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
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.
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
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
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.
Russian translation of the article above.
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
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
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.
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.
Most likely, the text refers to the Operation Atlantic Resolve. The enforcement includes 87 tanks, not thousands.http://bit.ly/2bFynsP.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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".
See the debunk above.
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.
Conspiracy theory. No evidence given.
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
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