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Interpreting fascism – Disinformation Review

13 July 2017


Interpreting fascism

If you look up fascism [fash-iz-uh m] in a dictionary, you will find “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism”.

This week, we saw alternative interpretations of the word, as German democracy was called into question with accusations of fascism coming from the initiative for founding the German Pro Putin party. And we saw Angela Merkel’s democratic credentials questioned as she was accused of being a dictator. Estonia was also accused of being a fascist state, along with being blamed for Russophobia. Last time we checked, both Estonia and Germany were doing pretty good on democracy rankings.

Accusations towards Europe did not stop there. We also learned from a Czech outlet that the EU threatens its member states with violence should the countries refuse to abide by the policies decided in Brussels.  There are several curiosities with this disinformation.
First of all, as the EU is made up of its member states, the policies are in fact decided by the member states together with the European Parliament which gathers democratically elected representatives of all 28 member states. Secondly, as the EU does not have any security forces of its own  – who would enforce the alleged violence? EU bureaucrats perhaps? Europe was also accused of trying to destroy Russia through participating in a global war against it, a disinformation we have heard many times before but for which we have never seen any evidence.

Everyone is a terrorist

We saw some watering down of the terrorism concept in pro-Kremlin disinformation this week, as virtually everyone seems to be a terrorist. A Ukrainian major was accused of planning a terrorist attack at the G20 meeting last week – not by any law enforcement officials of course, but by pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets.

Ukraine was accused of training future terrorists and according to similar misinforming outlets, the US is soon to launch a new terrorist group in the Middle East, as they supposedly did with ISIS. There is no mention of the fact that the US is part of the coalition that fights ISIS.

Oh, and the West is apparently currently designing the “script” for the next chemical attack that will be ascribed to Assad, if you believe pro-Kremlin outlets.To inoculate you against that, we recommend that you take a look at previous disinformation concerning Syria hereand here. For further reading on how pro-Kremlin disinformation abuses the tragedy of real terror attacks see this.

The claim that Ukraine are training terrorists was emphasized by a manipulated image, where the text that appear on the flag used by ISIS was put on the Ukrainian flag.
Click here for the FULL TABLE of recent stories repeating disinformation (.pdf).


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Too good to be true?

People can become so obsessed with spreading disinformation that they will share faked material that wasn’t even intended to be taken seriously. This is what happened last week to a number of pro-Kremlin propagandists when they became so fascinated with a photo claimed to be documenting the G20 meeting in Hamburg that they forgot to ask themselves if this was too good to be true.And too good to be true it was. If you compare the image above with the original image below, you will perhaps appreciate the temptation it must have been for pro-Kremlin propagandists to share the photoshopped version with President Putin as the man in the middle. Among those who shared it was talk show host Vladimir Soloviev, whose show is among the most notorious for spreading disinformation on Russian national TV. On the one hand, it is, of course, human to err, but it’s not that there weren’t any warning signs: The Russian national St. George’s ribbon put on Chancellor Merkel indicates that the authors of the original photoshopped image probably had no intention of claiming that the image was authentic. Mr. Soloviev was sufficiently embarrassed to delete his tweet with the image, as reported by Meduza.

Normally we use the word misinformation when people unintentionally share misleading material and disinformation when they do it intentionally. But we feel that we now lack a word for the cases when your wish to support a certain political narrative makes you completely lose your sense of humor.

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Every Thursday, the Disinformation Review brings you the latest cases of news articles carrying key examples of how pro-Kremlin disinformation finds its way in international media, as well as news and analysis on the topic. The review focuses on key messages carried in international media which have been identified as providing a partial, distorted or false view or interpretation and/or spreading key pro-Kremlin messaging. It does not necessarily imply however that the outlet concerned is linked to the Kremlin or that it is pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. The Review is a compilation of cases from the East Stratcom Task Force’s wide network of contributors and therefore cannot be considered an official EU position. Likewise, the news articles are based on the analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force, so information and opinions expressed there cannot be considered an official EU position. Any errors or misrepresentations should be reported to the East Stratcom Task Force for correction at disinforeview@euvsdisinfo.eu.
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