Disinfo: White helmets are not a humanitarian organisation, but marauders

Summary

The White helmets, behind the facade of the humanitarian brand, hides looting, robbery and direct complicity in terrorism.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative smearing the White Helmets while providing no evidence.

The White Helmets movement originated in Syria in 2012, when the first detachments of volunteer rescuers appeared in the territories outside of the control of Bashar al-Assad's troops. In 2014, volunteer teams merged into a national organisation, the Syrian Civil Defence, which is the official name of the White Helmets.  Volunteers save people from the rubble after bombings, despite the danger of dying themselves as a result of repeated air strikes. Activists have documented the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad government and allied forces. Because Russia is supporting Assad, the White Helmets have become the target of an extensive Russian disinformation campaign.

The White Helmets are a staple topic of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on the Syrian civil war, having already been accused of numerous other provocations and war crimes including organ trafficking; aiding terrorist organisations; staging and/or perpetrating chemical attacks, sometimes with the help of Western intelligence agencies.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 206
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 23/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Syria
  • Keywords: White Helmets, Syrian War

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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Russia has never interfered in other countries’ electoral processes

Russia has never interfered in the electoral process of any country in the world, not in the United States, nor in Britain, nor in any other country.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative denying Moscow's interference in other countries' elections.This claim has not been counterbalanced or critically challenged by the article.

Electoral interference by Russia has been extensively documented in numerous countries around the world. Independent research, media investigations and parliamentary inquiries point out to evidence linking Russian state actors with interference in various electoral processes, including the 2016 US presidental elections, Brexit vote, in the 2017 French Presidential elections, in the 2017 German Parliamentary elections etc. The list of essential research and analysis about the Kremlin's election meddling effort can be found here (Electoral interference).

With the help of NATO, Ukrainians shot down MH17 using Kolchuga station

Ukrainian soldiers could shoot down MH17 with NATO Kolchuga sensor.

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MH17 was shot down with BUK missile system, but it was the Ukrainians who launched the missile, using Kolchuga and receiving signals from [NATO aircraft] AWACS from German and Polish airspace.

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NATO special services organised this tragedy. They had at their disposal an integrated air defence system where the “Buk” is integrated with Kolchuga passive sensor. This system is also actively used by the Russian army, which made it possible to put forward false accusations against our country.

Disproof

One of the multiple disinformation narratives on the downing of flight MH17 denying Russia's responsibility.

The Dutch-led criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been ongoing since 2014. On 28 September 2016, the JIT announced that flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series, which was launched by a BUK TELAR missile system. The system was transported from the Russian Federation to an agricultural field near the town of Pervomaiskiy in Eastern Ukraine, from where the missile was launched. After firing, the system, with 1 missing missile, went back to the Russian Federation. On the 24 May 2018, the JIT announced its conclusion that the BUK TELAR used to shoot down MH17 came from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation.

MH17: JIT did not provide any real evidence

There is no clear evidence, only general statements. The [MH17] case is based on speculation, and even these data are only partially presented. I would like to emphasise: US satellites were monitoring Donbas. Six years have passed, but the investigation has hardly moved forward. If there were real evidence, they would have been presented long ago. At the same time, the process is now based on speculation, on data that can be interpreted in different ways.

Disproof

One of the multiple disinformation narratives on the downing of flight MH17 denying Russia's responsibility and aiming to discredit the criminal trial and the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

The Dutch-led criminal investigation by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been ongoing since 2014. In order to find out the cause of the crash, the JIT investigated all human remains, personal belongings and wreckage of the aircraft found in the vicinity of the disaster site. The traces were secured and investigated and compared by experts. In addition, the JIT sought and heard witnesses and experts, analysed radar and satellite images, assessed large amounts of telecom data such as intercepted telephone conversations and analysed big data. Read more about the investigation here.