Disinfo: Groundless accusation of ties to Russia became a classic trap aimed to discredit conservative candidates for EU elections

Summary

The big scandal involving the Austrian Vice-Chancellor over his “Russian connections” starts to have repercussions in Austria as well as in the rest of Europe. As the European elections approach, the chances of success for the Vice Chancellor’s party diminish. But it is already proven that the “niece of a Russian oligarch” in origin of the scandal was Latvian. What competent organization has set up this classic trap? No one seriously associates Russia with the rise of the European nationalists and traditional conservatives from their marginal ghetto, nor their new popularity. This is the good old method of pointing to “Russian trace” by discrediting the “populists” by sending them so-called “Russians”. The search for the “Russian trace” is a tradition of European public policy even older than cathedrals.

Disproof

Austrian political crisis called also "Strachegate" occurred because of the video showing vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache meeting a person pretending to be the niece of a Russian oligarch. Media outlets admit that the woman claims to also have Latvian citizenship. No other similar traps occurred so far, hence it is not "classic". The video as a whole exposed the far right Freedom Party’s eagerness to do business with allies of Mr. Putin, to bring Austrian media outlets under their control and find compromising material on their competitors in Austria. Despite reports on certain ideological support, financial proposals and a conspiracy meeting of European far right parties representatives with a Russian influencers, hacker attacks and suspicious social media accounts activity investigated under suspicion of being orchestrated by GRU and Russian "trolls factory", the recurring pro-Kremlin narrative purports that all the allegations of Russian interference in electoral processes in the EU and in the West are groundless and spread by European elites themselves. Their aim would be only to divert attention from the real problems of EU countries. At that, disinformation produced and/or spread by Russian sources has been reported in the context of several elections and referenda in the EU and elsewhere (see here for an overview), as noted in the EU's action plan against disinformation.

Ahead of the elections, Microsoft faced cyberattacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organizations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and that are often in contact with government officials. Microsoft continues to investigate the sources of these attacks, but is confident that many of them originated from a group called Strontium, also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Read more here.

Numerous investigations have provided convincing evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and in elections across Europe and in the US - see more information here, here and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 152
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 20/05/2019
  • Outlet language(s) French
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Austria, France
  • Keywords: Heinz-Christian Strache, EU elections 2019, election meddling, European Union, Austria, Europe

Belarus

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Disinfo: Ukrainian language law intentionally discriminates half of Ukraine’s population

It is not just about strengthening the state language in Ukraine. The new law is about discriminating against half of the country’s population. The law is directed against the Russian-speaking population, first of all, Russians, who are actually forbidden to speak their native language everywhere except at home. And this is almost half the population of the country.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and discrimination against Russian speakers. The Verkhovna Rada passed, on April 25, the law "on ensuring the functioning of the Ukrainian language as a state language". The law establishes mandatory use of the Ukrainian language in most areas of public and communal life, including the mass media, education, science, etc. However, the law does not forbid the use of Russian or other languages in private communication and religious ceremonies. Moreover, Russian and other languages can be present in book publishing, the press, including radio and television, education and the service sector. The law allows the use of other languages in the healthcare system and in law enforcement. In addition to this, the law stipulates that in accordance with the European Charter for Regional Languages and Languages of National Minorities, the government should develop a law safeguarding language-rights of the minorities within six months of the language law entering into force. For discrimination of the Ukrainian language, including in favour of Russian, administrative responsibility is given. In the humanitarian sphere - education, science, culture, sports - for violating language policy, there is a fine of 200-300 times the non-taxable minimum wage (now it is from 3400-5100 hryvnias).n The entry into force is delayed for three years. Similar disinformation cases are here and here. For background on the Ukrainian language laws, see here.

Disinfo: The West wages an information war against the Union State of Belarus and Russia

In order to preserve its dominant positions, the West carries out both real wars around the world with millions of killed people and information wars. The West’s confrontation with the Union State of Belarus and Russia has turned in an open economic, political, and information war.

Disproof

This message is consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about Western anti-Belarus and anti-Russian activities.

The Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus was signed on 8 December 1999. Its intention was to achieve a supranational confederation between the two states. However thus far the countries have failed to institute common symbols or a Constitutional act of the Union State, hence Union State common bodies mostly remain on paper. Since late 2018 Russia began putting more pressure on Belarus to proceed with a deeper integration within the 1999 Treaty.

Disinfo: Despite emerging German imperialism, Germans remain subordinated to American culture

Germans are subordinated to American culture. And this is despite the fact that German imperialism is being revived within the EU in a mild form.

Disproof

This message contains ungrounded claim about a rising German imperialism, combined with a lost sovereignty narrative frequently promoted by pro-Kremlin disinformation sources.

Imperialism is policy or ideology of extending a nation's rule over foreign nations, often by military force or by gaining political and economic control of other areas. The allegation about a present-day revival of German imperialism is ungrounded.

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