Five Years of Lies, Deception and Abuse

When it comes to weddings, a five year anniversary is associated with wood, and it is certainly a rather woody feel to the disinformation on the fifth anniversary on the illegal annexation of Crimea. A couple of French tourists travel to Crimea, and, lo and behold, suddenly we hear that this confirms that Crimea isn’t occupied at all. And the old claim that the 2014 referendum was held in accordance with democratic procedure? Well, it wasn’t. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, stating that the referendum was NOT VALID. Even Russian President Putin has publicly declared that the plans on annexing Crimea were launched weeks before the so-called referendum. Russian troops were deployed to “help the people express their opinion“.

Repeating lies year after year doesn’t make them suddenly true. The Collins Dictionary suggests the following synonyms for “wooden, in the sense of awkward”: awkward, stiff, rigid, clumsy, lifeless, stilted, ungainly, gauche, gawky, inelegant, graceless, maladroit.

Well, it is certainly rather maladroit to claim that the so-called referendum was held in accordance with the Ukrainian Constitution. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine takes another view, judging the referendum a violation of Ukraine’s Constitution.

The illegal annexation of Crimea is still a violation of International Law, of the European Security order and, last but not least, of Russia’s own declarations of respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Still, the disinformation outlets continue to attempt to depict the illegal land-grab as something noble: “Everything is fine, everything is perfect” a Crimean is quoted, adding “We have enough money!”, thus contradicting the famous words of Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – “There is no money, but hang in there!” Yes, one might need some hanging-in-capacity as the prices of produce have spiked 203 percent since the illegal annexation; for municipal services – with 205 and for health care with 168 percent, all according to official Russian statistical data.

Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets also attempt to describe Ukraine’s actions towards Crimea as a legitimation of Russia’s rule of the peninsula. As Ukraine is not supplying electricity and water to Crimea – that means Kyiv is no longer claiming the territory. Russia is, according to the UN General Assembly Resolution 71/205 of the 19 December 2016, the Occupying Power in the conflict. As such, it is Russia, not Ukraine, that has the obligation to provide all essential services to the population of the occupied territory.

Defaming the Pope

Well, if the disinformation on Crimea is gawky and inelegant, maybe we can find some less ungainly stuff among other topics? Well, the Russian Katehon.com website calls Pope Francis “a communist wolf disguised as a lamb, who serves as lackey to his Zionist masters” because of the Catholic Church’s decision not to oppose a exhumation of late Spanish leader Franco.

Other powerful leaders receiving praise this week are Nicolas Maduro, who defends his country against Western saboteurs and Donald Trump, who is cleared from all accusations of collusion with Russia. On the other hand western men are generally described as effeminate, but, despite their lack of manliness, remain a clear and present danger to Belarus.

Christchurch

The terror attack in Christchurch is, with a sad inevitability, taken up by the pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets, which suggest that wearing Ukrainian folk costumes equates to killing 49 people in a mosque. “It is the same psychological profile”, claim “experts” on Russian state TV. Russia’s largest TV-channel even suggests that the attack was the work of US special forces, to distract attention from a looming trade war between the United States and China.

The Christchurch shooter made an effort to maximise the distribution of the video from the attack. The New Zealand authorities have done all in their powers to erase the video, out of respect to the victims, and for the case of the criminal investigation. International media has also avoided spreading the video and the shooter’s deluded manifesto, and the largest social media organisations have taken measures to remove the video from their platforms. Russian pro-Kremlin media act differently. The Moscow-based national broadcaster REN-TV publishes the video with comments from a former officer of the Russian special forces, reviewing and evaluating the tactical manoeuvres of the shooter. In this case we are not sharing a link to the source. We do not want to take part in the shooter’s vision of mass distribution of his message. A screen shot from the site below.

This week we have observed how Kremlin media addresses a tragedy like the Christchurch terror attack, attempting to spin it for their own benefit, and we have observed the fifth anniversary of Kremlin deception, disinformation and dishonesty on Crimea. A wooden anniversary, not of a wedding, but an assault.

Electoral fraud preparation is under way in Ukraine
Additional details: Whoever will win the elections in Ukraine, the anti-Russian course to radicalisation will continue. In Ukraine, it doesn't matter how much ballot-box stuffing will be conducted, the election result will be decided by a very small group of people. // Poroshenko might be preparing for escalating situation in Donbas or Kerch strait to cancel the election.
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Link to the disinformation: russia.tv/video/show/brand_id/60851/
Disinforming outlet(s): 60 Minut @ Rossiya 1, time 49:15
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No evidence given, recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation about the Ukraine elections 2019 as illegitimate.

Keywords: Kerch, Manipulated elections/referendum, War in Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Elections
Countries: Ukraine
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OPCW pressured by US to issue biased report on Douma chemical attack
Additional details: The OPCW issued a biased report on the alleged chemical attack in Douma under pressure from the US, which needed a pretext for conducting air strikes in Syria. The report, compiled by the organisation’s Fact-Finding Mission [FFM] and issued in March 2019, states there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that a toxic chemical was used as a weapon in Douma in April 2018.

The paper contains multiple gaps and inconsistencies, and dismisses vital evidence which Russian and Syrian officials supplied to the OPCW, including over a dozen witness accounts attesting that no chemical attack had taken place in Douma. The witnesses said they had been forced to appear in fake footage of the purported attack devised by the White Helmets, an aid group with links to terrorists.

The truth about Douma has yet to be established, despite continuous efforts by Moscow and Damascus to facilitate an objective investigation.
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Disinforming outlet(s): RT (rt.com)
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This article is a part of an ongoing disinformation campaign surrounding the 2018 chemical attack in Douma, which claims that the incident was staged to demonise the Assad regime and Moscow’s role in the Syrian conflict.

The Kremlin began portraying the OPCW as an pawn in Western geopolitical designs around mid-2018, when the organisation was being granted new powers to assign blame for chemical attacks.

The FFM report on Douma clearly states the discovery of reactive chlorine and its derivatives in the affected area, at levels not naturally occurring in the local environment. The term “reasonable grounds” denotes a standard of proof routinely applied by the OPCW and several UN bodies (p. 3), and is based on available evidence as well as previous conduct of the suspected warring party.

Contrary to Moscow’s claim concerning the witnesses, their unverifiable testimony cannot be considered “very important information,” and thus the FFM report treats it as open-source material that may be used “for comparative purposes” (FFM report, p. 9), but not to formulate conclusions, in line with OPCW verification procedures (p. 24).

The probing of the alleged witnesses in The Hague was condemned by a number of governments as a publicity stunt, and raised concerns as to the veracity of their statements, as Moscow had ignored the OPCW’s request to interview the individuals first, and taking into account previous reports of witness intimidation by the Syrian government. Moreover, the footage of the attack shown at the OPCW briefing - which Moscow insisted had been fabricated by the White Helmets - had in fact been shot by a Syrian opposition group.

The truth about Douma is being continuously established through reporting, fieldwork, and expert investigations. Russia, however, has done much more to obstruct than to facilitate the process. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Russian military police denied OPCW inspectors access to the area citing “lack of coordination” with the UN Secretariat, a claim which prompted concerns over possible evidence-tampering and was later refuted by the UN. Meanwhile, admission was quickly granted to friendly journalists.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, Russia has vetoed a dozen UN Security Council resolutions concerning Syria, of which six called for the launch or renewing of joint enquiries into chemical attacks in the country.

Keywords: OPCW, Chemical weapons/attack, Syrian War
Countries: Russia, US, Syria
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Crimea rejoined Russia following a democratic referendum
Additional details: Crimea rejoined Russia in March 2014 following a regional referendum, in accordance with democratic procedures. 97% of residents voted in favour of a union with Russia.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik News
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Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on the illegal annexation of Crimea. No international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced 27th of February and held less than three weeks later.

On March 27th, 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula.

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, recognised April 17th 2015 that "our soldiers were deployed in Crimea to help the inhabitants express their opinion" (Interfax).

Following the covert invasion of “little green men,” power in Crimea was vested in a makeshift executive headed by Sergey Aksenov, a former mafia enforcer. The new Crimean regime conducted the referendum hastily and at gunpoint, barred impartial observers from entering the peninsula, and instead invited dozens of fringe politicians and activists to “monitor” the procedure, most of them far-right Kremlin loyalists.

The oft-cited figure of 97% 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.

See here for the EU statement on the fifth anniversary of Crimea annexation.

Keywords: Manipulated elections/referendum, Referendum, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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Crimea's residents decided to rejoin Russia through a democratic procedure
Additional details: The residents of Crimea decided, through a democratic procedure, to rejoin Russia. The reunification of the Crimean peninsula with Russia was the result of a legitimate referendum.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
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Disproof note:

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the annexation of Crimea claiming that Crimean citizens chose to rejoin  Russia through a legal referendum. See background and previous cases here.

Following the covert invasion of “little green men,” power in Crimea was vested in a makeshift executive headed by Sergey Aksenov, a former mafia enforcer. The new Crimean regime conducted the referendum hastily and at gunpoint, barred impartial observers from entering the peninsula, and instead invited dozens of fringe politicians and activists to “monitor” the procedure, most of them far-right Kremlin loyalists.

No international body recognises the so-called referendum held on the 16th of March 2014. On the 27th of February 2014, when the so-called referendum was announced, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. A year later Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted that the plan to annex Crimea was ordered weeks before the so-called referendum.

See here for the EU statement on the fifth anniversary of Crimea annexation.

 

Keywords: Manipulated elections/referendum, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine, EU
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Reunification of Russia and Crimea resembles the unification of Germany
Additional details: The reunification of Crimea with Russia is the same as the reunification of West and East Germany.
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Link to the disinformation: utro.ru/politics/2019/03/13/1393327.shtml
Disinforming outlet(s): Utro.ru
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Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Crimea being a part of Russia.

Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014 after an unrecognised referendum. The United Nations did not recognise the annexation. In March 2014, the UN General Assembly voted in favour of a resolution affirming the “territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.” The UN resolution also "underscores that the referendum having no validity” and calls upon all States and international organisations not to recognise or to imply the recognition of Russia's annexation. In 2016, UN General Assembly reaffirmed non-recognition of the annexation and condemned “the temporary occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine—the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.” The UN recognised that Russia is an occupying power in Crimea.

NATO and the EU also did not recognise the annexation. The European Union strongly condemns annexation of Crimea as violating international law principles, enshrined in the UN Charter, namely that the territory of a State cannot be acquired by another State resulting from the threat or use of force. Russia’s actions also violated the Helsinki Final Act which calls on the States to recognise inviolability of frontiers and territorial integrity.

Unlike the reunification of Germany, by annexing Crimea Russia violated Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Its actions violate the UN Charter, the Belavezha Accords, the Helsinki Accords, the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances and the Treaty on friendship, cooperation and partnership between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. The Budapest Memorandum clearly states that Russia guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty, territorial integrity and recognises Crimea as an inherent part of Ukraine. These guarantees were further stated in the 1997 Friendship Treaty.

By signing the Budapest Memorandum in 1994, Russia together with the United States and the United Kingdom reaffirmed their obligation to refrain from the use of force against the territorial integrity of political independence of Ukraine.

Keywords: Ukraine, illegal annexation, Russian expansionism, Ukrainian disintegration, Crimea, Ukrainian statehood
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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The arrival of French delegation to the Crimea is another confirmation of its legitimacy
Additional details: A delegation of French politicians headed by Thierry Mariani arrived in Crimea, the first foreign delegation to participate in the upcoming celebrations. The arrival of such a high delegation is another confirmation of the legitimacy of the choice of the Crimean people, made five years ago.
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Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian, RIA Novosti
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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has strongly condemned the visit of a group of French politicians to the Russian-occupied Crimea. It also notes that trips of foreign politicians to the Crimea do not have official status. The Ukrainian Foreign Policy Office issued an appeal in July 2016 in which it warned foreign citizens and stateless persons from illegal travel to the Crimea.

President Emmanuel Macron has also repeatedly confirmed that France refuses to recognise Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, François Delatra, underlines that Russia, in an unobtrusive way, violates the principles and objectives of the United Nations.

See here for the EU statement on the fifth anniversary of Crimea annexation.

Keywords: illegal annexation, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine, France
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The Donbas republics are free and independent
Additional details: The Donbas republics are free and independent. They are free to decide and choose their own political direction.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutschland
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Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the independence of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR).

The so-called People's republics receive humanitarian, financial and military backing from Russia. A Ukrainian hacker group called “Cyber Hunta” released a cache of emails linked to the Kremlin aide — Vladislav Surkov. The so-called "Surkov Leaks" show a list of candidates for the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, including the Speaker of the People’s Soviet (Pushilin), Ministry of Defense (Igor “Strelkov” Girkin), and other key officials with remarks “checked by us” and “especially recommended”. Surkov's emails also contain a DPR expense list, include proposals for Ukrainian locals to conduct cyber-attacks and email hacks for $100-$300 or “troll opponents” on social media and gather personal data of Kharkiv citizens for $130-$500. The authenticity of the leaked emails was confirmed.

Moreover, the German newspaper Bild showed the extent to which Russia finances the Donbas republics. The article estimates that Russia spends approximately €79.1 million per month to pay salaries in the DPR/LPR.

Also, the Donbas republics receive military support from Russia. An InformNapalm study shows that thirty-one weapons systems found in the Donbas entered service with the Russian military between 2004 and 2015 and have never been produced in or sold to Ukraine.

The European Union stated in July 2014 that "arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation".

Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted military presence of Russia in Ukraine in 2015.

Keywords: War in Ukraine, DPR, LPR, Donbas
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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The EU has fabricated facts about a chemical attack in Syria and prohibits differing points of view
Additional details: The European Union wants to ban the spread of alternative points of view about what is happening in Syria. In the EU, they continue to insist that it was a chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, in April 2018. The EU has presented no hard evidence about the attack and Western countries have fabricated evidence.

Syria has no stockpiles of chemical weapons.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Russian RT
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The United States and the European Union have provided very strong evidence of the use of prohibited weapons in Syria. However, Russia categorically denies the use of toxic substances during an air raid on the Syrian city of Douma on the periphery of Damascus, which provoked a whole information war on the part of the Russian media. European analysts emphasise in their new report that Russia does not provide any counter-arguments or evidence, but it casts doubt on all the evidence of the European Union and the United States.

According to the French Foreign Ministry, Syria has hidden some of its reserves and capacities from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. After the chemical attack in April 2017, chemical weapons have already been used 44 times in Syria; in 11 cases, the French secret services managed to obtain evidence confirming these suspicions.

Read more about disinformation about chemical attack in Syria.

Keywords: War crimes, Chemical weapons/attack, War preparation
Countries: Russia, EU, Syria
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United States implicated in Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and MH17 plane disasters
Additional details: The understanding of the circumstances around the MH17 plane crash in Germany has changed. Reports implicate the United States in both the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the MH17 plane crash in Ukraine. The Boeing flight MH370 was in the area of military exercises conducted by the US and Malaysia, the same happened later in Donbass.These two cases are connected with the US as the possible cause.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Politnavigator, Expert.ru, Regnum, Inforuss, Yandex Zen
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Conspiracy theory without any substantiated proof. The claims of US implications are based on an article published by N-TV on 8 March 2019. The article titled "Three theories on the fate of MH370" gives three versions of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 tragedy, a pilot's suicide, hijacking and US-Thailand military exercises in the South Chinese Sea. Regarding the third theory, the article says: "The third theory is connected with a missile launch, accidental or deliberate. It assumes that the aircraft was shot down in a joint military exercise by Thailand and US in the South China Sea. This is similar to the case that took place a few months later with Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine".

The hypothesis that the Flight MH370 jet was shot down during a U.S.-Thai exercise was voiced in 2014 in Nigel Cawthornes's book Flight MH370: The Mystery, among many unofficial disappearance theories of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However the book received considerable criticism and was not  taken seriously by investigation teams, i.e. the theory can be considered a conspiracy.

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 Pervomaiskiy. 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 MH-17, was taken back to the Russian Federation.

Keywords: Conspiracy, MH17
Countries: United States, Malaysia, Ukraine
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The OPCW ignores data confirming the Douma chemical attack was staged
Additional details: The OPCW is choosing to disregard the trove of information showing that the alleged chemical incident in the Syrian city of Douma was a set-up and staged by the pseudo-humanitarian organisation, the White Helmets.

On top, samples collected in Douma that don’t support the version of events blaming Syria and Russia, are an uncomfortable burden stored in the laboratory of the institution. Everybody is pretending they are not there and not making the effort to analyse them.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Spanish
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The OPCW is clear about the methodology of its Fact-Finding Mission in Douma, which included “on-site visits to collect environmental samples, conduct witness interviews and gather data. The FFM further analysed a range of inputs including witness testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses, and additional digital information from witnesses”. The institution stated that the evaluation of all this “provides reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine”.

OPCW's investigations of the use of chemical weapons are technical in nature and are designed to establish whether or not chemical weapons have been used, not to identify who used them.

The claims that videos taken in a Douma hospital after the chemical attack were staged are a recurring narrative of pro-Kremlin outlets. See our reporting and Bellingcat coverage of how Russian and Syrian state media has used fiction movies to "prove" the Douma attacks were staged.

See also other disinformation cases about the OPCW report on Douma attack.

Keywords: Douma, OPCW, Syrian War
Countries: The Netherlands, Syria
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The 2014 coup in Ukraine led to 10,000 casualties in Donbas
Additional details: In April 2014 the Ukrainian authorities initiated a military operation against the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic who proclaimed their independence following the February 2014 coup in Ukraine. According to the recent UN data, more than ten thousand people became victims of the conflict.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
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No coup took place in Ukraine in 2014. The demonstrations which emerged in November 2013 were the result of the frustration with then the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych to refuse to sign the EU-Association Agreement. Please see a previous debunk on that here.

It was Russia that provoked a war in Ukraine.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has stated 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. 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 https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/otp/161114-otp-rep-PE_ENG.pdf

Moreover,  the UN Human Rights Officer of High Commissioner (OHCHR ) estimates a much larger number than 10,000 of the casualties: the total number of conflict-related casualties in Ukraine (from 14 April 2014 to 15 February 2019) at 40,000–43,000: 12,800–13,000 killed (at least 3,321 civilians and est. 9,500 combatants), and 27,500–30,000 injured (est. 7,000–9,000 civilians and est. 21,000-24,000 combatants) (See p. 6 of the report).

More on war in Ukraine here. 

 

Keywords: War in Ukraine, Coup, Donbas, Euromaidan
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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Ukraine is under external control
Additional details: No one doubts that Ukraine is under foreign control. The current government has handed over its sovereignty to the West [the EU and the United States]. Now, they decide what reforms we should have, who should be our friends, what are our priorities. At the same time, they do not help us to build a strong, independent state, they use Ukraine in their own interests.
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Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUOQOElxIu0
Disinforming outlet(s): @ Nash TV Channel (nash.live)
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Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and Ukrainian statehood.

Ukraine is a sovereign state. EU and US are not controlling Ukraine. Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected by most of the free world but violated by Russia.

Ukraine is a priority partner for the EU. In June 2014, EU and Ukraine signed An Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which promotes deeper political ties, stronger economic links and the respect for common values. Find more about EU - Ukraine relations.

The relations between the US and Ukraine are bilateral relations between two independent countries. The US recognised Ukraine as an independent state on December 25, 1991. U.S. policy is centred on realising and strengthening a stable, democratic, prosperous, and free Ukraine more closely integrated into Europe and Euro-Atlantic structures.

Democratic elections were held in Ukraine in 2014 and recognised by the world community.

Consult more cases on Ukraine are here.

Keywords: Abandoned Ukraine, Ukrainian disintegration, Economic difficulties, War in Ukraine, Ukrainian statehood
Countries: United States, Ukraine, EU
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Washington confused Crimea with Ukraine when listed human rights violations in the peninsula
Additional details: The US State Department has published a list of human rights violations in Crimea. It is obvious that the Americans have confused Crimea with Ukraine. In Crimea, just as anywhere else in Russia, citizens' rights and the freedom of expression are respected.The claims about human rights violations in Crimea is just a fantasy.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Tsargrad
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The US State Department's Ukraine 2018 Human Rights Report was published on 13 March 2019. It covers human rights violations in Ukraine mostly, but includes a section listing abuses in Russian-occupied Crimea.

The report clearly listed violations in Crimea: disappearances, torture, harsh prison conditions and removing prisoners to Russia, political prisoners, pervasive interference with privacy, severe restrictions on freedom of expression and the media (including closing outlets and violence against journalists), severe restriction of freedom of association, including barring the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, systemic discrimination against Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians.

“Russian-installed authorities took few steps to investigate or prosecute officials or individuals who committed human rights abuses, creating an atmosphere of impunity and lawlessness. Occupation and local “self-defense” forces often did not wear insignia and committed abuses with impunity”, the report said.

The United Nations General Assembly on 22 of December, 2018, passed a resolution calling Russia to stop violating human rights in Crimea. The resolution was passed by 65 votes in favour, with 70 nations abstaining and 27 voting against it. 

Keywords: Human rights, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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Ukraine has already done everything possible to fence Crimea off
Additional details: Despite the declared policy of the Crimea return, Ukraine has done everything possible to "cut off" the peninsula. The government of Ukraine took all steps to fence off Crimea. Among them are the blockade of electricity, water supplies the complication of bureaucratic procedures to stop moving people there and the delivery of goods to the peninsula from the Kherson region.
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Link to the disinformation: youtu.be/ndLIuv2kNCo
Disinforming outlet(s): https://youtu.be/ndLIuv2kNCo (0:40-1:13)
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Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and Crimea.

According to the UN resolution of December 19, 2016, Russia was recognised as the Occupying Power, while Crimea was recognised as the temporarily occupied territory.

The 1949 Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War clearly describes the obligation of the Occupying Power. Articles 55-60 say that the occupying state has to provide products and hygiene items, sanitary materials and everything necessary to hold the religious services. The convention also states that such a state is obliged to provide the population of occupied territory by the rest of necessary goods.

According to Resolution No. 367 by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Procedure for entering the temporarily occupied territory and leaving it was approved. According to the Resolution, every citizen of Ukraine, who has the documents confirming his citizenship, can get into the occupied territory. The exception applies only to citizens who have not reached the age of 16 years. In this case, a passport of a citizen of Ukraine or a passport for travelling abroad, or a travel document for a child has to be shown.

See here for the EU statement on the fifth anniversary of Crimea annexation.

Keywords: Ukraine, Crimea
Countries: Ukraine
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Measles outbreak in Ukraine is the fault of Acting Minister of Health Ulana Suprun and her reforms
Additional details: Ukraine became the world leader for measles morbidity rates in 2018, due to the inactivity of the Ministry of Health and its head, Ulana Suprun. Suprun's lack of professionalism resulted in Ukraine lacking measles vaccines: it was under her leadership that Ukraine's Ministry of Health faced a shortage of many drugs.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Russian RT
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This is another case of exacerbating the situation in the Ukrainian health sector, which follows the path of reform. As of February of this year, there have been 1,067,014 doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines in Ukrainian hospitals. This is a sufficient for providing vaccinations for the whole population. The main reason for the high measles outbreak in Ukraine is not a shortage of vaccines, but parents' refusal to vaccinate their children.

Information about "non-professional reforms" of healthcare in Ukraine is also incorrect. According to the latest assessment of the World Health Organization, Ukraine has achieved significant success on the path to the reorganisation of the health system and has earned the highest marks from the leading medical organisation in the world.

 

Keywords: health, vaccination
Countries: Ukraine
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Kyiv promises Donbas filtration camps after punitively clearing the area
Additional details: After the de-occupation of certain territories in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, Ukrainian nationalists will send all Donbas residents to filtration camps. Kyiv promises the same fate as Nazi Germany for the entire population of the 'LDNR' groupings: special "punishers" will clear the territory, after which local residents will be checked into special camps.
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Disinforming outlet(s): News-Front
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Claims on "filtration camps" are unfounded; there are no evidence to support the claims. The Government of Ukraine promised amnesty to the residents of Eastern Ukraine who collaborated with the occupation authorities back in 2014, when the Verkhovna Rada adopted the relevant law. The representative of Ukraine in the humanitarian subgroup of the Tripartite Contact Group on the peaceful settlement of the situation in Donbass, Rada Vice-Speaker Iryna Gerashchenko, on February 20, 2018, reiterated Ukraine's position on the Donbass after the de-occupation of the Ukrainian territories.

However, the Vice-speaker stressed that the amnesty will not apply to individuals involved in the shooting down of the Malaysian Boeing and other war criminals. "Those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Donbas during the war, should not expect forgiveness”, – Gerashchenko said.

 

Keywords: Eastern Ukraine, Donbas
Countries: Ukraine
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New language law in Ukraine discriminates against the Russian language and Russian-speaking population
Additional details: The aim of the law is not to strengthen the functioning of the Ukrainian language or to protect it as the only state language, but to discriminate against Russian and the languages of national minorities.

People will be deprived of the right to speak the language they are used to by a punitive law.
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Disinforming outlet(s): 112 TV Channel @ 0:46-1:07 and 1:15-1:34
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Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and discrimination against Russian speakers.

The new language law  (The Law on the Functioning of Ukrainian as a State Language) is still in a draft phase. The draft says that Ukrainian is the only state language and defines the spheres of life where Ukrainian is necessary. Yet, it specifically says that people are free to choose what language they want to speak. The draft law, inter alia, proposes that any language, other than Ukrainian, can be used in schools, hospitals, other cultural and social institutions. It also says that along with Ukrainian, media outlets and Internet websites can use other languages, nevertheless, priority is given to Ukrainian.

The law does not define what language is to be used in private conversations.

Previous debunk on this case is here.

Keywords: Ukraine, Russian language
Countries: Ukraine
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There is no evidence of Russian attempts to influence the 2019 EU elections
Additional details: There is no evidence of Russian attempts to influence the EU parliamentary elections in May 2019.

The European establishment needs fake news about "external interference" in order to draw voters' attention to the upcoming elections and mobilise them.

With such advance declarations, the mainstream media tries to justify a possible defeat and the victory of the Eurosceptics. The latter could actually claim the formation of a strong group in the future European Parliament. If that happens, the elites will need someone to blame. Russia is already identified as the culprit.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Deutschland
Reported by:
Disproof note:
Disinformation produced and/or spread by Russian sources has been reported in the context of several elections and referenda in the EU, as noted in the EU's action plan against disinformation.
Ahead of the European elections, Microsoft registered cyberattacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organizations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and that are often in contact with government officials. Microsoft continues to investigate the sources of these attacks, but is confident that many of them originated from a group called Strontium, also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Read more here.

According to the latest annual threat assessment by the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, NBC News reports, "Russian intelligence services will continue the extensive cyber-espionage campaign against the West that they have pursued for years, with the military intelligence service, called the GRU, and Russia's spy agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB) directing most operations".

The Director General of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, Mikk Marran, says that Russia will target the European parliamentary elections in May with a likely focus on the larger member states — Germany, France and Italy.

A report by the European Council for International Relations assesses it is highly likely that Moscow will attempt to manipulate the European elections, given Russia's interference in recent national elections in Europe.

Also, the Financial Times points out that Russia-linked hackers have sharply stepped up a campaign to disrupt EU elections in May, leaving EU officials and tech companies scrambling to muster a response.

Keywords: EU elections 2019, Anti-Russian, Russophobia
Countries: Russia, EU
More
US Senate: no ties between Donald Trump and Moscow
Additional details: In February, the US Senate announced the absence of "ties" between the American leader Donald Trump and Moscow. The Commission responsible for the investigation could not reveal any facts or evidence of the alleged collusion of Donald Trump’s campaign headquarters with Russia in 2016.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This statement is a recurring Kremlin narrative that was already debunked. RT, once again, used claims, not supported by the CBS report.

More disinformation cases on Russian interference in US election here.

Keywords: election meddling, Donald Trump
Countries: United States, Russia
More
Russia is not interfering in the EU elections
Additional details: There are no examples confirming the alleged “sharp activation” of Russian hackers from Russia targeting the European elections, none are given. If European politicians had some information, it would be logical to share it.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Ria.ru, Sputnik Moldova
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU elections 2019 and election meddling.

In January, Microsoft found that a group of hackers called Fancy Bear targeted email accounts of European think tanks and NGOs as well as political opponents of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The group, believed to be associated with the Russian intelligence, were spreading messages aimed at disrupting upcoming elections.

Fancy Bear was previously involved in 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee of the United States.

According to Politico, hackers tried to hack EU member states’ institutions, political parties and elections 11 times in the last five years. In August 2015, hackers associated with Fancy Bear infiltrated IT networks of Germany’s parliament. In May 2017, hackers attacked elections in France while targeting Macron’s campaign.

On February 2018, the head of the top six U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia interfered into the U.S. 2016 election campaign. Russian or Russia-linked hackers interfered into computers of the Democratic party, personal Gmail account of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and disseminated fake news on social media.

In addition, the US Justice Department has charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic officials in the 2016 US elections. Previously, 13 Russian citizens as well as the Internet Research AgencyConcord Management and Concord Catering had been charged with interfering with the US political system.

Keywords: EU elections 2019, fake news, European Parliament, election meddling, Manipulated elections/referendum, Elections
Countries: Europe, EU
More
US, backed by Syrian rebels, prevents refugees from leaving Al Rukban camp
Additional details: Around 40,000 people are trapped in the refugee camp of Al Rukban, on the Syrian border with Jordan and inside the US-controlled area around the base of Al Tanf.  The US is obstructing the rescue operation by refusing to protect the convoy that should take refugees out of the camp.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Spanish
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Since it is becoming impossible to continue affirming that US troops and the groups they support are impeding the exit of the refugees, the narrative has shifted to claims that the US is voluntarily frustrating the rescue operation by refusing to protect the convoy of the vehicles that were going to carry civilians out of the camp.

US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said that Washington "fully supports a process that is free from coercion and allows for safe, voluntary, and dignified departures for those wishing to leave Rukban". A Syrian rebel commander for a US-backed group in the area declared  that Russian military police and Syrian troops are the ones blocking humanitarian supplies from reaching Rukban in order "to get people to leave by force". 

For the last two years, this Russian disinformation narrative has claimed that the US has been blocking the aid to Al Rukban camp, as you can see here and here, when it was actually the Syrian army who was responsible for the blockade.

Keywords: Syrian War
Countries: Syria
More
The medical reform in Ukraine was established as a scheme for corruption
Additional details: The Ministry of Health in Ukraine created a corrupt "turnover" that allocates its own budget, namely 97 billion UAH. They put people there who are responsible for the budget and limit the access of deputies at the local level. The acting head of the Ministry of Health in Ukraine, Ulana Suprun sends the money to the US office and makes illegal money machinations with them. The so-called medical reform was introduced specifically for this purpose.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): NewsOne @ 0:25-00:48; 1:06-1:19
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given. Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine and The Ministry of Health in Ukraine.

The official statistics of the Accounting Chamber show that the Ministry of Health in Ukraine actually fights corruption. For example, the Ministry managed to save up to 40% of budget funds from 2015 to summer 2017. This was possible thanks to a new system of purchasing medicines through international organisations. The Ministry of Health claims these savings allowed them to purchase additional medicines for Ukrainian patients.

Moreover, the Ministry of Health and National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine agreed on open cooperation between them. The institutions signed the Memorandum of Cooperation and Information Exchange aiming to exchange information and provide data for a prompt, comprehensive and impartial review of information on corruption offences and other criminal acts.

Law enforcement agencies, including the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, have never investigated any corruption case against Ulana Suprun.

Keywords: Corruption
Countries: Ukraine
More
Venezuelan blackout caused by Western sabotage
Additional details: The week-long electrical blackout which plunged most of Venezuela into darkness was orchestrated from abroad. The foreign perpetrators targeted the nation's power supply in full knowledge of its weak spots, namely those segments of the power grid which rely on Western-made equipment.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT (rt.com)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given. The story advances a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on Western efforts to destabilise Venezuela and/or eject President Nicolas Maduro from office.

The 2019 power outage is only the latest in a period of power instability which Venezuela has faced for roughly a decade. The blackouts have been linked to "disastrous" policymaking in the energy sector, widespread government graft, and poor maintenance of energy installations which, according to one Venezuelan NGO, had been altogether abandoned by 1998. In 2018, a Venezuelan trade union official was arrested after warning that a blackout was likely to happen due to the government's negligence.

The story marks a departure from RT's earlier coverage of energy problems plaguing Venezuela which, prior to the 2019 constitutional crisis, were readily attributed to the protracted economic crisis in the country. See also RT's narrative U-turn on the Venezuelan food shortages.

Keywords: Nicolas Maduro, Energy, Hybrid war
Countries: Venezuela
More
The nationalist sentiments of Kyiv are beneficial to Washington
Additional details: Washington favours nationalist sentiment in Ukraine. Therefore, no sanctions in connection with human rights violations will follow. Washington even benefits from the existence of powerful neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine as they implant a radically anti-Russian ideology.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Russian
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about Nazi Ukraine  and foreign involvement in Ukrainian internal affairs. The article of RT refers to the 2018 Human Rights Report dedicated to Ukraine where human rights violations are listed. The report was prepared by the State Department, and it doesn’t, in any way, claim the existence of nationalist groups in Ukraine as something beneficial.

The document is quoting the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: “the failure of police and prosecutors to prevent these acts of violence (by nationalist groups), properly classify them as hate crimes, and effectively investigate and prosecute them created an environment of impunity and lack of justice for victims”.

Radical groups that must not be tolerated were mentioned in the previous reports of the US on Ukraine.

 

Keywords: Nazi/Fascist
Countries: United States, Ukraine
More
The shooter in the New Zealand terror attack and Ukrainian nationalists share the same psychological profile
Additional details: Looking at the face, modus operandi and weapons of the shooter in the Christchurch terror attack, one can recognise the same psychological type of Ukrainian nationalists. If the West turns a blind eye to the crimes of the Ukrainian nationalists, these kind of events will repeat themselves in every Western country. If Europe stays blind to nationalists in "vyshyvankah" (Ukrainian national costume) who are shouting fascist slogans, their followers will continue committing acts of terror.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): 60 minut @ Rossiya 1 (16.15 - 16:55)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory, that exploits the global outrage over the terror attack in New Zealand to strengthen recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the fascist Ukraine.

Keywords: Mediterranean Sea, Terrorism, Nazi/Fascist
Countries: New Zealand, Ukraine
More
Crimean reunification with Russia prevented it from becoming a US protectorate
Additional details: If Crimea’s reunification with Russia hadn’t taken place, the US would have turned it into a protectorate. It would have deployed weapon systems in the peninsula as they are doing in Romania, and thus be able to deny access to Russian vessels to the Black Sea. Ukraine would have given the Sevastopol base to NATO for military purposes.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT Spanish, Sputnik Spanish
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The narrative is part of the set of arguments to defend Russian annexation of Crimea. The statement actually comes from the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security talking about the deployment of TU-22M3 strategic bombers to Crimea, allegedly as a response to the deployment of US missile defense systems in Romania. Also, Russian senator Alexei Pushkov tweeted that "the first thing Kiev would have done had Crimea not joined Russia would have been turn Sevastopol to the US or NATO".

There is no evidence that the US were planning to deploy any weapons system in Crimea, which was part of sovereign Ukraine. Unlike Romania, which is a NATO country, Ukraine is only part of the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), which carries much less obligations and benefits from the Alliance.

In Romania the missile deployment took place according to the European component of the US Ballistic Missile Defense System (EPAA / European Phased Adaptive Approach). It was decided in the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008 and an agreement was signed in 2011 between the US and Romanian governments in 2011 regarding to it. Nothing similar has ever emerged regarding to Ukraine.

You can find here and here other examples of disinformation about Crimea, here about NATO actions, and here about the missile defence system in Romania.

Further debunking on The Insider.

Keywords: EU/NATO enlargement, NATO, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Europe is occupied by Islamists
Additional details: Europe is occupied by Islamists. Through the migration crisis they have taken over all major European cities.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Vremya Pokazhet @Pervyi Kanal (1tv.ru), time 06:28
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given. The claims presented on Russian TV channel appear in the context of a discussion on attacks in Utrecht, Netherlands and Christchurch, New Zealand.

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about migrants and Islamisation.

Keywords: Islamic extremism, Islamisation
Countries: Europe
More
US Secret Service is behind the terror attack in New Zealand
Additional details: US Secret service is behind the terror attack in New Zealand.

The terror attack in New Zealand is a cover up of a real global conflict - the trade war between the US and China. China is the largest trading partner of Australia and New Zealand. Americans are worried because more Chinese capital might mean the access to the "Five eyes" intelligence network. That is why they are trying to make New Zealand unattractive for Chinese investments by building a racial barrier.

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_QFkGlfNmk
Disinforming outlet(s): Vremya Pokazhet @ Pervyi Kanal (20.00 - 22.20)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory with no evidence.

The investigation into the Christchurch terror attack on March 15, 2019 is ongoing, with Australian citizen identified as the main suspect in the shooting.

 

Keywords: Terrorism, Secret services
Countries: New Zealand, US
More
The US military has stolen 50 tons of gold from Syria
Additional details: United States has transported approximately 50 tons of gold from the regions occupied by ISIS in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. The gold was stolen from Syria, and subsequently stored in an American military base, located in Ayn al-Arab. In addition, US forces had been transporting large chests filled with ISIS gold from the al-Dashisha area in the southern part of the Al-Hasakah Governorate.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Journal of New Eastern Outlook
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about US support for terrorists that is presented entirely without evidence. The source quoted in this article is SANA, an official organ of the Syrian government, which regularly promotes the idea of cooperation between the US and jihadist forces.

We have previously debunked this story here, here, and here.

Keywords: Jihad, Terrorism financing, Military, Terrorism, Conspiracy
Countries: United States, Canada, Syria
More
In Germany and France people have to apologise to those who rape them
Additional details: In general, there is a huge problem with cross-cultural conflict and so-called "tolerasty", when people are forbidden to even think about problems related to immigration. Now, there is a situation in Germany and France where people are actually apologising to those who rape them.

 

 
Language / Targeted audience:
Link to the disinformation: www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_QFkGlfNmk
Disinforming outlet(s): Vremya Pokhazhet @ Pervyi Kanal (17:00 - 17:26)
Reported by:
Disproof note:

People in Germany and France do not have to apologise to rapists.

This is part of a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about migration. See similar disinformation cases connecting migration and rape.

 

Keywords: migration, culture, Western values, European values
Countries: Germany, France
More
The sanctions against Russia are unjustified and ineffective
Additional details:



On 18 March 2014, two days after a referendum based on the right of self-determination, Crimea joined the Russian Federation. This major event explains five years of Western sanctions against Moscow.





As early as 2016, the United States began accusing Russia of spreading false news, supposedly to interfere with democratic processes. NATO is urging its European members to prepare for a war with Russia. The Skripal affair, which broke out in March 2018, justified new anti-Russian measures. A year later, London has still not presented any concrete evidence.


The economic sanctions designed to bend Russia proved immediately to be ineffective . As a boomerang effect, European farmers are seriously affected by the loss of the Russian market.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT France
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Crimea being a part of Russia and that the sanctions following the annexation are unfair and ineffective

According to international law, Crimea is part of Ukraine. Russia violated  international law as well as the key principles of the European security framework by illegally annexing the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol.

No evidence given to support that "NATO urges its European members to prepare for a war with Russia". The narrative that NATO's progress towards the East is not new. In 2015, Tagespigel analysed the NATO argument advanced by Vladimir Putin himself in an interview with German TV. What Putin does not say: At least some Russian military machines turn off their transponders, so they do not show up on radar screens of air traffic controllers. There is no radio contact with civil air monitoring, flight plans are not communicated in advance. By contrast, NATO jets fly with the transponder switched on, visible to civilian air traffic control. RT's narrative also ignores the diplomatic evidence that after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, Central Europe urged NATO to let them join, being afraid for their security, and not vice versa.

No evidence given that those responsible for the Skripal's poisoning's has not been proven by the UK  and that the following measures were irrelevant. The same applies to the meddling in the US' elections, which resulted in indictments in a criminal case.

Claiming that the sanctions only benefit Russia or are "counterproductive", is another example of a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative. In reality, sanctions imposed on Russia after the Crimea annexation and Russian meddling in the US elections sapped Russian economical growth.

Keywords: Sergei Skripal, Manipulated elections/referendum, Russophobia, Sanctions, Crimea
Countries: UK, Russia, The West, EU, US, France
More
Crimean economy booming since reunion with Russia
Additional details: Since rejoining Russia in a democratic referendum in 2014, Crimea has become a rapidly developing region with a fast-growing economy.

In particular, revenues are consistently growing; unemployment has been cut threefold; the free economic zone established in 2015 significantly contributes to economic growth; and a record number of tourists visited the peninsula in 2017-18.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik News
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the supposedly democratic character and economic benefits of the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The article notes an increase in Crimea's nominal budgetary revenues between 2015 and 2018, but the brunt of this increase has been borne by ordinary Crimeans -- on average, income tax accounted for around 45% of total revenues in 2016-18; during the same period, the share from business tax declined from 28% to 17%. An 18% increase in average salary has been accompanied by a 200% increase in the price of consumer goods and services.

No data is cited to back up the claim of falling unemployment rates in Crimea, but even Russian officials have noted that registered unemployment figures greatly understate the actual job situation. Accounting for that, Crimea is currently ranked 56th among Russian federal subjects, with the real unemployment rate of 5.9%, up from 5.7% in 2013.

In late 2018, Crimea's "finance minister" reported that the Crimean "free economic zone" had generated 6.3 billion roubles in tax revenue in the first eight months of 2018. However, these benefits are offset by artificially low tax rates applicable in the zone, as well as by routine tax avoidance on part of its resident entrepreneurs. Throughout 2017, only 7% of local businesses invested in the Crimean economy. At that, the share of private investment fell steadily from 61.4% in 2014 to 37.3% in 2017 (p. 151).

Given the importance of tourism for the Crimean economy, Moscow has systematically manipulated data on the number of tourists since the annexation. Statistical reports produced by the Russian government deliberately conflate the number of tourists with the total number of people travelling to the peninsula, both in and out of holiday season. Notably, the number of spas and hotels in Crimea fell from 825 in early 2014 to 550 in mid-2018.

Keywords: economy, illegal annexation, Manipulated elections/referendum, Referendum, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
EU to set up its own Russian-language TV channel to promote its take on developments
Additional details: The EU plans to create its own Russian-language channel to familiarise Russian audiences with the Western point of view on the developments in the world and in Russia.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Georgia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

The EU is not working on such project, as the EU vs Disinfo website has already reported.

Recurring pro-Russian narrative on the West’s attempts to impose its values on and spread propaganda in Russia. Ukraine has also been accused of taking after the West and waging an information war against Russia.

Keywords: Propaganda, Russian language, Media
Countries: Russia, EU
More
Crimea has been revived thanks to Russia
Additional details: Crimea has been revived since joining Russia. The peninsula separated from Ukraine because of the anti-Russian rhetoric of the new authorities in Kyiv.

A big international airport was refurbished in Simferopol, while the longest motorway in Europe and Russia, the Crimea Bridge, was built very rapidly. In addition, the economy and the tourism industry are growing quickly. Crimea’s international importance continues to grow.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Polska
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Crimea was annexed by Russia following an illegitimate referendum on March 16, 2014 following the deployment of “little green men” across the peninsula beginning in February 2014. Read more about Crimea's annexation here.

The economic prosperity promised by the Kremlin has not arrived to Crimea. Approximately 10% of the population has fled. Local residents have not been content with prices, wages, or the number of tourists visiting the peninsula. The economy is stagnating and the rights of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars are being violated. Crimeans have had to sacrifice their basic rights and access to Western and Russian network brands, which have avoided the peninsula due to fear of sanctions.

In addition, under Russia’s rule, Crimea has undergone a raft of new laws regulating everything from military conscription to alcohol consumption and sees continuous human rights abuse. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, covering the period from 16 November 2018 to15 February 2019, and devotes a whole chapter to the numerous human rights violations against the Crimean population by the Russian authorities: “The Russian Federation continues to apply its laws, in violation of international humanitarian law applicable to an occupying power, resulting in grave human rights violations, disproportionately affecting Crimean Tatars.” (see pp. 3, 21-24)

 

Keywords: illegal annexation, Crimean Tatars, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Humanitarian aid in Syria served as cover up to supply weapons
Additional details: Humanitarian aid in Syria has served as a cover. In the middle of the victuals there were weapons of all origin. It might happen in Venezuela too, we do not know.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): Le Désordre Mondial @ Sputnik Fr time 11:26 - 12:02
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given. Recurrent conspiracy theory on the humanitarian aid used as a coverage presented without any evidence.

See more disinformation cases on humanitarian aid here.

Keywords: humanitarian aid, Syrian War
Countries: Venezuela, Syria
More
All strategic choices of France are dictated by Brussels, Macron has no power
Additional details: Macron has no power. It is not him who decides. Macron is only a governor of the province of France, of a kind of entity under the domination of an industrial financial oligarchy that took power in Brussels. He's only pretending to have power which he has not.

There is a big secret in French politics: all big strategic choices (privatisation of SNCF, EDF, the attacks on pensions, labour law…) are codified by the report on strategy for economic policies published yearly in Brussels in order to favour the convergence of economies, to save the euro.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT France
Reported by:
Disproof note:

No evidence given.

French presidents are exceptionally powerful compared to leaders of other advanced democracies.

The Broad Economic Policy Guidelines (also known as GOPÉ), established by Article 121 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), are 'recommendations for economic policy guidelines' (fiscal policy, structural reforms, wage negotiations, sustainable development policies, etc.) addressed each year to the Member States.  As recommendations, they do not have the force of law.

EDF (Electricity of France) is partly privatised since 2004, but is still controlled by the French State.  A further strategy of profitability of the EDF is being discussed regardless Broad Economic Policy Guidelines. The privatisation of railway company SNCF has not happened.

Read more disinformation cases Emmanuel Macron being a puppet controlled by foreign powers or  obscure financial interest groups.

Keywords: Oligarchs, Brussels, Secret elites / global elites
Countries: EU, France
More
Poroshenko wanted to trade Crimea for membership in the EU and NATO
Additional details: In 2014, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko considered the option of giving up Crimea to Russia in return for membership in NATO and the European Union. The situation in Ukraine is similar to what happened to Georgia. It is already clear that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will not return to Georgia. However, the loss of Crimea can be used to acquire membership in the EU and NATO.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): V gostiah u Gordona (0.04-0.31)
Ukraina.ru
Regnum
Pravda.ru
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Crimea.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, representatives of the European Union and NATO have consequently declared their position on the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia. For example, during his speech at the Ukrainian breakfast in Davos in 2019, Petro Poroshenko clearly repeated his message about the fact that Crimea should return under the control of Kyiv. Moreover, Poroshenko signed the decision of the Parliament of Ukraine in which Crimea is recognised "temporarily occupied", while Russia is an occupying state.

The European Union does not recognise the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. On February 19, 2019, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, during a speech in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the armed aggression of Russia, once again assured that Europe would never recognise the annexation of Crimea by Russia and would not stop sanctions. See here for the EU statement on the fifth anniversary of Crimea annexation.

In turn, the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg spoke publicly about the illegality of the annexation and the necessity of returning Crimea to Ukraine following the meeting of the foreign ministers of the member countries and the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Georgia in 2018.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, which condemned Russia's illegal actions in Ukraine.

Keywords: NATO, Petro Poroshenko, Crimea
Countries: Ukraine
More
Crimeans have benefited from reconnection with Russia
Additional details:


Two new days have appeared in the history books - March 16 and 18, 2014. After the referendum on March 16, Sevastopol and the Crimean Republic were integrated in the Russian Federation two days later.

In Sevastopol people now re-learn the history from the point of view of Moscow. Crimea was Russian for a long time, before the Soviet empire changed the borders. At the beginning of the 90s, Kyiv started to force the entirely Russian-speaking population of the peninsula to learn Ukrainian and Ukrainian history.


"Everything is fine, everything is perfect, we have enough money," said a Crimean. Abandoned by Kyiv, the peninsula gains modernity. Pensions have been raised. The prices are higher than before, but so is the standard of living.

Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT France
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative on the illegal annexation of Crimea. No international body recognises the so-called referendum, announced 27th of February, 2014, and held less than three weeks later.  On March 27th, 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in which it stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, recognised April 17th 2015 that "our soldiers were deployed in Crimea to help the inhabitants express their opinion" (Interfax).

As for historical past of Crimea, see the explanation by the Ukrainian embassy in France.

No evidence given that Ukraine forced Russian speaking population to learn Ukrainian. In the 2012/2013 academic year, in secondary schools of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea 89.32% of pupils received education in Russian, 7.41% - in Ukrainian, 3.11% in the Crimean Tatar language.

No evidence given to support that "everything is perfect" as for "modernity" and living standards in Crimea. The most serious deterioration in the situation was in 2017, by which point prices in the peninsula had increased by an average of 95% compared to before the annexation: price of produce increased by 203%; of utilities services by 205%; educational services by 246.8%, and health services by 168%, as summarised "MBKh media" in the report "Crimea is still hanging on".

In 2016, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev came to the Crimea and, in response to the pensioner's complaints about a small pension, said “There is no money, but please keep hanging on”.

Keywords: Referendum, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
More
Kosovo and Crimea's status recognition by the West show double standards
Additional details: The referendum in Crimea has been questioned by various countries, but everyone knows in a fairly transparent way that the majority of Crimeans were in favour of joining Russia. The sanctions of the EU and the United States date from the attachment of Crimea to Russia. In fact, there are NATO countries that have themselves violated international law with respect to Kosovo, which has been recognized by a number of European countries to the detriment of the territorial integrity of the borders and the Constitution of Serbia. Europeans must admit that Crimea belongs to Russia and not to say that some annexations are good and others are bad.
Language / Targeted audience:
Disinforming outlet(s): RT France
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Pro-Kremlin disinformation frequently draws parallels to Kosovo's secession from Serbia, but Crimea's annexation by Russia has nothing to do with it.

In Kosovo, there was a civil war, with thousands of casualties and hundreds of thousands of refugees, and which Western countries stopped. This was followed by a decade of international administration and status negotiations. In 2008 the EU Council stressed that in view of the conflict of the 1990s and the extended period of international administration under Security Council Resolution 1244, Kosovo constituted a sui generis case. By contrast, there was no war in Ukraine until Russian military aggression http://bit.ly/2ftv6iT.

Negotiations on Kosovo's status lasted 10 years. The time period between Russia's military operation and annexation of Crimea was 20 days.

No third country annexed Kosovo, as we have seen happen in Crimea.

As for Crimea, Russia annexed it after an illegitimate referendum, organised in less than three weeks and in the presence of Russian troops, "which helped the Crimeans to express themselves", according to the president Putin. No genocide happened. Russian authorities tried to advance the narrative of the danger of Ukrainian far right activists, which were allegedly hostile to ethnic Russian population, while Russia proactively saved Crimeans from "terrorists and extremists", the minister of foreign affairs of Russia said.

Human rights missions that travelled to Ukraine in 2014 did not find evidence that the Russian minority would have been in danger:

According to international law, Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Russia violated the international law as well as key principles of the European security framework by illegally annexing the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol. The European Union does not recognise and continues to strongly condemn this violation of international law, which remains a challenge to the international security order. This position is based on the UN Charter, which clearly states that the territory of a State cannot be acquired by another State resulting from the threat or use of force, as well as on the Helsinki Final Act in which the signatories declared their intention to respect the inviolability of frontiers and territorial integrity.

Background:

UNGA Resolution 68/262, stating that the Crimean referendum was not valid and condemning Russia's illegal actions in Ukraine, was supported by 100 United Nations member states.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated that “[t]he 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. 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." Click here for more information.

Keywords: Kosovo, The West, Crimea
Countries: Kosovo, Russia, The West
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Pope Francis is a servant of George Soros and the global Zionist conspiracy
Additional details: The Catholic Church, along with the European Union, the big capitalist and its puppets in the parasitic political class are the promoters of the demographic change taking place in the West. The Vatican only serves the interests of George Soros, and Pope Francis is a communist wolf disguised as a sheep that is serving his Zionist masters, as proven by the fact that the Vatican didn't object to the exhumation of late Spanish strongman Francisco Franco.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Katehon Spanish
Reported by:
Disproof note:

This article mixes several classical conspiratorial narratives in one, affirming that immigration is being promoted by some actors as a means to alter the cultural essence of the West, and blaming Jewish capitalists for this. Once again George Soros is the biggest villain of all, and on this occasion Pope Francis and the Vatican are also included as part of this big plot.

No evidence is provided for any of these affirmations. You can see here more examples of the narrative of George Soros allegedly promoting massive immigration to Europe, and about a global Zionist conspiracy.

Keywords: Pope Francis, George Soros
Countries: The Vatican
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White Helmets linked to Al-Qaeda fake chemical attacks evidence
Additional details: There is a huge scam with the white helmets in Syria who are agents of Al-Qaeda. We know they are Al-Qaeda agents because, for example, their head was the famous mayor of Aleppo, who was not a mayor at all. He was the leader of a neighbourhood held by terrorists in Aleppo. We know that the White Helmets are a fake NGO. They staged the chemical attacks.  There were allegedly people hit by very dangerous chemical arms and the White Helmets came without any protection and they touched everything and were perfectly healthy.

The United States and the United Kingdom continued to support the White Helmets despite the fact that the illegal actions of this group were no longer a secret for anybody.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik French
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Disproof note:

No evidence given of White Helmets connection to Al-Qaeda.

Ever since the search-and-rescue organisation has been documenting some of the worst atrocities carried out by the Syrian government and the Russian military, Russian media have been trying to portray them as “terrorists”. This article debunks attempts to associate the White Helmets with chemical attacks in Idlib, a pro-Kremlin narrative which began to circulate in early 2018.

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the involvement of the White Helmets in planning chemical attacks in order to blame the Syrian government for such attacks.

Recurreing disinformation on staged chemical attacks evidence in Syria. The OPCW's final report on Douma's incident in 2018 does not leave any doubts on the detection of chlorine on Douma: "based on the levels of chlorinated organic derivatives, detected in several environmental samples gathered at the sites of alleged use of toxic chemicals, which are not naturally present in the environment, the FFM concludes that the objects from which the samples were taken at both locations had been in contact with one or more substances containing reactive chlorine" (page 3 of the report).

See more disinformation cases on White Helmets here.

Keywords: false flag, White Helmets, Chemical weapons/attack, Al-Qaeda, Syrian War, Bashar al-Assad
Countries: The West, US, Syria
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Western propaganda of feminine men is promoted in Belarus
Additional details: The West promotes an image of feminine men standing with a floor-cloth and doing laundry while strong women make money to support their families. This is the idea inflicted on Belarusian society by European values. Opposition media also promote the rights of sexual minorities and emigration as a way towards happy life. This propaganda destroys family as a social institution. To counteract it, Belarus needs to develop information security concept.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Vitbich
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Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on the propaganda of the morally corrupt West.

The EU and the UN advance gender equality as a fundamental human right. Gender equality is understood as promoting equal economic independence for women and men, closing the gender pay gap, advancing gender balance in decision making, ending gender based violence and promoting gender equality beyond the EU.

The publication does not give a factual proof that opposition media in Belarus promote the rights of sexual minorities and wrongly equates journalistic materials on migration trends published in Belarusian independent media with a promotion of emigration.

See earlier disinformation cases on feminism brought to destroy social values in Belarus and Russia.

 

Keywords: European values
Countries: The West, Belarus
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Crimea 2014 referendum was in accordance with Ukrainian Constitution
Additional details: After the 2014 coup d'état in Kyiv, new militaristic authorities posed direct threat to life and health of the Ukrainian citizens which pushed Crimean inhabitants to hold a referendum. The referendum was held in accordance with the Ukrainian constitution. Article 138 of Ukrainian Constitution directly gives the Autonomous Republic of Crimea the right to hold referendums. Furthermore, the principle of self-determination is endorsed in the Article 1 of the UN Charter. A big number of international acts and precedents prove that the population of Crimea had full moral and judicial right to pose the question and to make a decision.

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

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation on the referendum in Crimea. In fact, the 2014 Crimea referendum contradicted Ukrainian Constitution. On March 14, 2014 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared unconstitutional The Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea No. 1702-6/14 “On holding of the all-Crimean referendum” dated March 6, 2014.

The Judgement of the court says the following: "Any changes to the territory of Ukraine shall be resolved exclusively by the all-Ukrainian referendum (Article 73 of the Constitution of Ukraine). Authority to call the all-Ukrainian referendum on issues indicated in said Article of the Constitution of Ukraine belongs to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (paragraph 2 of part 1 of Article 85 of the Fundamental Law of Ukraine)".

As for the Article 138 of the Constitution of Ukraine, its interpretation in the Court's judgement is the following: "According to the Constitution of Ukraine it is under the authority of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to organize and hold of local referendums (paragraph 2 of Article 138) in the manner determined by the law of Ukraine (paragraph 20 of par one of Article 92). Regulatory legal acts of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and decisions of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea shall not contradict the Constitution and laws of Ukraine and shall be adopted in accordance with and in pursuance of the Constitution of Ukraine, laws of Ukraine, acts of the President of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (part 2 of Article 135 of the Fundamental Law of Ukraine)."

No evidence has been presented that the post-Yanukovych authorities posed a direct threat to lives and health of the Crimean peninsula inhabitants as alleged.

The European Union does not recognise and continues to strongly condemn this violation of international law, which remains a challenge to the international security order. This position is based on the UN Charter, which clearly states that the territory of a State cannot be acquired by another State resulting from the threat or use of force, as well as on the Helsinki Final Act in which the signatories declared their intention to respect the inviolability of frontiers and territorial integrity.

Keywords: Manipulated elections/referendum, Referendum
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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Georgia: Draft Child's Right Code To Ban Religious Upbringing
Additional details: The draft Code on Rights of the Child, proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream party in Parliament, underscores that “information intended to encourage discrimination” poses threat to children. It is important to understand that in principle, any religious teaching according to which a behaviour or state of any kind, say, homosexuality, is considered a perversion or a gravely immoral condition, can be viewed as information encouraging discrimination.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Alt-Info
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A manipulative statement, without foundation in the draft code. The draft code does not indicate how parents should raise their children. Article 16 of the draft code explicitly states that children enjoy “freedoms of belief, religious practice, and conscience,” while parents have the right to “raise their children in accordance with their moral and religious views.”

Article 3 of the draft code provides definitions of terms used throughout the text. Clause O: “Information posing threat to children: Information intended to encourage violence, crime, discrimination. Also, information which propagandises use of alcoholic drinks, tobacco, narcotics, and gambling, or which describes in detail violence, killing, and brutal treatment scenes, or which portrays vigilantism as a justified way to attain or restore fairness or justice.”

Background:

Children's rights and adoption of regulations in the West that aim to cause rifts within the traditional family or place an undue emphasis on sex education are recurring topics or pro-Russian and nationalist media. See EUvsDisinfo's log of Georgia-related disinfo log of similar reports here.

The Code on the Rights of the Children’s Rights has become a target of a disinformation campaign, of which some Russia-affiliated groups take advantage to promote their political interests. Mythdetector has reported disinformation about this code earlier:

Myths by Georgia and World about Children’s Code and Juvenile Justice

5 Myths about the Code on Rights of the Child

On 3 March, Davit Lortkipanidze, director of the Primakov Centre for Georgian-Russian Relations, and Levan Chachua, leader of the right-wing Georgian Idea party, held a rally in front of the UN office in Tbilisi, demanding revocation of the code from Parliament.

Keywords: children, education, LGBT
Countries: Georgia
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The Kerch straits were Russian territorial waters already before the reunification of Crimea with Russia
Additional details: On the 25th of November 2018 three Ukrainian military ships violated Russian territorial waters. These waters were Russian even before the reunification of Crimea with Russia. During the incident in the Kerch Strait Russian border guards reacted according to the rules of international law.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Italia
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Ukraine violating Russian territorial integrity in the Kerch Strait in Azov.

The situation in the Sea of Azov was addressed by the 2003 bilateral agreement between Ukraine and Russia, which defined these territories as internal waters of the two states and gives both parties the power to inspect suspicious vessels; whereas both the 2003 agreement and UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provide for the freedom of navigation.

Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, but the bilateral agreement on the Sea of Azov remains in power. Read more here.

 

Keywords: Azov sea, Kerch, Provocation, Crimea
Countries: Russia, Ukraine
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European elites deliberately spread unfounded fears of alleged Russian interference in upcoming May European elections
Additional details: European elites are making alarmist statements about the dangers of “Russian meddling” in the May elections  in order to pursue two objectives: 1) to encourage greater public interest in these elections and thus to get more pro-European voters to turn out (given that Eurosceptic voters are much more active than pro-European ones); 2) to be able to pin the blame on Russia in case European elites fail in the May elections and Eurosceptic parties significantly increase their influence in the European Parliament.

Senior EU officials, mainstream European journalists and political analysts are now deliberately spreading fake news and unfounded fears about an alleged Russian interference in the upcoming May European elections. No evidence was ever provided to support the claim that Russia influenced the 2016 Brexit referendum.

 

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

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that allegations of Russian interference in electoral processes in the EU and in the West are spread by European elites in order to divert attention from the real problems of  EU countries.

Disinformation produced and/or spread by Russian sources has been reported in the context of several elections and referenda in the EU, as noted in the EU's action plan against disinformation.
Ahead of the elections, Microsoft registered cyberattacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organizations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and that are often in contact with government officials. Microsoft continues to investigate the sources of these attacks, but is confident that many of them originated from a group called Strontium, also known as APT 28 or Fancy Bear – which is believed to be associated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. Read more here.

Numerous investigations have provided convincing evidence of  Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and in elections across Europe and in the US - see more information here, here and here.

See here for the list of the reports on Russian efforts to influence elections in various European countries.

 

 

Keywords: EU elections 2019, election meddling, Brexit
Countries: UK, Russia, EU
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The EU wants to take over fuel resources in Northern Cyprus
Additional details: The EU is attempting to gain control over fuel resources in the Mediterranean via the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). An informal meeting between the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Mustafa Akinci and South Cyprus leader Nikos Anastasiadis will take place to discuss the accession of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus by the EU. According to this plan, Turkey would cease to act as guarantor of the TRNC and would remove its troops from there. In consequence, the Cyprus Federation would be established and the Turkish part of Cyprus would also be accepted to the EU.

The aim of this plan is to completely eliminate Northern Cyprus, to get rid of Turkey from there and to enable the delivery of all gas and oil supplies around Cyprus to Europe via Greece.
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Disinforming outlet(s): Sputnik Azerbaijan
Reported by:
Disproof note:

Conspiracy theory. No evidence provided.

The status of Northern Cyprus as a separate political entity is recognised only by Turkey and Turkey alone. The European Union strongly supports the negotiations on a settlement for Cyprus.

A meeting between the two leaders, Anastasiadis and Akinci, took place on 26 February 2019. It was not part of any negotiations, but rather an informal meeting “where the two, the president together with the Turkish Cypriot leader, will have the chance to discuss all issues that concern them, in a bid to facilitate efforts to formulate the terms of reference.”  The leaders agreed on a series of confidence-building measures (CBMs) but no announcements had been made as regards next steps concerning the negotiations process. Conditions aren't yet ready for a resumption of formal talks to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus because both sides remain apart on key issues regarding power sharing and security arrangements, Nicos Anastasiades, the island nation's president said in the last meeting of leaders. Moreover, Turkey's president says a full withdrawal of its forces from divided Cyprus is "out of the question" unless Greece also agrees to pull out troops.

The European Union strongly supports the negotiations on a settlement for Cyprus and will keep doing so in this crucial phase. The EU, a strong supporter of the UN-facilitated settlement talks, is present as an observer at the Conference with a team that will stay during the entire session of the Conference, providing the expertise of all EU institutions and services.

In 2013, Cyprus had natural gas reserves of 4.54 trillion cubic feet (tcf). According to 2018 news, natural gas reserves in Cyprus could exceed 6 to 8 tcf.

Keywords: Europe
Countries: Turkey
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