Disinfo: It is rather nice for a journalist to work in Russia, unlike in Europe

Summary

Even if everything is not perfect, the situation of press freedom in Russia is not as black as some people want to portray it. In general, it is rather nice for a journalist to work in Russia. Many information and public registers are accessible, which facilitates the work of investigative journalists. Whilst Russia is often singled out in this area, take the recent example of Russian media being refused accreditation for a conference in Britain precisely on the topics of press freedom. These kinds of decisions only weaken international standards of freedom of information.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on the Western media not being independent and biased while Russia protects freedom of speech and the press. As for the non-admission of Russian disinformation outlets to the conference on freedom of speech in the UK, RT and Sputnik were the only Russian media banned from the conference for an "over active role in spreading disinformation''. Other Russian media were accredited and attended. In July 2019, RT received a fine of 20,000 British pounds from the British regulator OFCOM "for serious failures to comply with our broadcasting rules". According to Reporters without borders, Russia is in 149th place out of 180 countries. "What with draconian laws and website blocking, the pressure on independent media has grown steadily since the big anti-government protests in 2011 and 2012. Leading independent news outlets have either been brought under control or throttled out of existence. As TV channels continue to inundate viewers with propaganda, the climate has become very oppressive for those who question the new patriotic and neo-conservative discourse", explains the NGO. See here for more disinformation cases on the violations of the rights of Russian journalists in Europe, and media freedom in general.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 173
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 06/11/2019
  • Outlet language(s) French
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: UK, France, Russia
  • Keywords: Russia Today (RT), Freedom of speech
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Naftogaz of Ukraine blackmails Russia

Instead of meeting Russian Gazprom and starting constructive negotiations, Ukraine’s Naftogaz allegedly continues to blackmail Russia. The parties cannot agree on the details of a new contract for the transit of gas from Russia to the European Union through the Ukrainian gas transportation system due to the destabilising position of Ukraine.

Disproof

The ten-year contract for gas transit from Russia to the European Union through the territory of Ukraine expires on 31 December. The latest round of trilateral negotiations ended in Brussels on 28 October. The European side, represented by the Vice President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič, expressed disappointment with the results of the consultations. The European Union and Ukraine have a similar position on the issue of a contract with Russia. At the meeting, EU representatives proposed clear requirements on the procedure for signing a business agreement with the prescribed deadlines. The Ukrainian side is ready to sign a new contract on 17 December. But despite the expiring contract, Gazprom has not yet submitted a single official written proposal to Ukraine to resolve the situation, Naftogaz reported. Moreover, it is the Russian side that appears to be resorting to “gas blackmail”. The Kremlin requires Ukraine to abandon the Stockholm arbitration decision, according to which a Russian company owes Naftogaz almost $ 2.6 billion for neglecting the terms of a previous contract for the transit of resources through the Ukrainian gas transportation system. Ukraine cannot agree to these conditions. Gas disputes between Russia and Ukraine are one of Russia's favourite fields for spreading fakes. Read similar cases in which it is stated that Ukraine plans to disrupt gas transit to the EU and that Kyiv will not sign a new contract. Further debunking by StopFake.

In Ukraine, one can be imprisoned for the emblem of the USSR, but do not touch the Nazis

In Ukraine, double standards apply: the Ukrainian police can imprison a person for carrying the emblem of the USSR, but does not touch people who demonstrate Nazi symbols.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the Nazis in Ukraine. In Ukraine in 2015, the law on decommunisation, initiated by the Cabinet of Ministers, entered into force. The document recognises the communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes in Ukraine as criminal and pursuing a policy of state terror. The new law amended the Criminal Code of Ukraine. According to article 436-1, a person propagating Nazi or communist symbols faces up to five years in prison.

The incident in the Kerch strait was a crime of the Ukrainian military

Ukraine will get back its ships detained in Crimea, but only after recognising their provocation in the Kerch Strait. The Russian side considers the incident in the strait as a crime of the Ukrainian military.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the Kerch incident. On the 25th of November 2018, border patrol boats belonging to Russia’s FSB security service seized two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tug boat and their crews after shooting at them, wounding several Ukrainian servicemen and arresting 24 members. Russia stated they were in Russian waters. However, according to the bilateral agreement between Ukraine and Russia, the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov are the internal waters of both Russia and Ukraine. The agreement gives both parties the power to inspect suspicious vessels. Furthermore, both the 2003 bilateral agreement and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provide for freedom of navigation. For further reporting see Bellingcat, DFRLab and Polygraph.