestag deputies suggest sending German police to Donbas to scare Russia. An initiative called "The Peace in Ukraine Needs a New Impulse" suggests that this would act as deterrence against "Foreign Aggression", i.e. Russia.

 

 

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RIA Novosti
Life.ru
Rossaprimavera.ru
Odnarodyna.org
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative, portraying the West as an aggressor towards Russia. See similar cases here, here and here.

The Parliamentary faction of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, FDP, has issued a parliamentary initiative to intensify the efforts to bring peace to Eastern Ukraine. The FDP parliamentary initiative - link here - suggest strengthening existing missions in the area. Points three to five (see link) of the FDP initiative suggests the establishment of a UN Police Mission to support the existing OSCE and EU Missions in the region:

  • To work in a timely manner for a mission with sufficient resources to effectively implement the tasks within the peace plan for Eastern Ukraine;

  • To promote within the EU for a new or complementary civilian police component ot above mentioned UN Mission with tasks to cooperate with local Ukrainian security authorities;

  • To increase staff fo existing observation, border surveillance and police missions as the EUAM Ukraine, so that the targeted security sector reform can be implemented in a timely manner and the security forces can have a deterrent effect on external aggression,

EUAM is a European Union civilian mission to reform the Ukrainian security sector, including the police and the rule of law. Germany is currently involved in this with up to 20 policemen and civilian experts.

Keywords: Ukraine, Donbas
Countries: Russia, Ukraine, Germany
More
Moldova imports fewer products from the EU
Additional details: The share of EU countries in total Moldovan imports decreased from 48.33% to 46.61%. Compared to the same period in 2018, imports to Moldova of goods from the EU in January-February 2019 increased by only 0.05% to $ 387.73 million.

The largest volumes of imports to Moldova from the EU countries in the first 2 months of 2019 came from Romania, Germany, Italy, Poland and France.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Infomarket.md
Kp.md
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This article has a headline that is misleading. According to information from the National Bureau of Statistics from Republic of Moldova, Moldovan imports from EU countries grew in the first two months of 2019, despite the headline's claiming the opposite.

According to official data, in the first two months of 2017, the Republic of Moldova imported products from EU countries worth 273.402 thousand US dollars. In the first two months of 2019, Moldova imported products worth 387,729 thousand US dollars. Therefore, the trend is an upward trend.

National Bureau of Statistics shows that in 2018 compared to 2017, imports of goods from the EU in Moldova increased by 19.4% to 2 billion 851.7 million US dollars.

Keywords: Euro-scepticism, Trade
Countries: Moldova, EU
More
Ukrainian side does not abide by the Minsk agreements
Additional details: Ukraine does not abide by the Minsk Agreements which set up the obligations to stop the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Kyiv government sabotaging peace in the Donbas region, see previous cases about the Minsk agreements and the war in Ukraine.

In many cases, separatist of the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR violated the Minsk agreements, not the Ukrainian side, with the so-called elections organised there in February 2018 as one of the examples.

Keywords: Eastern Ukraine, Donbas
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Poroshenko is facing diverse criminal charges after the wind has changed
Additional details: While Petro Poroshenko must hand over the keys to the presidency before June 2, law enforcement proceedings are accelerating. On May 7, Poroshenko did not appear at the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office. The summons is issued in the framework of the investigation into the Maidan revolution of winter 2014, which resulted in dozens of deaths, and plunged the east of the country into civil war.

In November 2017, the Ukrainian judiciary decided to open an "investigation into the seizure of forced power in February 2014", following a request by the overthrown president in the coup, Viktor Yanukovych. He had asked to investigate the involvement of several Ukrainian officials and politicians in the coup.

All this leads to a collapse of the narrative maintained until then by the Ukrainian authorities, the Westerners and the media: a revolution that would be popular, spontaneous ... and pro-European Union.
The wind seems to have changed. A group of specialists was formed in order to bring the outgoing president to justice. It aims to force the Ukrainian courts and law enforcers to put President Poroshenko and his circle in prison.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT France
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The Ukrainian Prosecutor's office's representative has indeed complained that Petro Poroshenko did not come to the interview, scheduled on May 7, but as a witness in the case of Euromaidan's causalities. The interview of Poroshenko as a witness took place three days later on May 10. No evidence was given that this summons could be evidence against Poroshenko himself. By the end of 2018, 438 people were suspects in Euromaidan murder cases, 52 has been convicted and 9 "Titushkas" (mercenary agents supporting police during Euromaidan clashes) are currently serving real prison terms, according to Ukrainian prosecutors.

In 2017, the lawyer of Victor Yanukovych announced that a pretrial investigation number  was opened in Ukraine following a complaint from his client. No other confirmations or further information on any possible defendants followed since then, including from the Ukrainian Prosecutor's office.

The creation of the "group of specialists formed in order to bring the outgoing president to justice" was announced by the journalist Svetlana Kryukova in Ukraine. She spoke about private detectives looking "for the offshore accounts of Poroshenko" and other evidence of illicit enrichment. However, this private initiative cannot be considered as proof of any criminal charges or pretrial investigations into Poroshenko's activity.

The disinformation message also refers to recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the War in East Ukraine.

 

 

Keywords: Euromaidan, Petro Poroshenko
Countries: Ukraine
More
EU's political aim behind the Eastern Partnership Programme is to isolate Russia
Additional details: The essence of the EU's Eastern Partnership programme is to make its non-EU member states follow Brussels’ instructions on domestic policies and to go further away from Russia in their external relations. Closer economic cooperation with the EU for non-EU countries is only possible in exchange for political concessions. The reason behind the EU's invitations to the Belarusian president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, to the EaP summits were to have his signature on a joint anti-Russian declaration. Politically, the EU's aim behind the Eastern Partnership is to isolate Moscow. Therefore, Belarus' position to develop ties with both the EU and Russia is irrelevant for the EU.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Rubaltic.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is consistent with pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the West's, and in this case, the EU's intention to encircle Russia and the former’s attempts to bring discord in Belarusian-Russian relations.

The Eastern Partnership programme aims to reinforce the political association and economic integration of six Eastern European and South Caucasus partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It is not directed against any country, including Russia.

Read more about the EaP's recent and ongoing activities.

Keywords: Eastern Partnership, Anti-Russian, Conspiracy
Countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, EU, Belarus, Georgia
More
European Court of Justice forbids deporting of illegal refugees
Additional details: The decision of the court in Luxembourg [the European Court of Justice] court forbade Europeans to deport illegal refugees. The Europeans will remember that.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Itogi Nedeli (50:32 - 50:37)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Intentionally misleading reporting.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that EU Member States cannot automatically repatriate refugees and asylum seekers who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin, even if they are convicted of crimes.

The ruling is based on the Geneva Convention and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. "The Charter prohibits, in absolute terms, torture and inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment, irrespective of the conduct of the person concerned, as well as removal to a State where there is a serious risk of a person being subjected to such treatment," the court said.

This rule prevents EU nations from deporting criminal refugees in such cases, although it can enable them to revoke their refugee status and take other punitive steps.

 

Keywords: European Court of Justice, migration, Refugees
Countries: EU
More
The report highlighting Russian interference in Ukrainian election is preparation for further aggravation of relations with Moscow
Additional details: Russian experts suggest that the joint report of the US Atlantic Council and Ukrainian NGOs on alleged Russian interference in the Presidential election in Ukraine could be part of preparation for a new aggravation of relations between Moscow and Kyiv.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given.

The Atlantic Council, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, and the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity established the Ukrainian Election Task Force. Working with other Ukrainian institutions—StopFake and the Razumkov Centre—the three partners created a rapid-response team with the ability to monitor, evaluate, and disclose the full range of foreign subversive activities in Ukraine, and to propose suitable responses. There is no goal to aggravate relations with Moscow with this report.

Here are more disinformation cases about Russian interference in different elections.

 

Keywords: Ukraine, election meddling
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
OPCW leaked report contradicts official conclusions about Douma attack
Additional details: A report prepared by engineers of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) contradicts the final report of this same UN institution about the events in the Syrian city of Douma (Eastern Ghouta) in April 2018, and raise questions about the existence of political pressure from the US, UK and France. According to the document, "there is a higher probability" that two gas cylinders found in Douma "were manually placed at those to locations rather than being delivered from an aircraft", which means that Syrian rebels could perfectly have planted them there. "The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder been delivered from an aircraft", the engineers concluded.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Website Spanish
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring disinformation narratives deflecting blame for chemical attacks from the Assad regime; painting the White Helmets as terrorists; and aiming to discredit the OPCW.

The "never-before-seen-report" appears to be an engineering assessment carried out by one individual who, contrary to Sputnik's false claim, was never a member of the Fact-Finding Mission and is not currently employed by the organization.

The individual, however, was affiliated with the OPCW as an engineer and apparently have access to materials gathered in the course of the Douma FFM, and based his/her conclusions on the same evidence pool. An OPCW press statement confirms that "all information was taken into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report regarding the incident in Douma." The OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.

Regardless of the leaked document's authenticity, its conclusion that the cylinders could not have been dropped from helicopters:

a) has been addressed in the actual OPCW report on Douma (Annex 6, pp. 55-56);

b) does not support the claim that the incident was staged "and designed to frame the Syrian government."

The White Helmets have not once been "busted" staging anything, see our debunking on the subject for more details.

Keywords: false flag, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War
Countries: Syria
More
Mueller report refutes "Trump-Russia collusion" claim
Additional details: Mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times continue to peddle the "Trump-Russia collusion" conspiracy theory, despite the fact that the Mueller report refutes any such allegations.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT (rt.com)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

The story deliberately conflates "collusion" (not a legal concept) and the actual scope of the Special Counsel investigation which, according to the Mueller report, was to establish "whether any Americans […] joined the Russian conspiracies to influence the election" (p.2).

The report explicitly identifies "numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign" (p. 9). See our recent debunking of the "no-collusion" claim here.

Keywords: election meddling, Robert Mueller, Mainstream media, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, US
More
Al Nusra Front plans to carry out a false chemical attack in Syria and blame Russia
Additional details:


Syrian terrorist group Al Nusra Front is preparing a false-flag attack in Saraqib, Idlib province, to accuse the Russian Air Force of using chemical weapons against civilians, according to the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Fighting Parts, which affirms that bomb shrapnel is being planted there from other regions of Syria.

Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Spanish, RT Spanish
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence is provided to support this claim. Alleged false-flag chemical attacks are a recurrent narrative in Russian disinformation.

You can see other examples of this here, here and here.

 

Keywords: false flag, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War
Countries: Syria
More
The US are planning to use nuclear weapons in Europe
Additional details: The United States are planning to use nuclear weapons in Europe.Some of the European countries, dependent on Washington, pretend that nothing is happening, or they are simply afraid to consider the possibility of the preparations for the use of nuclear weapons in the 21st century.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given.

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on the US nuclear ambitions.

For information about NATO's (of which the US is member) commitment to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, see here.

Unlike RIA Novosti, which edited the headline of this story after publication and deleted the part about US allegedly using nuclear weapons "in Europe", Sputnik Polska has not updated or deleted any content from this article since its initial publication on 14-May-2019.

 

Keywords: Nuclear issues
Countries: Europe, US
More
Alleged chemical attack in Syria: new documents question final findings of OPCW
Additional details: A report written by OPCW engineers who went on the ground in Syria to Douma says that all the images, all the videos of this famous day of April 7, 2018 day of the alleged chemical attack in Douma of the damage caused do not correspond with the hypothesis of gas cylinders released from the air. Another place, another incoherence. A cylinder that just could not get where it was found with its valve still intact. The only rational explanation for them and that the two gas bottles were already on the spot. But these explanations clearly contradict the official report.

This new report changes everything. In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from an aircraft. The OPCW does not comment. But what we learned, thanks to those leaks,puts their final findings in question.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: youtu.be/yRmgSWhocUg
Disinforming outlet(s): RT France
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring disinformation narratives deflecting blame for chemical attacks from the Assad regime; painting the White Helmets as terrorists; and aiming to discredit the OPCW.

The "never-before-seen-report" appears to be an engineering assessment carried out by one individual who, contrary to Sputnik's false claim, was never a member of the Fact-Finding Mission and is not currently employed by the organization.

The individual, however, was affiliated with the OPCW as an engineer and apparently have access to materials gathered in the course of the Douma FFM, and based his/her conclusions on the same evidence pool. An OPCW press statement confirms that "all information was taken into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report regarding the incident in Douma." The OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.

Regardless of the leaked document's authenticity, its conclusion that the cylinders could not have been dropped from helicopters:

a) has been addressed in the actual OPCW report on Douma (Annex 6, pp. 55-56);

b) does not support the outlandish claim that the incident was staged "and designed to frame the Syrian government."

The White Helmets have not once been "busted" staging anything, see our debunking on the subject for more details.

Keywords: OPCW, White Helmets, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War
Countries: Syria
More
Spanish government may know a secret US plan to attack Iran
Additional details: Spain may be aware of a secret US plan to attack Iran. That could be the reason why they decided to pull out Spanish frigate Méndez Núñez from the naval attack group accompanying the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Spanish
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence is provided to support this claim.

Actually, the Spanish government explained very clearly that the reason why they decided to order the Méndez Núñez frigate to leave the group was because it changed its stated original mission. Spain’s acting defence minister, Margarita Robles, said that the decision is technical and military, not political, and that the frigate will rejoin the fleet once it reaches the Indian Ocean, according to Spanish newspaper El País.

You can see other examples of disinformation about alleged war plans against Iran here and here.

Keywords: War preparation
Countries: Iran
More
Western funding behind protests in Yekaterinburg, Russia
Additional details:

Events In framework of “Russia’s dissolution” are developing, backed by Western funds. The city of Yekaterinburg, in Sverdlovsk Oblast, has became a first target of this new campaign. On May 13, local activists blocked the start of construction of an Orthodox church (“Khram Svyatoy Yekateriny”) in one of the city’s parks. People rallying against the project clashed with its supporters. Some activists were detained. After this, local authorities intervened in the situation attempting to settle the conflict between the sides. However, after the more detailed look, it appears that there are multiple signals that the ongoing conflict over the church is created artificially, managed by some outside force and has little with the formally declared reason of protests. The goal of these efforts is to undermine the political system and create an instability factor in one of the key Russian regions.

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

Unfounded pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory, in line with a trope, claiming "The West" to be behind any kind of protests anywhere.

Keywords: Civil Society, Protest, Christianity
Countries: Russia
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Leaked OPCW report proves Douma chemical attack was staged
Additional details: A leaked, never-before-seen report by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) proves that the April 2018 chemical attack in Douma, Syria was staged.

The leaked document, prepared by an FFM engineer, finds that the two cylinders allegedly containing chlorine and found on a Douma rooftop could not have been dropped from a helicopter. This fact precludes the involvement of Syrian government forces in the attack.

The organization which first obtained the unreleased report -- the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media -- concludes that the two chlorine cylinders were instead placed on said rooftop. This means that the attack was indeed staged, possibly by the White Helmets who have been repeatedly busted faking videos of their rescue operations.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik News
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring disinformation narratives deflecting blame for chemical attacks from the Assad regime; painting the White Helmets as terrorists; and aiming to discredit the OPCW.

The "never-before-seen-report" appears to be an engineering assessment carried out by one individual who, contrary to Sputnik's false claim, was never a member of the Fact-Finding Mission and is not currently employed by the organization.

The individual, however, was affiliated with the OPCW as an engineer and apparently have access to materials gathered in the course of the Douma FFM, and based his/her conclusions on the same evidence pool. An OPCW press statement confirms that "all information was taken into account, deliberated, and weighed when formulating the final report regarding the incident in Douma." The OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.

Regardless of the leaked document's authenticity, its conclusion that the cylinders could not have been dropped from helicopters:

a) has been addressed in the actual OPCW report on Douma (Annex 6, pp. 55-56);

b) does not support the outlandish claim that the incident was staged "and designed to frame the Syrian government."

The White Helmets have not once been "busted" staging anything, see our debunking on the subject for more details.

Keywords: false flag, Douma, OPCW, White Helmets, Chemical weapons/attack, Propaganda, Syrian War
Countries: Syria
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The language law signed by Poroshenko is a huge, unjustified bomb that splits Ukrainian society
Additional details: The language law signed by Poroshenko is a huge, unjustified bomb that splits Ukrainian society and makes it very difficult for Zelenskyi to take office, because he will have to react to it somehow.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and discrimination against Russian speakers. Find more disinformation cases on the Ukrainian language law here.

On 25 April, The Verkhovna Rada passed the law "on ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language".  The law establishes mandatory use of the Ukrainian language in most areas of public and communal life, including the mass media.

However, the language rights of national minorities have to be in line with the obligations of Ukraine under the European Charter for Regional Languages and Languages of National Minorities, guaranteed by a separate law, the draft of which the government must develop and submit to the parliament six months after the law on the state language will enter into force.

The usage of Russian language is not limited in private communication and religious ceremonies.  Just like the languages ​​of other minorities,  Russian can be present in book publishing, the press, television and education and in the service sector.  But the Ukrainian language in these areas is preferred.. the Ukrainian language is positioned as the main language of publishing activity, and circulation in other languages ​​can not exceed the circulation in Ukrainian.

For discrimination of the Ukrainian language, including in favour of Russian, administrative responsibility is given. In the humanitarian sphere - education, science, culture, sports - for violating language policy, there is a fine of 200 to 300 times the non-taxable minimum wage (now it is from 3400-5100 hryvnias). The entry into force is delayed for three years.

Keywords: Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine, Rule of law, Russian language, Petro Poroshenko
Countries: Ukraine
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Russia introduced passport control at the border with Belarus because of European fraud with export of food
Additional details: EU businesses did multiple attempts to bypass Russian embargo and to sell their food products on the Russian market. This way Europeans framed the Belarusian government. These massive provocations by EU businesses resulted in a passport control on Belarus-Russia border that the Russian government had to introduce.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Podneprovie
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This ungrounded claim is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about West's attempts to bring discord in Belarus-Russia relations.

In the last years Russia indeed restricted control at the border with Belarus. It established a security zone with random border controls along the border with Belarus and moved flights to Belarus from domestic to international terminals. Given that the signing of the Agreement on mutual recognition of visas between Belarus and Russia is delayed, the issue of transit through Belarus-Russian border for third country nationals remains unresolved.

However, the Russian side has never named the re-export of EU embargoed food through Belarus as a reason behind the restrictions on moving through Belarus-Russia border. Instead Russian MFA cited "increased risks linked to terrorist and migration issues."

Keywords: Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, EU, Belarus
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Ukraine is under foreign control
Additional details: A panel of experts from the American Atlantic Council and Ukrainian NGOs has prepared a report stating that Russia allegedly intervened in the presidential election in Ukraine.

Russian experts stressed that it would be much more interesting to conduct a study on the impact of the EU and the US on elections and other processes in Ukraine. Ukrainian experts say straightforwardly that the country is under external control.

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

No evidence given. Recurring Kremlin narrative about Ukraine, which allegedly is under external control from the US or EU.

Ukraine is a sovereign state, not controlled by any foreign government.  Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by almost the whole world, including the EU.

You can find several disinformation cases on Ukraine being under foreign control here.

Keywords: Ukraine, election meddling
Countries: United States, Ukraine, EU
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Eastern Partnership is an aggressive Russophobic project directed against Russia
Additional details: The Eastern Partnership project, which involves cooperation with six states: Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, celebrated its tenth anniversary.  This is a Russophobic organisation that was created for provocations against Russia.

Europe is trying to get an opportunity to exploit the industrial and economic base of the post-Soviet states under the guise of building mutually beneficial and good-neighbourly relations. Thus, the Europeans actually turn these states into their colonies.

Also, the Eastern Partnership is an aggressive project that led to civil war in the Donbas.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: ukraina.ru/exclusive/20190514/1023579664.html
Disinforming outlet(s): Ukraina.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring disinformation narrative about the Eastern Partnership being an anti-Russian initiative and how the EU is ruining Ukraine.

The essence of the Eastern Partnership is the financial assistance of the EU to those countries that have expressed a desire to carry out economic and political reforms.  The consequence of reforms in these states is the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, the creation of a free trade zone, the liberalisation of the visa regime with the EU and the development of the energy sector.  The principle of the Eastern Partnership is that each state independently determines for itself the depth of cooperation with the EU.  Also in the European Union, it has been repeatedly stated that the Eastern Partnership is not a geopolitical project, but a democratic, economic, educational platform for the participating countries. There is no talk about the development of "Russophobia" in the partner countries.

Countries that have joined the Eastern Partnership can trade with other countries, including Russia. Armenia and Belarus continue to successfully trade with Russia and even belong to the Russian Eurasian Economic Union.

The concept of "civil war" in Ukraine is a classic narrative of Russian propaganda, and the Eastern Partnership has nothing to do with the invasion by Russian troops into Ukraine. Ukraine has repeatedly provided evidence of Russia's participation in the war in the east of the country.

 

Keywords: Eastern Partnership, Russophobia
Countries: Ukraine, EU
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Lithuania is afflicted by total Russophobia
Additional details: The actions of this country are afflicted by “total Russophobia”.  The Lithuanian leadership aims to initiate new sanctions against Russia.  They do not go deep into what exactly Russia has decided, what advantages and opportunities the residents of Donbas will have.  For them, it is very important to raise noise in Ukraine.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): New Inform
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russophobia, including in Lithuania.

Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia.  The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine.

More on EU’s restrictive measures against Russia is available here.

Keywords: Anti-Russian, Russophobia, Sanctions
Countries: Russia, Lithuania
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The West aims at cultivating anti-Russian sentiments in Belarus
Additional details: The West wants to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations by promoting Belarusian nationalism similar to the Ukrainian model. It is reported that the US and Poland have stopped financing all human rights organisations in Belarus in exchange for a nationalistic course set by Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The most important news opportunities for the promotion of nationalistic Belarusian sentiments in the Belarusian society are the anniversary of the Belarusian Popular Republic, the Kurapaty memorial site, the construction of Belarusian nuclear power plant, and discrediting the Russian Orthodox Church. Public protests are in a way the Belarusian opposition's form of reporting to the West.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: argumenti.ru/society/2019/05/612908
Disinforming outlet(s): http://argumenti.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is a conspiracy consistent with most common Belarus-related pro-Kremlin narratives, that is about the West's attempts to stage a colour revolution in Belarus, to turn Belarus into an anti-Russian country, about Belarusian democratic opposition, civil society and independent media being subservient to the West, and that the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church is favoured by the West in order to organise a full-scale split from the Russian Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the message mentions Kurapaty memorial site which has recently turned into another object of pro-Kremlin propaganda claiming that the West attempts to use the memorial to destabilize Belarus.

 

Keywords: Anti-Russian, Colour revolutions, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, The West, Ukraine, Belarus, US, Poland
More
European Commission Vice-President blusters about genocide on Europeans
Additional details: The European Commission Vice-President rants about genocide on Europeans.  He said: "Monocultural states have to disappear, mass immigration of Muslim men is a means to an end."

No country should escape the inevitable process of inter-racial mixture. Instead, immigrants should be encouraged to "reach even the remotest places on the planet to ensure that no more homogeneous societies remain anywhere.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Anonymousnews.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Frans Timmermanns did not say this.

The wrong quote appeared first in May 2016 at the German Website Frankfurter Erklaerung, where the article is offline and only available in Web-Archive. The article referred to a speech of Timmermanns at the EU Fundamental Rights Colloquium. On the website of the European Commission you can find the speech of 1 October 2015 at the opening of the colloquium in written form.

The story is currently doing the rounds again in social media.

Within the wrong quote, Timmermans had called on the members of the EU Parliament to contribute more to the disappearance of monocultural states. But within the actual speech there is no evidence for this claim. The quotation is purely fictional. Timmermans warned that the abandonment of values would cause our society to perish. He did not speak of "erasing" or "disappearing".

The original quote in full length:

"Diversity is now in some parts of Europe seen as a threat. Diversity comes with challenges, but diversity is humanity's destiny. There is not going to be, even in the remotest places of this planet, a nation that will not see diversity in its future. That's where humanity is heading and those politicians trying to sell to their electorates a society that is exclusively composed of people from one culture are trying to portray a future based on the past that never existed. Therefore that future will never be. Europe will be diverse like all other parts of the world will be diverse. The only question is, how do we deal with that diversity. And my answer to that is: by ensuring that our values determine how we deal with diversity and not giving up our values to refuse diversity. That will bring us down as a society. If we don't get this right, I truly believe, Europe will not remain the Europe we've built. Europe will not remain the place of peace and freedom for very long."

The case was debunked by dpa’s Presseportal on 25th April 2019. The disproof was also picked up by the German fact-checking site CORRECTIV who published it here.

Keywords: migration, European Parliament
Countries: EU
More
The Crimean peninsula was reunified with Russia five years ago
Additional details: The Crimean peninsula was reunified with Russia five years ago.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the annexation of Crimea claiming that Crimean citizens chose to rejoin Russia through a legal referendum.

No international body recognises the so-called referendum held on the 16th of March 2014.  On the 27th of February 2014, when the so-called referendum was announced, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula.  A year later Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

Following the covert invasion of “little green men,” power in Crimea was vested in a makeshift executive headed by Sergey Aksenov, a former mafia enforcer. The new Crimean regime conducted the referendum hastily and at gunpoint, barred impartial observers from entering the peninsula, and instead invited dozens of fringe politicians and activists to “monitor” the procedure, most of them far-right Kremlin loyalists.

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, recognised April 17th 2015 that "our soldiers were deployed in Crimea to help the inhabitants express their opinion" (Interfax). Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

Five years after the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the EU issued a statement in which it confirms its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and reiterates that it does not recognise and continues to condemn this violation of international law.

Keywords: illegal annexation, Manipulated elections/referendum, Referendum, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Saudi Arabia takes steps towards recognising Crimea as part of Russia
Additional details: The Saudi Embassy in Moscow issues visas to Russian Crimean Muslim pilgrims without informing the Ukrainian authorities. Riyadh has de facto recognised the Crimeans as citizens of Russia. Despite the absence of official recognition, the monarchy is changing its attitude towards Crimea and Russia as a whole.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Spunik Fr, Izvestia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Saudi Arabia's Embassy in Moscow confirmed that it has been issuing visas for Crimean Tatars willing to make a Hajj, in Moscow, in their Russian passports, since 2014.

Since 2015, a Russian intermediary company with offices in Moscow and in Crimea has been operating as a Hajj tour operator. However, Saudi Arabia does not link the issue of visas with the recognition of Crimea. The Council of Muftis of the Russian Federation urged Russian media outlet "Izvestia", which raised the question itself, not to mix politics and religious pilgrimage. The practice of the Saudis issuing visas for pilgrims has been going on for five years. No recent changes showing a different attitude of Saudi Arabia to this issue can be demonstrated.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia voted for the UN GA's resolution 68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Saudi Arabia did not express any intent to recognise Crimea Russian since then. No direct international flights can go from Crimea to Saudi Arabia, following the ICAO sanctions, and the pilgrims use Russian airports.

See more disinformation cases  about the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Keywords: Crimean Tatars, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia
More
NATO is an offensive alliance
Additional details:
NATO has always been an offensive alliance. (...) NATO is an artificial structure of a badly concealed power politics that wants to occupy the globe. (04:39-4:50)




Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd_vhz8jTYc
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative, portraying NATO as a threat to peace and having a belligerent agenda.

NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect its member states. Its exercises and military deployments are not directed against Russia – or any other country. NATO is regularly updating the military requirements for civilian infrastructure, at a time when there are increased challenges to security.

 

Keywords: security threat, EU/NATO enlargement, War preparation, NATO, The West
Countries: International
More
The West wages an information war against the Union State of Belarus and Russia
Additional details: In order to preserve its dominant positions, the West carries out both real wars around the world with millions of killed people and information wars. The West's confrontation with the Union State of Belarus and Russia has turned in an open economic, political, and information war.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Teleskop
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about Western anti-Belarus and anti-Russian activities.

The Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus was signed on 8 December 1999. Its intention was to achieve a supranational confederation between the two states. However thus far the countries have failed to institute common symbols or a Constitutional act of the Union State, hence Union State common bodies mostly remain on paper. Since late 2018 Russia began putting more pressure on Belarus to proceed with a deeper integration within the 1999 Treaty.

See earlier disinformation cases alleging that the West has started an information war against Russia and Belarus, about Western propaganda of feminine men in Belarus, and about Russian company Rosneft as an object of defamatory campaign in western media.

 

Keywords: Information war, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, The West, Belarus
More
Russia lost PACE voting rights due to political discrimination
Additional details: European nations quickly billed Crimea's reunification with Russia in 2014 as "annexation," and proceeded to suspend Moscow's PACE membership rights in a discriminatory and politically motivated move.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT (rt.com)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narratives on Ukraine, Crimea, and the alleged anti-Russian attitudes harboured by Western officials and organizations.

The report mixes falsehood and gross understatement to mask the actual reason Moscow had its PACE voting rights suspended, which was explicitly named in Resolution 1990 of 10 April 2014: "the violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine by the armed forces of the Russian Federation in early March 2014," and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula in an "illegal so-called referendum" (p. 1).

The "referendum" was held at gunpoint, in violation of the Ukrainian Constitution and international law, and condemned by a crushing majority of UN members (not just "European nations"). See our debunking of the "democratic referendum" claim here.

More broadly, the Kremlin has long used the misnomer "Ukrainian crisis" to divorce itself from responsibility for events in Ukraine since 2014 -- particularly its brutal military campaign in the Donbas -- presenting them instead as a self-contained case of bad governance and poor geopolitical choices. See this report for a detailed refutal of this claim.

Keywords: Council of Europe, Anti-Russian, Manipulated elections/referendum, War in Ukraine, Russophobia, Referendum, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
The EU's aim behind the Eastern Partnership programme is to change the political regimes in Belarus and Russia
Additional details: The West attempts to destroy friendly relations between Belarus and Russia. Under the cover of humanitarian programmes aimed at promoting democracy, like the Eastern Partnership programme, the West aims to change the political regimes in Belarus and Russia and to rip Belarus off Russia.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Teleskop, http://teleskop-by.org/
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a conspiracy theory consistent with recurring disinformation narratives about Western attempts to disrupt Belarus-Russia relations, about the belligerent West attempting to encircle Russia and West's plans to stage colour revolutions in countries near to its borders including Belarus and Russia.

The Eastern Partnership programme aims to reinforce the political association and economic integration of six Eastern European and South Caucasus partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It is not directed against any country, including Belarus or Russia. Read more about the EaP's recent and ongoing activities.

See earlier disinformation cases concerning the Eastern Partnership here.

 

Keywords: Eastern Partnership, Anti-Russian, Colour revolutions, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, The West, EU, Belarus
More
The EU is a deeply undemocratic construct
Additional details: The EU is a deeply undemocratic construct that serves mainly the interests of rich shareholders and owners of corporations who want to exploit EU resources and labour more effectively.  For this reason, the people of the EU should fight in solidarity for the residual sovereignty of their nation states, which will allow them a minimum of democracy.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the undemocratic EU and on the failed European values.

 

 

 

 

Keywords: Euro-scepticism, EU disintegration, Democracy, European values, Europe
Countries: EU
More
Leftists and the Yellow vests likely behind the fire at Notre Dame
Additional details: The fire could have been caused by an accident, an Islamist attack or a revenge against Macron from the leftist Yellow vests. In France there are a lot of ultra leftists of all colours, from Trotskyists to anarchists, perhaps this was a planned blow against everything that they hate: religion, state, and Macron as the formal leader.

All this, of course, makes the “Islamist” hypothesis much less probable.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): KP.md
Ztb.kz
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring disinformation about the causes of the Notre Dame of Paris fire.

The cause of the fire at Notre Dame is not yet clear, the investigation is ongoing.  According to the official investigation, most likely an accident occurred due to renovation works activity, which started more then one year ago at Notre-Dame. In particular, according to firemen, the fire started in the area under renovation. The fire began from a spire which was encircled in scaffolding.

See other disinformation cases on Notre Dame fire.

 

Keywords: Notre Dame, yellow vests, Emmanuel Macron
Countries: France
More
Alyaksandr Lukashenka skipped the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels because the West could organise his killing
Additional details: Neither pro-West experts nor the Belarusian Foreign Minister, Uladzimir Makey, know why Alyaksandr Lukashenka did not accept the EU's invitation to attend the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in Brussels to mark its 10th anniversary.

Attending the summit meant that Lukashenka would have to meet and hug the failed robber of the Ukrainian people, Petro Poroshenko, hence, aggravating Belarus-Ukraine relations. Alyaksandr Lukashenka is well aware that such anniversaries and visits have no value. Furthermore, he rightly does not trust the West's bureaucracy which, with assistance from Belarusian puppets can organise a vile provocation including the physical elimination of a politician disliked by all.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Teleskop, http://teleskop-by.org/
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is a conspiracy consistent with extreme modification of recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the West's attempts to destabilise Belarus and to organise a colour revolution in the country.

Belarusian FM Uladzimir Makey explained Alexander Lukashenko's decision to skip the summit through an insufficient level of Belarus-EU cooperation.

See another extreme modification of this narrative in an earlier disinformation case alleging that the Belarusian opposition, civic activists and independent journalists make kill lists for Western security bodies.

Keywords: Eastern Partnership, Alexander Lukashenko, Conspiracy
Countries: The West, EU, Belarus
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Petro Poroshenko bargained for security guarantees from Washington but was eventually tricked
Additional details: Petro Poroshenko was delaying the transition of power because, in exchange, he was bargaining with Washington for security guarantees. Poroshenko wants to be sure that after stepping down as President, he will not be imprisoned by the Ukrainian oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky and his people. Such guarantees were imitated by Washington through the opening of a criminal case against Kolomoisky. This would demonstrate to Poroshenko that in order to avoid extradition, Kolomoisky would not dare to leave Israel and return to Ukraine.
However, after the vote on Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration passed in the Ukrainian parliament, the Americans broke their guarantees. This is seen by Kolomoisky's immediate arrival in Kyiv just hours after the parliamentary decision.
Generally, Poroshenko lost the presidential elections because his external curators disliked two things. First, Donald Trump did not forgive Poroshenko for the arrest of Trump's lawyer Paul Manafort on a tip off from Poroshenko. The second reason was Poroshenko's autonomous 'foray' in the Kerch Strait.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Teleskop, http://teleskop-by.org
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy and recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the US meddling in Ukraine's electionsWestern control over Ukraine and concerning the conflict in Kerch Strait.

It was indeed reported in early April 2019 that the FBI is investigating potential financial crimes by Ihor Kolomoisky. However, there is no proof that the investigation began because the US authorities decided to imitate certain security guarantees to Petro Poroshenko which were later violated, as alleged in the article.

Robert Mueller's 448-page report, which mentions Ukraine a dozen times, mostly in a part which assesses Paul Manafort's ties to Russia and Ukraine, does not contain a single mention of Petro Poroshenko.

See earlier cases alleging that the US introduced anti-Russian sanctions in exchange for anti-Trump damaging information from Poroshenko’s team and that the US did not allow Petro Poroshenko to win as he began leading the US into a war with Russia.

Keywords: Volodymyr Zelensky, Kerch, Donald Trump, Petro Poroshenko, Conspiracy
Countries: Ukraine, US
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Russian Federation did not attempt to influence the US presidential in 2016
Additional details: The accusations against the Russian Federation of attempting to influence the presidential elections in the United States are false.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about "Russiagate".

Before the Mueller report was published, Russian meddling in the 2016 election had already been established by US intelligence agencies.

Robert Mueller’s report maintains that “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities”.  Nevertheless, it states that Russian interference activities DID take place.

As concluded earlier by the US intelligence community and by Mueller’s own inquiry “the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts”.

For further information, please see here.

For other cases about Russian interference in the US elections 2016, please see here:

 

Keywords: election meddling, Robert Mueller, Democracy, Manipulated elections/referendum, Donald Trump, Elections
Countries: United States, Russia
More
In November 2018 Ukrainian warships secretly tried to sneak through the Kerch Strait by entering Russian territorial waters
Additional details: As we said multiple times before, there are no problems with the passage of Ukrainian warships from the Black Sea to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov. The only condition is compliance with safety standards for navigation and access to the Kerch Strait. [...] So was it until November of the last year [2018], but then [...] in November [2018] the [Ukrainian] warships secretly tried to sneak through the Kerch Strait by entering [Russian] territorial waters, the part that was Russia's territorial waters before the referendum in Crimea.
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBCUusoG8AY
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Deutsch
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation on Ukraine and Azov Sea.

In November and December 2018, Ukrainian civilian ships and warships wanting to enter the Azov Sea had enormous problems. Russia was deliberately blocking the Kerch Strait in order to prevent the passage of a naval group of the Ukrainian Navy.

According to UNIAN, Russia blocked the passage of over 100 ships in December 2018 - it is therefore wrong to state, that there is no problem with the passage of Ukrainian ships to the Azov Sea. Russia used a cargo ship under the Kerch Bridge to block passage under the bridge’s arch.

The construction of the Kerch Bridge took place without Ukraine's consent and constitutes a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It has led, in parallel to the militarisation of the Azov Sea and to tougher controls on naval traffic in the strait. The European Union stated that it expects Russia to stop the inspections.

For further reporting see the BellingcatDFRLab and Polygraph.

Background:

On November 25th 2018, three Ukrainian war ships were moving “in accordance with the provisions of all effective multilateral and bilateral international treaties and navigation rules”.  The Ukrainian war ships were seized and their crews were detained, despite the fact that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states that “all ships, including foreign warships, enjoy the right of “innocent passage” within another state’s territorial sea under international law.”

On 25 November, border patrol boats belonging to Russia’s FSB security service seized the two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and their whole crews after shooting at them, wounding several Ukrainian servicemen.

A bilateral treaty between Russia and Ukraine, signed in 2003 and ratified by Russia in 2004, governs the use of the Kerch strait and the Sea of Azov, which in the treaty is considered to be the “internal waters” of both Russia and Ukraine.

 

Keywords: Azov sea, Kerch, Black Sea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More


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