Disinfo: Destabilisation of Belarus and ousting of Lukashenko was planned in US embassy in Ukraine

Summary

A task force was created in the US embassy in Kyiv. Its main goal was to destabilise Belarus and to overthrow Lukashenko. The first grants were given to achieve this. [They were used] in blocking the Belarusian embassy in Kyiv, the adoption of a resolution by the [Verkhovna] Rada on the non-recognition of the election results, and in recalling the Ukrainian ambassador to Belarus.

Disproof

This is part of an ongoing Russian disinformation campaign on Belarus based on recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, such as accusing other countries of interference and portraying popular protests against electoral fraud in the country as a Western-led colour revolution. There is no evidence that the US or Ukraine is trying to destabilise the situation in Belarus. US and Ukraine both support the independence and territorial integrity of Belarus and they do not have any political claims. The protests in Belarus erupted to contest the results of the presidential elections in Belarus that took place on the 9 August, which are considered fraudulent by a large part of Belarusian society. The European Union has also stated that the elections were neither free nor fair. There is no evidence that the protests in Belarus are funded and organised externally. Pro-Kremlin media frequently use disinformation narratives about popular protests around the world allegedly incited and funded by the US and other Western states. It has been applied, among others, to protests in Ukraine, Venezuela, Georgia, and Belarus, as well as to present a deceiving narrative on the aggressive West constantly preparing new coups. Read similar disinformation cases: The Baltic States and Poland are blowing Belarus up from the inside, Ukrainian militants are staying in Belarus to carry out a coup d'etat, in Belarus, there are signs of a colour revolution, but hybrid one.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 211
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 14/09/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: US, Belarus, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Protest, Colour revolutions, Elections
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Alexei Navalny was poisoned by an MI6 agent

[Alexei Navalny’s] body reacted differently to a fast-acting substance that was rapidly excreted from the body, which his friend Maria Pevchikh gave him. According to a source, she is also an employee (undercover agent) of the [British Secret Intelligence Service] MI6. So, it was the work of Maria Pevchikh. These substances have been in Russia for a long time. They don’t even need to be brought to Russia. They have been kept in the embassies of different countries since the 90s. And there are enough of them for many years. Several people have already died from these substances. However, it will never be possible to prove that it was precisely the poisoning.

Disproof

The story advances a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative casting the Navalny poisoning as wholly unconnected to Russia. Clinical findings at the Charité hospital indicated that Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. Subsequent toxicological tests provided unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group in the blood samples of Alexei Navalny. The use of multiple and simultaneous versions about an event involving questionable actions by the Russian government or its allies, in order to confound citizens searching for 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 Sergei and Yulia Skripal or chemical attacks in Syria. Read similar disinformation messages alleging that Navalny is an agent of the Russian special services, that Navalny was not poisoned by Novichok and Russian secret services are not involved, that Alexei Navalny, originally an anti-Russian project, was poisoned by his sponsors, or that the Americans are recouping their long-term investment in Alexei.

Alexei Navalny case: German doctors are silenced

A curious discrepancy: in Russia, the case is being freely and openly discussed by all sorts of professionals who have a say on the matter – doctors, those who treated the patient, investigators, journalists, diplomats, and politicians. However, in the West only high ranking politicians do the talking, the doctors are silent. The doctors at the Berlin clinic Charité seem to have been gagged because they did not say anything.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Navalny's poisoning. The Berlin clinic Charité, where Alexei Navalny is being treated, has issued several statements with the preliminary results of medical investigation. After Alexei Navalny was admitted to the Charité clinic, its doctors confirmed, after a careful investigation, that the Russian politician was poisoned by a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors:

"Clinical findings indicate poisoning with a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors. The specific substance involved remains unknown, and a further series of comprehensive testing has been initiated. The effect of the poison – namely, the inhibition of cholinesterase in the body – was confirmed by multiple tests in independent laboratories."

Charité also issued several statements on his condition: that Navalny remains in a serious condition (September 2), that his condition improved (September 7), and that Navalny was removed from mechanical ventilation (September 14). See more recent stories on Navalny's poisoning: that Navalny is an agent of the Russian special services, that he was not poisoned by Novichok and Russian special services are not involved, and that he is an anti-Russian project and was poisoned by the sponsors.

After the coup in Kiev in 2014, Crimea reunited with Russia following a referendum

After the Kiev coup in February 2014, the authorities in Crimea and Sevastopol decided to hold a referendum on reunification with Russia. In the vote, which took place on March 16 of the same year, more than 80 percent of those eligible to vote took part. For reunification with the Russian Federation, 96.7 and 95.6% of the inhabitants of Crimea and Sevastopol voted, respectively. On March 18, the President of Russia signed an agreement on the acceptance of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation, and on March 21, the document was ratified by the Federal Assembly. Despite the convincing results of the referendum, Kiev refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

Disproof

Recurrent narrative about the illegal annexation of Crimea. The Euromaidan was not a coup but a nationwide popular protest against the government's sudden announcement that it would not sign the EU Association Agreement. See the full debunk here. Crimea is a part of Ukraine and was illegally annexed by Russia. The annexation has been condemned by the UNGA (see the resolution A/RES/68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine). No international body recognizes the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014 and held on 16 March 2014. A year after the illegal annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum. The European Union does not recognise Crimea's annexation and continues to condemn it as a violation of international law. EU sanctions continue to be in place against Russia as a consequence of the annexation. See the EU's statement on the sixth anniversary of Crimea annexation here.