Uniting the far-left and the far-right

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Last October, we have shown you how the pro-Kremlin disinformation army exploits narratives both from the left and right edges of the political spectrum. Paraphrasing the words of Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin – in serving Kremlin’s interests, it is more important what you are against, rather than what you are for. The latest investigation by the Hungarian site index.hu shows how this strategy works in real life.

The authors have analysed “the best known Russian propaganda pages of Facebook” in Hungarian and spoken to some of the ever-changing editors. The page used to be called “We stand with Russia” and appears to regularly change its name. Among the editors of the Facebook page one can find a communist, a Russian convicted of vandalism, a neo-Nazi, a radical nationalist and monarchist, and a former diplomat. The oldest of the editors is an” old-school communist who interprets 1989 and the ‘betrayal’ committed by those around him as a tragedy” while other editors are in their twenties. They insist that the page has no link to Russian media or diplomats and that they receive no reward from Russia.

The article says: “From the very beginning it was obvious that the ideological roots of pro-Russian individuals supporting the occupation of Crimea and then the Russian intervention in Syria reach both the far-right and the far-left, the common point being their anti-West views.” In practice that led to regular quarrels among the editorial team and constant turnover in the team. The authors comment: “The fact that ideological conflicts stir up confusion in the system is not averse to the desires of the Kremlin. Contemporary Russian propaganda has no ideology and neither does Russia.”

The narratives on Facebook sites like this one are already familiar to readers of the Disinformation Review – supporting the occupation of Crimea and Russian aggression in Donbass, supporting the Russian intervention in Syria, strong messages against the EU, against NATO, exploiting anti-migrant narratives, blaming the interchangeable “culprits” EU / NATO / the West / the US.

Apart from promoting pro-Kremlin narratives, in some cases the link to Russia is even more obvious. The well-known disinformation-oriented outlet Hidfö.ru (although the content is in Hungarian, it is now run from a Russian domain) was established by the Hungarian National Front. Members of this organization, including István Györkös, who killed a Hungarian police officer last year, had ties with Russian military intelligence. As Index.hu reminds us, Facebook pages are obviously not the only tool for spreading pro-Kremlin disinformation in Hungary. As a study from last April revealed, more than ninety websites and blogs that “fit into the concept of Russian information war” operate in Hungary.

Read the whole investigation by András Dezsö and Szabolcs Panyi (in English).

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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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