Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

26 April 2018 Disinformation Review


The EU’s excellent weekly Disinformation Review has a laser focus on Russian disinformation and is exposing the Russian information warfare program for what they are. As a result, the UK is reviewing RT’s license to broadcast as it does not meet their standards to qualify as journalism. If Russia protests, it only has itself and it’s hyperactive and hyperaggressive disinformation program to blame.

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26 April 2018

*TRENDS OF THE WEEK*

A Movie as “New Evidence on Fake Chemical Attack” – Again

A little girl in turquoise t-shirt and pants, a boy and an older man are lying on a vehicle. Their bodies look dead, but at the same time a neat and clean film crew with cameras is surrounding them. What is happening there?

The true sad story behind these images – and the people depicted – is that they were falsely presented on Russian state-controlled TV as “new evidence of a fake chemical attack” on April 7 in Douma, Syria. “The Western politicians and the media are ignoring the obvious evidence that there was no chemical attack in Douma”, the presenter tells when the images are shown on Pervyi Kanal.

In fact, the images were published already in 2016, as independent Russian media The Insider and TV Dozhd, quickly noticed. They tell the behind-the-scenes story of a Syrian-born director, who was shooting a film to attract international attention to the victims of the 2013 sarin gas attack.

Well-prepared disinformation operation

Only a week earlier, Russian state TV got caught out for repeatedly recycling images from another movie, Revolution Man, naturally as a “proof of the White Helmets faking pictures”. The same disinformation was first published by Russian Defence Ministry TV channel Zvezda already in March, a month before the attack.

When reports of the Douma chemical attack first appeared, the pro-Kremlin disinformation machine was well-prepared. It had discredited the volunteer and rescue group White Helmets since 2015, but the attempts accelerated after the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack last year. And it didn’t stop when the UN war crimes investigators concluded that the attack was carried out by the Syrian regime. Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry againfalsely referred to White Helmets “manipulation using children in staging an alleged chemical attack in Khan-Sheikhoun”.

Beefing up the flow of disinformation

When the aim is not to inform but to disinform the audience, getting caught lying does not actually harm achieving these goals. The priority is to beef up the disinformation narrative with a flood of new stories. The same purpose was served with a variation of false messages like “Western methods in Syria now are like Nazi propaganda in 1939” or that “the West destabilises Armenia to weaken Russia in Syria”.

A lower-level disinformation activity was reported regarding the civil protests in Armenia. Disinformation outlets repeated the expected false message of a “Maidan scenario: West behind the Armenian protests” But this time the coverage on main Russian TV channels followed carefully the position of Russia’s foreign ministry and rejected these parallels.

Coda story interviewed the Lugar laboratory director.
In neighbouring Georgia, we saw a new wave of old disinformation spread about biological weapons being developed by the US in the region. The Russian Foreign Ministry drew a link to the Salisbury attack and the disinformation was repeated in the Georgian language.

Another line was that people living close to the so called Lugar laboratory are like “patients of Mengele”: they did not guess the threat but later understood that they were placed in death camps. For facts to clear your mind from years-old disinformation see here.

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

*LATEST ANALYSES*

RT could lose its UK broadcast license

Ofcom’s criticism of RT ultimately raises the question whether RT’s output can qualify as journalism.

Read more

Figure of the Week: 51

Sputnik wants Moldovans to believe they are turning up their noses at EU citizenship, and it’s distorting statistics to push this falsehood.

Read more

The Week in Russian Media: Threats of Annihilation

Last week, there were several threats of annihilation in Russian pro-Kremlin outlets. But this is not the first time that threats are aired on Russian state TV.

Read more

*LAST, BUT NOT LEAST*

NTV Goes to Denmark: a Story about Backfire

Things did not work out quite as planned when NTV’s story, like a boomerang, reached Danish audiences.

Read more
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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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