Disinfo: There was a coup d’état in Ukraine in early 2014


Relations between Russia and the European Union had deteriorated because of the situation in Ukraine, where a coup d’état took place in early 2014. In the same year, a referendum was held on the accession of the Crimean peninsula to Russia. The peninsula had until then belonged to Ukraine. The West accused Russia of interference and imposed sanctions as a result.


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative painting the 2013-14 Ukrainian revolution as a coup d'etat and claiming that Crimean citizens chose to rejoin Russia through a legal referendum.

There was no coup d'état in Ukraine. The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was an organic reaction by numerous parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013.

On 26 February 2014, the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government. The next day a referendum was announced and a vote was held on March 16, 2014, in the Peninsula of Crimea. The territory was then controlled by Russian forces, though neither Ukrainian nor Russian election code was observed.

On 27 March 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula.

On 17 December 2018, the UN General Assembly confirmed its non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Read more similar cases alleging that the extreme coup in Kyiv led to the return of Crimea and that Euromaidan was a coup d’état carried out by oligarchs.


  • Reported in: Issue 194
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 22/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: German
  • Country: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: illegal annexation, Manipulated elections/referendum, Coup, Euromaidan, Crimea


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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European countries did not respond to the problems in Italy

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be an insurmountable test for the EU on the strength of political and economic unity. This is already obvious. And the point here is not only how the community of European countries reacted to the problems in Italy. Rather, the EU did NOT respond, preferring to simply close the internal borders and even take medicine and medical equipment that could save thousands of human lives in Milan or Bergamo.


This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse and a speculative claim about "abandoned Italy" claiming that the EU left Italy alone to fight coronavirus.

One of the main pro-Kremlin narratives relating to the pandemic is that the EU is failing to cope with the COVID-19 crisis and, as a result, is disintegrating, together with the border-free Schengen area. In particular, this narrative of failure and lack of EU solidarity is trending after the delivery of Russian aid to Italy.

WHO may be involved in a plot to reduce global population

Within the framework of “Operation COVID-19”, WHO is involved with vaccines (or rather, chemical weapons), which should reduce the population. […] The Republic of Armenia is not a country where the population can be reduced. Armenia should immediately suspend its WHO membership and abandon any “WHO-Bill Gates” programmes. Armenia must reject any vaccination programmes against COVID-19.


An unfounded conspiracy theory, about WHO, Bill Gates and coronavirus, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about "secret elites" controlling world leaders and part of the anti-vax movement. Vaccine hesitancy is identified by WHO as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

See similar cases claming that Bill Gates and Co aspire to a reduction in population, that survivors will be poisoned with vaccines, or Covid-19 will allow total control of the population through forced vaccination and chips.

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In order to understand the so-called “riots”, it is necessary to look at the medieval history of Europe, where  epidemics always resulted in a search for a scapegoat and usual pogroms against Jews. It is probably a tradition for the European authorities to blame others for their failure to cope with epidemics.

This time, all other countries are handling the Coronavirus situation better than France. That is why it is important to find a scapegoat, which will be blamed for the catastrophic statistics.

From the very beginning of the quarantine, the working districts of Paris and other large French cities have become this “scapegoat”. Without any exaggeration, this narrative has a racist character – the media regularly attack the African youths accusing them of disrespecting the quarantine. This narrative is imposed by the French Government on purpose – the French middle class eagerly supports it.


The message that the French Government purposefully presents migrant youths as its “scapegoat” covering the alleged failure to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic is a conspiracy theory. The ongoing protests in the northern suburbs of Paris are caused by several complex reasons such as the challenging socio-economic situation of migrants and minorities, contradictions with police and social inequality.

See other disinformation cases linked to Yellow Vests protests in France. The analysis of the Russian disinformation media's non-stop coverage of Yellow vests and also of the manipulated social media discussions is presented here.