dedo Vasiľ (ded_vasilij) wrote,
dedo Vasiľ

Lost in translation - Disinformation Digest

EU East StratCom Task Force

  • Analysis: The five principles

  • Analysis: Sputnik vanished from the Nordic countries

  • Analysis: Lost in translation

  • Infographic: EU response to illegal annexation of Crimea

  • Video: EU and Moldova meet to discuss reforms

  • Friday fun: Sausages out!

The five principles

Russian media gave wide coverage to the outcome of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, where Russia was on the agenda, focusing on the ”five guiding principles of the European Union's policy towards Russia” set out by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini. The East Stratcom Task Force also made the five principles available in Russian on the EEAS Russian website.

Politically neutral RBC stresses the fact that the principles were ”unanimously agreed” by all 28 EU foreign ministers, while RIA Novosti, owned by the Russian government,emphasized the positive message of potential “selective engagement” with Russia, underlining that “the EU is interested in cooperation with Russia in the areas of migration and countering terrorism.”

In politically neutral Nezavisimaya Gazeta, political scientist Nadezhda Arbatova analysesthe EU's messages under the headline ”Five Principles for EU-Russia relations: tactics instead of strategy.” She says that the principles "can hardly be called a strategy because at the core of any strategy is its final aim. These principles leave [the aim] of out of the equation; so it is rather a set of rules that will guide the European Union in its relations with Russia." The author underlines that the most important is the first principle, namely ”the full implementation of the Minsk agreements,” and finally calls for the Russian government to react ”with its own positive agenda vis-a-vis the European Union.”
Pro-Kremlin and right-leaning Izvestiya reacts negatively under the headline ”EU’s five principles of inactivity.” However, author Yuriy Zolobozov also hopes to see a constructive Russian answer: ”Today Moscow can finally become convinced that it should not [… ] expect any favours from Brussels. We should offer our own concept of equal relations with the EU as a new format of values ​​and civilizational alliance across continental Eurasia.”

Right-wing nationalist Alexandr Dugin summed up his analysis in a tweet: “Couldn’t be worse: EU declares five principles of hybrid war against Russia”, while pro-Kremlin political commentator Artyom Klyushin communicated his own, ironic version of the EU's ”five principles” to his 1,5 million followers on Twitter: ”Negation. Anger. Bargain. Depression. Acceptance.”

Across the board, and in spite of predictable ironic negativity, we see opinion formers share a wish for a strategic answer from the Kremlin.

Sputnik vanished from the Nordic countries

We have learned from Anke Schmidt-Felzmann of the Swedish Institute of International Affairs that Sputnik Sverige, Sputnik Danmark, Sputnik Norge and Sputnik Suomi have left the Nordic market as of 11 March 2016. Observers have speculated about whether the Kremlin has given up on the Nordic countries or if the withdrawal is due to the Russian economic situation.

Anke Schmidt-Felzmann's analysis of its reach and impact shows that Sputnik did very poorly in all four target countries. It performed best in Finland and Sweden, and worst in Denmark and Norway. On social media, none of the four Sputnik services gathered more than 350 followers (on Twitter) and never reached even 1,800 “likes” (on Facebook). Sputnik Norge barely collected 115 Twitter followers and in Denmark, Sputnik had only 515 “likes” on its Facebook page as it announced its exit on 4 March.

A few reasons for Sputnik’s failure on the Nordic market that Anke Schmidt-Felzmann cites are: its poor command of the Nordic languages, an ingrained scepticism in the target countries against Russian propaganda tools and a rejection of media outlets that rely on conspiracy theories and attacks on European values. Sputnik also failed to promote a better understanding of Russia in the Nordic countries.

Lost in translation

On Wednesday, independent Russian online news outlet Meduza published an analysis of the way disinformation finds its way into pro-Kremlin media through selective translations of foreign sources. In the analysis, Meduza shows how statements by Western leaders and experts are tweaked by pro-Kremlin media to lay the ground for misleading headlines, such as: "Obama disappointed with CBS journalist's words about Putin's leadership;" "US Vice President names Ukraine the most corrupt country in the world;" "Soros admits that without the help of Russia, the European Union will collapse;" "Cameron forced to excuse statement about the crash of MH17;" and finally, "The US fears the success of Russian TV channels."
Just like in the EEAS' Disinformation Review, Meduza's article presents disproof of the misleading translations in the form of accurate translations of the statements. For example, in the story about the alleged success of Russian TV Channels, pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestiya had removed a central part of the quote from the expert, namely the claim that pro-Kremlin media lie - in the original statement, it was these lies that were the kind of "success" which would give Western governments reasons for concern.
To mark the second anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea, the East StratCom Task Force produced an infographic outlining the EU's sanctions in reponse to the violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity. Feel free to share the image, which will be made available today on the Facebook page of the European External Action Service.
As the EU and the Republic of Moldova meet at the Association Council in Brussels this week, they discussed the state of play in implementing the Association Agreement and the related reforms. The East StratCom Task Force summarised the main EU messages in a video that was watched more than 12.000 times in Moldova. To see the Romanian and Russian versions of the video, go to the Facebook page of the EU Delegation in Moldova.

Friday fun: Sausages out!

As we already highlighted in Tuesday's Disinformation Review, disinformation regarding the refugee crisis has been a strong trend in the past week, for instance the claim that the crisis is being orchestrated by the USA / EU / Israel in order to destroy European civilization.
These accusations sometimes come in the most bizarre shapes. As Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung recently pointed out, Russian government-controlled outlets focused on the invented "fact" that pork meat will be forbidden in German school cantines so as to please Muslim refugees; sometimes developed into theories that beer will be probably banned soon as well. "Würstchenverbot" (sausage ban) became a major story for disinformation outlets not only in Russian, but for example also on aCzech pro-Kremlin website.
Lest any doubts arise, let us reassure the reader that Würstchenverbot is not happening anywhere in Germany, and unlikely anywhere else in Europe, either. (Image:
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.
The Disinformation Review collects examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation all around Europe and beyond. Every week, it exposes the breadth of this campaign, showing the languages targeted. We're always looking for new partners to help us with this.
The Disinformation Digest analyses how pro-Kremlin media see the world and what independent Russian voices are saying. It follows key trends on Russian social media, so you can put pro-Kremlin narratives into their wider context.

Tags: ctrlc+ctrilv, disinformation review

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