This week, we saw plenty of depictions of ‘the evil West’ in the pro-Kremlin media.
In our recent commentary, we mentioned that one of the common techniques of the disinformation campaign is to use outright falsifications. And many examples of the technique presented themselves this week. So we saw for example a Bulgarian story claiming that EU Commissioner Hahn stated that Bulgaria will cease to exist as a nation within 40 years http://bit.ly/2lyZgEu – he said no such thing. We saw a Czech outlet saying President Juncker thinks the EU will fall apart during the Brexit negotiations http://bit.ly/2lyT4fP – something he has not stated. And we saw Europe and the West accused on Russian state TV of wanting to destroy both Russia and Ukraine http://bit.ly/2m3uPaK, of starting the Maidan protests in 2014 http://bit.ly/2mhtkS5, and of aiming to loot Ukraine http://bit.ly/2l3eYEI – even of peoples organs. Again, needless to say, all untrue.
The NATO enforcement of its Eastern flank was another favourite issue heavily targeted with disinformation, described again as a provocation and intimidation directed against Russia http://bit.ly/2m4CtxZ, http://bit.ly/2lhNhKN, http://bit.ly/2l048zk. It was claimed that the Baltic countries are ‘part of the Russian world’, hence NATO’s desire for a presence on their territory. TV Zvezda suggested that the Baltic countries were plotting to attack Russia http://bit.ly/2m0Cfvi. There was also an intentional fake concerning a German soldier supposedly raping an under aged girl in Lithuania http://wapo.st/2lqSMp3 – a clear resemblance to the now infamous ‘Lisa-case’ http://bit.ly/2mich2q.
Other well-known narratives emerged again: claims on Russian state TV that NATO is encircling Russia http://bit.ly/2lhNhKN – as shown here http://bit.ly/2lCEfbV that is clearly not the case. The old narrative that the West promised Russia that NATO would not expand appeared again on Russian state TV http://bit.ly/2lhNhKN and other pro-Kremlin outlets http://bit.ly/2m4Umgq. The claim about NATO “expansion” misrepresents the process of NATO enlargement. NATO does not “expand” but considers the applications of candidate countries which want to join http://bit.ly/269ONPz.
The danger of refugees
Another continuing trend this week was the depiction of refugees and migrants as dangerous. A Czech outlet reported that migrants had sexually harassed people in Frankfurt on New Year’s Eve http://bit.ly/2m3KCD6 – information that was based on false testimonies and subsequently deleted from the original report but that is still spreading. A cooperation agreement between the Czech, Romanian and German armies was explained as an effort by Germany to protect itself against migrants by another Czech outlet http://bit.ly/2kDZNFM.
Also the Swedish city of Malmö was depicted in a very negative way on Russian state TV http://bit.ly/2lAw5l3, misrepresenting unemployment numbers as at 63% (that is actually the employment figures of the city) and murder rates over the last year exaggerated up from 12 to 50. The piece also covered the old disinformation story of no-go zones in Sweden http://bzfd.it/2m8uqQU.
Another week, another sadly predictable aggressive disinformation campaign targeting Ukraine. Repeated allegations of Nazis governing the country are still a part of the regular “reporting” of pro-Kremlin outlets. The show ‘Vremya Pokazhet’ repeated the many times debunked disinformation about the alleged oppression of Russian speakers in Ukraine. In Vladimir Solovyov’s show, the absurd and unsubstantiated allegation was repeated that the annexation of Crimea had to happen because the Ukrainians planned a war (http://bit.ly/2mhf63A).
And to make Ukrainians look as inhumane as possible, Izvestia multiplied a phantasmagorical “testimony” about Ukrainian soldiers (http://bit.ly/2lhA9p5). In the parallel world of pro-Kremlin media, the soldiers in Donbass were fighting under such strong psychotropic drugs that no matter how many times they were shot, they kept on getting up and carrying on fighting. “And sometimes even without his head, he attempts to stand up and keep fighting,” says one of the so-called separatists’ leaders. The story was heavily multiplied also in other languages, e.g. by the Czech version of Sputnik (http://bit.ly/2kI9yD5).
Disinformation cases reported in the previous week