Disinfo: Russia was forced to expel EU diplomats who participated in illegal protests

Summary

Russia was forced to expel three diplomats from Poland, Sweden, and Germany due to their participation in illegal pro-opposition protests on 23 January.

Disproof

The claim advances a pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative concerning the ongoing protests in support of jailed opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

None of the three diplomats actually participated in the demonstrations. The foreign ministries of Poland, Sweden, and Germany have all confirmed that their presence at the protests was linked solely to the fulfillment of their diplomatic duties of monitoring protests. According to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, these duties include "[a]scertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State" (Article 3(d)).

The protests currently taking place in Russia are not technically "illegal," given that the universal right of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution (Art. 31). More truly, the rallies are "unsanctioned," a term which the Kremlin usually invokes as a pretext to deny Russian citizens their constitutional rights, and which is incompatible with both domestic legislation and international norms. See here for further debunking.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 230
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 07/02/2021
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Country: Poland, Sweden, Germany, Russia
  • Keywords: Diplomacy with Russia, Alexei Navalny, Protest, International Law
see more

The West ignores Sputnik V and does not allow others to use it

А vaccine (Sputnik V) has been created that can save the lives of millions of people. But the West is ignoring that and does not allow others to use it. It would seem that when it comes to human destinies, all reproaches and contradictions should be put aside, but the interests of the superpowers, as it turns out, are still of greater value than people’s lives.

Do not be surprised if soon some European country asks Russia for its vaccine and organises its production. And the West, naturally, will not allow Georgia to do the same, and in addition, will severely threaten Georgia with a finger. The Georgian leadership, of course, will be afraid to put up resistance and will put Western interests in the first place, and not the urgent need of their own country.

Disproof

A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about lost sovereignty, challenging Georgian statehood, as if Georgia is ruled by the West and the pressure of the West is depriving Georgian people of the chance to get the Russian vaccine and be saved.

European Union is not against the Russian vaccine and does not ignore it. For any medicament to be used in the EU, it must first be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). According to EMA's latest statements it "has to date not received an application for a rolling review or a marketing authorisation for the [Sputnik V] vaccine".

The call of Navalny’s NGO for US sanctions on Russians proves that it is a foreign agent

The NGO of blogger Alexei Navalny, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), called US president Joe Biden to impose sanctions on 35 Russian citizens as a response for his imprisonment due to multiple violations of his parole. This request shows the character of a foreign agent of this organisation, and it is labelled as such by Russia’s Ministry of Justice. Navalny is not sentenced due to his political activities but for economic fraud. Many of those supposed opposition leaders have compromising pictures with the Open Society Foundations of George Soros.

Disproof

It is not true that the Anti-Corruption Foundation's call for sanctions proves that it is a foreign agent. There is no evidence that the FBK received funds from abroad, and the claim has always been denied by Alexei Navalny and his associates. The affirmation about links between opposition leaders and the Open Society Foundations of George Soros, himself a frequent target of pro-Kremlin disinformation, is an attempt to frame them as foreign pawns conspiring to orchestrate a “colour revolution”.

The set of Russian laws regulating NGOs are largely a strategy to silence criticism on the Russian government, including the 2012 so-called “Foreign Agent Law” requiring independent groups to register as “foreign agents” if they receive any foreign funding and engage in broadly defined “political activity.” According to Human Rights Watch, in Russia, the term “foreign agent” can be interpreted by the public only as “spy” or “traitor.” The words “foreign agent” – inostrannyi agent – carries negative connotations in Russian, suggesting spying, says Amnesty International. The law has been amended and updated several times, including a wide expansion of its scope in December 2020 under which almost all the citizens of Russia can be labelled as “foreign agents”.

The West treats the Baltic States as a foothold for anti-Russian war

NATO battalions pose a permanent threat to the civilian populations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Drunk foreigners in camouflage often commit hooliganism and denigrate local residents. NATO military drills disrupt transport communications and quiet life. NATO membership of the Baltic states is useless at best. It resulted in exploitation by foreign countries and dissolution of national armies. In particular, two Lithuanian military brigades are subordinated to German and Danish military units.

Russia does not pose a threat to the Baltic states. On the contrary, the Baltic states periodically come up with territorial claims to Russia. They can exploit the topic of the “Russian threat” for decades and get money from their senior partners for that. However, in the case of hypothetical armed conflict in the Baltic sea region, NATO allies will not be able to guarantee the existence of the Baltic states.

The expansionist and ill-conceived plans of the Pentagon and NATO threaten the Baltic states more than a mythical “Russian intervention.” The West cynically controls the Baltic states in their capacity of the foothold of war against Russia.

Disproof

This article transmits recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about NATO's aggressive plans towards Russia and the vassal Baltic states. It portrays NATO as a threatening and conflict-creating alliance which harms the Baltic states. This message can be found in earlier disinformation cases alleging that the U.S. will easily betray the Baltic states and hand them over to Russia, and that the US wants Russia to buy the Baltic states.

The Baltic states do not have territorial claims to Russia as alleged, and NATO is a defensive alliance and does not pose a threat to Russia. Its purpose is to protect its member states. Every country that joins NATO undertakes to uphold its principles and policies, and this includes the commitment that: