During the course of the last week we have seen several old recurring narratives in pro-Kremlin disinformation. One favourite is to focus on the alleged occurrence of a nuclear accident in Ukraine. While not forgetting or denying the real accident in Chernobyl in 1986, disinformation about other nuclear power plants accidents in Ukraine is something we have seen since the start of the conflict in Ukraine in 2014 (e.g. here).
What was new this time around was that France was also targeted. As usual, a grain of truth is to be found in the middle of all of the disinformation: a small trace of radioactive Iodine-131 of unknown origin was indeed in January detected over large areas in Europe – but it was deemed by most as so small and without any health implications that it had no news value. Finnish authorities did report the trace and made clear that it posed no threat to health and also that it is not known where the trace originated – it could have come from a varied range of medicine producers or from a nuclear reactor.
Pro-Kremlin outlets, however, reported that European countries had accused Ukraine of being responsible for the leak – Russian state sponsored RIA Novosti even justified their report with a false quote from the Independent Barents Observer, who in their turn made clear that the attribution was false. The pattern was repeated by another outlet, claiming that several nuclear accidents had occurred over the past year in Ukraine and referring to Deutsche Welle as the source of the information. Deutsche Welle also refuted the claim, which was indeed subsequently removed, as reported by Stopfake. Meanwhile, a Czech outlet claimed that a nuclear accident in France was the reason for the (imaginary) “nuclear cloud” over Europe.
Repeating a lie makes it true?
Other old favourites in the pro-Kremlin disinformation catalogue that resurfaced this week were allegations that a laboratory in Georgia, that had previously been accused of spreading the H1N1 virus among other things, was now performing human experiments. The claim that Sweden imports black soil from Ukraine also re-emerged last week, a disinformation that started spreading in 2015.
And one of the most infamous disinformation examples – obfuscation over the tragic downing of flight MH17 – was once again brought up, with claims that Ukraine was to blame for the tragedy or that no one had concluded that the plane was wilfully shot down – despite the evidence presented by the Joint Investigative Team. Let us just remind you of the various disinformations that pro-Kremlin outlets have spread about MH17.
Image: Alamy. Importing soil to Sweden seems far fetched, according to The Federation of Swedish Farmers, as there is enough in the country already.
Disinformation cases reported in the previous week
Any decision relating to Ukraine's sovereignty or sovereign choices can only be taken without undue external pressure. This so-called referendum was organised in a matter of weeks by a self-proclaimed Crimean leadership lacking democratic legitimacy and installed by armed Russian military personnel following the seizure of public buildings. The EU does not recognise it. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 68/262, adopted on 27 March 2014 and supported by 100 states, clearly says that Russia's actions in the peninsula as well as the referendum held in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea violate international law http://bit.ly/1RZGnjo.
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 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 https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/otp/161114-otp-rep-PE_ENG.pdf.
Sputnik announced that Ukranians will not get the right to work in the EU. However, work visas for Ukrainians were never part of the visa free negotiations between the EU and Ukraine. The visas in question are 90-day tourist visas for the Schengen zone; work or residency visas for the Schengen zone were never part of the agreement.
No evidence given. The 2014 presidential election in Ukraine was a genuine election largely in line with international commitments and respecting fundamental freedoms, despite the hostile security environment in two eastern regions of the country.
No evidence given. The EU is supporting, not destabilising Ukraine, through one of the most ambitious reform programmes it has ever undertaken. The provisional application of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area offers Ukraine privileged access to a market of over 500 million consumers. The EU is helping, as both currently and historically the biggest international donor to Ukraine. It has proposed an overall support package of at least €11bn to help stabilise the economic and financial situation.
The story does not cite an actual German publication nor does it link to any article and offers no direct or indirect quotes to support the author’s claim. http://bit.ly/2mmx06k
No evidence for these claims.
No evidence for this claim given, no polls, no sociologic research.
The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a reaction of large parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013 http://bit.ly/1Tl9X7W. // Democratic, competitive and generally well-organised presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 2014 and local elections in 2015.
There is evidence of regular Russian army forces operating in Donbas, including video and photos from Russian soldiers and pro-Russian sources showing Russian soldiers and equipment operated exclusively by the Russian military in Donbas. Polygraph.info documented proof of Russia sending tanks into Donbas.http://bit.ly/1mac7cv, http://bit.ly/1cYjhft, http://bit.ly/2n1HECg. Further debunking at Polygraph http://bit.ly/2ngav6j.
No evidence for these accusations given.
The laboratories are a reoccuring target for disinformation by pro-Kremlin outlets, in 2016 pro-Kremlin outlets claimed that the laboratories spread H1N1 virus. An outline of previous disinformation can be sen at Myth Detetctor http://bit.ly/2mj0iB8. Lugar Laboratory Center is the only one in Georgia, in the Caucasus and Central Asia, which has a Level 3 Biosafety standard and they are accredited by the World Health Organisation.
RT compares annual growth rates and declares that “the free trade zone is 10 times more profitable for the EU”. The EU’s statistics body Eurostat shows that exports have grown both from Ukraine to the EU and from the EU to Ukraine. The EU is a block of 28 countries and a much larger market than Ukraine hence comparing the two is futile and statistically does not make sense. The Ukraine-EU Association and Free Trade Agreement went into effect January 1, 2016; Ukraine’s GDP for 2016 grew at 1.5%. In 2015 Ukraine’s exports to the EU were in the minus (-6.5%), after the Association agreement went into effect Ukrainian exports to the EU grew by 2%. EU exports to Ukraine rose to 17% in 2016.http://bit.ly/2n2U8tZ, http://bit.ly/2mmzEJh
The Ukraine-EU Association and Free Trade Agreement went into effect January 1, 2016; Ukraine’s GDP for 2016 grew at 1.5%. In 2015 Ukraine’s exports to the EU were in the minus (-6.5%), after the Association agreement went into effect Ukrainian exports to the EU grew by 2%. EU exports to Ukraine rose to 17% in 2016.One year into the Association agreement Ukrainian media saw only positives for Ukraine from the trade relationship, focusing on the increasing rate of Ukrainian exports to EU countries.http://bit.ly/2n2U8tZ, http://bit.ly/2mmzEJh
Russian media regularly publish stories about what it calls extremely dangerous Ukrainian nuclear power plants, predicting that Ukraine’s atomic sector is on the point of collapse, and it has been debunked several times before by Stopfake. Ukraine’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency states that there were no nuclear mishaps in Ukraine. it is also not clear from the text who the "European scientist" are, but no other reports of this is to be found. The publication first cited Deutsche Welle as their source, publishing what it said was a screen shot of a story about nuclear dangers in Ukraine. Deutsche Welle had never featured such a story. The Deutsche Welle screen shot has since been removed from Operativnaya Linia’s site. http://bit.ly/2n30sBD
RIA Novosti fabricated the Barents Observer quote, the outlet has not said anything about Ukraine in its article about the radiation leaks: http://bit.ly/2lWC3NP
No European publication has reported that the leak originated in Ukraine. Only Russian media, such as RIA Novosti Ukraina, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Anna News, Forum.msk.ru, Operativnaya Linia, Otkrytaya elektronnaya gazeta claimed that the source of the leak was Ukraine. According to the Independent http://ind.pn/2m70708, the traces found in Northern Europe could have been inadvertently released by a pharmaceutical company that produces radioactive medicines. Russian media regularly publish stories about what it calls extremely dangerous Ukrainian nuclear power plants, predicting that Ukraine’s atomic sector is on the point of collapse and it has been debunked before by StopFake. Ukraine’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency states that there were no nuclear mishaps in Ukraine that could have resulted in an iodine-131 leak. http://bit.ly/2n30sBD
No evidence given. Aeronet is a notorious distributor of pro-Kremlin disinformation. There is no nuclear cloud over Europe, and no evidence of any nuclear accident in France http://bit.ly/28ZZZHS.
The reoccuring disinformation that Ukraine is ruled by nazis is disproven by the facts. The far-right Right Sector often depicted as "fascists" or nazis by pro-Kremlin outlets gained only 1.8% of the votes, far short of the threshold needed to enter parliament. http://bit.ly/2dFFEdi // Miaistok is a notorious disinformation spreading outlet.
The animation that Russian media has deliberately misrepresented as a staged video/video game is a documentary visualization prepared by the Joint Investigation Team, the team that spent more than two years compiling evidence on the 2014 downing of Malaysian flight MH17. The video is part of their findings concluding that the MH17 was shot down by a missile brought in from Russia. The documentary visualization was presented to the court as a computer-generated graphic and nothing else. It uses evidence gathered by the investigation team showing the route taken by the Russian missile launcher in a convoy into Ukraine. The full session of the ICJ hearing is available on the court’s web site where the documentary visualization is also available. (1:48:00-1:54:00).http://bit.ly/2mivgdu
Minsk agreements were co-signed by Russia. // Their objective is to stop the war in Ukraine. // Ukraine is a sovereign and independent country, not Russia's vassal.
No credible source confirms this information that has appeared in pro-Kremlin sources only.
No evidence for this accusation given. // Miaistok is a notorious disinformation spreading outlet.
It was not "the French media", it was one disinformation article spreading on agoravox.fr (see above). // Miaistok is a notorious disinformation spreading outlet.
There is overwhelming evidence to the contrary: http://bit.ly/1RbWQU5 // http://bit.ly/2mCAGBg // http://bit.ly/2mjJNVt // http://reut.rs/2mjiuM4 // http://bbc.in/XVjzgr
Czech translation of the Slovak disinformation mentioned above.
According to the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME), the infant mortality rate in Russia – meaning the probability of a child dying between birth and exactly one year of age – was 8.2 per 1,000 live births in 2015. That was approximately three times higher than the estimated infant mortality rates of most EU countries in 2015. The World Bank estimated Russia's infant mortality rate for 2015 at 8 per 1,000, while a majority of EU countries ranged between 2.4 and 4 per 1,000. Further debunking at Polygraph http://bit.ly/2mCwrpd
Hungarian translation of the Sputnik disinformation article above.
Reoccuring disinformation that emerged already in 2015 http://bit.ly/2mwjLCn. Furtheremore, there is no indication that the "West" would want to annex Russia.
No evidence for this conspiracy given. // The reoccuring disinformation that Ukraine is ruled by nazis is disproven by the facts. The far-right Right Sector often depicted as "fascists" or nazis by pro-Kremlin outlets gained only 1.8% of the votes, far short of the threshold needed to enter parliament. http://bit.ly/2dFFEdi
To allege that Europeans massively took to the streets protesting the war in Eastern Ukraine is clearly a gross overstatement of what were essentially a few small and insignificant pro-Russian gatherings that only Kremlin propaganda reported. Snezhana Aendo’s site Yadonbas.rus http://bit.ly/2nj0DIW contains video from the various sparsely attended rallies.
In fact, the Slovak Ministry of Defense only wants to use US funds to modernize its military airports: http://bit.ly/2mJgiR1
so Russia must demand that the International Court of Justice recognizes Ukraine as a
terrorist state and that the Russian population is being persecuted.
This disinformation has been repeated since 2014 without a single piece of evidence confirming it. Prior to the Russian intervention and the disinformation campaign accompanying it, there were no confirmed reports of any ethnic Russians being threatened in Ukraine; only allegations perpetuated by pro-Kremlin outlets. The new Ukrainian government has placed a priority on peace and reconciliation from the outset. According to the Council of Europe, "In respect of the Russian language, most undertakings chosen by Ukraine under the European Charter for regional or minority Languages were fulfilled or partly fulfilled." http://bit.ly/2en7tsa.
No evidence given. Disinformation campaign often aims at creating divisions in society, for example between the "elite" and "ordinary people"; without actually having any sociological data for such claims. Despite current difficulties in the relationship with Russia, the EU and its Member States have maintained a clear policy of reaching out to Russian society and youth, e.g.through the Erasmus+ student exchange programme and other people to people contacts.
Further MH17-related obfuscation. The technical report of the Joint Investigative Team concluded that the missile that shot down MH17 was fired from a Russian vehicle that crossed into Ukraine and then back to Russia again afterwards: http://bit.ly/2d980Nz. Recordings from intercepted phone calls and multiple eye-witnesses have substantiated their findings.http://bit.ly/2jqPAZu
The reoccuring disinformation that Ukraine is ruled by nazis is disproven by the facts. The far-right Right Sector often depicted as "fascists" or nazis by pro-Kremlin outlets gained only 1.8% of the votes, far short of the threshold needed to enter parliament. http://bit.ly/2dFFEdi
The technical report of the Joint Investigative Team concluded that the missile that shot down MH17 was fired from a Russian vehicle that crossed into Ukraine and then back to Russia again afterwards: http://bit.ly/2d980Nz, http://bit.ly/1yFmdmk. Recordings from intercepted phone calls and multiple eye-witnesses have substantiated their findings.http://bit.ly/2jqPAZu
The reporter tweeted, as an answer to a question if she feels safe in Iraq, that in the Iraqi cities that are unaffected by the war she thinks the streets are calm and that it is safer in her view than in Stockholm. She does not comment in cities in conflict, such as Mosul
There is no civil war in France. It is a common narrative in pro-Kremlin disinformation to present European countries as if they are disintegrating.