Two well-worn disinformation narratives featured prominently in the stories we uncovered this week.

We learned from Russian state TV that Brussels is a dangerous place to live and that thousands – yes, literally thousands – of women are sexually assaulted on the streets on a daily basis http://bit.ly/2kKFx1O. Furthermore, the EU institutions were criticised for not consisting solely of elected people http://bit.ly/2jKazIx. We looked hard to find a system where all the bureaucrats are elected, but couldn’t. True, the EU’s bureaucracy, like any other, is made up of appointed officials. But if the criticism concerns the politicians, we find it important to recall that the Members of the European Parliament are elected by the 500-million strong populations of the EU Member States and that the European Council constitutes the Heads of Government of the Members States, all of whom have been elected in their respective countries http://bit.ly/2jw98yV.

We also learned that the EU institutions don’t actually play any role at all, and that everything will shortly be under the control of Berlin http://bit.ly/2kK7LtH. Repeating already debunked disinformation, we read again that thousands of tanks are flowing into Europe to threaten Russia http://bit.ly/2juL2zW; and that the EU’s moral collapse continues, this week with the banning of baptism http://bit.ly/2jvytnU. The image one gets of Europe is grim, to say the least. But happily none of the claims are factual. Not long ago we asked people on the streets of Brussels how they feel. This is what they said: http://bit.ly/2kfRuwC.

Facts on the ground

Ukraine again featured plenty of times in this week’s pro-Kremlin narratives. The Ukrainian Armed forces were accused of shelling the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE monitoring mission to the country http://bit.ly/2kaLiIB – but we found no reports of this on the OSCE website. We saw again the often-used narrative that Ukraine is banning the use of the Russian language http://bit.ly/2kJpPaw – and that this was the legitimate reason for the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine http://bit.ly/2kbMRDO. As stated many times before, Russian is not banned, and it is completely uncontroversial to speak Russian in Ukraine.

Another old and unfounded claim was repeated, namely that without Russian control of the country, Ukraine will embrace Nazism and fascism http://bit.ly/2kN9aCZ. There are no facts to support those claims. In fact, the human rights situation in the country was better before the Russian forces entered Ukrainian territory uninvited http://bit.ly/1RolEeE. Russian state TV also repeated the usual disinformation that a coup took place in Ukraine in 2014 http://bit.ly/2kbMRDO. In support of the facts on the ground, we recall the statements from the OSCE that the elections were conducted in a democratic manner http://bit.ly/2eWWBAV.(Image: Euractiv)

Disinformation cases reported in the previous week

Without control of Moscow, Ukraine will become a Nazi and...
Additional details: Without control of Moscow, Ukraine will become a Nazi and fascist state as it used to be earlier.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kN9aCZ
Disinforming outlet(s): ‘Vremya pokazhet’ (3:49) @Pervyi kanal
Reported by: Pavel Spirin, former journalist
Disproof note:

No evidence given. Ukraine has never been a ‘Nazi, fascist state’ – neither when it existed alone or as a part of Poland, nor under the rule of Russia. In the last election, the far-right Right Sector (often depicted as "fascists" by pro-Kremlin outlets) gained only 1.8% of the votes, far short of the threshold needed to enter parliament. Ukraine's electorate clearly voted for unity and moderation, not separatism or extremism, and the composition of the parliament reflects that http://bit.ly/2dFFEdi

Keywords: Nazi/Fascist
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Former Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenuk purchased 24 expensive properties in...
Additional details: Former Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenuk purchased 24 expensive properties in Miami.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kb69f2
Disinforming outlet(s): AC24
Reported by: Collected by the Prague Security Studies Institute (PSSI) within the framework of the Centre for International Relations’ project co-financed by the Visegrad Fund
Disproof note:

The article uses information from the blog of an Ukrainian businessman without providing any further information or evidence to support this allegation. Yatsenyuk has filed a lawsuit against the blogger who wrote about his alleged purchase of 24 villas in Miami http://bit.ly/2kBdaSQ.

Keywords: Arseniy Yatsenyuk
Countries: Ukraine
More
Hundreds of Russian missile defense systems S-400 were suddenly brought...
Additional details: Hundreds of Russian missile defense systems S-400 were suddenly brought into a state of high alert on the orders of President Putin, who received a "serious warning" by the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) which claims that the CIA prepares to murder the president-elect US Donald Trump in order to accuse Russia for the murder and let that serve as a reason to start a war with Russia.
Language / Targeted audience: Bulgarian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2j8O01x
Disinforming outlet(s): spodeli.eu
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory. Nothing of the sort happened.The disinformation about CIA plotting against the US president has been widely spread in pro-Kremlin messaging http://bit.ly/2jQUgHP, http://bit.ly/2juL2zW, http://bit.ly/2jyFhRy.

Keywords: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, CIA
Countries: Russia, US
More
The Brussels bureaucracy has not been elected by anyone
Additional details: The Brussels bureaucracy has not been elected by anyone.
Language / Targeted audience: Georgian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2juXFLb
Disinforming outlet(s): Objektivi
Reported by: Myth Detector
Disproof note:

Selfevidently, if the claim concerns the bureaucrats - no, they are not elected as is the case in any similar system. If the claims concerns the politicians; the European Parliament is elected by the 500-million population of the EU and amounts to 751 MEPs. The Council of the European Union consists of ministers of all member states of the EU, from parties elected by their member states population. European Council is composed by the heads of government or heads of state of the member countries, elected by the parties their population voted for http://bit.ly/2kj5Zlo, http://bit.ly/2jKazIx.

Keywords: Democracy
Countries: EU
More
Thousands of U.S. tanks flow into Europe
Additional details: Thousands of U.S. tanks flow into Europe.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2juL2zW
Disinforming outlet(s): AC24
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

Most likely, the text refers to the Operation Atlantic Resolve. The enforcement includes 87 tanks, not thousands.http://bit.ly/2bFynsP.

Keywords: Military
Countries: Europe, US
More
"Russian threat" serves as a pretext for the operation Atlantic...
Additional details: "Russian threat" serves as a pretext for the operation Atlantic Resolve to enable an attack against Russia.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kizHqu
Disinforming outlet(s): Protiproud
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

Atlantic Resolve is a demonstration of continued U.S. commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America's dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine. There is no evidence that the intension is to attack Russia, who has vastly superior forces.http://bit.ly/2bFynsP, http://bit.ly/2h8GMc7

Countries: Russia, The West
More
Ukrainian parliament decided to host multinational exercises in Ukraine as...
Additional details: Ukrainian parliament decided to host multinational exercises in Ukraine as preparation for invading Russia.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2k8fhOO
Disinforming outlet(s): Polit navigator
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

No evidence to support these claims. None of the official documents accessible on the UA parliament's webpage includes anything that suggest that the exercises are preparations for an invasion of Russia. According to the The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, 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. http://bit.ly/2ftv6iT.

Keywords: War preparation
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Ukrainian parliament decided to host multinational exercises in Ukraine as...
Additional details: Ukrainian parliament decided to host multinational exercises in Ukraine as preparation for invading Russia.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2k8c2ab
Disinforming outlet(s): New World Order
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

No evidence to support these claims. None of the official documents accessible on the UA parliament's webpage includes anything that suggest that the exercises are preparations for an invasion of Russia. According to the The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, 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. http://bit.ly/2ftv6iT.

Keywords: War preparation
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Ukrainian naval ships are stuck in the ice of the...
Additional details: Ukrainian naval ships are stuck in the ice of the Black Sea.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kimaiC
Disinforming outlet(s): Zvezda
Reported by: Stopfake.org
Disproof note:

Cited in many Russian state sources, the Odessa news portal O48 was claimed as their source of this completely fake claim. O48 did in fact have a story about winter weather in Odessa, colorfully describing how ice floes had formed in the Gulf of Odessa and captured the harbor where Ukrainian naval vessels are docked. The story was accompanied by an air view photograph of ships in their harbor. The story had no mention of ships stuck in a frozen harbor. Odessa naval transportation specialist Ihor Kosov told StopFake that in order for the Black Sea around Odessa to freeze temperatures had to stay 20 degrees below zero Celsius for several weeks. Odessa has not been experiencing such low temperatures during this time.http://bit.ly/2kidIjq

Keywords: Black Sea
Countries: Ukraine
More
Czech Ministry of interior established a new department for censorship...
Additional details: Czech Ministry of interior established a new department for censorship called The Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kBf3Pw
Disinforming outlet(s): Aeronet.cz
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

The new center is intended to monitor internal security threats, including attacks on soft targets and extremism, as well as "disinformation campaigns related to internal security." They do not censor. http://bit.ly/2kboybB

Keywords: Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, Censorship, Terrorism
Countries: Czech Republic
More
EU will punish Moldova for its closer relations with Russia
Additional details: EU will punish Moldova for its closer relations with Russia. Moldova will lose the visa-free regime the EU.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kjp3jP
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

Visa liberalisation with the EU is a technical process, not a political process. Furthermore, the EU has not made any statements threatening to withdraw visa free regime if Moldova aligns with Russia.

Keywords: Visa liberalisation
Countries: Moldova, Russia, EU
More
Ukraine is poised to enact a new language law which...
Additional details: Ukraine is poised to enact a new language law which will ban Russian and make Ukrainian the sole and exclusive language in the country.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kJpPaw
Disinforming outlet(s): Russia Today (RT)
Reported by: Stopfake.org
Disproof note:

It is an often repeated disinformation that Russian is or will be banned in Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s Constitution and the Law on languages, every person is guaranteed the right to choose the language he or she wishes to speak and no restrictions have ever been enacted limiting that choice (see Article 10: http://bit.ly/2ep35dP). The draft law under consideration in the Ukrainian parliament allows the use of languages other than Ukrainian in government business but requires translation into Ukrainian.http://bit.ly/2kKuipe

Keywords: Russian language
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
The Ukrainian government shells the leader of the OSCE monitoring...
Additional details: The Ukrainian government shells the leader of the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, Alexander Hug when he visits the front lines in eastern Ukraine.
Language / Targeted audience: Hungarian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kaLiIB
Disinforming outlet(s): Kiállunk Novorosszija Mellett – Support Donbass from Hungary
Reported by: Political
Capital
Institute
Disproof note:

Whereas the OSCE Monitoring mission to Ukraine reports that there are ceasefire violations on both sides of the conflict, they do not mention any situation where Mr Alexander Hug was present and had been shelled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces http://bit.ly/2j9BJ8q.

Keywords: Alexander Hug, OSCE
Countries: Ukraine
More
Kiev authorities are trying to ban Russian language in Ukraine
Additional details: Kiev authorities are trying to ban Russian language in Ukraine.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kiGtga
Disinforming outlet(s): Rossiya 24
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

See the debunk above.

Keywords: Russian language
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
The reason for the annexation of Crimea and the war...
Additional details: The reason for the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas is the desire of the inhabitants of these two Ukrainian regions to speak Russian.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kbMRDO
Disinforming outlet(s): ‘Vremya pokazhet’ (1:06:08) @Pervyi kanal
Reported by: Pavel Spirin, former journalist
Disproof note:

Repeating an already debunked myth. No state body of Ukraine and no official of this country disallowed the inhabitants of Crimea or Donbas to speak Russian.

Keywords: Donbas, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Officers of foreign intelligence services run Ukraine with the aim...
Additional details: Officers of foreign intelligence services run Ukraine with the aim to force Ukrainians to kill each other in the war.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kbMRDO
Disinforming outlet(s): ‘Vremya pokazhet’ (4:59) @Pervyi kanal
Reported by: Pavel Spirin, former journalist
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory. No evidence given.

Keywords: War in Ukraine, Secret services
Countries: Ukraine
More
Ukrainian authorities are pursuing a policy of state terrorism against...
Additional details: Ukrainian authorities are pursuing a policy of state terrorism against the citizens of this country in the Donbas region in order to create unbearable conditions for life there.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kbMRDO
Disinforming outlet(s): ‘Vremya pokazhet’ (4:59) @Pervyi kanal
Reported by: Pavel Spirin, former journalist
Disproof note:

No evidence given. Because of the aggression waged by Russia against Ukraine, Kyiv cannot control the Donbas and, according to the Ukrainian law, the Donbas region got the status of an occupied territory. http://bit.ly/2ftv6iT

Keywords: Donbas, Terrorism
Countries: Ukraine
More
There was a coup in Ukraine in 2014
Additional details: There was a coup in Ukraine in 2014.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kbMRDO
Disinforming outlet(s): ‘Vremya pokazhet’ (3:26) @Pervyi kanal
Reported by: Pavel Spirin, former journalist
Disproof note:

There were democratic and inclusive Presidential elections held on 25 May 2014 in Ukraine. The OSCE characterised the elections as showing the "clear resolve of the authorities to hold what was a genuine election largely in line with international commitments and with a respect for fundamental freedoms." According to the OSCE, the only areas where serious restrictions were reported were those controlled by separatists, who undertook "increasing attempts to derail the process." This fact was reconfirmed by the parliamentary elections of 26 October 2014, where parties devoted to democratic values received the strong majority of votes. The OSCE characterised the vote as "an amply contested election that offered voters real choice, and a general respect for fundamental freedoms". It pointed out that "Electoral authorities made resolute efforts to organize elections throughout the country, but they could not be held in parts of the regions (oblasts) of Donetsk and Luhansk or on the Crimean peninsula".

Keywords: Coup
Countries: Ukraine
More
Nobody in the Czech Republic witnesses any form of so-called...
Additional details: Nobody in the Czech Republic witnesses any form of so-called Russian propaganda". The Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats is an institute which is going to identify only "one truth".
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2jpBTx9
Disinforming outlet(s): nwoo.org
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

The Czech security services as well as a recent Czech security review conclude that disinformation campaigns are threat a to Czech national security. The Centre will not react exclusively to pro-Kremlin disinformation content, they will be assessing every disinformation campaign regardless of its origin or character. Also, the Centre will be issuing statements and commentaries to the media, whether a citizen will or will not take the CTHT position into account is solely up to each individual. The Centre can, at most, pass information to law enforcement agencies if they suspect a crime occured (a right that every citizen and institution in Czech Republic has), the investigation and decision is then solely up to law enforcement agencies and then judical power: http://bit.ly/2kboybB

Keywords: Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats, Propaganda, Terrorism
Countries: Czech Republic, Russia
More
Berlin plans to realize a model called Das neue Europa
Additional details: Berlin plans to realize a model called Das neue Europa. Europe will be under complete control of Berlin, national states will lose their statehood, sovereignty and national identity. Germany, France and Sweden are prepared for this.
Language / Targeted audience: Czech
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kK7LtH
Disinforming outlet(s): Aeronet.cz
Reported by: Kremlin Watch (European Values think-tank), http://www.europeanvalues.net/kremlinwatch/
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory. The article claims that the information comes from an article in Handelsblatt but in fact it links to another outlet, which misrepresents what Gabriel states in the original article. In the Handelsblatt article, Sigmar Gabriel says "Now is the time to strengthen Europe. Only about 10 percent of our exports go to the United States, while 60 percent go to the rest of Europe. You can see the weight of our economic interests. We need to strengthen Europe, develop a common foreign and security policy, beef up investments so that we’ll have the best infrastructure in the world and, most of all, develop our own Asia, India and China strategy. We don’t need “more Europe,” but rather a different Europe." http://bit.ly/2kMSknz

Keywords: Das neue Europa, Sovereignty, Conspiracy
Countries: Germany, Sweden, France
More
The European Court is banning baptism
Additional details: The European Court is banning baptism.
Language / Targeted audience: Bulgarian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2jvytnU
Disinforming outlet(s): BGnews
Reported by: East Stratcom Network
Disproof note:

This disinformation was also circulated one year ago http://bit.ly/2kKQhAl. No European Court has banned baptism, as freedom of religion and belief is a cornerstone of EU http://bit.ly/2hpoQ9v.

Keywords: Christianity
Countries: EU
More
Nobody in the world goes to Brussels willingly and voluntarily...
Additional details: Nobody in the world goes to Brussels willingly and voluntarily because of the sexual violence there: every day, a lot of refugees from the Middle East are massively raping thousands of white women in this city - just as they did in Cologne during the New Year.
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kKFx1O
Disinforming outlet(s): ‘Vremya pokazhet’ (28:51) @Pervyi kanal
Reported by: Pavel Spirin, former journalist
Disproof note:

No evidence given for Brussels: there is no information about sexual violence of that scale there. As for the sexual assaults in Cologne that they are referrinf to, the number of the victims of sexual crimes were not thousands but 492.http://bit.ly/2kbYY3O

Keywords: Brussels, Refugees, Middle East, Sexual harassment, Cologne assaults, Migration crisis
Countries: Germany, Middle East, Belgium
More
Ukraine Begins Hunt For Separatists
Additional details: Ukraine Begins Hunt For Separatists
Language / Targeted audience: Russian
Link to the disinformation: bit.ly/2kKvXuU
Disinforming outlet(s): Pravda.ru
Reported by: Stopfake.org
Disproof note:

The story was spread in plenty of publications but all were written by one person, whose byline often appears in separatist publications. The base for the claim is an internet petition about criminal responsibility for separatism registered on President Poroshenko’s site on January 12. To date the petition has gathered 73 signatures. Anyone can register a petition or appeal on the presidential site. If the petition gathers 25,000 supporters the President is obliged to respond, but even a presidential response does not guarantee any legislative change.http://bit.ly/2kEEyQC

Keywords: War in Ukraine
Countries: Ukraine
More

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