Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Disinformation playing on fears – Disinformation Review

7 December 2017


Disinformation playing on fears

Disguised as journalism, the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign can play on fears and concerns. This week, the spectre of mass migration totally changing the face and culture of Europe was a common thread, as outlets focused on the “threat of the migrant”.

“Europe will become Muslim” was the message spread across the Russian language disinformation outlets. “Islamization of Europe is inevitable”“Islamic Caliphate in Europe: Why Muslims will replace Christians in the EU”, the headlines ran.

The outlets refer to a Pew Research Centre analysis on Europe’s Muslim population.
The study indeed presents three scenarios on the growth of the Muslim population in Europe. Yet according to the highest scenario, 14 % of Europe’s population would be Muslim in 2050.  (For comparison: According to the latest 2002 census, 10% of Russia’s population is Muslims). So this is not the seismic European identity shift predicted in the outlets concerned.In fact the report does not mention “Islamization” of Europe at all, and the disinformation outlets don’t give answers about what that would even mean. The reader is only left with the feeling that Europe is under threat, and about to lose something that is precious for us today: our values, freedoms and in the end our identity.

This is a common pro-Kremlin disinformation thread. For background, read more about the purposes of the different pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives on migration.

Czech language disinformation outlets followed the same line. We heard that Sweden is almost in a war as immigrants and criminality have taken over – in a country which, by the way, ranked 5th in the Global Prosperity Index, 18th in the Global Peace Index and 10th in the World Happiness Report in 2017.

Sputnik in the Czech Republic reported that the EU requires 56 million Muslims “in its structures”, and that this is the reason why the Czech government cannot invest in protecting Czech borders. See the debunk for this theory here.

A screenshot from a disinformation documentary. The text says “The Red Army liberates the working people of Finland”. 

Renaissance of the Soviet ghosts

Pro-Kremlin disinformation also prepared a gift to mark the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence on December 6 and for the historical date of the start of the Winter War on 30 November 1939.

On November 23, TV channel Sankt-Peterburg broadcasted a 26 minute long “documentary”, a replay from last year, about the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in 1939-1940.  Newspaper Ilta-Sanomat debunked ten lies that the documentary included, among them some ghosts from Soviet propaganda like “Finland attacked the Soviet Union first” and “neither the USSR nor Russia have never started any wars”. Even the current school books in Russia mention that it was the Soviet Union that started the Winter War.

Familiar disinforming links to today’s policies are also provided: Sovereign states, Finland in 1939 and – no surprise – finally present day Ukraine, are all compared and described as “Russia’s territory”.

For a detailed debunk of this serial disinformation, see here.

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


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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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