Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Back to basics – Disinformation Review

7 September 2017
Welcome back! Some of you were wondering about our longer summer break. No worries, the East StratCom was not idle, we were preparing a brand new website for you. You will notice the new design. You will see the new interactive features. You will see that the database of 3,000+ disinformation cases is now searchable and more clear. And there is more – we will be presenting to you the new features in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned to Twitter
and Facebook!


Back to basics

After a summer break from reporting on disinformation we are now back in business, and so are many of the regular disinformation mouthpieces.

The overwhelming majority of disinformation we have seen over the last two weeks is focused on that perennial target: Ukraine. We have seen several of the usual narratives: “Ukraine is not a state”“Ukraine is abandoned by Europe”“there is no Ukrainian independence”. But the most repeated piece of disinformation was the old favourite linking Nazis and Ukraine. So, the country was accused of being a neo-Nazi monster created by the West, as well as being occupied by Nazis who follow in the footsteps of Goebbels. There was no specific mention of the actual occupation of parts of Ukraine (see page 35).

German Foreign Minister Gabriel was also targeted by disinformation outlets, as he congratulated Ukraine on its independence day by using the words “Slava Ukraini” – meaning “Glory to Ukraine” – on Twitter. These words were quickly reported as a supposedly “well-known” Nazi slogan from the Second World War, in another case of inventive historical revisionism. In fact, the term Slava Ukraini has been used at least since 1919, and it became popular again in Ukraine after the 2013-2014 Maidan protests.

Ukraine was also presented as a victim of the “Evil West” in some outlets – another recurring disinformation theme. As we described thoroughly earlier this week, the infamous hacker group CyberBerkut (see page 39) claimed to have proof that Ukraine is merely a testing ground for secret US experiments. Of course, there was no proof presented of these alleged biological testing sites, a claim that we have seen several times before e.g here; and here.

Earlier this summer, the same story popped up in Armenia – as described in this report by the Union of Informed Citizens NGO. In a similar story, a Czech outlet claimed that an outbreak of measles in Ukraine was caused by US labs producing biological weapons.

Manipulation as a method

Both Georgian and Russian outlets published a supposed scoop this week – that the former chief of British intelligence service MI6 disclosed Western plans for Russia’s fragmentation in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

This was manipulation, indeed. Not the plan referred to, revealed in an interview which in fact never happened and was never published by the Guardian. But the manipulation of using a stooge website to trick us into thinking that we were reading a genuine Guardian article. It is a trick we have written about before here and here, and it can be a very effective way of spreading disinformation, since it is more likely to get picked up by real media if it parades as real media.

This time, the damage seemed relatively easily averted, since the Guardian quickly debunked the story. And yet, a full five (!) days later, the fake article still made its way to Russian state TV. It was Vladimir Solovyov, the host of one of Russia’s most popular political talk shows, who referred to the article, claiming: “some say it’s true, some say it’s not”. In a classic method of pro-Kremlin disinformation, he later suggested that it was almost impossible to know what the truth is nowadays.

But it’s not. You just have to look at the facts – and want to.

Click here for the FULL COLLECTION of recent stories repeating disinformation.


Initiatives to counter disinformation spring up in the Russian language

During the summer, we saw some new initiatives aimed at countering pro-Kremlin disinformation in Europe.

Read more

Armenian NGO traces back the authors of disinfo of making biological weapons in Armenia and their funding

As we have pointed out on many occasions, the pro-Kremlin outlets love conspiracies. And the more shocking these conspiracies are, the better they serve the purposes of the disinformation campaign.

Read more

Denmark and Sweden: “Russian fake news is a danger to our countries”

Denmark and Sweden will cooperate in the field of hybrid threats, and there will be a strong focus on the problem with fake news and disinformation.

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“Russia’s bunker busters will reach Finns underground” – how to ridicule and threaten at once

When the respected Wall Street Journal publishes an article “Beneath Helsinki, Finns prepare for Russian Threat”, there are several ways media can react. And it is quite telling to observe the difference between mainstream journalists and pro-Kremlin outlets.

Read more

Fake news, criticism and censorship

Speaking at the third Russia-China media forum in Moscow recently, Sputnik and RT’s Editor in Chief proposed that Russian and Chinese media should work together to tackle “fake news”.

Read more

Denmark to educate soldiers in combatting disinformation

Training in how to combat pro-Kremlin disinformation is a “top priority” for the 200 Danish soldiers who will be deployed to Estonia as a part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

Read more


We’re back with a video!

Three things you should know about RT and Sputnik
In 2016, the post you like the most was the Disinformation Recipes video. 2017 has not ended yet, but it looks like your most favourite post is our fresh video: Three things you should know about RT and Sputnik. Next week, we will also publish a more detailed article on this. Stay tuned!
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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
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