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The Year in Graves

February 23, 2023

The Kremlin’s disinformation and manipulation machine keeps churning out lies resulting in newly dug graves and immeasurable human suffering.

Tomorrow marks one year since the Russian all-out invasion of Ukraine. The pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign premediated the bloody trail of atrocities and unimaginable and immeasurable human suffering caused by the invading forces. As we reported then, the constant stream of lies emanating from the Kremlin continues unabated today.

With a toxic cocktail of clean-cut lies, spread fabrications, twisted historical accounts, and amplified perspectives useful to their goals, the Kremlin’s ecosystem of lies and manipulations continues to poison minds both near and far.

This toxic cocktail triggers and justifies some to conduct the atrocities we have witnessed; while at the same time successfully preventing others from taking action due to confusion.

The EU in the Kremlin’s crosshairs

The pro-Kremlin disinformation and information manipulation machine continues targeting the EU’s leading figures. This time, the pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem twisted EU High Representative Josep Borrell’s statement at the Munich Security Conference.

The intentional misrepresentation of the HRVP’s statement, which attempted to depict EU and other Western allies as being in direct conflict with Russia, made the rounds in the pro-Kremlin ecosystem including official diplomatic channels, news outlets, and popular Telegram channels. Circulation was not restricted to the Russian language – the deceptive translation was available also in Italian, Spanish, and Bulgarian.

These latest false narratives follow the earlier pro-Kremlin claims that the EU allegedly plans to restrict freedom of speech. These Kremlin manipulations took place after HRVP Borrell presented the EEAS report on Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference (FIMI) threats back on 7 February.

Based on feral reactions across the Kremlin’s information manipulation ecosystem, it is clear that HRVP Borrell’s remarks and the EEAS report hit their target. It is well beyond ironic and simply cynical when Russia, being one of the worst performers in the World Press Freedom Index and a borderline deadly environment for independent media and journalists, attempts to frame justified actions against its propaganda outlets as acts against freedom of expression.

Nothingburger that was fed to the Federal Assembly

Despite some in his audience being in a dire need of a rude awakening, Putin’s latest ramblings failed to deliver it.

Instead, he delivered yet another attempt to justify Russia’s war against Ukraine with absurd and arrogant claims, despite being proven wrong countless times. Putin’s remarks clearly demonstrated his violent attempt to rewrite history and the imperialist nature of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin’s unimaginative, lie-filled address to the Federal Assembly stands as a near-picture-perfect analogy to the Russia he rules, that the choreographed rounds of unenthusiastic ovations just manage to underline.

Haunted by a glorious past that never was, paranoid of surrounding enemies that do not exist, embittered by betrayals that never happened, and emboldened by hubris of strength and imperial reach that stands as a shattered illusion. Entangled in the web of lies of its own making and unable to face the truth, repent, and change.

In other disinformation news this week:

  • The West wants to drag Belarus into the war. None of Belarus’s neighbours harbours aggressive plans towards Belarus except Russia. Hostile narratives such as the one presented here serve a number of purposes. First of all, they attempt to falsely portray Western nations as aggressive and seeking further escalation. Secondly, they try to justify the on-going framing positing war with the ‘aggressive West’. Lastly, and most worrisomely, they prepare ground in people’s minds for the future, where Belarus would take more active role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • The 1968 Prague Spring was orchestrated and not a democratic movement. In order to control the current moment, and more importantly the future, Kremlin propagandists relentlessly attack and twist history. The politicisation of history, attempting to bend factual history to support the whims and plots of current rulers – in other words, historical revisionism – is one of the go-to tools of the Kremlin, as we have written before. In this case, Kremlin propagandists distort the history of the Prague Spring in an attempt to whitewash the crimes of the Soviet Union and to frame the West as an historical enemy in an effort to justify current-day Kremlin aggression.