Disinfo: Navalny’s suspicious poisoning looks like a publicity campaign to take him out of oblivion

Summary

While the alleged poisoning of the Russian opposition member Alexei Navalny still creates more questions than answers, its coverage in Western media reminds an information war or a well-planned publicity campaign. It seems that its goal has been from the beginning to take out Navalny of oblivion, achieving his appearance in the Russian media, including the official ones, so he is not only a social media character anymore. The final purpose is to equate him with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a politician, so both the international and Russian audiences talk of Putin and Navalny in the same context.

Disproof

Recurrent disinformation narrative on the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny not based on any evidence.

Though only 9 per cent of Russians had a positive view of Navalny’s work in 2019, saying that he was “in oblivion” is a misrepresentation of facts. According to the Levada Center, while in 2012 only 25 per cent of Russians had ever heard of Navalny, the figure had increased to 55 per cent by 2017, largely thanks to his anti-corruption and political campaigns.

This is part of a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign on the poisoning of Navalny, which follows the same playbook that the one deployed after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018, a case where there is strong evidence of the involvement of Russian intelligence operatives and high-level Russian officials. By claiming that Western media are playing an information war through this incident, pro-Kremlin media are trying to deflect any Russian responsibility for it, a frequent Kremlin tactic. Also, the use of multiple and simultaneous versions of an event involving questionable actions by the Russian government or its allies, in order to confound citizens about the actual truth, is a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation strategy, already seen in the cases of the MH17 downing, the illegal annexation of Crimea, the murder attempt against the Skripals or chemical attacks in Syria.

See other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on Alexei Navalny’s poisoning in our database, such as claims that only caffeine and alcohol were found in his blood, that the US wanted to use Navalny to block Russia's vaccine against coronavirus, that the West hopes that he dies to have an excuse for new sanctions, or that Western accusations about Navalny’s case are as false as they were about Sergei Skripal and Alexander Litvinenko.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 216
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/10/2020
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: Mainstream media, Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin, The West

Disclaimer

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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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about NATO enlargement.

The US or NATO made no promises to not expand into eastern and central Europe back in 1990, which was confirmed by the former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev. Back in 2014, Gorbachev said: "The topic of ‘NATO expansion’ was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility."

Ukraine is under obvious external control, Zelenskyy is being blackmailed

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is forced to act according to a written plan. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is repeating the steps of his predecessor Petro Poroshenko in Donbas because he is being blackmailed and not allowed to deviate from the established course. Ukraine is under obvious external control. This is already recognised by absolutely everyone.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory and disinformation narrative, without any evidence to support the claim. The narrative alleges that Ukraine is under external control. You can find several disinformation cases on Ukraine being under foreign control in our database. Equally, no evidence is presented of Zelenskyy being blackmailed.

Ukraine is a sovereign and independent state with a democratically-elected president and parliament. Ukraine is not controlled by any foreign government or organisation: not the USA, IMF, NATO, the West or George Soros. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by almost the whole world, including the EU.

Ukraine has always been Russian, at least a half of it

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Disproof

According to a poll conducted in 2017 the number of Ukrainian citizens who consider themselves Ukrainians by nationality is 90.6% of the population, Russian - 6.3%. A recent poll, refererad to in the media states:

For comparison, it is worth citing data on the ethnic composition of the population of Ukraine according to the censuses of 1989 and 2001: Ukrainians - 72.7% and 77.8%, respectively, Russians -22.1 and 17.3%, others - 5.2 % and 4.9%.

If we look at history we can also find many examples showing that Kyiv existed before Moscow, and Ukraine before Russia. Kievan Rus was in existence and history books long before Russia, and hundreds of years before Moscow, and as this scholarly debunk points out, there were even clear linguistic differences as early as the 14th century.