When the aim is to discredit the opponent as a hypocritical liar, the denigrator faces a problem: where to get the evidence from to support the blackmailing efforts?  The producers of pro-Kremlin disinformation have several answers that we saw in action this week.

First, do not underestimate the effect of the almost endless circulation and reuse of a false online image. A photo showing Hillary Clinton shaking hands with the founder of al-Qaeda Osama bin Laden has been circulating for ten years on the internet since it was first created for a Photoshop contest held by the website FreakingNews.

Last year, the photo was recycled by pro-Kremlin Twitter accounts, and at the end of October the spokesperson of Russian Foreign Ministry – despite the fact that the image had been shown to be fake many times before – referred to “fantastic, mind-boggling photographs of how Bin Laden was hosted in the White House” to explain how the lobbying culture works in the US.  Well, the original photo documented Mrs Clinton meeting musician Shubhashish Mukherjee.

To actually create false evidence about the target’s opinions is more time consuming. Then, a fake Facebook profile is an easy option. This week, we heard that a Czech Parliamentarian would prefer to see five million Muslim migrants in the Czech Republic than five million voters for the Czech president. But the statement was made from a fake Facebook profile disguising itself as belonging to the MP in question.

A more challenging disinformation tactic is to write a false letter and spread it. In October, a fake letter allegedly written by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and addressed to the Secretary of State of European affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland appeared. It was first published on Reddit in English and quickly spread in Russian language websites with headlines like “Mogherini allowed human rights to be violated in Ukraine” and on social media claiming “Mogherini openly supports the Nazis” It did not spread to the established media. See the debunk here.

This week we also saw official claims that it was Finland that wants Russia to join the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats. No such proposal was ever made, and in fact participation in the centre is open only to EU Member States and Nato Allies – and the centre counters hybrid threats coming from Russia, among other actors.

Screenshot of a Vkontakte-page that writes about US creating a biological weapon against Russia. It also repeats the old Soviet disinformation claiming the US invented the HIV/AIDS. Read about the history of the Soviet AIDS disinformation campaign here.

Biological weapons here, there, and everywhere


One of the key themes of the past two weeks of disinformation was biological weapons. We heard that the US is collecting biological material in Russia to create a biological weapon of the next generation, which will specifically act on Russians. The shortcoming in this conspiracy theory is that both international and Russian experts stated that it is not possible to create such a weapon.

A similar narrative about biological weapons has been spread particularly regarding Georgia, Armenia, and Ukraine, for years. Besides Russia, it was now time for Georgia again. The conspiracies stated that both deadly pathogens and insects are being planted by the West in Georgia.

And just to cheer you up for the conclusion: We can tell you that the British government is not, in fact, planning to replace the term “pregnant women” with “pregnant people”!

 


related disinfo cases

25.10.2017
Tsargrad.tv
Ukraine
31.10.2017
Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Ministry's website
Russia, Finland
12.09.2017
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia
Georgia
30.10.2017
Pozner @Rossiya 1
Russia, US
29.10.2017
Vesti Nedeli @Rossiya 1
US
26.10.2017
ukraina.ru, Mesto vstrechi @NTV TV-channel, 11:23
Russia, Ukraine
28.10.2017
uapress.info
Russia, Ukraine, Poland
27.10.2017
The Russophile
Russia, Ukraine, Poland
23.10.2017
Ukraina.ru
Russia, Ukraine
18.10.2017
Geworld.ge
Europe, Russia, Georgia
28.10.2017
Geoworld.ge
Turkey, Georgia
02.11.2017
Rezonansi
Europe, Georgia
23.10.2017
Sputnik
UK, Georgia
24.10.2017
Kommersant
Europe, Georgia
25.10.2017
Georgia and the World
Georgia
21.10.2017
eeuutoday.com
Sweden
28.10.2017
Asaval-Dasavali
UK, Georgia
28.10.2017
Asaval-Dasavali
Georgia
30.10.2017
Rossiya 1, 60 min
Russia, US
02.11.2017
Vremya pokazhet @Pervyi kanal’ TV-channel, 41:08
Europe, US
02.11.2017
Vremya pokazhet @Pervyi kanal, 19:15
Russia, The West
31.10.2017
Mesto vstrechi @NTV TV-channel, 1:12:48
Russia, The West, US
30.10.2017
Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Baltic states, US, Poland
24.10.2017
Mesto vstrechi @NTV TV-channel, 1:09:35
Hungary, Ukraine
23.10.2017
Vremya pokazhet @Pervyi kanal, 1:03:59
Ukraine
23.10.2017
Vremya pokazhet @Pervyi kanal, 6:42
Italy, Europe, Belgium
01.11.2017
ac24.cz
Ireland, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Greece, EU, Germany, Spain
31.10.2017
cz.sputniknews
Europe, Russia, US
31.10.2017
cz.Sputniknews
Russia, Baltic states, Estonia
29.10.2017
Novarepublika.cz
Russia, Ukraine, US
31.10.2017
BezPolitickeKorektnosti
Czech Republic
02.11.2017
Vlastenecké Noviny, eOdborar.cz
Italy, EU
24.10.2017
novarepublika.cz
Afghanistan, Russia, US
26.10.2017
GosNovosti
Ukraine
27.10.2017
Politexpert
Ukraine, The Netherlands
27.10.2017
Politexpert, oane.ws
Ukraine, Spain
26.10.2017
Global Research
Russia
26.10.2017
Komsomolskaya Pravda
The Netherlands, Georgia
26.10.2017
Tass
Ukraine
24.10.2017
Novarepublika.cz
Cuba, Russia, US
24.10.2017
novarepublika.cz
Europe, International, Russia