Crimea’s peaceful return to Russia is one of Putin’s successes

Summary

Crimea has returned to Russia through a peaceful referendum where a large majority of citizens declared that they want to live in Russia. The referendum was directly prompted by the coup in Kyiv, but it has been a long-term wish of the local population to rejoin Russia and making that happen is one of Vladimir Putin’s successes.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the annexation of Crimea, claiming that Crimea voted to rejoin Russia through a legal referendum.

Crimea is a part of Ukraine and was illegally annexed by Russia. In 2014, Russian troops obliged the parliament of Crimea to organise a referendum, which was illegitimate under international law, and then formally annexed the peninsula and brought it under Russian territorial control. The annexation has been condemned by the UNGA (see the resolution A/RES/68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine). Following the covert invasion by “little green men,” the referendum in Crimea was conducted hastily and at gunpointbarring impartial observers from entering the peninsula.

The oft-cited figure of 97% participation in the referendum has been contested by the Kremlin’s own Human Rights Council, which estimated that only between 30% and 50% of Crimeans took part in the referendum, of which some 50-60% favoured secession. 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.

For similar disinformation cases about Euromaidan protests being a “coup”, see here and here. For disinformation about the referendum and “legal annexation” of Crimea, see similar cases hereherehere and here. 

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 161
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 11/08/2019
  • Language/target audience: Montenegro, Serbian
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: illegal annexation, Referendum, Crimea
  • Outlet: Večernje novosti
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The US is supporting and encouraging Hong Kong protests

The US is supporting and encouraging Hong Kong protests.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory without evidence.

For years, pro-Kremlin media has used the narrative about anti-government protests being funded by the US. Examples include colour revolutions in post-soviet states, the “Arab Spring” revolts, and Euromaidan in 2014.

The US is interfering in Hong Kong

The US is interfering in Hong Kong. Among the people taking part in the protests are people who look like they are Americans. The situation in Hong Kong is comparable to a colour revolution.

Disproof

No evidence given. This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative casting civil uprisings in other states as US-funded "colour revolutions", also present in the cases of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Venezuela. Consistent with multiple pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the US and its global role. 

The Hong Kong protests started in June 2019 over a controversial extradition law, but have expanded to calls for Hong Kong's leader to step down, for an inquiry into alleged police brutality, for those who have been arrested to be released, and for greater democratic freedoms.

Foreign media in Russia are not restricted

Restrictive measures against foreign media have not been applied in Russia.

Disproof

According to the Freedom House Report ''Freedom on the Net 2018'', Russians are still able to access a wide variety of foreign sources, but many independent online media outlets within Russia have been forced to shut down in recent years due to increasing government pressure.

The Russian authorities censor a wide range of topics online, most often under the pretext of combating “extremism”. Content subject to blacklisting or removal includes LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) expression, information on the conflict in Ukraine, and material related to the political opposition.