Disinfo: Facebook unjustifiably deleted content about the arrest of Ukrainian extremist groups


The Facebook administration banned the publication of reports by a number of Russian media outlets that spoke about the arrest of suspects belonging to a Ukrainian extremist group, under the pretext that the reports contain "false" information despite the fact that the Public Relations Division of the Russian Security Service is the source of this information.


This incident refers to news that followers of a Ukrainian neo-Nazi organization (MKU) were allegedly uncovered in Voronezh. The media claimed that the group consisted of three local residents, Roman Grebenshchikov, Ilya Shmelyov and Aleksandr Simonov. However, it was proven that the arrested had nothing to do with any Ukrainian group, and were in fact, Russian nationalists. Moreover, the security services that were mentioned as the source of the information deny that they had provided information to the media linking the suspects to Ukraine.

One of the arrested, Roman Grebenshchikov, told the fact-checking organization StopFake that:

“We have nothing to do with Ukraine. I didn’t even know what MKU (“Maniacs. Cult of Murderers”) was. It was the journalists who came up with that. Those materials of the investigation that I’ve seen also had nothing to do with Ukraine. All the (detained) guys from Voronezh are Russians, I know them all, and I don’t even know how they linked us to Ukraine. I even laughed at what was shown on TV; it’s complete nonsense. I asked the investigator why he’d done it, and he said it was all journalists’ doing.”

The investigator of the case, Ilya Bichev, told StopFake that he had never provided the media with information about links that Grebenshchikov, Shmelyov and Simonov had with a Ukrainian Nazi group, but he refused to confirm or deny that this information was contained in case files, citing the secrecy of the investigation. See here for further debunking by StopFake.

The context is a pro-Kremlin narrative of Nazi-ruled Ukraine which has been the cornerstone of Russian disinformation about the country since the very beginning of the 2013-14 Euromaidan protests. It was first used to discredit the pro-European popular uprising in Kyiv and, subsequently, the broader pro-Western shift in Ukraine's foreign policy. The reality, however, shows that far-right groups enjoyed a very limited presence during the Euromaidan itself and had poor results in the 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections. In 2019 election cycle far-right candidates fell short of the 5% minimum guaranteeing entry into parliament.


  • Reported in: Issue 245
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 15/03/2021
  • Article language(s) Arabic
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Facebook, fake news, Nazi/Fascist
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