Disinfo: European diplomats were expelled because they participed in illegal rallies


[The expulsion of European diplomats] was decided as soon as it was identified that they participated in illegal rallies. Afterwards, “rumours” began to appear that the diplomats were doing their job, their professional duties, [and] were arrested illegally, accused of something they did not commit – participate in the illegal rallies.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative concerning the ongoing protests in support of jailed opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

The European Union has condemned the expulsion of three European diplomats and rejected accusations that conducted any activities incompatible with their diplomatic status. The diplomats were fulfilling their duties of monitoring the street protests in Russia. According to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, these duties include "[a]scertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State" (Article 3(d)).

Furthermore, the protests currently taking place in Russia are not "illegal," given that the universal right of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution (Art. 31). A term of "unsanctioned" rallies is usually invoked by the pro-Kremlin actors as a pretext to deny Russian citizens their constitutional rights, and which is incompatible with both domestic legislation and international norms. See here for further debunking.

See also similar disinformation claims that Diplomats from EU took part in unsanctioned rallies and that Russia was forced to expel EU diplomats who participated in illegal protests.


  • Reported in: Issue 231
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 12/02/2021
  • Language/target audience: Georgian
  • Country: Russia, Germany, Sweden, Poland
  • Keywords: Diplomacy with Russia, Protest, Alexei Navalny, International Law


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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Belarus and Russia withstood attempts of a soft coup d’état

The technology for a velvet revolution was widely used in the summer of 2020 in Belarus. Later, the same toolbox was attempted in Russia. Both countries withstood the attempts of a soft coup d’état.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about protests in Belarus and Russia. The EUvsDisinfo database contains almost 400 similar claims, attempting to describe protests anywhere in the world - from Venezuela to Hong Kong and currently in Russia- as a result of foreign involvement.

The protests in Belarus have continued for over six months, despite severe police repression. The protests erupted to contest the results of the presidential election in Belarus on the 9th of August, which were not monitored by independent expertsand are largely considered fraudulent by both international observers and a big part of Belarusian society. On 19 August 2020, the European Council called the Belarusian elections neither free nor fair. In October 2020, the EU-Council imposed sanctions against 40 individuals identified as responsible for repression and intimidation against peaceful demonstrators, opposition members and journalists in the wake of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus, as well as for misconduct of the electoral process.

Alexei Navalny is not a politician, despite Western claims

It is curious that European media and politicians call Alexei Navalny a “politician” and “opposition leader” while some Russian media call him a “blogger” and others “opposition member”. It is increasingly clear that Navalny is not a politician, because he doesn’t have a programme or a political force backing him. It is correct to say that he is a blogger, but it is also true that he made too much noise lately both in Russia and abroad for a mere blogger.


Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation aiming to discredit Alexei Navalny, this time by claiming that he is not a real politician and hinting that there may be some foreign dark interests behind him.

Contrary to the claim, Alexei Navalny is a real politician and has long experience in this field. He has been involved in politics since he joined social liberal party Yabloko in 2000. He co-founded a short-lived political organisation called Narod in 2007, and ran for mayor of Moscow in 2013. He was barred from running as a presidential candidate in 2017, following an embezzlement sentence largely seen as political retribution based on charges presented in 2014 that the European Court of Human Rights consider “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable”. Navalny’s political movement has been repeatedly targeted by the Russian authorities and its activities systematically obstructed, including physical attacks against him and his supporters. In 2018, Navalny launched a new political party called Russia Of The Future, a re-foundation of the former Party Progress. Frequent pro-Kremlin allegations that Navalny’s movement is funded from abroad have not been backed up with evidence and have always been denied by him and his associates, and there is no proof that he is anything but a Russian opposition activist.

NATO and the EU want to contain and destabilise Russia through Navalny and the “opposition”

The statements of NATO and EU countries about the situation regarding Alexei Navalny is a coordinated information campaign that represents a global attempt to contain Russia and interfere in its internal affairs.


Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Alexei Navalny , aiming to frame criticism of his arrest and the crackdown on protests as foreign interference.

Contrary to the claim, this criticism is not “a global attempt to contain Russia” but a legitimate concern about human rights and the rule of law in this country. The European Union condemned the arrest of Alexei Navalny and demanded his immediate release. In 2019 the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the charges against Alexei Navalny are politically motivated and arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable. As a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia undertook to secure a number of fundamental rights and freedoms to everyone within its jurisdiction.