Disinfo: Assault on freedom of expression? We don't do that in Russia


Why are Latvian citizens kept in custody, why are they threatened with legal persecution? They haven’t done anything wrong. They have shared pictures and used their rights to self-expression. What is wrong with that?

For us in Russia, this sounds like a brutal approach. Nothing of that sort is practised here. Everyone writes where they want and what they want.


Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative aimed at portraying Russia as protector of freedom of speech and the press.

Contrary to the claim, the Kremlin organises regular briefings with the leading media outlets to hand out instructions on how to write and about what and independent journalists are subjected to frequent threats, attacks and prosecution if not more.

According to the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, Russia is in 149th place out of 180 countries. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 83 journalists and media representatives have been killed in Russia since 1993. Out of them, 38 have been murdered directly for being engaged in investigative journalism related to corruption, politics, and human rights violations. According to the report, the murders can be traced to the Government. According to Reporters Without Borders, pressure on the independent media, blocking websites, and draconian laws became even more severe in the last years. Leading independent news outlets either ended up in the governmental control or were shut down under suspicious circumstances. That comes in addition to the 2020 report by “RWB” that states that “[a]t least 37 Russian professional journalists have been killed in connection with their work since 2000,” compared with 40 reporters killed in 1992-9.

Furthermore, the Russian parliament conversely passed a law in 2019 criminalising “public insult of a representative of power” and stipulating up to one year of “corrective labour” (i.e. penal colony) upon conviction (Art. 319). Although the law does not exclusively criminalise insults directed at the Russian president, half of all cases (51 out of 100) and three-quarters of all convictions (38 out of 51) between March 2019 and March 2020 concerned individuals who criticised Putin (pp. 5-6), including at least two journalists (see here and here).

Read our post “Russia is the world champion in free speech” or our analysis “Four factors affecting press freedom in Russia”, or more cases that claim that the West Falsely Claims Russian Media Not Free, or that Russia is the most liberal country and that there is no restriction of foreign media in Russia.


  • Reported in: Issue 223
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/12/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Arabic
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia
  • Keywords: Censorship, Freedom of speech, Dmitry Kiselyov, Media, Russian world
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Disinfo: For NATO, Ukraine is important as a buffer zone, but not as a member of Alliance

All the statements of Ukrainian politicians that they were promised that Ukraine will be accepted into the Alliance are PR and nothing more. For NATO countries, Ukraine is important as a buffer zone, but not as a member of the Alliance.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about Ukraine and its cooperation with NATO.

Ukraine is a strategic partner for NATO in many areas. Since the 1990s, relations between NATO and Ukraine have developed into one of NATO’s most influential partnerships. Relations were strengthened with the signing of the 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, which established the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC). The Declaration of 2009 to Complement the NATO-Ukraine Charter mandated the NUC, through Ukraine’s Annual National Programme, to underpin Ukraine’s efforts to take forward reforms aimed at implementing Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

Disinfo: EU bureaucrats want to limit the use of Christmas symbols

The bureaucrats of the European Union have declared that a large number of Christian symbols on the streets and various offices might hurt the feelings of refugees and migrants from the Middle East. Thus, there is a need to limit the use of such symbols. /…/ In Brussels, the main Christmas tree has been replaced with an LED-construction, representing the “Winter holidays”


Recurring disinformation narrative, forwarding hostile narratives on migrants, threatening Christmas and New Years Eve traditions, and about the decline of Christianity in Europe.

Neither has “EU Bureacrats” declared a limitation on the use of Christian symbols, nor has Brussels forbidden the Christmas tree (a symbol, without relation to Christianity). The Brussels Christmas tree of 2020 can be observed here on webcam. Municipal authorities in Brussels and most other Belgian and European cities have cancelled Christmas markets due to the COVID-19.

Disinfo: Italian town forbids Christmas carols not to insult migrants

In the Italian town of Rozzano near Milan, the headmaster of a school forbade a Christmas concert and suggested that Christmas should be observed without the traditional carols, as migrant children previous years during singing stood silently along the walls. In German Eschweiler tolling church bells were forbidden when migrants approached the municipal authorities with a request to cancel sounds that were foreign to them. Schools in Spain and Italy removed the crucifixes from the walls of the same reasons.


Recurring disinformation narrative, forwarding hostile narratives on migrants, threatening Christmas and New Years Eve traditions, and about the decline of Christianity in Europe.

Several of the cases, mentioned in the article, belong to a collection of anti-migrant “urban legends” that are circulated in European right wing media. The case from Rozzano has been debunked several times, since it appeared in 2015. The case from German Eschweiler seems to be entirely fiction. Connecting claims to concrete, small places far away serves to lend a tone of authenticity to the disinformation.