Disinformation Review: Week Ten

Disinformation Review: Week Ten

Dear colleagues,

Many thanks for all your reports. Once again, their summary shows important trends in the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign in Europe and beyond.

For this week's trend, we have chosen the use of foreign media

Due to their own low credibility, pro-Kremlin outlets often choose to report stories from "the West" (a similar strategy was employed by the Kremlin during the Soviet period). However, the reported stories are usually fakes and misrepresentations of the "genuine" reporting of these media.

We saw TASS agency reporting a story supposedly from the UK Daily Telegraph, claiming that Ukraine concealed radar information after the MH17 crash (http://bit.ly/1OAfhls); numerous media covered this. In fact, the newspaper was the Dutch De Telegraaf (http://bit.ly/1IQQQQ6), and it said that neither Russia, nor Ukraine provided radar information.

A scandalous story was supposedly broken by the BBC at the beginning of the New Year - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko had to be hospitalised, as he was found heavily drunk and unconscious under the Christmas tree. In fact, there was no story like that either on the BBC, or anywhere else apart from pro-Kremlin media (http://bit.ly/1Rw7GH3).

Another scandalous story by a respectable Western media outlet: Deutsche Welle supposedly reported that Angela Merkel insulted the Ukrainian leaders. Again, this is not true (http://bit.ly/1OJOpzr). Mrs Merkel was also targeted by some media in Hungary which claimed that she did not condemn the harassment attacks in Germany (bit.ly/1Zascfg). Of course, she did.

And finally, a Guardian columnist wrote that Barack Obama's tears cannot be trusted in any way - at least according to Russian Ministry of Defense's TV channel Zvezda (bit.ly/1PSBjRa). In reality, Michael Simkins wrote exactly the opposite (bit.ly/1kLW3Nr).

In contrast to using Western media as a credible source that should invoke trust, several articles claimed directly the contrary - you cannot trust the mainstream media, as they do not report the things that matter, e.g. about violent incidents in Brussels that occurred over the New Year. The fact is, the mainstream media did report this incident, and did so before the so-called alternative, in fact pro-Kremlin, media did.

Preserve the information space: Recycle your disinformation!

On several occasions, we saw that a common strategy of the disinforming outlets is to repeat the same story, no matter how many times it has been refuted already. According to this strategy, the fake claim of Polish President Andrzej Duda insisting on Ukraine returning the former Polish territory was recycled: bit.ly/1kOFlx0. Last time we saw it was in the Autumn 2015.

And in many articles and videos (including ones made by the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies - founded by the Russian President) we have seen recycling of older disinformation pieces - about illegitimate and/or fascist government/junta in Kyiv; about a "coup" backed by Western forces; ISIS fighters joining Ukrainian forces, etc.

In order to discredit Ukraine and Ukrainian authorities, the pro-Kremlin media invented not only a drunk President, but in the Disinformation Review you will also see multiple stories about gangs of drunken Ukrainian soldiers firing shots among peaceful citizens; and drunken American soldiers.

To end on a positive note - in one case the pro-Kremlin media quoted the Western sources accurately. Czech portals referred to a story from August last year, when Edward Snowden claimed that Osama bin Ladin is alive and well, living in the Bahamas and sponsored by the CIA: http://bit.ly/1PQXqFG. Apparently, they overlooked that the site World News Daily Report openly claims that its articles are satirical and fictional: http://bit.ly/1OcCtES.

For contributions, please e-mail jakub.kalensky@eeas.europa.eu

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Thank you very much once again, and we are looking forward to your new reports,

East StratCom
Follow us on Twitter @EUvsDisinfo

The Disinformation Review is a compilation of reports received from members of the mythbusting network. The mythbusting network comprises of over 450 experts, journalists, officials, NGOs and Think Tanks in over 30 countries. Please note that opinions and judgements expressed here do not represent official EU positions.

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