Disinfo: Western governments impose censorship and silence dissidents

Summary

The real goal of the “fight against fake news” conducted by Western governments is to eliminate freedom of information and freedom of thought, impose censorship, silence non-mainstream and dissident thinkers and bloggers by taking down their websites, social media accounts, and blogs, and introduce a kind of Orwellian thoughtcrime. Moreover, such governments have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to set up, under the guise of “fake news task forces”, an Orwellian-type Ministry of Truth tasked with deciding what is true and what is false, silencing and repressing dissidents, and censoring alternative information that is unwelcome to the powerful. Yet it is precisely mainstream media that spreads enormous amounts of false information and resorts to sophisticated forms of manipulation that are comparable to war propaganda.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory. No evidence is provided to support the article’s claims. The article repeats a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that the effort to fight fake news is really aimed at censoring information that is unwelcome to Western governments and at silencing critics of dominant Western narratives. The article also contains the recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative claiming the efforts of Western governments, including EU member states, to counter coronavirus-related disinformation are attempts to censor and persecute dissenting views. The article’s messages are consistent with the broad pro-Kremlin narrative that seeks to discredit liberal democratic societies by claiming that the latter are totalitarian systems ruled by “globalist elites” and “shadow governments” which persecute anyone who expresses views that dissent from dominant “politically correct” liberal-globalist thinking. Disinformation (including Pro-Kremlin disinformation and malign influence campaigns) is not an imaginary problem used to justify censorship, but is an issues of genuine concern for many governments around the world, because it represents a threat to a nation’s security and stability , as well as to democratic governance. In particular, the proliferation of disinformation and misinformation around COVID-19 throughout the world has potentially harmful consequences for public health and effective crisis communication. Therefore, Western governments, the EU and its member states have been trying to counter coronavirus-related disinformation, including through detection, analysis and exposure of disinformation campaigns related to the pandemic. The European Union as a whole, is committed to respecting the freedom and pluralism of the media as well as the right to freedom of expression - which includes the right to receive and impart information without interference by public authority. This committment is enshrined in Article 11 of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. Read a previous case claiming that the EU Commission and the EU Parliament wish to censor views skeptical of Western government and media fear-momngering about COVID-19.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 208
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 30/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: Italy
  • Keywords: coronavirus, social media, fake news, Mainstream media, Censorship, Media

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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Lithuania sponsored the Maidan in Ukraine

The protests in the capital of Ukraine in 2013–2014 were partially funded by Lithuania. Lithuanian embassy was the external source of money and weapons [flowing to Maidan].

Disproof

This is a recurring Russian disinformation narrative claiming that Maidan in 2014 was a coup d'etat, planned by the West. The Euromaidan in Ukraine began in 2013, when Ukrainians spontaneously united against the actions of President Viktor Yanukovych after his government refused to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. The protesters' demands included constitutional reform, a stronger role for parliament, formation of a government of national unity, an end to corruption, early presidential elections and an end to the violence. Lithuania has supported the democratic aspirations of the Ukrainian people in Maidan and provided medical treatment to those injured in the protests. Approximately one year after Maidan, in the context of aggression by the Russian armed forces in East Ukraine, Lithuania said it would provide Ukrainian armed forces with elements of armament for defense purposes. Read similar case claims that the US sponsored Maidan in Ukraine in 2014.

In Ukraine, children are turned into zombies and forced to sing the anthem

Ukrainian schoolchildren will be forced to sing the National Anthem of Ukraine. From September 1, all Kyiv schoolchildren will be required to participate in the collective performance of the anthem every day before the start of lessons. In Ukraine, children continue to be turned into zombies.

Disproof

This disinformation message falsely portrays a recommendation by the Kyiv City Council as an immediately applicable blanket measure. The Kyiv City Council, which proposed to start the school day with the National Anthem of Ukraine, has no lawful authority to instruct the Department of Education and Science to ensure the implementation of the anthem. The decisions of Kyiv's MPs are of a recommendatory nature. See similar disinformation messages alleging that in Ukraine, schools will be closed in large number and Residents of Donbas will be forcibly relocated to Lviv for re-education.

The EU does not allow Ukraine to export its products on the European market

Europe and the United States are not ready to fully cooperate with Ukraine, but only want to use it as a market for their products. Ukraine abandoned the Russian market, where it supplied its goods until 2014. At the same time, the turn towards the West did not open European markets for Ukrainian products, and the Europeans only allowed Ukrainians to buy their goods.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on EU-Ukraine relations. The EU is Ukraine's largest trading partner, accounting for more than 40% of its trade in 2019. Ukraine is the 18th largest trading partner of the EU accounting for around 1.1% of EU's total trade. Total trade between EU and Ukraine reached €43.3 billion in 2019. Ukrainian exports to the EU amounted to €19.1 billion in 2019. The main Ukrainian exports are raw materials (iron, steel, mining products, agricultural products), chemical products and machinery. This is a considerable increase of 48.5% since 2016. The number of Ukrainian companies exporting to the EU has increased at an impressive rate, from approximately 11,700 in 2015 to over 14,500 in 2019. Since 23 April 2014, Ukraine benefits from the EU Autonomous trade preferences (ATP) which were introduced by the Regulation (EU) No 374/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 as an element of a broad package of the EU economic and financial support of Ukraine. The above-mentioned preferences eliminate EU import duties on 94.7% of industrial goods and 83.4% of agricultural goods and foodstuff originating in Ukraine. It also foresees the application of the duty-free tariff quotas towards a number of agricultural products. See other disinformation cases in our database relating to the statehood of Ukraine: that the West controls the Ukrainian economy and pumps out its resources, that the EU Association Agreement made Ukraine a colony of the EU, that Ukraine is a fake country and Ukrainian ideology was created to split the Russian nation, and that Ukraine is a collapsing, degrading state with no sovereignty and rule of law.