Of the Kremlin’s favoured disinformation narratives, perhaps the most enduring is whataboutism about the supposedly persistent evils of Western imperialism and meddling around the world. As we have explained previously, a core component of the Kremlin’s global disinformation strategy is to deflect attention from its own crimes and authoritarian behaviour by pointing fingers at others and accusing them of the same transgressions – and typically resorting to gross misrepresentations or outright lies to make the point. In many cases, this tactic is also accompanied by efforts to paint Russia as a victim, unfairly targeted by Russophobia and attempts to undermine its sovereignty and/or international standing.

In this way, the Kremlin kills two birds with one stone: it conjures the image of a belligerent and imperialist West, thus manufacturing a fictional adversary that provides convenient cover for Moscow to justify its illicit activities on grounds of “defence” and self-preservation. The goal, as ever, is to relativize truth and undermine liberal-democratic claims to moral superiority by suggesting that the West is equally bad, if not worse, than Russia.

This week’s cases exemplify the impressive variety of ways that the pro-Kremlin disinformation machine adapts this narrative frame to different situations and contexts.

 

 

America: The root of all evil!

The US, of course, is one of the pro-Kremlin media’s favourite punching bags (second only to Ukraine, according to the EUvsDisinfo database). There is virtually no crime or devious scheming that America has not at some point been responsible for!  Just at this moment, the US is interfering in Hong Kong by supporting the ongoing protests in an attempt to orchestrate a colour revolution and planning to acquire Greenland through a forced deal, since Denmark is its vassal state. Meanwhile, the US military in Romania is holding Moldova hostage and using Poland to finance its strategic interests in the region. Washington has apparently also gotten bored of the Baltic States, and is now aiming to sell them to Russia. (Yes, you read that right.)

Russia: surrounded by enemies

Of course, America’s global imperialist aspirations also extend to Russia and its backyard. Forget allegations of Russian efforts to interfere in the US election – that’s Washington just trying to cover up its own tracks and distort the truth!  The real story is that US Special Forces and state agencies interfere in Russia’s elections and attempt to influence its internal policies. Poor Russia is just surrounded by enemies on all sides: the EU is planning to take over Russia and ruin Belarus, just as it did to Ukraine, and its sanctions regime is just a front to prevent the development of the Eurasian Economic Union, which would pose competition to the EU. The EU’s Eastern Partnership programme is designed to erode Belarusian identity. Georgia, meanwhile, has been co-opted by Western interests and is managed by the EU and US.

A dash of historical revisionism…

The past is also subject to the pro-Kremlin media’s butchery of truth and fact. Historical revisionism is a favoured instrument in the Kremlin’s disinformation toolbox, used to whitewash Moscow’s responsibility for numerous atrocities and to embellish or invent the sins of others, thus providing continuity to the narrative of evil Western imperialism. An illustrative example of how this appears in practice: the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was benign and actually beneficial for Europe (!), as it thwarted Britain’s expansionist plans on the continent! Then there are the usual deceptions about NATO and American adventurism abroad: that NATO bombing killed over 2000 civilians in Yugoslavia (false, most estimates are a fraction of that), that the West organised a “Nazi coup” in Kyiv (false, the Euromaidan protests were not a coup) and that the US and its European allies ousted and killed Muammar Gaddafi (false, Gaddafi was overthrown and later murdered by rebel forces).

 

 

…and a pinch of salacious spice

In a piece earlier this week, we wrote about what makes disinformation particularly appealing to our brains. A recurring element? Salacious content. Of the seven key factors, which were identified by a recent anthropological study, five relate to our base instincts: sex, disgust, deviance, gossip, and celebrities. We humans are funny creatures – fascinated by all things sex, gore, horror, and anything else that shocks our socks off. In order to hack the attention economy and drive virality, disinformation is designed to feed these very proclivities. The pro-Kremlin media has practically turned this baiting into an art form. The UN, for example, is allegedly imposing sex education in schools that leads to earlier sexual activity, teen pregnancy, abortion, impotence, and – worst of all! – “homosexual inclination”. The Kremlin, as we know, is obsessed with the West’s supposed perversion of “traditional family values”, never passing up an opportunity to sensationalize the “moral decay” of liberal-democratic values and the corresponding rights of women and sexual minorities. Stockholm’s recent pride parade, for example, was rebranded by the pro-Kremlin media as a march of “same-sex perverts” headed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish Armed Forces.

Honestly? The Kremlin just needs to calm down, drop the homophobia, and listen to some Taylor Swift.

 

 

The Baltic States benefited from the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact
Additional details: The Baltic States decided that the 80th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is a good occasion to shake the money bags of the US and Europe. The Baltic States, beneficiaries of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, released a joint statement asking for money to investigate the evil deeds of totalitarian regimes and compared the Soviet Union to Nazi criminals.
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Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=63RNBdkEnZM
Disinforming outlet(s): 60 Minut @ Rossiya 1 [26:20 - 26:46]
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Disproof note:

This claim uses historical revisionism to reinforce common pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about WWII and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

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.

The European Parliament has proclaimed the 23rd of August as a European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes.

On the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania released a joint statement urging "the governments of all European countries to provide both moral and material support to the ongoing historical investigation of the totalitarian regimes. By acting in a concerted manner, we can counter more effectively disinformation campaigns and attempts to manipulate historical facts." No country stands to obtain financial gains from this initiative.

Keywords: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, USSR, WWII
Countries: USSR, Baltic states
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The audio data in the MH17 investigation was manipulated
Additional details:

A recently published a documentary proves that, among other things, the audio data presented by JIT as evidence was demonstrably manipulated and arbitrarily cut together. Other researchers also voiced doubts about the official version of the accident in 2018 with his research on MH17.

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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutschland
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A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on Flight MH17.

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team has concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskyi. At that time, the area was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. The BUK-TELAR was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH17, was taken back to the Russian Federation.

In 2018, Bellingcat confirmed that the BUK missile launcher which hit the airline near Donetsk was brought from Russia. On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, the Dutch Public Persecution service will prosecute Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov, and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the crash of MH17 and murdering the 289 persons on board. The public hearing is scheduled for 9 March 2020 in the Netherlands.

Since July 2014, Russian authorities have been conducting a disinformation campaign, in which, together with the media, they directly and indirectly control with the aim of covering up the truth about who shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine.

See similar disinformation that Ukraine conceals recordings of the Malaysian Boeing flight controllers’ conversation debunked by StopFake here.

See more disinformation cases on MH17 here, here and here.

Keywords: Eastern Ukraine, War in Ukraine, Donbas, MH17
Countries: Russia, Malaysia, Ukraine, The Netherlands
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Polish nationalists are trying to refute evidence on Poland's role in unleashing the Second World War
Additional details: Polish nationalists and their supporters across the world are trying to refute not even the Soviet or Russian, but the British evidence about Poland’s behavior and role in unleashing the Second World War.
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Disinforming outlet(s): South Front
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Disproof note:

A recurring disinformation narrative revising the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. It is true that several European powers, including Poland, signed non-aggression treaties with Germany in the 30s, but none of these treaties were as far-reaching as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, clearly dividing independent countries in Europe into "Spheres of interests". Similar cases of disinformation can be found here.

Keywords: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Countries: Russia, Poland, USSR, Germany
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US emissaries attempt to influence Russian policies through the oligarchy
Additional details: America should be hit with her own "weapons": there should be an investigation about Washington's involvement in Russian elections. It should start with the establishment of a special commission that would be tasked with studying and collecting facts on influence operations, performed by US Special Forces and State Agencies on Russian electoral processes.

American emissaries attempt to influence Russian internal policies through the oligarchy.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Tsargrad.TV
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An unfounded conspiracy theory on foreign influence on Russian politics, and US and/or other actors standing behind any expressions of popular discontent. Similar cases can be found here and here.

Keywords: Protest
Countries: Russia, United States
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The West interfered in Ukraine in 2014 that led to Nazi coup d'état
Additional details: The West interfered in Ukraine in 2014, leading to a Nazi coup d'état in the country.
For all these years the German government has been claiming 'The West did not interfere in Ukraine in 2014'; 'Right-wing extremists there had no influence' and 'The fall of President Yanukovych was not a coup d'état'. But these claims are false.




While the German government claimed in 2015 that foreign powers had played no role in the change of power in Ukraine in 2014, this was not only untrue but obscured the fact that Germany itself was very much involved in the preparation and implementation of the coup in Kyiv through its Embassy and cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the media, and German politics, as well as with Vitali Klitschko. And even after the forced change of Government, Germany still cooperated with right-wing radical groups against anti-Maidan groups.


 

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Disinforming outlet(s): RT Deutsch
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Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the belligerent West and its involvement in the war in Ukraine, stating that the 2013-14 Euromaidan protests resulted in an illegal coup; painting Ukraine as a failing state incapable of making its own foreign policy choices; and painting the West as the puppet-master of Ukrainian politics.

There was no Nazi 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. See the full debunk of this disinformation claim here.

The West had not interfered in Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine is a sovereign state. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by almost the whole world, including the EU and Germany in particular. The EU and the US work closely with Ukraine. Their relations are directed at improving their cooperation in all fields and are not oriented against Russia.

The EU and the US work closely with Ukraine and support the democratic development of Ukraine in accordance with the UN Charter’s principles of non-interference into internal affairs and respect towards territorial integrity and political independence.

 

Keywords: Ukrainian disintegration, War in Ukraine, Coup, Euromaidan, Ukrainian statehood, Nazi/Fascist
Countries: Russia, US, The West, Ukraine, Germany
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Coordinator of anti-government riots in Moscow used infant as human shield
Additional details: The fight for the ‘liberal democracy’ seems to be on the rise in Moscow.

Russian investigators are looking for Sergei Fomin, one of the participants of the July 27 anti-government riot in Moscow, who left with an alleged stranger’s infant just to avoid a possible detention. The representative of the Moscow headquarters of the Investigative Committee, Yulia Ivanova, said that Sergei Fomin had dodged the investigators. She noted that, based on open information sources, Fomin, leaving the rally, picked up a stranger’s young child in his arms in order to freely pass the cordon.
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Disinforming outlet(s): South Front
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This claim is an attempt to defame the currently ongoing protest movement in Moscow, which is the largest expression of popular discontent in Russia for several years.

Mr. Fomin showed up voluntarily at the local police precinct after finding out that he was wanted for questioning. According to a comment to the BBC from the child's parents, the child is Mr. Fomin's nephew and godson. Fomin and the child's parents were walking to a nearby underground station on the day of the demonstration, and were never in the vicinity of the protests. The district attorney of Moscow has since demanded that the child's parents should lose custody of the child for putting the infant in harm's way.

Keywords: Civil Society, Protest
Countries: Russia
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Malaysia was excluded from the MH17 investigation
Additional details: Malaysia was excluded from the MH17 investigation.

In Malaysia there are still loud and clear doubts in the highest government circles about the course of events presented by the JIT and those responsible for the MH17 tragedy. International concerns have already raised the question of how long Malaysia, where the crashed plane and the airline originated, was excluded from JIT investigations. The downright hateful reactions to publicly expressed doubts by Malaysian government representatives about the evidence presented by JIT are also noted with dismay in Malaysia.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutschland
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Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the downing of Flight MH17. See a similar case alleging that Malaysia was sidelined here.

Malaysia's Prosecutor's office cooperated in the investigation conducted by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Speaking at the press conference of the JIT on 19 June 2019, the Deputy Prosecutor General of Malaysia, Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria, reiterated Malaysia's commitment to the JIT in seeking justice for the victims and stated that the JIT findings were based on extensive investigation and legal research [see 57:30 - 58:14].

The criminal investigation led by the 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 Pervomaiskyi in Eastern Ukraine and from there the missile was launched.  After firing, the missile system, with 1 missing missile, went back to the Russian Federation.  On 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.

On the basis of the investigation conducted by the JIT, consisting of law enforcement agencies from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands, the Dutch Public Persecution service will prosecute Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, Sergey Nikolayevich Dubinskiy, Oleg Yuldashevich Pulatov, and Leonid Volodymyrovych Kharchenko for causing the MH17 crash and murdering the 298 persons on board. The public hearing is scheduled for 9 March 2020 in the Netherlands.

See more on the investigation of the MH17 catastrophe by Bellingcat here. More cases about MH17 are available here.

Keywords: Eastern Ukraine, War in Ukraine, Donbas, MH17
Countries: Russia, Malaysia, Ukraine, The Netherlands
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Poland is the foundation of anti-Russian hysteria
Additional details: Detente in relations between Moscow and Brussels means a potential crisis for the current Polish authorities, pursuing an anti-Russian policy. Poland is going to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. While they did not invite Russia, they sent an invitation to Germany.

Poland pursues a policy aimed at rapprochement with the US and even ignores EU players, and also exploits the theme of "potential Russian aggression'. Today, Poland is the foundation of anti-Russian hysteria.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Armenia
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Disproof note:

Poland is a frequent target of Russian propaganda, which portrays Poland as anti-Russian and aggressive toward Russia. This is an example of a recurring Pro-Kremlin narrative based on "Russophobia" myth. Similar cases can be found here and here.

The fact that Warsaw did not invite the Russian leader to celebrations was explained by the Polish leadership: "Invitations have been sent to the EU, NATO, and Eastern Partnership members, but not to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Invitations have been issued according to a contemporary, not a historical context."

Krzysztof Szczerski, the chief Adviser to the Polish president, stated in March 2019 that the anniversary ceremony will be held “in the company of countries with whom Poland now cooperates closely for peace based on the respect for international law, for the sovereignty of nations and of their territories.” This point was reiterated by Jacek Sasin, Polish deputy prime minister in July, who said: "I think it would be inappropriate to mark the anniversary of the beginning of the armed aggression against Poland with the participation of a leader who today treats his neighbours using the same methods."

Poland is a sovereign state, which shapes its own foreign and domestic policies - moreover, as a member of NATO and the EU, Poland is able to impact the formation of common foreign policies of these unions.

Keywords: Anti-Russian
Countries: Poland
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The Commander-in-Chief of Sweden's Armed Forces headed the march of the perverts
Additional details: In Sweden, the annual march of same-sex perverts has occurred. The march was headed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish Armed Forces, Michael Byden, and other top officers of the Army.

 
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Disinforming outlet(s): Rusvesna.su
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative, suggesting a morally decaying Europe. The Pride Parade in Stockholm was not "headed" by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces leadership have been participating in the parade for several years to demonstrate the principle of equality for all, disregarding sex, sexual orientation or ethnic background.

Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets commonly attack the LGTBQI community in order to create an atmosphere of hate and intolerance.

 

 

 

Keywords: LGBT
Countries: Russia, Sweden
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The United States destroyed the INF treaty, not Russia
Additional details: The United States destroyed the INF treaty. Not because Russia violated it. Russia didn’t do it. US destroyed the treaty because it prevented the Americans from reaching the finish stage of the mythical and manic goal of achieving unilateral and exceptional military superiority.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Armenia
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Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the INF Treaty.

Russia bears primary responsibility for the end of the INF Treaty, because it has produced, tested and deployed the 9M729 missile, which violates the agreement. In July 2014, the then-US President Obama officially accused Russia of testing a missile in violation of the INF Treaty, which prohibits the US or Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometres.

In a joint statement released after the meeting held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 December 2018, NATO Foreign Ministers stated that the United States has remained in full compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty since it entered into force and that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security."

US and NATO have repeatedly engaged with Russia to preserve the INF treaty. For background on pro-Kremlin myths on the INF Treaty see here.

The recent "Statement by the North Atlantic Council on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty" noted that "Russia today remains in violation of the INF Treaty, despite years of U.S. and Allied engagement, including a final opportunity over six months to honour its Treaty obligations. Russia bears sole responsibility for the demise of the Treaty".

Keywords: INF Treaty
Countries: Russia, US
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Venezuelan 'refugees' are being trained at a British military base in Guyana to infiltrate their country
Additional details: Several dozen so-called “refugees” from Venezuela are being trained at a British military base in Guyana to integrate reconnaissance and sabotage teams against the government of Nicolás Maduro. The United Kingdom is completing the construction of that base on an island in the mouth of the Essequibo River under the pretext of thwarting arms and drugs smugglers.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Mundo
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Disproof note:

No evidence is provided to support the claim.

No British base is being built in Guyana so far. On August 16, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana strongly denied the allegation and called on Russia to withdraw it.

In late December 2018, Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson, declared during an interview with the Sunday Telegraph that his Government was looking for two new permanent military bases in the Caribbean and South East Asia, as part of an effort to make the UK “a truly global player” after Brexit. The same newspaper speculated that the location for those bases could be either Singapore or Brunei in Asia, and either Guyana or Montserrat in the Caribbean. Almost immediately, the announcement was criticized by Russia’s Foreign Ministry. But there is nothing to signal that this project is already under construction, much less than Venezuelan refugees are being trained by British forces.

Keywords: Nicolas Maduro
Countries: United Kingdom, Venezuela
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Young people in the Baltic States must leave because the socio-economic situation is so bad
Additional details: Young people want to leave Belarus, but not as much as in the Baltic States. In principle, there is no other option for the youth but to leave, as the socio-economic situation is so bad.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Gorizont Sobytiy @ Sputnik Belarus, time 09:35 - 10:09
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Disproof note:

A recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on economic collapse of the Baltic States. See other examples here.

Although Lithuania did encounter large emigration flows, the trend is slowly reversing with increasing number of Lithuanians coming back.  A similar trend is observed in Latvia. However, the trend is absolutely the opposite in Estonia, where already for the third year in a row in 2018, immigration exceeds emigration.

The economic situation of all three Baltic states is rather positive and demonstrates one of the leading economic growth indicators in the EU. The dynamics within the last years can be seen here.

These trends have been supported by the World Economic Forum data.

Keywords: Demography, Economic difficulties, Baltic states
Countries: Baltic states, Belarus
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Poland has the highest social inequality in the EU
Additional details: Poland is a country with the highest social inequality in the European Union. This situation causes political problems as the poorest people rarely vote (so they are excluded from political life).
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
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Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about poor economic situation and failed market reforms in Central and Eastern European countries (see similar examples here and here).

According to the Gini coefficient statistics from 2016, social inequality in Poland is below the EU average.

According to the data of the OECD, the income inequality indicator for Poland is as high as 0.28 (where 0 means complete equality and 1 - complete inequality), which puts Poland on the 9th place among the EU countries.

Keywords: Economic difficulties
Countries: Poland, EU
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The West is to blame for the blockade of the North Crimean Canal
Additional details: The blockade of the North Crimean Canal, which supplied water to the Crimea, was initiated in 2014 by the West as part of their anti-Russian strategy.
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Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and Crimea.

The North Crimean Canal is the only structure through which the Crimea received water from the Dnipro River. After the annexation of the peninsula, the Ukrainian leadership stated that Crimea’s debts to the North-Crimean Canal Authority of 1.7 million hryvnias for water use in 2013 remained unpaid. The resolution of this issue became one of the necessary conditions for further negotiations on the supply of water to the peninsula. Also, the main condition for the renewal of the agreements on water supply to the Crimea is the presence of legitimate authorities on the peninsula, which after the annexation in the Crimea are absent.

That is why Ukraine decided to close the locks of the North Crimean Canal and stated that it would resume water supply to the peninsula only after the complete de-occupation of Crimea. The western partners of Ukraine have absolutely nothing to do with resolving domestic political issues in Ukraine. The European Union has indeed introduced a whole list of sanctions against the occupying Crimean leadership, but this list does not include a ban on the supply of water from Ukraine to annexed Crimea.

Read more here and here.

Keywords: Anti-Russian, Hybrid war, Crimea
Countries: Russia, The West, Ukraine
More
US and European countries ousted Gaddafi and killed him
Additional details: As the Arab Spring spread to Libya, the United States and its European allies took advantage of Gaddafi's weakness and organised his overthrow to kill him.
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Link to the disinformation: ar.rt.com/m9ap
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Arabic
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Disproof note:

A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that the US and some European countries have destabilised Libya which led to the killing of the country’s former President to advance geopolitical goals. See a previous case and also recent Polygraph article "Did NATO Cause the Crisis in Libya"?

On the 8th of March, the US State Department denied the reports that the United States would arm opposition groups and has clearly stated that "Arming the Libyan opposition would be ‘illegal’", stressing the need to maintain the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970, which imposed international sanctions on Libya including an arms embargo, that applied to both the Gaddafi regime and the rebel groups.

On the 17th of March, the Security Council at the United Nations adopted Resolution 1973 that formed the legal basis for military intervention in the Libyan Civil War, demanding "an immediate ceasefire" and authorising the international community to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians, after the escalation of violence, and the heavy civilian casualties, along with the deteriorating situation in the country.

See previous cases with the same narrative mentioning regime changes in Belarus, Asian countries, Venezuela.

Keywords: North Africa, Arab Spring
Countries: United States, Libya, Europe
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In NATO bombings, around 2000 civilians were killed in Yugoslavia
Additional details: During the barbaric NATO operation, which was cynically called a humanitarian intervention, 2000 civilians were killed. At least 89 of them were children. The victims included Albanians from Kosovo, whose so-called rescue was dealt with by NATO.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Srbija
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Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the number of civilian casualties of NATO bombingdebunked by Polygraph.

In Serbia (excluding Kosovo) and Montenegro, 275 persons lost their lives in the NATO bombings: 180 civilians, 90 members of the Yugoslav Armed Forces and five members of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia.

In Kosovo, 484 people were killed: 267 civilians (209 Albanian and 58 non-Albanian), 171 members of the YA, 20 members of the Serbian MUP and 26 members of the KLA (19 of whom died in the NATO bombing of the Dubrava prison, near Istok).

Here you can see the list of names of people who lost their lives in NATO bombing.

The primary purpose of the campaign was to end violence and repression and force Milosevic to withdraw his military, police and para-military forces from Kosovo. (See NATO statement from 1999.)

Read more about disinformation about the war in former Yugoslavia here and here.

Keywords: Yugoslavia, War crimes, NATO
Countries: Kosovo, Serbia
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Kyiv is preparing a military solution for the conflict in Donbas
Additional details: Kyiv does not intend to seek a peaceful settlement of the civil conflict in Donbas and is preparing for a military operation.
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Disinforming outlet(s): riafan.ru
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Disproof note:

This is a pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the war in Ukraine.

In his inauguration speech, President Zelenskyy mentioned that he is ready to conduct negotiations to stop the war in Donbas. During his recent press conference with the President of France, President Zelenskyy mentioned that Ukraine adheres to diplomatic measures as the only way to resolve the war in Donbas.

In a recent interview for BILD magazine, Zelenskyy clearly stated that the war can be resolved only by diplomatic means. “We will do everything to implement a ceasefire and stop the killing and suffering of our people in the nearest future. We have to give diplomats the chance to talk again while the guns stay silent. This is what I count on. And hope this will be heard in Moscow."

Moreover, on June 26, Ukraine started the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Stanytsia Luhanska in accordance with the agreement reached during a recent meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group. On the same day, Ukraine's armed forces informed that the army withdrew from one of the positions in Stanytsia Luhanska.

Recently, OSCE confirmed the withdrawal of weapons from the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area. On August 3, it identified a demining team of Ukraine's State Emergency Service and deminers from non-government-controlled areas. U.S. Special Representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker welcomed the move and called on Russia to take reciprocal further steps.

Keywords: War in Ukraine, Donbas
Countries: Ukraine
More
No freedom of speech in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
Additional details:


There is no freedom of speech in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia: Russian journalists working in these countries are targeted by special services.

 

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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Belarus time 00:00 - 00:17
Reported by:
Disproof note:

According to Reporters without borders, Latvia ranks 24nd for freedom of speech among 180 countries, the same as for 2018. Lithuania ranks 30th and Estonia 11th. Russia is at 149.

Recurring narrative that the Russian media is restricted unfairly, discriminated against in Europe or that freedom of speech is restricted in certain member states. See previous cases here.This narrative stems from the fact that the Baltic States have undertaken measures to address aggressive Kremlin-backed disinformation starting from 2007.

Since then a number of institutions including the NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn and Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga were created to provide an adequate response to misinformation coming from sources in Russian language spreading Kremlin-backed narratives.

 

Keywords: Media, Russophobia, Sputnik, Baltic states
Countries: Latvia, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania
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Termination of the INF treaty reaffirms irresponsible policy of the US
Additional details: Termination of the INF treaty reaffirms Washington's irresponsible policy, which could escalate tensions and destroy the European security system.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Srbija
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that the US is responsible for the demise of the INF treaty.

NATO stated that Russia bears sole responsibility for the demise of the INF Treaty. Russia has violated the Treaty through producing, testing and deploying the 9M729 missile.

In July 2014 then-US President Obama officially accused Russia of testing a missile in violation of the INF Treaty, which prohibits the US and Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5500 kilometres.

In March 2017, a senior US military official accused Russia of deploying the new missile, which posed a threat to NATO and facilities within the NATO area of responsibility.

Russia’s violations were also acknowledged by the NATO Foreign Ministers in a meeting in Brussels on December 4th, 2018. In a joint statement released after the meeting held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 December 2018, NATO Foreign Ministers stated that “Allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security.”

The US has gathered detailed information on Russia’s flight-testing of the 9M792 missile to distances well over 500 kilometres and has spent almost six years in dialogues with Russia to try to resolve Russia’s non-compliance. However, Russia consistently refused to address US and NATO concerns.

Keywords: INF Treaty, security threat, Nuclear issues
Countries: US, Russia
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Russia is dedicated to protecting media freedoms
Additional details: Russia is categorically against groundless arrests of journalists. The authorities work with press freedom advocates to investigate and curb any such behaviour. The government is quick to respond to journalists' rights violations.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): IN4S
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Contrary to these claims, independent journalists in Russia are subjected to frequent threats, attacks and prosecution under dubious charges, the most recent case being that of Ivan Golunov, a journalist arrested in June 2019 under false drug charges. Violence against journalists in Russia continues to happen with impunity: the database of the Committee to Protect Journalists lists 38 murders of journalists in Russia from 1992 to 2017, out of which 33 with complete impunity3 with partial impunity and only 2 cases were fully prosecuted and tried. 

Reporters without Borders’ Press Freedom Index for 2019 ranks Russia 149th out of 180 countries, while IREX Media Sustainability Index for 2019 notes a decline of the country’s already low score, due to, among other things, “sustained governmental pressure on and erosion of the media sector, violence against journalists, and the normalization of propaganda.”

Keywords: Freedom of speech, Media
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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Russian Embassy in Serbia occupied by LGBT protesters
Additional details: LGBT activists occupied the Russian Embassy in Belgrade in protest of the murder of Yelena Grigorieva. The police would have banned such a protest in front of the US Embassy, but this one was allowed despite the diplomatic scandal it could have caused.  
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Srbin info
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The protest “We remember Yelena Grigorieva”, held in front of the Russian Embassy in Belgrade (Serbia) on July 25th 2019, was attended by no more than ten people and nothing resembling an occupation of the embassy, as stated in the headline, took place. The activists stood peacefully in front of the Embassy, holding banners with messages written in Serbian and Russian, such as “Punish the murderers” and “Stop the terror of LGBT people in Russia”. 

As for the claim that such a protest would be banned by the police if it happened in front of US Embassy, it ignores the fact that a far more aggressive protest by a large group of football hooligans had taken place there just four months before. 

 

Keywords: Western Balkans, US presence in Europe, LGBT
Countries: Serbia
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Civil war, cold war, police terror and prisons full of political prisoners in Ukraine
Additional details: Ukrainian elections occur in the conditions of hot civil war in Donbass and cold war throughout the rest of the country. The police terror is rampant in the country, and prisons are full of political prisoners.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Armenia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the civil war in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine is supported by Russian Federation armed forces, it is not a civil war. Overwhelming evidence confirms that Russia is sending mercenaries to Donbas. The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation", and continue to condemn the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court recognised that “the information available suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation". Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia's military presence in Ukraine in 2015.

It also contains ungrounded information concerning the situation of human rights in the country. There is no proof about prisons full of political prisoners or alleged police terror in Ukraine. A similar case can be seen here and here you can find an analysis of disinformation targeting Ukraine.

In its statement, the NDI election observation mission noted that "Ukraine held democratic elections. Despite war and a punishing timeline, government officials, election administrators, political parties, candidates, election observers, and citizens collectively delivered an election that complied with Ukraine’s laws, meets international standards and reflects the will of voters."

Keywords: Civil war, Donbas
Countries: Ukraine
More
By accusing Russia for violation of treaty, the US had a sole purpose to cover up the work carried out in violation of the INF Treaty
Additional details: The sole purpose of the United States was to cover up the work carried out in violation of the INF Treaty. The initial intention - to get out of it. The US launched a propaganda campaign about Russia’s non-compliance with the treaty. Moscow previously had information about the US development of weapons prohibited by the treaty.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Armenia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the INF Treaty.

Russia bears primary responsibility for the end of the INF Treaty, because it has produced, tested and deployed the 9M729 missile, which violates the agreement. In July 2014, the then-US President Obama officially accused Russia of testing a missile in violation of the INF Treaty, which prohibits the US or Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometres.

In a joint statement released after the meeting held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 December 2018, NATO Foreign Ministers stated that the United States has remained in full compliance with its obligations under the INF Treaty since it entered into force and that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security."

US and NATO have repeatedly engaged with Russia to preserve the INF treaty. For background on pro-Kremlin myths on the INF Treaty see here.

Keywords: INF Treaty
Countries: Russia, US
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Poland finances the realisation of the US strategic interests in the region
Additional details: The American military base in Poland is very important for the USA, but not necessary at all for the Polish interests. Poland finances 100% of the costs of this base – it means that the Polish state pays 100% of the costs to achieve US strategic goals in the region. Poland helps the USA to play its geopolitical game increasing the pressure at Russia.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the US presence in Europe, suggesting that the United States fully controls the foreign and defence policy of Poland. See other examples of this message here, here and here. The statement that the USA controls the political and security decisions of the Polish authorities is a conspiracy theory.

The further increase of temporary and permanent US military presence in Poland is perceived as a strategic goal by the Polish authorities. According to IBRIS sociological research, 57% of Poles support the deployment of a permanent US military base in Poland. Also, the decision to finance 100% of construction costs of the military facilities, which will be used by the US Army, is a sovereign decision of the Polish authorities in line with national defense and security policy.

Keywords: Encircling Russia, US presence in Europe
Countries: US, Poland
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Crimea's peaceful return to Russia is one of Putin's successes
Additional details: Crimea has returned to Russia through a peaceful referendum where a large majority of citizens declared that they want to live in Russia. The referendum was directly prompted by the coup in Kyiv, but it has been a long-term wish of the local population to rejoin Russia and making that happen is one of Vladimir Putin's successes.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Večernje novosti
Reported by:
Disproof note:

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). Following the covert invasion by “little green men,” the referendum in Crimea was conducted hastily and at gunpointbarring impartial observers from entering the peninsula.

The oft-cited figure of 97% participation in the referendum has been contested by the Kremlin’s own Human Rights Council, which estimated that only between 30% and 50% of Crimeans took part in the referendum, of which some 50-60% favoured secession. A year after the illegal annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

For similar disinformation cases about Euromaidan protests being a “coup”, see here and here. For disinformation about the referendum and “legal annexation” of Crimea, see similar cases hereherehere and here. 

Keywords: illegal annexation, Referendum, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Moldova - "hostage" of the US military presence in Romania
Additional details: Moldova, as well as other countries in the neighborhood, is a "hostage" of the Pentagon and NATO.

Positioning the American missile defense system in the Romanian town of Deveselu represents a direct threat to Russia, with foreseeable negative consequences for the security of Romania and its neighbors, including Moldova.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Moldova
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a recurring conspiracy narrative about NATO's presence in Romania and its alleged negative impact on Moldova. It is also consistent with pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the West's encirclement of Russia and an imperialistic US presence in Europe.

Regarding the positioning of the missile defense system, the US previously affirmed that it is in compliance with the INF Treaty (which has now been annulled due to Russia's repeat violations). Read more about Romania-NATO cooperation here.

Cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and NATO is based on respect for Moldova’s constitutional neutrality. The main focus of this cooperation is to support the country’s efforts to reform and modernise its defence and security structures and institutions.

NATO is not a threat to Russia. NATO's official policy towards Russia was most recently articulated by the heads of state and government of the Alliance at the Warsaw Summit in July 2016. They stated that "the Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia. But we cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which our Alliance and security in Europe and North America rest".

NATO is not encircling Russia. Russia's land border is just over 20,000 kilometres long. Of that, less than one-sixteenth (1,215 kilometres), is shared with NATO members. Russia has land borders with 14 countries. Only five of them are NATO members.

Keywords: Military, Missile defence system, US presence in Europe, NATO
Countries: Romania, Europe, Moldova
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The US is supporting and encouraging Hong Kong protests
Additional details: The US is supporting and encouraging Hong Kong protests.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory without evidence.

For years, pro-Kremlin media has used the narrative about anti-government protests being funded by the US. Examples include colour revolutions in post-soviet states, the “Arab Spring” revolts, and Euromaidan in 2014.

The Hong Kong protests began in June 2019 because of a controversial extradition law that would allow for the transfer of suspects to face trial on the Chinese mainland.

For similar cases see here.

Keywords: Protest, Colour revolutions, Conspiracy
Countries: US, China
More
The US is interfering in Hong Kong
Additional details: The US is interfering in Hong Kong. Among the people taking part in the protests are people who look like they are Americans. The situation in Hong Kong is comparable to a colour revolution.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given. This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative casting civil uprisings in other states as US-funded "colour revolutions", also present in the cases of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Venezuela. Consistent with multiple pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about the US and its global role. 

The Hong Kong protests started in June 2019 over a controversial extradition law, but have expanded to calls for Hong Kong's leader to step down, for an inquiry into alleged police brutality, for those who have been arrested to be released, and for greater democratic freedoms.

Keywords: Protest, Colour revolutions, Conspiracy
Countries: United States, China
More
The climate mafia is exploiting Greta Thunberg to lower living standards
Additional details:
The climate mafia is exploiting Greta Thunberg to lower the living standards that we have achieved over the last hundred years and to acquire investment for green business.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This claim is a conspiracy presented without any evidence. It is recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about climate change, following the narrative that global warming is a "hoax" perpetrated by special interest groups like green business that stand to benefit from climate hysteria.

In fact, the existence of anthropogenic climate change and is a matter of scientific consensus. Only a tiny minority of scientists dispute this consensus: the Earth is warming through the greenhouse effect; human activities - including use of fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests, and farming livestock - are a major cause of the warming; and, unchecked, this rapid warming presents significant risks to human communities and natural systems. We are already seeing impacts from global warming today.

No other environmental threat has been subjected to as much scientific research. The US government has spent billions of dollars on climate science across many agencies and universities. The UN has assembled thousands of scientists to compile and review the latest science and contribute to the publication of five reports since 1990 that have consistently made the consensus deeper and the warnings more urgent. Preventing the dangerous consequences of the climate change is a key priority for the EU. 

See similar cases here.

Keywords: Climate, Secret elites / global elites, Conspiracy
Countries: Czech Republic
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Strong Georgia not in the interests of the West. Georgia is governed by the US ambassador and the EU
Additional details: Strong and independent Georgia is not in the interests of the West. If Georgia was truly free we would not have to listen to and obey neither the US ambassador nor the EU.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Geworld.ge
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Georgia's relations with the EU and US, which aims to undermine Georgia's sovereignty. See an earlier case: The US and the EU govern Georgia.

The EU and Georgia  enjoy an excellent relationship. Relations are based on the EU Georgia Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which entered into force in July 2016 and strives for political association and economic integration. The EU is Georgia's largest trading partner and provides over 120 mln. EUR annually in grant assistance. Since 2017, more that 300 000 Georgian citizens benefited from the visa-free regime with the EU.

In 2009 the US and Georgia signed a US-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership, which advances bilateral cooperation on priority areas, such as defense and security; economic, trade, and energy issues; people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Read more about US-Georgia relations here.

Both the EU and US firmly support for Georgia sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

Keywords: Sovereignty
Countries: US, EU, Georgia
More
Sex education imposed by the UN causes impotence, early sex lives, teenage pregnancy and homosexuality
Additional details: The Georgian Ministry of Education signed an agreement with three different UN committees according to which human rights, gender equality, healthy life and reproductive health (a.k.a sex education) will be taught in schools. Psychologists warn us that sex education at an early age leads to earlier sex lives, abortions, impotence, and teenage pregnancy. In addition, it causes a decline in intellect and creative skills as well as to a psychological inability to engage in marital life and inclination to homosexuality.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Geworld.ge
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Western values suggesting that the international institutions try to demoralise and morally corrupt Georgians.

There is no scientific evidence that proves the causal relationship between sex education and impotence, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality or early sex lives.

The United Nations Population Fund is working with the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science to integrate material on reproductive health and healthy lifestyles into school curricula.

In countries with implemented sex education, the birth rate in teenagers is low. For instance, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland have the lowest adolescent fertility rates across the globe. In contrast, countries without sex education in schools like South Caucasian countries and Russia have higher adolescent fertility rates.

See similar disinformation cases here, here and here.

 

Keywords: Western values
Countries: Georgia
More
Russia respects human and civil rights: police to illegal gatherings like in any other country
Additional details: Russia respects human and civil rights. Russian police are responding to illegal gatherings the same as other countries in similar cases. Those who break the law have to take responsibility for that.

 
            
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Srbija
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The protests in Moscow started in July after the election committee banned opposition candidates from running for the elections to the city council - the Moscow City Duma, disqualifying their ballots because of what officials claimed were irregularities in the 5,000 signatures each had to gather to run. The protesters also demanded the right to fair elections and the right to free assembly. Professional media reports that Moscow citizens have been peacefully protesting in the streets, and the state has responded with unprecedented repression.

According to the EU, detentions of peaceful demonstrators, disproportionate use of force, police raids against opposition politicians seriously undermine the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly. These fundamental rights are enshrined in the Russian constitution. The EU also urged the Russian authorities to respect Russia’s OSCE commitments and other international obligations when conducting the upcoming local elections

According to the Humans Right Watch World Report 2019, the Russian government relentlessly reduced space for peaceful dissent, political opposition, and civic activism in Russia during 2018. Authorities routinely dispersed peaceful opposition protests and arrested and fined protesters, including children. Authorities carried out surveillance of social media to track down and detain activists who they thought might join opposition protests.

See a similar case here.

 

Keywords: Repression, Protest, Human rights
Countries: Russia
More
Eastern Partnership aims to erode Belarusian identity and promote the views of Polish gentry
Additional details: The Eastern Partnership's aim is to promote the so called European values in Belarus and other EaP countries. Hence, it aims at eroding their identities and replacing their national histories with EU and NATO views. As for Belarus, the Eastern Partnership initiative plans to replace all-Russian history with the version of history elaborated by the Polish gentry.

The Eastern Partnership initiative is a 'Trojan horse,' which was constructed by chauvinistic Polish circles in order to crack the civilisational foundation of  Belarusian society. It is a noose on the Belarusian statehood placed there by Poland. The latter plans to take over western Belarus as was boldly voiced by Polish president Andrzej Duda in 2015 in relation to western Ukraine.

 

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Teleskop-by.org
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a conspiracy theory consistent with recurring disinformation narratives about about Poland's hostile plans towards Belarus and Western attempts to to destabilise Belarus.

No statements were made by Polish president about plans to take over Western Ukraine or Belarus as alleged. Poland respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbouring states. The Eastern Partnership programme aims to reinforce the political association and economic integration of six Eastern European and South Caucasus partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It is not directed against any country, including Belarus and does not target the country's identity or impose its version of history. Read more about the EaP's recent and ongoing activities.

Read earlier disinformation cases alleging that the EU's aim behind the Eastern Partnership programme is to change the political regimes in Belarus and Russia, that Alyaksandr Lukashenka skipped the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels because the West could organise his killing, and that Poland pursues aggressive imperial project Intermarium.

Keywords: Eastern Partnership, European values, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, Poland, EU, Belarus
More
NATO is not interested in strengthening Georgia
Additional details: The president, prime minister, defence minister, and others have been deceiving the public when they state that NATO empowers Georgia. NATO does not strengthen Georgia stronger; NATO just prepares the country for its own tasks.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Geworld.ge
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This claim is part of a larger campaign aimed at influencing public support towards Georgia's NATO aspirations and portray neutrality as the most rational foreign policy choice for Georgia. See here for other examples of disinformation targeting NATO-Georgia relations.

In April 2019, NATO approved the "Black Sea package". The framework of the package envisages training of Georgia’s naval forces and coast guard service, paying visits to ports, and sharing information. In addition, NATO vessels will participate in exercises together with Ukrainian and Georgian vessels.

Apart from that, on 18 March 2019, a NATO-Georgia exercise started at the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC), Krtsanisi National Training Centre. 350 soldiers from 21 NATO member states and 3 partner states participated in the exercise. The aim of the exercise, held in the framework of Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, was to strengthen Georgia’s defence capability.

In addition, in 2018, Georgia and NATO signed an agreement based on which vehicles worth more than a million euros will be transferred to the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC).

More information about NATO/US military assistance to Georgia can be found here.

Keywords: NATO
Countries: Georgia
More
The EU sanctions against Russia were introduced to prevent the development of the Eurasian Economic Union
Additional details: The establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union was taken by Brussels as a declaration of war. Post-Soviet integration provoked the EU's fury. This is one of the main reasons,  if not the key one, behind EU sanctions against Russia.

 

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Rubaltic.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is a conspiracy consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about the West's anti-Russian activities and attempts to disrupt Russia's relations with allies.

The founding treaty of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was signed by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia on 29 May 2014, followed later by Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. The EAEU came into existence on 1 January 2015. Its establishment, however, has nothing to do with the reasons for the EU"s sanctions against Russia. The first round of EU sanctions against Russia was introduced on 17 March 2014. The first bans and freezes assets were imposed on individuals  involved in actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity following Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. Later, in July 2014, in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in eastern Ukraine, the EU imposed economic sanctions and reinforced them in September 2014. In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of those economic restrictions to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements.

The Council of the EU is clear in this respect: "Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine." Read more about the EU's sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

You can read earlier disinformation cases alleging that 'old' EU member states introduced sanctions on Russia after the provocation of the downing of MH17 by Ukraine here.

Keywords: Anti-Russian, War in Ukraine, Conspiracy, Sanctions
Countries: Russia, Ukraine, EU
More
The EU plans to to take over Russia and to ruin Belarus just as it did to Ukraine
Additional details: The EU has not yet come to the point when it begins to crumble, but its expansionist policy has reached its limits. To overcome this deadlock, the EU hopes to take over the Russian market. The US and UK have clearly placed their bets on a Russian Maidan. The EU also favours this idea but acts more cautiously. Hence, the EU and its ruling elites, the German financial elite in particular, are Russia's enemies.

In order to keep going, the EU has to expand to the East and to conquer new territories. This is why it has fought fiercely to keep Ukraine in its orbit. By taking over Russian partner states (Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, etc.) the EU intends to demonstrate to its own citizens that it is a developing machine. Expansionism and takeover of the new living space aim at looting wild Eastern lands. According to EU logic, Belarus should be ruined just as Ukraine was.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Rubaltic.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a conspiracy consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on Western belligerence towards Russia and its allies including Belarus, Western policies to stage colour revolutions in Russia and its neighbourhood, the EU's imminent collapse, and the EU's aggressive policies towards Ukraine and its economy

The EU has never staged nor does it intend to stage a  stage a colour revolution in Russia or any other country.

EU-Ukrainian economic relations developed thanks to the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), signed in 2014. The total bilateral trade turnout increased to 50 bln USD in 2018. During 2015-2018, Ukraine also increased its exports to the EU from 13 bln USD to 23 bln USD. Overall, in 2018 Ukrainian exports to the EU increased by 13,1%. Now, the EU accounts for almost half of Ukrainian exports. Politically, the EU condemns the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014.

See earlier disinformation cases alleging that if the country refuses to join the EU, it is punished with a Maidan, that the US is waging a ''colour revolution'' against Russia, and that the EU triggered conflict in Ukraine in 2014.

Keywords: EU/NATO enlargement, Anti-Russian, Colour revolutions, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, US, UK, Ukraine, EU, Belarus, Germany
More
Signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact thwarted the UK's expansionist plans in Europe
Additional details: In 1939, the “ideal scenario” assumed by the UK authorities at the beginning of the war between Germany and the USSR was the partition of Poland, which was sacrificed by the UK to inspire a conflict between Stalin and Hitler. In this situation, the UK would have been able to present itself as a peace-making force, increasing its influence in Europe. Although, this “UK schedule of war” was thwarted by Hitler, who forced Stalin to sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and attacked France instead of the USSR.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This message is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism and an attempt to portray Russia's role in the World War II as not aggressive - see other examples referring to Ribbentrop-Molotov pact here, here and here. The accusations that the UK had “expansionist plans” in Europe and attempted to provoke a war between Germany and the USSR is clear historical manipulation and these events are not confirmed by historical documents and historians.

In terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, it is a proven historical fact that it contained the Secret Supplementary Protocol, which assumed the division of Poland and other Eastern European countries between the USSR and Germany. Thus, the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact directly caused the German and Soviet military aggression against Poland in September 1939, which resulted in complete occupation of this country by Germany and USSR. See similar examples of Russian historical revisionism concerning Poland here and here.

Keywords: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, World War 2, Historical revisionism
Countries: Poland, UK, USSR
More
Zelenskyy is contradicting Ukrainian nationalistic propaganda
Additional details: A part of Zelensky’s speech on the creation of the UN openly condradicts the official Ukrainian nationalistic propaganda. The Soviet Union was one of the founders of the United Nations. Three Soviet republics – the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic – became UN members representing the USSR in the organization. Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly claimed that the modern Ukraine has no historical and ideological links with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): South Front
Reported by:
Disproof note:

A recurring Kremlin-backed narrative questioning the sovereignty of Ukraine. The Soviet Union plus the Soviet Republics of Belarus and Ukraine were represented in the United Nations since its beginning. This makes Ukraine one the first countries to sign the United Nations Charter: becoming a founding member of the United Nations. When Ukraine's independence was restored in 1991, the Republic of Ukraine inherited Soviet Ukraine's seat in the UN. No Ukrainian leader has questioned sovereign Ukraine's rights and obligations in the UN. Ukraine's official position of the continuity between Soviet Ukraine's seat in the UN and sovereign Ukraine's can be found here

Unlike the claim in the article, the Russian Soviet republic was never a member of the United Nation. The Russian Federation of today is the legal continuator of USSR in United Nations, thus retaining the USSR's position in the security council.

Keywords: United Nations, Ukrainian statehood
Countries: Russia, USSR, Ukraine
More
The President of Ukraine lacks genetic link to the Ukrainian nation
Additional details: The current state of the Ukrainian state has been the laughingstock of the entire Europe and the tragedy for people living in this territory. Recently, the Kiev government has released a new batch of nationalistic fairy tales. "The desire for independence is embedded in our [Ukrainian] genetic code,” the Ukrainian President noted.

It would be interesting to know what kind of ‘genetic links’ to the Ukrainian nation does the ethnically Jewish president have?

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): South Front
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is an ad-hominem and anti-semitic attack on Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Anti-Semitism is a recurring theme in pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts. More cases illustrating this use are available here and here. For similar cases attacking and seeking to discredit Zelenskyy, see here.

Furthermore, the article also contains a recurring Kremlin-backed narrative questioning Ukraine's sovereignty and its standing in the system of international relations. It attempts to portray Ukraine as a failed state, which is a popular trope in pro-Kremlin disinformation, without providing any evidence to support its claims.

 

Keywords: Volodymyr Zelensky, Anti-Semitism, Ukraine, United States of Europe, Ukrainian disintegration, Ukrainian statehood
Countries: Ukraine
More
Famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933 was not a genocide of the population
Additional details: The Holodomor in Ukraine in 1932-1933 was not an act of genocide - it has long been a well-known fact.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Vremya Pokazhet @ Pervyi Kanal, (time 29:50 - 30:10)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is the Kremlin’s repeated narrative that the Soviet regime did not destroy ethnic Ukrainians in the period 1932-1933. The Holodomor was Joseph Stalin's conscious policy towards Ukrainian peasants. The Soviet regime created an artificial famine in Soviet Ukraine, which affected parts of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Russia. The Stalinist regime used the confiscation of food as a weapon of mass destruction - food was forcibly taken from farmers.

It is estimated that the famine of 1932-1933 claimed the lives of 7 to 10 million citizens of the Soviet Union. In 1933, mortality in Ukraine became catastrophic, 28,000 people died every day, 1168 people every hour, 20 Ukrainians every minute.

In 2006, the Verkhovna Rada officially recognised the Holodomor of 1932-33 as genocide of the Ukrainian people. According to the latest data, 15 UN member states and the Vatican state recognise the Holodomor genocide act in Ukraine. The European Parliament and PACE have recognised the Holodomor as a crime of the Soviet regime against their own people and a crime against humanity.

Keywords: Holodomor, Genocide, Joseph Stalin
Countries: Ukraine
More
Denmark cannot say no to the US if Washington wants to have Greenland
Additional details: If Trump can make or force the deal, taking Greenland would be a massive win for the future of America. Even if Denmark protests, (which they are) it is very hard to say “no” to the United States in the long term and very bad for your health.The Danes could be easily made to suffer for not giving up their very large future US Air Force Base for some nice beads and a few empty promises.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Strategic Culture Foundation
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A recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative on US dictating actions of sovereign states. Pro-Kremlin outlets often allege that different countries, US' transatlantic allies in this case, are US vassals and remain under the American thumb. See earlier examples Poland is US's vassal stateEurope is occupied by the US and has limited sovereigntythe EU is directed by WashingtonGermany is the executor of US hegemony over Europe.

The countries signing the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, commit to “refrain from any demand for, or act of, seizure and usurpation of part or all of the territory of any participating State".

Keywords: Greenland purchase, Imperialism/colonialism, OSCE
Countries: United States, Denmark
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Poland seeks to increase its influence in Eastern Europe through the myth of Russian aggression
Additional details: The Polish government insists on relocating an additional contingent of US troops to its territory because of the desire to strengthen its influence in Eastern Europe through the myth of Russian military aggression.
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Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian
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This narrative began to appear in the Russian media in June when the Presidents of Poland and the United States signed the Joint Declaration on Defence Cooperation. Poland stressed that the presence of American troops in the country plays an important deterrent role against Russian aggression. It is act precisely about increasing the defensive ability of Poland and the country's ability to repel any territorial encroachments by Russia. Poland has no ambition to increase its influence on any territory of Europe - whearas it is well documented that Russia captured the Ukrainian Crimea and occupied part of the Donbas.

The main defence forces of NATO will still remain in Germany: even after this deployment of the US military; in Poland the number of deployed troops will be much less than the 35,000 soldiers deployed now in Germany. It was also reported that the decision to increase the military presence of the allies in Poland and the Baltic countries was taken at the NATO summit in Warsaw three years ago, in response to Russia's seizure of Ukrainian territories. So this is not Poland’s sole decision, but the policy of the entire Alliance.

Read more NATO cases here.

Keywords: EU/NATO enlargement, War preparation, NATO
Countries: Poland, United States, Eastern Europe, EU
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The US does not care about the Baltic states and wants Russia to buy them
Additional details: Soon either Donald Trump or his successors will sell the Baltic countries to Russia. The US president, and his supporters, have repeatedly demonstrated that they are not interested in the Baltic states and consider them unimportant. Hence, there is no point for the US not to sell the Baltic states to Russia. The problem is, however, that Russia does not need these countries either. Otherwise it would not end strategic economic cooperation with them. The only thing about the Baltic states that Russia cares about is their NATO membership and the presence of offensive NATO infrastructure on their territory. It seems that the US invests in the development of infrastructure there only with the aim of raising the price of the Baltic states for further bargaining with Russia.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Rubaltic.ru
Teleskop
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This is a conspiracy consistent with recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about lost sovereignty, external control and socio-economic degradation of the Baltic states. Although pro-Kremlin outlets often claim that Baltic states  have lost their sovereignty to the EU, this message alleges that their fate depends on the US's (and Russia's) whims. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are sovereign countries, which determine their own domestic and foreign policies. 

See earlier disinformation cases alleging that the Baltic states pursue anti-Belarusian policies as instructed by external actors, that Lithuania is a "typical dying young democracy", and that the Baltic states are dying because they chose not to be with Russia.

 

Keywords: US presence in Europe, Donald Trump, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, US, Baltic states
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As the US's vassal state Denmark will have to give up Greenland for free or for a symbolic price
Additional details: Denmark got frightened after it turned out that Donald Trump was not joking about his intention to purchase Greenland. Trump is not the type of person who can easily be told 'no'. A catastrophic perspective lies ahead of Denmark as it is one of the US’s allied countries. For them, Trump's initiatives are offers which cannot be refused. Why would Trump pay for something that he can get for free or for a symbolic price? This would be a shame for such a successful businessman as Donald Trump.

Therefore, Trump can get Greenland by arguing that as a NATO member, Denmark did not pay a penny for its military security. Hence, either Denmark pays billions of dollars for the security provided to it by the Americans over the last 70 years, or it gives up Greenland to the US. This development was logical given that the US does not really have allies as claimed but the vassal states which Washington can bend at any time. They will become victims of American global dominance. If Trump dared to ask Russia to sell its Sakhalin island, the Kremlin could launch a hyper-sonic missile at the White House.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Rubaltic.ru
Teleskop
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This is groundless speculation based on recurring lost sovereignty narrative frequently promoted by pro-Kremlin disinformation sources, this time built around the claim that Denmark is a US's vassal country, which will have to please Trump and give up Greenland.

The 2014 Wales Summit Declaration formalised the aim to move towards 2% of GDP spending on defence for all NATO members. Although Denmark is among those NATO countries whose spending has not reached this benchmark, it is not true that Denmark did not pay for defence at all as alleged (see NATO countries defence expenditures for the last years here).

Generally, the issue of US-Denmark negotiations over fair defence spending is well known, however it has nothing to do with Denmark's governance arrangements with Greenland. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called Trump's statements on Greenland “an absurd discussion.” Both she and Greenland leader Kim Kielsen responded that Greenland is not for sale. “A discussion about a potential sale of Greenland has been put forward. It has been rejected by Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen and I fully stand behind that rejection,” Frederiksen stated.

Despite the unusual spat over Greenland, the US and Denmark remain allies. Denmark remains sovereign in its domestic and foreign policy as decided by the Danes themselves, including on the matter of the country's relations with semi-autonomous Greenland.

See earlier disinformation cases claiming that Washington is behind Denmark's attempts to obstruct the construction of Nord Stream 2, that Poland is the ''Trojan horse'' of the US, and that the EU has become the vassal of the US.

Keywords: US presence in Europe, Donald Trump, NATO, Conspiracy
Countries: Russia, US, Denmark
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US made a mistake by organising a Maidan coup in Kyiv
Additional details: The United States made a strategic mistake in organising a Maidan coup in Kyiv. In the sight of not only the Kremlin, Moscow, but also the whole of Russia, the West “took” Ukraine with the help of Banderovtsi, like Hitler in 1941. And Russia set up outposts in the Crimea and the Donbas and received a vaccine from the Maidan.

 
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Disinforming outlet(s): topwar.ru
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Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about Ukraine's statehood which claims that protests were organised by US and the West. A similar case can be found here.

There was no coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014.

The demonstrations which began in Kyiv in November 2013 – called "Maidan" or "Euromaidan" – were not provoked from outside but were a result of the Ukrainian people's frustration with former President Yanukovych's last minute U-turn, when after seven years of negotiations, he refused to sign the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement and halted progress towards Ukraine's closer relationship with the EU as a result of Russian pressure. The protesters' demands included constitutional reform, a stronger role for parliament, formation of a government of national unity, an end to corruption, early presidential elections and an end to violence  as can be read here.

Pro-Kremlin outlets do not deny the Russian military presence in Donbas and/or the annexation of Crimea.

The European Union does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and continues to condemn this violation of international law, and that Russia’s illegal actions remain a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all States.

For more disinformation cases about Euromaidan see here.

Keywords: Coup, Euromaidan
Countries: Russia, US, Ukraine
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Russia's membership is necessary for an organization to have a European or global status
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At present, it is as hard for the West to "sell" G8 membership to Russia as it was impossible to "sell" Ukraine to Russia after the 2014 coup. This does not mean Russia did not really want to get it. Russia just asked for concrete terms of the deal whereas the West wanted to have its hands free.


For Moscow, it was inconceivable a decade ago to put in question the need to take part in the G8, whereas today, this is reality. Back in the 1990s, Moscow had to seek the West's favour. At present, the West needs Russia as it has turned into a global leader. Without Russia's membership, any organisation including the Council of Europe cannot pretend to have European or global status.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Belarus
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This message is consistent with a number of recurring pro-Kremlin manipulative narratives about the West's decline and imminent collapse, Western disregard for Ukraine, and about the coup in Ukraine in 2014.

It is a conspiracy that the West attempted to "sell" Ukraine to Russia under unclear terms. Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by Western countries but were violated by Russia in 2014.

There was no coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014 either. The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a reaction by numerous segments of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s violent dispersal of peaceful student protests against Yanukovych's sudden decision to withdraw from the Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. See the full debunk here.

See earlier disinformation cases on Russia's relationship with international organisations alleging that the Council of Europe will die without Russia's membership, and that the Council of Europe is Russophobic and that the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are anti-Russian.

Keywords: Diplomacy with Russia, Abandoned Ukraine, Conspiracy, Ukrainian statehood
Countries: Russia, West, Ukraine, France
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If Poland realised a rational policy in 1939, Moscow would have had a different approach towards it
Additional details: The refusal of Poland to allow Soviet troops to pass through its territory in 1939 was a mistake by the Polish authorities. The USSR could not wait until the German troops appeared on the Soviet borders and started a war against the Soviet Union from the surroundings of Minsk. Thus, if Poland realised a rational policy (based on its national interests), it would have been treated differently by the Soviet Union.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
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This message is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism and an attempt to portray Russia's role in World War II as not aggressive - see other examples referring to Ribbentrop-Molotov pact here, here and here. The accusation that the Polish authorities provoked the Soviet army's intervention in Poland in September 1939 by their refusal to allow Soviet troops to enter their territory is a clear historical manipulation. In terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, it is a proven historical fact that it contained the Secret Supplementary Protocol, which assumed the division of Poland and other Eastern European countries between the USSR and Germany. Thus, the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact directly caused the German and Soviet military aggression against Poland in September 1939, which resulted in its complete occupation by Germany and the USSR. See similar examples of the Russian historical revisionism concerning Poland here and here.

Keywords: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Historical revisionism
Countries: Poland, USSR, Germany
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Every Muslim family living in France has more than 8 children
Additional details: Each Muslim family living in France has more than 8 children compared to an average of 1.8 in non-Muslim families.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Georgia and the World
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Pew Research Center's 2017 study shows that although Europe’s Muslims generally have more children than members of other religious groups in the region, a Muslim woman in France has an average of 2.9 children compared to 1.9 of non-Muslim woman.

Find more similar cases here.

Keywords: migration, Islamisation, Muslim/Islam
Countries: EU, France
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