Disinfo: French Documentary about Russia is nearly Russophobic: distorts facts about Ukraine

Summary

Sensationalist, alarmist and nearly Russophobic documentary “Russia, the new cold war” on Channel M6 in France is simplistic, biased and full of historical inaccuracies. RT France corrected a few points about Eastern Ukraine and Crimea :

1.The film never mentions that after the Maidan coup, the Russian-speaking Eastern part of Ukraine was to be denied the right to speak its own language.

2.There was a referendum in which the citizens of Crimea overwhelmingly approved the attachment to the Russian Federation.

3.There are many polls on this subject, including that of the very serious GFK (German social research organization) which, in 2015, confirmed that 82% of the inhabitants of Crimea favoured attachment to Russia. We have known more brutal annexation.

4.Two Ukrainian soldiers interviewed by documentarists speak Russian. However, the Ukrainian government is doing everything to ban the Russian language in eastern Ukraine, where the vast majority is Russian speaking.

Disproof

Recurrent disinformation messages about eastern Ukraine and the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

There was no coup in Ukraine in 2014. The demonstrations which began in Kyiv in November 2013 – called "Maidan"– were a result of the Ukrainian people's frustration with former President Yanukovych's last-minute U-turn when, after seven years of negotiation, he refused to sign the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement and halted progress towards Ukraine's closer relationship with the EU.

The Ukrainian government, which came into power after the Euromaidan, did not use force to suppress the dissenters. The war in eastern Ukraine, which is often regarded as an outcome of this, is actually a well-documented case of Russian armed aggression.

Ukraine did not ban the Russian language, closed parties, NGOs, or oppositional media. The Russian language remains one of the minority languages in Ukraine; it can be used in private communication and religious ceremonies, in book publishing and the press, including radio and television, in education, the service sector, the healthcare system, and in law enforcement. New parties as well as new media came into existence after 2014.

Concerning Crimea, no international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014 and held on 16 March 2014. 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.

Read also: The coup in 2013-2014 is the root cause of the war and other problems in Ukraine, Euromaidan and pro-European politics led to the collapse of Ukraine, or After the coup in Kiev in 2014, Crimea reunited with Russia following a referendum .

The disinformation claim appeared in the same video clip, as the allegation that Russia did not invade Georgian territory in 2008.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 218
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 25/10/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Arabic, French
  • Country: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Russian language, Crimea, Euromaidan, Coup
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It is unclear, who really poisoned Sergei and Yuliya Skripal

Sergei and Yuliya Skripal were found unconscious in Salisbury, UK, on 4 March 2018 and were taken to hospital with symptoms of poisoning. It is still unclear by whom, and under what circumstances, the former Russian-British double agent and his daughter were really poisoned.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Salisbury poisoning. After a hearing in the Court of Protection, British High Court Justice David Williams issued an approved judgement about what had happened to the Skripals around three weeks after their poisoning in March 2018. The British Police have presented a solid chain of evidence on the Skripal case, with pictures, connecting the suspects to the locations in the case. Some of the material has been released to the public. The evidence was sufficient to charge two Russian nationals, Anatoliy Chepiga and Aleksandr Mishkin with the attack on the Skripals, both Russian military intelligence operatives from the GRU, who travelled to the UK using fake names and documents. Following this attack, the United Kingdom notified the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), invited them to confirm the identity of the substance involved, and briefed members of the Security Council. The OPCW’s independent expert laboratories confirmed the UK’s identification of the Russian produced Novichok nerve agent, specifically the purity of the toxin while emphasising that the OPCW team “worked independently and was not involved in the national investigation by the UK authorities", to ensure the integrity of the examinations and investigations. The pro-Kremlin narrative also claims that the Skripal story "starts to be forgotten". In fact, the UK's official assessment of the incident was supported by 28 other countries which responded similarly. Altogether, an unprecedented number of 153 Russian diplomats were expelled around the world. See more disinformation cases on the Skripals' Salisbury poisoning.

The US aims to take Russia out of the post-Soviet space following a RAND corporation plan

Those who believe that the latest events in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Nagorno-Karabakh and possibly upcoming tensions in Moldova are the mere result of popular discontent and infighting among clans and elites or among regions are wrong. It is all due to a ruthless geopolitical, geoeconomic, ideological and informative struggle carefully planned since long ago by US strategists and set in motion to liberate the post-Soviet space from Russia’s influence. For Washington and its unconditional satellite Brussels, creating around Russia as much instability focus, tension and local conflicts as possible, would lead its government to despair in its impossible attempt to fill all the holes, and to the weakening of Vladimir Putin’s government, which wouldn’t have time to support Syria, Venezuela, Iran and Libya. More than one year ago, the think tank Rand Corporation published a report where it analyses Russia’s anxieties and vulnerabilities and advises on how to exploit them. According to Rand’s analysts “the US main task is to weaken, outbalance, overextend and take Russia out of the post-Soviet space”. Some of the points of the report have been implemented, such as destabilisation in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kyrgyzstan and others. It is significant that two of its proposals, related to sanctions against Russian energy projects and the deployment of a “western information campaign” on the anti-corruption fight, are implemented in the media campaign related to the “poisoning” of Alexei Navalny. Another revealing chapter is devoted to “geopolitical measures” against Russian influence: given the recent events in the post-Soviet space, the same list of measures looks like a scenario that is implemented in front of our eyes.

Disproof

This is a deliberate misrepresentation of the content of the original report of the Rand Corporation, in order to support recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about Russia as the ultimate target of international events, the West as an aggressive evil power aiming to encircle Russia, popular protests as Western-led colour revolutions and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny as a set up framing Russia. Though the report is openly oriented to “define areas where the United States can compete [with Russia] to its own advantage” in the framework of “great-power competition with Russia”, there is no evidence that it is related at all to events in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kyrgyzstan or the Navalny case. Contrary to the claim, the report never states that “the US main task is to weaken, outbalance, overextend and take Russia out of the post-Soviet space”. The measures it proposes towards the Caucasus are promoting a closer NATO relationship with Georgia and Azerbaijan and to try to induce Armenia to break with Russia, not to escalate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Regarding Central Asia, it suggests increasing trade and technical agreements and further engagement with the Eurasian Economic Union, not a colour revolution in Kyrgyzstan. And though it examines the potential benefits for the US of regime change in Belarus, it talks about “helping the opposition parties reach the end state of being a free and democratic Belarus”, not about engineering unrest. See other examples of these disinformation narratives, such as claims that clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh are part of an Anaconda Ring plan against Russia, that events in Belarus are part of a hybrid war organised from abroad, that Moscow prevented a colour revolution in Kyrgyzstan, that extremists and Nazis are being trained in Ukraine to act in Belarus, or that Angela Merkel is the handler of Belarusian and Russian opposition leaders Tsikhanouskaya and Navalny.

Following US orders, Germany disguised Navalny’s low blood sugar as action of a “nerve agent”

In cahoots with France, Germany disguised the low blood sugar levels of Alexei Navalny as the action of a “nerve agent”, dragging the whole EU in their crusade. The sanctions against Russia are masterminded by the US, which can only lead to conclude that Brussels closely follows every order from Washington. In this way, Germany has some kind of Stockholm syndrome towards the US, because every blow that Washington launches against the Nord Stream 2 is a direct hit to the economy and energy security of Germany.

Disproof

This is part of a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign on the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The claim that Navalny suffered “low blood sugar levels” is false, since the use of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group against the Russian dissident has been established beyond any doubt by a specialist Bundeswehr laboratory. This is merged with a recurrent disinformation narrative portraying the EU as a puppet of the US. The campaign is following the same playbook as the one deployed after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018, a case where there is strong evidence of the involvement of Russian intelligence operatives and high-level Russian officials. By claiming that it is the US, and not Russia who benefits from this incident, pro-Kremlin media are trying to deflect any Russian responsibility for it, a frequent Kremlin tactic. Also, the use of multiple and simultaneous versions of an event involving questionable actions by the Russian government or its allies, in order to confound citizens about the actual truth, is a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation strategy, already seen in the cases of the MH17 downing, the illegal annexation of Crimea, the murder attempt against the Skripals or chemical attacks in Syria. See other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on Alexei Navalny’s poisoning in our database, such as claims that only caffeine and alcohol were found in his blood, that the US wanted to use it to block Russia's vaccine against coronavirus, that the West hopes that he dies to have an excuse for new sanctions, or that Western accusations on Navalny’s case are as false as they were about Sergei Skripal and Alexander Litvinenko.