Disinfo: From a legal point of view, Crimea has always been Russian

Summary

Firstly, Crimea has always been ours, even from the legal point of view. Secondly, we did not get it – the people living in Crimea decided to reunite with Russia, and this is the highest degree of manifestation of democracy. When the Soviet Union was created, the right of withdrawal was stipulated in the treaty. Since the procedure of withdrawal was not specified, the question arises: if this or that republic became part of the Soviet Union, got a huge amount of Russian lands, traditional Russian historical territories, and then suddenly decided to leave this union. Let it at least leave with what she came. And not to carry away gifts received from the Russian people with it.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea. 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). 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. The European Union does not recognise Crimea's annexation and continues to condemn it as a violation of international law. EU sanctions continue to be in place against Russia as a consequence of the annexation. For the EU's statement on the sixth anniversary of Crimea annexation see here. Historical background: As for the part of the narrative that "if this or that republic became part of the Soviet Union, got a huge amount of Russian lands, traditional Russian historical territories" (Ukraine is not named but was highly likely meant), the statement is also untrue. Crimea was annexed by Russian empire, then containing Ukraine, in 1783, already in violation of a treaty which guaranteed the independence of the Tatar khanate. In 1897, the first comprehensive census of the population of the empire indicates that the Russians are only one third of the inhabitants of Crimea, where they are still slightly fewer than the indigenous Crimean Tatars. The Russians only became a majority after the complete deportation in 1944 of the Tatars, who could only return after the fall of the communist regime. The annexation of Crimea to the then Soviet Ukraine, in 1954, was not done on a not ethnic, but geographical and economic basis, since the peninsula was adjoining and economically depending from the mainland areas, it means, Ukraine. At that, in 1937 Russian Soviet Socialist Republic received Taganrog from Ukrainian Socialist Republic. But Russia is not ready to "give this gift back " to Ukraine. There were several interchanges of territories between USSR's republics, which are all now sovereign States recognised by international law.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 202
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 21/06/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Ukraine, Russia
  • Keywords: Crimea
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Disinfo: Germany's accusations on the Khangoshvili murder are baseless

Germany said it may introduce new sanctions against Russia regarding the murder committed in Berlin in August 2019. German prosecutors said the Russian authorities were involved in the murder. However, no evidence was presented. The Russian ambassador to Germany called Berlin’s statements baseless and unfounded.

Disproof

A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that there is no proof behind accusations made against Russia and that the West blames Russia unfairly. Consistent with the narrative on Russophobia. A 40-year-old man, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was shot dead in a Berlin park just before midday on 23 August 2019. The victim was a Chechen exile who had survived two previous attempts on his life. The Dossier Center, a London-based research group founded by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, and other investigation groups, such as Bellingcat, identified the suspect as Vadim N. Krasikov, a 49-year-old Russian citizen from Siberia who, according to Bellingcat, used fake identity documents to enter Germany a few days before. The German Foreign Office says Russian officials have not responded sufficiently to repeated requests for information, despite repeated high-level and urgent demands. In addition, the German Federal Foreign Office insisted in a statement that "the Federal Public Prosecutor General has taken over the investigations into this case as there are sufficient grounds to believe that the killing was carried out either on behalf of state authorities of the Russian Federation or of those of the autonomous Chechen Republic as part of the Russian Federation". On December 4th, Germany expelled two Russian diplomats in response to this incident. Germany's federal prosecutor took over the investigation in December 2019. On Thursday, 18 June 2020, almost ten months after the murder, they said they had gathered sufficient evidence and brought charges against the suspect. See similar cases on the Khangoshvili murder here, and similar narratives on Skripal and MH17 cases.

Disinfo: Poland responsible for outbreak of WWII

Poland may not be the co-author of the aggression which broke in 1939, but it played an important supporting role in unleashing it. Had it not been for for Poland’s actions in the run-up to the Second World War, particularly after the Munich conference, the war may well have been avoided.

Disproof

The claim fits in with the Kremlin's pseudohistorical messaging on the causes of the Second World War, particuarly on the responsibility which Poland supposedly bears for unleashing the conflict. The outbreak of the war, according to overwhelming academic consensus, is directly traceable to the Nazi-Soviet pact of August 1939. The agreement contained a secret protocol which entitled Nazi Germany and the USSR to their respective spheres of influence in Europe. Within weeks of concluding the pact, the Third Reich and the Soviet Union implemented its secret provisions by invading Poland. Read similar examples of Russian historical revisionism concerning Poland - Poland posed a military threat to the USSR in 1938-1939, Nazi Germany considered Poland its best ally, If Poland realised a rational policy in 1939, Moscow would have had a different approach towards it and Poland re-writes the history of the Warsaw uprising accusing the USSR of its failure.

Disinfo: Western revisionism targets Putin

The historical revisionism orchestrated by the West concerning World War II is aiming to damage the image of Russia and of Vladimir Putin personally. Western efforts to rewrite the history of the war – like the 2019 European Parliament resolution which holds the USSR responsible for the start of World War II – are “Russophobic” and aim to discredit Russia’s President.

Disproof

This is part of sustained Kremlin’s campaign on historical revisionism on World War II in order to boost its legitimacy and deny the USSR’s responsibility in the outbreak of the conflict. The European Parliament resolution on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe stressed the fact that WWII was an immediate result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The resolution is aimed at the promotion of historical remembrance about WWII and condemnation of totalitarian ideologies. In the same context, see other examples of Russian disinformation narratives on World War II, such as claims that Western countries revise history to avoid responsibility for allowing Hitler to attack the USSR or that the Soviet Union tried to create an anti-Nazi alliance but the West didn’t respond or that the USSR had no role in the outbreak of the war.