Disinfo: The goal of the "Chernobyl" series is to discredit the Belarusian power plant, Soviet legacy, and Belarus-Russia relations

Summary

The true intention of the Chernobyl series is to put the issue of a nuclear power plant back on the agenda of Belarusian society. It aims to present Astravets NPP as a symbol of the insolvency of the Belarusian Government, just as the Chernobyl catastrophe became a symbol of the USSR’s imminent collapse. Before the Chernobyl series was released, the arguments against the Astravets NPP included a threat to salmon spawning, unwanted cooperation with Russia for its construction, and harm to Belarusian-Lithuanian relations. The second goal behind the Chernobyl series is to promote negative sentiments towards the USSR and relations among post-Soviet countries, especially Belarus-Russia relations. It aims to show that no good can come out of Belarusian-Russian cooperation.

Disproof

This is conspiracy consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about the West’s anti-Belarusian and anti-Russian activities, and its attempts to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations. Chernobyl is a historical drama television series depicting the nuclear disaster of April 1986 and the unprecedented clean-up efforts that followed. The series premiered in the US and UK in early May 2019 and was acclaimed by critics. It is based in large part on the recollections of Pripyat locals, as relayed by Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich in her book, Voices from Chernobyl. There is no proof of a hidden propagandistic agenda behind the series as alleged by this article. A negative impact on wildlife and strained Belarusian-Lithuanian relations are among a number of other, often more serious arguments against the NPP construction, including the station's potential technological vulnerabilities. These arguments were provided by environmentalists years ago (see 2010 assessment) and many continue to be voiced at present (see April 2019 publication). The February 2019 draft decision of the Meeting of the Parties of the Espoo Convention acknowledged that Belarus had failed to comply with some Convention provisions and encouraged Belarus and Lithuania to continue bilateral expert consultations. It also expressed regret that Belarus failed to provide the Committee with the information regarding the justification of the selection of the Astravets site over the alternatives. Read more about pro-Kremlin disinformation based on the Chernobyl series here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 154
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 09/06/2019
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: USSR, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia
  • Keywords: Nuclear issues, Chernobyl, Anti-Russian, Conspiracy theory, Russophobia
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The Eastern Partnership ended in 2015

As much as one may continue to talk about the Eastern Partnership programme, it has been at an end since 2015.

Disproof

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) programme did not end in 2015. It is still very much active and continues to serve its policy mandate 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. Background: The Eastern Partnership initiative is a mutually beneficial and constructive platform for countries in the region to build a closer relationship with the EU if they choose to do so. The EU does not demand any of its partners to make a choice between the EU or any other country. The Eastern Partnership stands for good neighbourly relations and respects the individual aspirations and ambitions of each partner country. The EaP has been a frequent target of pro-Kremlin disinformation. More cases are available here.

The Eastern Partnership led to a great and bloody war in Europe

The Eastern Partnership has led to a great and bloody war in Europe.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine. In fact, it was Russia that instigated the military conflict in Ukraine, not the European Union or the Eastern Partnership (EaP). 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." Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine in 2015. Ukraine has repeatedly provided evidence of Russia's role in the war in the east of the country. In January 2017, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Kyiv filed a lawsuit in the International Court of Justice of the United Nations with the aim of bringing Russia to account for committing acts of terrorism and discrimination, which are the result of its illegal aggression against Ukraine. The lawsuit contains all the facts of Russian aggression against Ukraine, evidence of the illegal annexation of the Crimea, and the occupation of Donbas. 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. 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. It is a mutually beneficial and constructive platform for countries in the region to build a closer relationship with the EU, if they choose to do so. The EU does not demand any of its partners to make a choice between the EU or any other country. The Eastern Partnership stands for good neighbourly relations and respects the individual aspirations and ambitions of each partner country. Read more about the initiative and its priorities here. See here for more cases about the EaP.

The MH17 tragedy can be Kyiv's fault

There are doubts about the official version of the MH17 tragedy in the West. Kyiv’s role in the crash can not be ruled out.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory that the Ukrainian side was involved in the shooting down of MH17, with no evidence provided. One of the multiple disinformation narratives on this issue. 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 from Kursk region, and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH17, was taken back to the Russian Federation. Several images of the BUK-TELAR with which MH17 was downed are available. The only BUK-TELAR on which this combination of characteristics was also 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 the Luhansk separatist entity, 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. The two governments are formally holding Russia accountable. The US has supported the decisions by the Netherlands and Australia.