Disinfo: The USSR incorporated Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in a legal way

Summary

In autumn 1939, the Soviet Union, pursuing its strategic military and defensive goals, started the process incorporating Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Their accession to the USSR was implemented on a contractual basis, with the consent of the elected authorities. This was in line with international and state law of that time.

Disproof

This disinformation message is a part of the Kremlin's historical revisionism campaign – it denies that the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states ever happened. On 23 August 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression (Molotov-Ribbentrop) pact whose secret protocols divided the territories belonging to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Romania into Soviet and Nazi spheres of influence. The Baltic States were not beneficiaries of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Like other countries mentioned in the pact, they lost their independence and territories. Soviet occupation of the Baltic States lasted for 50 years and resulted in mass deportations and repressions against local populations. On 24 December 1989, the Parliament of the USSR, the Congress of the People’s Deputies, adopted a resolution, acknowledging the annexation of the Baltic states as a violation of the USSR's obligations. An English translation of the full text can be found here: The Congress notes that during this period the relations of the USSR with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were regulated by a system of treaties. Pursuant to the 1920 Peace Treaties and 1926-1933 Non-Aggression Treaties, the signatories were obliged to honour each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability under any circumstances. The Soviet Union had assumed similar obligations to Poland and Finland. See similar disinformation narratives on this issue - The Baltic states benefited from the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; The Baltic states are perpetuating the myth of the Soviet occupation and The Baltic states refuse to celebrate the victory over fascism.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 202
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 19/06/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Polish
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Baltic states, Russia
  • Keywords: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Occupation, Historical revisionism, USSR, WWII, Baltic states
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Crimea returned to Russia after a referendum

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the annexation of Crimea, claiming that Crimea voted to rejoin Russia through a legal referendum.

Crimea is a part of Ukraine and was illegally annexed by Russia. In 2014, Russian troops obliged the parliament of Crimea to organise a referendum, which was illegitimate under international law, and then formally annexed the peninsula and brought it under Russian territorial control. The annexation has been condemned by the UNGA (see the resolution A/RES/68/262 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine).

Ukraine is preparing a new provocation in the Black Sea

Under the leadership of US intelligence agencies, Ukraine is creating a “mosquito fleet” to continue provocations in the Black Sea, similar to the one that was carried out near the Crimean bridge. So we should expect that these American boats, being captured by Russian border guards along with Ukrainian crews, will again gather dust in Sevastopol as material evidence.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the Kerch strait incident and US controlling Ukraine. No evidence is given. The U.S. State Department has cleared a potential sale to Ukraine of 16 Mark VI patrol boats and other gear worth $600 million. According to a State Department official, the sale will improve the capability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to “sustain river and littoral water patrols throughout Ukraine’s [maritime] exclusive economic zone.” The article tries to link this potential sale to the Kerch strait incident, itself the source of multiple disinformation instances. On 25 November 2018, border patrol boats belonging to Russia’s FSB security service seized two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tugboat and their crews after shooting at them, wounding several Ukrainian servicemen and arresting 24 members. Russia argued that they were in Russian waters. However, a bilateral treaty between Russia and Ukraine, signed in 2003 and ratified by Russia in 2004, governs the use of the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, which in the treaty is considered to be the “internal waters” of both Russia and Ukraine. On 25 May 2019, the United Nations Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to immediately release Ukrainian sailors and allow them to return to Ukraine. The EU also urged Russia to release the captured crew. Twenty-four military sailors returned to Ukraine on 7 September 2019 as part of a mutual release of detainees by Ukraine and Russia. On 21 November 2019, Russia returned the ships to Ukraine.

No evidence of the involvement of Russian state structures in the killing of Georgian citizen in Berlin

Almost ten months after the murder of a Georgian in Berlin, the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe filed charges against a Russian. On 18 June 2020, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office brought charges against the Russian citizen Vadim K. alias Vadim S. before the State Protection Senate of the Berlin Court of Appeal. There was, and is, no evidence of the involvement of Russian state structures in this incident. Also it was stated that this murder case is not connected with the Russian state and state authorities.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that there is no proof and evidence behind accusations against Russia. Consistent with the narrative on Russophobia. A 40-year-old man, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was shot dead in a Berlin park just before midday on 23 August 2019. The victim was a Chechen exile who had survived two previous attempts on his life. The Dossier Center, a London-based research group founded by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, and other investigation groups, such as Bellingcat, identified the suspect as Vadim N. Krasikov, a 49-year-old Russian citizen from Siberia who, according to Bellingcat, used fake identity documents to enter Germany a few days before. The German Foreign Office says Russian officials have not responded sufficiently to repeated requests for information, despite repeated high-level and urgent demands. In addition, the German Federal Foreign Office insisted in a statement that "the Federal Public Prosecutor General has taken over the investigations into this case as there are sufficient grounds to believe that the killing was carried out either on behalf of state authorities of the Russian Federation or of those of the autonomous Chechen Republic as part of the Russian Federation". On December 4th, Germany expelled two Russian diplomats in response to this incident. Germany's federal prosecutor took over the investigation in December 2019. On Thursday, 18 June 2020, almost ten months after the murder, they said they had gathered sufficient evidence and brought charges against the suspect. See similar cases on the Khangoshvili murder here, and similar narratives on Skripal and MH17 cases.