Disinfo: Terrorist-linked White Helmets stage false-flag chemical attacks in Syria

Summary

Despite being hailed as fearless rescue workers, the White Helmets have been accused of partnering with Al-Qaeda. Operating exclusively in rebel-held territory, the group’s members have been photographed posing with jihadists and have been accused of staging chemical weapons attacks to draw in Western forces against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the White Helmets and chemical attacks in Syria. Allegations of "staged" chemical attacks are part and parcel of the ongoing campaign by Syria and Russia to smear the White Helmets as terrorists and war criminals. However, available evidence has yet to link a single chemical attack to any other party than the Assad regime. For more information about the importance of the White Helmets in pro-Kremlin disinformation regarding the Syrian war, see here, here, and here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 206
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 17/07/2020
  • Outlet language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Syria
  • Keywords: false flag, White Helmets, Chemical weapons/attack, Bashar al-Assad, Terrorism, Syrian War
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Ukrainian parliament caved in for the IMF

The Verkhovna Rada supported the idea, agreed with the IMF, on the appointment of the Head of the board of Ukrgasbank, Kyrylo Shevchenko, to the post of Head of the National Bank of Ukraine. It is not Zelenskyy who nominated Shevchenko to the post of Head of the NBU, rather the IMF appointed him. There will be no independent leadership of the NBU in Ukraine.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine, which is often claimed to be under external control from the US, NATO, the EU or IMF. There is no evidence that the IMF chose the new head of the National Bank of Ukraine. Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director of International Monetary Fund stated previously: "It is in the interest of Ukraine to preserve the independence of the NBU and it is also a requirement under the current IMF-supported programme. I urged President Zelenskyy to stay the course of sound monetary and financial policies – those are key to stronger investment and inclusive growth." On 15 July 2020, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy submitted the candidacy of Kyrylo Shevchenko to the Verkhovna Rada. The next day 332 deputies voted for him. 47-year-old Shevchenko is a banker with previous experience in the field. For the last six years, he was head of the state bank Ukrgasbank.

There are no Ukrainians, no separate nation and language

Ukrainians were told that they are a separate nation with their own language. In fact, Ukraine is the chimera that has been created in recent decades.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Ukraine is an artificial country and that Ukrainians are a part of a larger Russian nation. Ukraine is a well-defined nation-state that has preserved language, literature and identity despite foreign rule for long periods. It is a sovereign state whose borders are guaranteed by international agreements but were violated by Russia through the illegal annexation of Crimea. Ukraine is recognised in international law as a sovereign nation-state, with its own flag, nationality, language and with a democratically-elected president and parliament. Read similar disinformation cases alleging that Ukraine is not a country, but a territory, that Ukraine has never existed as an independent country, that Ukraine is a state formation, and not a country, that Ukraine was artificially created as a state hostile towards Russia, that myth about Ukraine as a separate nation was created in the USSR, or that Ukrainian literary language is an artificial language created by the Soviet authorities.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia engage in political censorship

The ban on broadcasting RT television channel Sputnik, in Latvia and Lithuania is a direct violation of the obligations of media freedom undertaken by the Baltic states. The Federation Council of Russia believes that such actions of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia violate the principles of freedom of speech and unhindered dissemination of information, which are fundamental norms of the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

Disproof

This claim tries to portray EU sanctions on Russia, the result of its illegal actions in Ukraine, as unfair persecution against Sputnik and its employees, and against media freedom in general. In all of the mentioned countries, Sputnik and RT are being accused of spreading disinformation, violating copyrights, acting as a propaganda instrument. In Estonia, Sputnik is wrongly represented as a victim of unprecedented persecution. These statements have already been debunked before. The steps taken by Estonia are based on the Article 2 of the Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine that foresees freezing the assets of Dmitry Kiselyov, the Director-General of Rossija Segodnya. Lithuania is falsely claimed to follow totalitarian laws, while Sputnik fights against intolerance. This came as in mid-2019 a court in Vilnius ruled on blocking Sputnik Lithuania over copyright issues. Broadcasting service (LRT) approached the Radio and Telecommunications Committee and pointed out in a statement that Sputnik had illegally used LRT materials at least 1464 times in violation of copyrights. Lithuanian Sputnik had continued to distribute illegal material and had not reacted to repeated requests by the National Broadcasting service to stop the abuse of copyright infringement. In Latvia, in 2016, Latvia's domain registry shut the website of Sputnik Latvia after receiving a letter of concern from the Latvian Foreign Ministry, which drew attention to Sputnik's coverage of Ukraine and routine denial of the embattled nation's territorial integrity. In July 2019, Latvian authorities blocked access to the online portal baltnews.lv, owned by Rossiya Segodnya, citing EU sanctions against Russia. In 2020 Latvia has banned the state-owned Russian television channel RT, saying it is controlled by an individual - Dmitriy Kiselyov, who is under EU sanctions. According to the Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), Latvia's national media watchdog, RT and the network of channels operated by it are under Kiselyov's "effective control" and has attempted to present Latvia as a failed state.