Despite statements from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the incontrovertible laboratory results proving the use of sarin in the Khan Sheikhun area of southern Idlib in Syria, pro-Kremlin outlets kept to last week’s practice of muddying the waters with disinformation about the issue.
This week, we saw the official newspaper of the Russian parliament claim that Russia had long ago handed over to the UN samples and other material in relation to an alleged use of chemicals as weapons in Aleppo, but that this evidence had been ignored. The OPCW has released a statement regarding this, clarifying that they never received any such evidence from the Russian authorities although they clearly welcomed such a contribution to their fact-finding work. This recalls a similar situation related to the downing of MH17, where Russia also claimed to have provided evidence which was “ignored”, only for investigators to state that they had received no such material.
Despite the evident use of chemical weapons, pro-Kremlin media stuck to their line that Syrian forces could not be the perpetrators, since there are no chemical weapons in their possession. However, the OPCW reported in August 2016 that it was able to confirm the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime after the date when the Syrian authorities had pledged to stop using them and had supposedly transferred all such material for destruction.
In a classic case of deflecting attention – and of intertwining the conflict in Syria with that in Ukraine – pro-Kremlin outlets also blamed Ukraine for the existence of chemical weapons in Syria, with no evidence. Meanwhile on the Ukraine theme, on Russian state TV, it was claimed that Russia does not participate in the military conflict in Donbass – despite overwhelming evidence of Russian military presence there (e.g. here, here and here).
The root to all evil
As we have explained before, pro-Kremlin disinformation tends to divide the world into two categories; the Evil West and Good Russia and this week is no exception. Thus the U.S was accused of designing the war in Ukraine, Daesh and a conflict with North Korea, all so as to “take” Russia and China.
The alleged “U.S design” for taking Russia and China, as shown on Russian state TV.
Furthermore, the U.S, Poland, France and Germany were all accused of supporting genocide in Ukraine – of which there is no evidence, even though some disinformation outlets also stated that US President Trump has claimed there is. (Similar disinformation was spread about former President Obama during his term.) France and Germany were also accused on Russian state TV of aiding Ukraine in creating a secret nuclear project with the aim to create its own nuclear weapons, on an episode called “Ukraine-nuclear power?”.
Among efforts at discrediting other voices, the recent ruling against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was described as “absolutely groundless” by the Russian Ministry of Justice in TASS; election fraud was described as common practice in EU countries; and an interview with NATO General Secretary Mr. Stoltenberg was manipulated and presented as him stating that NATO is preparing a war with Russia. In fact he said quite the opposite, that NATO does not want confrontation with Russia.
“NATO does not want a confrontation with Russia” translated into “NATO preparing a war with Russia”, on Russian state TV.
Disinformation cases reported in the previous week
No evidence given. Western military action in Syria and Iraq has clearly targeted Daesh. Western support for the Syrian opposition's success in retaking Dabiq represented a major defeat for Daesh. The situation in Ukraine has been under the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court preliminary examination since 25 April 2014. In their Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2016, they conclude that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government http://bit.ly/2ftv6iT. North Korea is conducting missile tests, hence the international reaction.http://cbsn.ws/2p05BKu
The claim about NATO "expansion" misrepresents the process of NATO enlargement. NATO does not "expand" but considers the applications of candidate countries which want to join. See: http://bit.ly/269ONPz; http://bit.ly/2e6J8oV; http://bit.ly/2eFPg9s. In any case, no such promise was made http://bit.ly/1qQ3wHH. This fact was acknowledged by former President Gorbachev himself in 2014 in an interview for (pro-Kremlin outlet) Russia Beyond the Headlines http://bit.ly/2a6FHvM.
The ECHR had described the use of several types of heavy weaponry during the hostage crisis, including T-72 tanks, rocket-propelled grenades and, most importantly, RPO-A Shmel missiles. While the Russian authorities had initially denied the use of RPO-A missiles during the hostage crisis, Deputy Prosecutor-General Nikolai Shepel admitted in July, 2005, that Russian special forces had fired RPO-A Shmel rockets into the school. As the ECHR noted, the Russian Federal Forensic Center produced a report in December, 2005, which included testimony from army and Federal Security Service (FSB), who had said that at least five RPO-A missiles had been fired during the operation. Further debunking at Polygraph.info http://bit.ly/2p8zfeS.
There are no statistics on attempts of rape on the website of the National Crime Prevention Center. Sweden does have 63.5 reported rape incidents per 100,000 citizens, however, this is attributable to differences in how a country reports crime. In Sweden, each case of sexual violence is reported as a separate incident, for example, if someone says they were raped by a partner every day for a fortnight, officers will record 14 potential crimes. In other countries, the claim could be logged as a single incident. The definition of rape is also broader in Sweden than it is elsewhere.
http://bit.ly/2msiGYT. It is a well-known pro-Kremlin narrative about Sweden that it is a country in moral decay.
No evidence given. In 2014 the US created the Global Coalition to counter ISIL http://bit.ly/1ziAxlq. Concerning the presidential election in 2014 in Syria, the EEAS issued a statement concerning the lack of legitimacy; "Elections organised by the regime outside this framework, conducted in the midst of conflict, only in regime controlled areas and with millions of Syrians displaced from their homes would ignore the basic principles of democracy, be devoid of credibility, and undermine all efforts to reach a political solution." http://bit.ly/2phhvhB
On April 19th, the OPCW Director-General Üzümcü stated clearly: “The results of these analyses from four OPCW designated laboratories indicate exposure to Sarin or a Sarin-like substance. While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible.” http://bit.ly/2oMigR9. On August 24, 2016, the OPCW submitted to the UN a report confirming the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime after the date when the Syrian authorities pledged to stop using it and completely transfer it for destruction [see the ‘Letter‘ (24 August, 2016) from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council (the third report of the OPCW-UNJIM) – issued by the third report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism http://bit.ly/2qajkfE.
No evidence given. It is an often repreated disinformation by pro-Kremlin outlets that Russian is forbidden in Ukraine. According to the Council of Europe, "In respect of the Russian language, most undertakings chosen by Ukraine under the European Charter for regional or minority languages were fulfilled or partly fulfilled." http://bit.ly/2en7tsa.
No evidence given. Kyiv is a Ukranian city. The first historical state with a Slavic settlement was formed around Kyiv more than two centuries before the foundation of Moscow. Throughout the centuries, Ukrainians maintained their own cultural and linguistic identity. The distinction is apparent e.g. through the fact that in 1654, Ukraine and Russia needed translators to sign the Treaty of Pereyaslav. // In the last Ukrainian census, carried out in 2001, 8.3 million people (17.3% of the population) identified as ethnic Russians http://bit.ly/1gKrIph.
the official newspaper of Russia’s parliament
According to the OPCW, Russia offered to provide the fact-finding mission (FFM) with samples and other materials from Aleppo. In response, the FFM contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry by telephone to arrange where the samples should be delivered, proposing two options – Damascus or The Hague. The Russian side, however, never responded to the proposal and never delivered the samples.http://bit.ly/2pc8HLX.
The report from OSCE states that: "In Avdiivka the SMM observed a white-coloured, four-door civilian sport utility vehicle driven by men in military-type uniforms, with decals on the front doors mimicking the colours and design of the OSCE SMM logo, moving east on Vorobiova Street in front of the building where the SMM camera is located. The SMM saw a similar vehicle in the same area on 4 March." http://bit.ly/2ox7mv5. It makes no mention of who was in the vehicles.
The source for the disinformation is Eduard Basurin, DPR spokesperson, who is well known for disseminating disinformation. In the past he has announced that a Ukrainian tank crushed a civilian car, that American snipers are working in Donbas, that the Ukrainian army has shelled OSCE monitors, among other stories. // Ukraine signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993; the agreement was ratified in 1998. The treaty outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. The Organization for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons administers the treaty and publishes an Information Bulletin in which it tracks countries still possessing chemical weapons and means of production. Ukraine is not on this list.http://bit.ly/2oXvNFB
CNN did not run such a report anywhere, neither on radio, nor television, or their website. Furthermore, no other US media reported on such a statement by the US President. According to StopFake, pro-Kremlin outlets reported a similar story in 2015 in which President Obama seemingly also accused Ukraine of genocide against its own people, also that time giving CNN as the source http://bit.ly/2oD3mt0.
No evidence given. According to the Council of Europe, "In respect of the Russian language, most undertakings chosen by Ukraine under the European Charter for regional or minority languages were fulfilled or partly fulfilled." http://bit.ly/2en7tsa.
No evidence given for the claims. There are around 500 U.S troops in Syria and about 400 more are soon to arrive http://nyti.ms/2mGM9l4. // No evidence given for the supposed links between Al-Qaeda and Hillary Clinton.
The election process in EU countries is closely monitored by independent institutions. The second round of the Austrian presidential election had to be repeated due to procedural errors. The final results were acknowledged by the defeated candidate.
Ukraine’s President made no such claims in his Chatham House address http://bit.ly/2phLOaB. Further debunking at Stopfake http://bit.ly/2oiqm5d.
The source for this distorted claim is an interview that Lieutenant Vsevolod Stebliuk gave to the information portal Online.ua, where he does use the word raze, however, in a context that is completely opposite to what the Russian sites claim. His exact words can be found at Stopfake: http://bit.ly/2q48cR8
No evidence given to confirm this conspiracy theory. Soros is often blamed in pro-Kremlin disinformation, for a number of things.
The identity of the offender remains unknown. The unknown group Fighting Xenophobia publicly claimed responsibility.
No evidence of genocide has been provided. // The spontaneous onset of the Euromaidan protests was a reaction of large parts of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden departure from the Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013.
The video was posted by a leader of Britain First – a far-right British political organization. The footage is actually a group of Pakistanis in London – on the outskirts of Tooting Broadway, southwest of the British capital – celebrating a victory for Pakistan in a cricket match in 2009. The video was posted on YouTube on June 22, 2009:http://bit.ly/2oY80p1. After being alerted by several Internet users, the tweet was deleted.
Conspiracy theory, no evidence given. The "climate weapon" accusations have been used before, e.g in Issue 62 of the Disinformation Review http://bit.ly/2q5Jzng.
The panic during a Good Friday procession was caused by several incidents of a criminal nature, due to which participants thought that they were the target of a terrorist attack. None of the arrested offenders had Arabic origin, as the rumour had it http://dailym.ai/2p6k85B.
One of the most repeated examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation. But the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, much of it coming, inadvertently or deliberately, from Russian troops themselves. Further details, for example, are in the following reports: http://bit.ly/1JUXaQB, http://bit.ly/1RbWQU5, http://bit.ly/1L6f6J6, http://bit.ly/1GpWmnW and http://bit.ly/2e6RE77.
No evidence of genocide or ethnic cleansing has been provided.
Ukraine is decreasing reliance on Russian oil and diversifying its energy sources. According to the country’s State Fiscal Service, Ukraine’s oil imports are in fact growing, but it is oil imported from other countries than Russia. Further debunking at Stopfake http://bit.ly/2pT2hzj.
No evidence given to confirm this conspiracy theory. Ukraine voluntarily gave up nuclear weapons on its soil after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and joined the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) http://bit.ly/13EmP2v.
According to Archbishop Evstratiy, a spokesman of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the statements of Patriarch Kirill are untrue. Since the annexation of Crimea, the Moscow Patriarchate has lost most of its adherents in Ukraine. “When members of a congregation say they would like to leave the Moscow Patriarchate and join the Kyiv Patriarchate instead, Moscow tries to prevent this by all means, including by claiming that the churches are being taken over forcibly, when in reality it was the members of the same congregation who did not want to be supervised by Moscow any longer,” he said. Further debunking at Polygraph.info http://bit.ly/2p8DFTa.
Actually, Mr.Stoltenberg said the following: "NATO does not want confrontation with Russia, NATO doesn’t want a new Cold War, we don’t want an arms race; actually we will continue to strive for a more constructive and cooperative relationship with Russia". See the full transcript and the interview on NATO's website: http://bit.ly/2q2qNAN