Disinfo: Crimea reconnected with Russia in referendum to avoid NATO troops there

Summary

On 18 March 2014, the referendum in Crimea sealed the peninsula’s connection to Russia, after the latter sent its troops. In fact, Moscow could not conceive that this peninsula, strategic and historically Russian, was going to become Western, or that NATO would set up troops there.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the annexation of Crimea, claiming that Crimean citizens chose to rejoin Russia through a legal democratic referendum. No international body recognizes the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014, and held on 16 March 2014. For the EU statement on the fifth anniversary of Crimea's annexation, see here. A year after the illegal annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum. The NATO expansion is also a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative. NATO does not "expand" in the imperialistic sense described by the Kremlin leadership and Russian state media, but instead considers the applications of candidate countries that want to join the defensive alliance of their own national will.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 156
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 28/06/2019
  • Language/target audience: French
  • Country: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: West, EU/NATO enlargement, Ukrainian statehood, Crimea, Referendum, NATO, War in Ukraine
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NATO Parliamentary Assembly was created for confrontation with Russia

NATO Parliamentary Assembly is a pro American organization created for confrontation with Russia. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly will, by all possible means, not only show a negative attitude towards Russia, but also escalate the confrontation to justify its existence.

Disproof

Recurring pro Kremlin disinformation narrative about NATO attempting to encircle and weaken Russia. The disinformation message appeared after the president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly stated that the organization does not intend to return the status of an observer to the delegation of Russia. NATO Parliamentary Assembly was created in 1955 to provide a specialised forum for members of parliament from across the Atlantic Alliance to discuss and influence decisions on Alliance security. Through its work and activities, the Assembly facilitates parliamentary awareness and understanding of the key issues affecting the security of the Euro-Atlantic area, and supports national parliamentary oversight over defence and security. For more than two decades, NATO has worked to build a partnership with Russia, developing dialogue and practical cooperation in areas of common interest. Relations started after the end of the Cold War, when Russia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1991). The NATO Parliamentary Assembly initiated first contacts with Parliamentarians from the former Soviet Union even before the end of the Cold War, and the Supreme Soviet was granted the newly created status of associate member in 1990. NATO-Russian cooperation has been suspended since 2014 in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Mainstream Polish media not interested in the fate of Mateusz Piskorski

Mainstream Polish media have not published a single interview with Mateusz Piskorski, accused of spying for Russia in 2016. Moreover, they are not interested in his fate, his life in prison or his life after his release on bail.

Disproof

This message presents the narrative of a corrupt and fraudulent mainstream media controlled by political elites and promoting their agenda to society, see examples here and here. The story of Mateusz Piskorski has been a hot topic for all the mainstream Polish media since 2016 as were quite a few Polish citizens arrested with the accusation of spying for Russia. There are hundreds of articles and TV reports on this person (his arrest, background, charges, legal case). Moreover, two major Polish newspapers quoted parts of his letters sent from prison (here and here) - in these letters Piskorski defended himself from the accusations in espionage. According to words of Piskorski, he is accused of manipulation with public opinion and promotion of messages close to Russian narratives - from his point of view, these actions cannot be perceived as espionage. In 2016, Mateusz Piskorski was arrested and accused of espionage on behalf of Russia and China, for which he allegedly received financial remuneration between 2009 and 2016. Piskorski was reported in Polish media to have collaborated with fascist organisations in Poland and Russia, "observed" fake elections and referenda in Transnistria and Crimea, organised violent provocations aimed at exacerbating ethnic tensions in Ukraine, and met with Kremlin-backed militants in Ukraine's occupied Donbas region. In May 2019, Piskorski was released from the arrest pending trial, remaining under police supervision. Sputnik Polska devotes a lot of space to the case of Mateusz Piskorski. He himself is now a contributor to Sputnik's website.

Protests in Georgia are a coup d'état

Whilst understanding the sensitivities of the Georgians, the current occasion, which was based on a “protocol error” from the host (Georgian) side, as they later admitted, seems rather null and void for such riots. We think this action was planned, because dozens of cameras were set up at lightning speed. People who came to the meeting demonstrated with pre-prepared posters with dirty, offensive, anti-Russian content. It was obvious that it was not the orthodox forum, to which Georgia itself applied for participation, that was the cause of the riots, but an attempted coup d’état and occupation of Parliament.

Disproof

No evidence given to support the claim that the protests were pre-planned and intended as an attempted coup d'état. This is an example of a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative casting civil uprisings in other states as externally-funded "colour revolutions" or geopolitical engineering, used for example in reference to Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus and Venezuela. It is also consistent with pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the US and its imperialistic global role. The case refers to the current protests in Georgia, which were a spontaneous public reaction calling for the resignation of key national officials after Russian State Duma Deputy Sergei Gavrilov sat in the Georgian parliamentary speaker's seat while addressing a council of lawmakers from predominantly Orthodox Christian countries - the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). Sergey Gavrilov voted in favor of recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, which is a particularly hot-button issue for Georgians. Currently, Russia occupies 20% of Georgia's territory, more than 10 years after the Russo-Georgian War, and continues to breach its international obligations by consolidating its control in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. See similar cases about the West promoting Russophobia in Georgia here and here.