dedo Vasiľ (ded_vasilij) wrote,
dedo Vasiľ

The Weekly Disinformation Digest

  • Analysis: "Honestly, this story changed something inside me"

  • Russian society: The Russian world is when..

  • News: Sputnik expanding

  • Analysis: Sputnik continues covering Turkey

  • Disinformation Review: Fake stories about the Vatican

  • Friday fun: Spot the danger for children

Honestly, this story changed something inside me

This Wednesday saw an interview with Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, in one of Russia’s most read weeklies, Argumenty i Fakty. She delivers a detailed explanation of a central Russian narrative: The EU has no independence in international politics, but is under total US control. Zakharova says: "The European Union has demonstrated an absolute lack of own voice; it has lost its own identity. I had a better opinion of European politics, believed that Europe was stronger.”
This week also saw the Russian public holiday, the “Defender of the Fatherland” day, when Russian soldiers and officers are celebrated. Zakharova intervened on her popular Facebook profile with a personal testimony about the day exactly three months earlier when a Russian military aircraft was shot down over Turkey:

”I remember the day very clearly. We were supposed to fly to Turkey. The news came when I was still at work. All the way to Vnukovo-2 [Airport], details started coming in - to believe what had happened was impossible […] Then there were several endless hours of waiting. Then there was what happened next: Instead of doing the only thing possible in this situation – to express words of regret and sympathy – Turkey convened a meeting of NATO […] With my mind I realize that hundreds of people die every day, including people who carry out their duties […] But this is a special story. Our guys were there not just for our sake; they were there for everyone’s sake.
Honestly, this story changed something inside me. Something that will always be a part of me now. Today, I not only congratulate everyone [on the occasion of the holiday] as much as I want to say thank you. Thank you!” This emotional and personal statement was followed by a poem written by Zakharova to honour the Russian servicemen who had lost their lives.
This sort of emotional communication and narrative language is not usual for diplomatic environments, including in Russia. Using emotional language and strong narratives secures the attention of an audience that is much broader than traditional readers of international affairs news. This communication can be seen as part of an overall trend to secure maximum involvement of the Russian public in the country's foreign policy. (Image: Maria Zakharova's Facebook profile).
The Russian world is when ... "you know exactly that Americans are stupid, the Chinese are poor, Europe is full of gay people, people from the Baltic countries are slow and Ukrainians will spend the winter freezing without gas," says this popular tweet in Russian.

Sputnik expanding

Sputnik, the outlet controlled by the Russian government, has recently launched a series of news sites. Its new Romanian-language service in Moldova was announcedwith the objective of showing "the relations between the states on both banks of the Prut River outside of existing stereotypes", as "there is a long overdue need for a new approach to be taken in covering Romanian-Moldovan relations that, unlike the media mainstream in Bucharest and Chisinau, would objectively reflect the current realities in both countries". Sputnik's new site in Tajikistan delivers a comprehensive range of multimedia content to "tell the untold" also in Central Asia. A new Sputnik site was also opened in Estonia this week. The Sputnik edition in Belarus is not new, on the other hand. As Belarussian paper Nasha Niva reports, a Russian ultra-nationalist group complained that Sputnik Belarus is not as as pro-Russian as it should be and rather belongs to the "other camp". Full details in this article.

Sputnik continues coverage of Turkey

Sputnik continues its intense coverage of Turkey-related matters. Last week's most popular story about Turkey comes with the headline: "NATO warns Turkey it won't support Ankara in conflict with Russia". It argues: "As Turkey pushes to deploy ground forces across its border to remove the legitimate government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Turkish government is, again, threatening the world with war," and goes on to quote sources included in an article in German weekly Der Spiegel. "European leaders have made it abundantly clear that they have no interest in participating in a war of Turkey’s making," Sputnik quotes Luxembourg Foreign Minister Asselborn.
The narrative about Turkish aggression continues in the comment "Turk tail wags US dog" where author Finian Cunningham describes "Erdogan and the house of Saud" as the "attack dogs" of a US-led "imperialist carve-up of the Middle East". Accordingly, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are pushing to engage US into wider war in Syria. The author continues: "It is a measure of how deranged these two clients are that they seem prepared to ignite a global war between the US and Russia in order to satisfy their lust". The article concludes with a familiar show of strongmanship: "Despite the grave risks, what seems clear though is that Syria, Russia and Iran must not let up on their determination to face down the regime-change gang. Washington may eventually restrain its clients. But that’s only because Russia has gone toe to toe and shown that it won’t back down."

Vatican conducts operations in Ukraine

We often find it hard to distinguish between disinformation intended to be taken seriously and the parodies of the disinformation campaigns. It does help to check the sources of information. After verification, we suspect that quotes like "The Vatican lobbies for sodomy and for reduction of birthrate" or "The Vatican organised the coup and the civil war in Ukraine" are most probably meant as serious information, despite their absurd content.

Both these claims come from Igor Druz, a member of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies – this body financed by the Kremlin has been repeatedly featured in the Digest, for instance here. A video about the Pope lobbying for more homosexuality in Europe has been posted while Druz' entry on the Novorossiya blog about Vatican cardinals organizing a Nazi coup in Ukraine and elsewhere is available here.

The Roman Pope was one of the most recurring targets of pro-Kremlin disinformation in February. In this video, you can also see how the Vatican has conducted a special operation in Ukraine. (Image: Novorossiya blog).

Friday Fun: Spot the danger for children

The YouTube channel of Poznavatelnoe TV has more than 250.000 subscribers and likes to spread conspiracy theories. In February, the channel published an 80-minute video about the 2015 animated fantasy film "Rise of the Guardians". Poznavatelnoe TV seeks to demonstrate that the motion picture is full of symbols referring to secret orders like the Freemasons, or the satanic number 6, and that its purpose is to teach kids whom to obey when they grow up. When we took a closer look, it turned out that the main characters of this motion picture are Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Spot the danger. (Image: YouTube)
DISCLAIMER: The Weekly Digest is based on the analysis of the EU East StratCom Task Force; opinions and judgements expressed do not represent official EU positions.
Tags: disinformation review
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