Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Disinformation is attractive for millions in Central and Eastern Europe

In the years I have been interacting with people from all over the world in regards to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Donbass, I have often met people from this part of the world. 

Many of the people of Central and Eastern European Countries cite Kremlin statistics as if their lives depended on it. Their grasp of Putin’s reality defied my belief. Their absolute and utter rejection of mainstream media, of Western sources of information, for the West itself, defied the truth and reality I saw with my own eyes and experienced on a daily basis.  Many if not most were Russian trolls, plain and simple, saying they lived here or there.  But Russian trolls were not interviewed for this poll.  

The people who were interviewed lived in Poland, Croatia, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria.  I happen to know people in most of these countries, and they all seem to be intelligent, pro-Western and can discern propaganda and lies from the truth.  

The report does not tell how respondents were selected, that would be an interesting study by itself. 

Good report but I have more questions than answers now…

</end editorial>

2017/06/06 – 22:24

By EU East StratCom Task Force

The Slovak institute GLOBSEC and its partners have conducted an interesting opinion poll in seven Central and Eastern European Countries. One of the questions focused on the acceptance of news outlets oriented towards spreading disinformation.

“Almost 10% of people in Central and Eastern Europe trust online disinformation outlets as relevant sources of information on world affairs,” the authors say. The highest percentage was found in Romania (37%), followed by Slovakia (12%), Poland and the Czech Republic (both 9%).

Image: snapshot from the report
Image: snapshot from the report

Given that one of the aims of the pro-Kremlin disinformation is to sow confusion and mistrust of reliable sources of information (including solid media), the potential audience for the outlets serving the disinformation campaign is thus rather high.

Moreover, the apparently low percentage of people considering disinformation outlets as a credible source of information may be misleading. As similar polls have shown before, some people might not state they consider disinformation-oriented outlets trustworthy – yet when answering subsequent questions, it can turn out that they are in fact ready to accept the messages spread by these very outlets.

This fact was documented in an opinion poll conducted by Detektor Media in Ukraine. Although only 1.3% of Ukrainians said they believed Russian outlets, many more of them accepted the disinformation messages that were spread exclusively by Russian and pro-Russian channels. Some of the disinformation messages were accepted by more than one-third of the Ukrainian population.

In addition, the GLOBSEC poll also measured the attitude of local populations towards the EU, NATO and the liberal democratic order. See the full study.

EU East StratCom Task Force

About the Source

The EU’s East StratCom Task Force was set up by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini in 2015, in response to a request from all 28 EU Heads of Government to “address Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns”. It is a team of eleven communications and Russian language experts, who also seek to improve communication on EU policies towards the Eastern Neighbourhood and to strengthen media plurality in the region, especially in the Russian language.The Task Force’s flagship products are its weekly Disinformation Review of pro-Kremlin disinformation stories and its social media accounts @EUvsDisinfo and EU vs Disinformation.



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