Disinfo: “White Helmets” founder deceived the West

Summary

Britain’s James Le Mesurier, founder and director of the White Helmets, only cared about luxury life. That is why he deceived the governments of the United States, Britain, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands by fabricating thunderous incidents to obtain financial grants from them. The fraudster committed suicide after the scandal was exposed… It was revealed repeatedly that it (the “White Helmets”) had spread false information and fabricated videos, which gave the West the opportunity to accuse the Syrian authorities of using chemical weapons.

Disproof

An example of the ongoing disinformation campaign targeting the White Helmets humanitarian organisation. Pro-Kremlin media routinely seek to delegitimise the White Helmets as being the creation of Western intelligence services. No evidence is given to support this unfounded conspiracy theory. The White Helmets movement originated in Syria in 2012. The organisation, which is made up of 3,400 volunteers including teachers, engineers, tailors and firefighters, states that it has no affiliation to any political or military actor and is committed to rendering services to anyone in need. Volunteers save people from the rubble after bombings, despite the danger of dying themselves as a result of repeated airstrikes. White Helmets activists have documented the use of chemical weapons in Syria, later confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Thus, OPCW said it found reasonable grounds to believe that chlorine was used as a weapon in the Douma district of Eastern Ghouta, Syria in April 2018. Because of these awareness-raising activities, the White Helmets have become the target of a prolific and aggressive Russian disinformation campaign seeking to delegitimise their humanitarian efforts and paint them as proxies of Western intelligence to undermine the Assad regime. Le Mesurier took on adversaries, dismantling their accusations about funding and the lies the White Helmets supposedly spread about Russian and Syrian government attacks. You can see other examples of disinformation on the White Helmets in our database, such as the group’s fabrication of chemical attacks in Douma and other places in order to justify a Western intervention, their creation was a Western intelligence operation, their disregard for civilians, their links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups or their involvement in organ trafficking.

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  • Reported in: Issue 208
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 10/08/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: UK, US, Syria
  • Keywords: White Helmets, West, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War, Terrorism, Conspiracy theory

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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Eastern European countries are under the influence of Western special services

The United States gave Slovakia “a tick” for the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the country. Everyone signed up under some kind of plan to put pressure on Russia, Slovakia took part in this process, and the State Department gave it an assessment. This is the general pressure of the United States on small countries. If the countries of Eastern Europe do not carry out this or that action, the United States will give them a bad mark, will suspect of pro-Russian sentiments. And this is the worst thing in Eastern Europe. Eastern European countries are under the influence of the Western special services that give them marks for Russophobic activities. Here is Slovakia fulfilling its standard of Russophobia, which the United States demands of them.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the US presence in Europe, “lost sovereignty” and Russophobia. Eastern European countries are often presented as “puppet-states” of the United States by the pro-Kremlin media. Slovakia is a sovereign state, which shapes its own foreign and domestic policies. The United States established diplomatic relations with Slovakia in 1993. Read more about Slovakia-US relations.

Slovakia expelled three staff from the Russian embassy in the capital, Bratislava, with local media reporting it is related to the murder of a Georgian man in Berlin last year.

According to information from the Slovak intelligence services, their activities were in contradiction with the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, a Slovak foreign ministry spokesman said. See other examples of this message claiming that Polish policy towards Ukraine is shaped by the Americans, that the US keeps Poland on a short anti-Russian leash, and Poland is a Trojan Horse of the United States, or that Lithuania is NATO’s dog barking at Russia and Belarus, that Foreign powers command political parties in Romania or Czechia is US’s puppet.

The West is depriving the people of Belarus of their free will

There is no internet, yet there is a stream from Poland. Is this free expression, or does someone else rule all of this? The West is depriving the will of an entire people by staging a coup in Belarus. The West deprived people of their will in Ukraine and organised a coup there and now in Belarus.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Belarus and the West. It is also a narrative about Euromaidan as an allegedly staged coup. Protests in Belarus erupted after thousands of people took to the streets to contest the results of the presidential elections in Belarus, that are considered fraudulent by a large part of society. The European Union has said that the elections were neither free nor fair, as the electoral process did not meet the international standards expected of an OSCE participating State." One of the Telegram-channels that provide information about protests in Belarus, is run by Belarusians who live in Poland. One of the editors asked for political asylum there. The other claim about the coup in Ukraine in 2014 by the West has no basis either. The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a 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. Read similar disinformation cases alleging that Russia has neutralised many Western attempts to topple the Belarusian government; the West pursues Maidan policy towards Belarus to encircle Russia.

NEXTA covering the Belarus protests is a project of the Polish special services

NEXTA is the most popular and currently promoted Telegram channel. The Polish project seems to be controlled by Polish special services. The telegram channel is used to coordinate the actions of the protesters. They indiscriminately put what can be perceived as the truth, and when they realise that it is a lie, they remove it.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about colour revolutions and protests in Belarus after presidential elections in 2020. NEXTA started as a regular Youtube channel, a musical project of Stepan Putilo, now known as Stepan NEXTA and Stepan Svetlov. He is from Belarus and studied in Poland, and several years before the presidential elections this channel was "about Belarusian realities, information about the life of officials and what they are trying to hide". The main editor of the channel is Roman Protasevych who like Stepan Putilo is living in Poland as well, where he asked for political asylum. The channel mainly uses user-generated content - materials that users from all over Belarus send anonymously. "Telegram is an anonymous platform, a secure transfer of information. NEXTA is thousands of Belarusians who share some information, send it to us and thus tell it to the whole country. They tell stories that should be heard that will never be heard on Belarusian television or in the official Belarusian media," - editor-in-chief Roman Protasevich said about the concept of the project in an interview with Euronews. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the Polish secret service is in any way involved in running the channel. See previous disinformation cases alleging that the EU continues to support a colour revolution in Belarus; the EU provoked a civil war in Ukraine, now it destabilises Belarus; Belarusian opposition wants to turn Belarus into the 51st state of the US.