Disinfo: Crimea has become a Russian region following the referendum after the coup d’état

Summary

Crimea has become a Russian region following the referendum of March 2014 in which 96.77% of the Republic’s population and 95.6% of Sevastopol inhabitants voted to become part of Russia. Crimean authorities organised the referendum after the coup d’état.

Disproof

A recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Crimea’s referendum and the Maidan.

No international body recognises the so-called referendum held on the 16th of March 2014. On the 27th of March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. 5 years on, the EU re-affirms its support for Ukraine's territorial integrity.

The Euromaidan protests were a spontaneous reaction among large parts of the Ukrainian population, ignited by the decision of former President Yanukovych not to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. The Maidan movement resonated with widespread discontent with corruption and mismanagement under Yanukovych’s rule.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 148
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 29/04/2019
  • Language/target audience: Polish
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Manipulated elections/referendum, Euromaidan, Referendum, Crimea

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Moldova imports fewer products from the EU

The share of EU countries in total Moldovan imports decreased from 48.33% to 46.61%. Compared to the same period in 2018, imports to Moldova of goods from the EU in January-February 2019 increased by only 0.05% to $ 387.73 million.

The largest volumes of imports to Moldova from the EU countries in the first 2 months of 2019 came from Romania, Germany, Italy, Poland and France.

Disproof

This article has a headline that is misleading. According to information from the National Bureau of Statistics from Republic of Moldova, Moldovan imports from EU countries grew in the first two months of 2019, despite the headline's claiming the opposite.

According to official data, in the first two months of 2017, the Republic of Moldova imported products from EU countries worth 273.402 thousand US dollars. In the first two months of 2019, Moldova imported products worth 387,729 thousand US dollars. Therefore, the trend is an upward trend.

Experts of the Russian threat will recognise they were wrong about Russians meddling in EU elections

All elections are subject to Russian interference. The intelligence services of Estonia consider Russian intervention in the European elections very likely. It is a question of propaganda rather than manipulation. Like the Benalla case or the Yellow Vest movement where some have seen the shadow of the Kremlin, it is possible that once again, the so-called experts of the Russian threat will recognise that they were wrong and have to eat their hats.

Disproof

Currently, the General Secretariat for Defense and National Security (SGDSN) in France is in charge of the ongoing investigation of the alleged meddling of Russian social media accounts in the yellow vests protests. Therefore, no experts have been already forced to recognise they were wrong, as the report suggests.

Ahead of the European elections, Microsoft registered cyberattacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organisations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, public policy and whom are often in contact with government officials. Microsoft continues to investigate the sources of these attacks, but is confident that many of them originated from a group called Strontium, also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Read more here.

In the past, the 2018 report by the French Foreign Ministry and Ministry for the Armed Forces think tanks says "Russian media, with Sputnik and RT at the head, played a non-negligible role in the diffusion of this information [from the hacked Emmanuel Macron's party En Marche e-mails].What can be safely assumed is that, whoever the perpetrator was, they were at least linked to Russian interests and received help from the American alt-right and French far-right".

White Helmets run an organ trafficking network similar to the one that operated in Kosovo

The White Helmets have been using their network of medical centres in Syria to operate an organ trafficking network, involving the forced extraction of organs, similar to the one operated by the Kosovo Liberation Army in the late 90s.

Disproof

The allegation is part of a recurrent Russian narrative to portray the White Helmets as a terrorist and criminal organisation. You can see other examples of it here and here.

The report presents no credible evidence to support the claims, but claims to have interviewed 40 employees of the White Helmets, 20 former “terrorists” and 45 Syrian residents on the ground, .