dedo Vasiľ (ded_vasilij) wrote,
dedo Vasiľ

Disinformation Digest. issue NEXT.

  • Analysis: The immortal regiment

  • Analysis: Fertile ground for disinformation

  • Response: Revamped EU communications in Georgia

  • Analysis: Sergey Magnitsky in the spotlight

  • Friday fun: Offshore regiment

“If you are against Putin, you are against the grandfathers who fought in the War”

The narrative that Russia alone liberated Europe from fascism persists in the country that calls World War II the "Great Patriotic War”. Russia celebrates Victory Day on 9 May - not the end of the war on 8 May - and its commemorations focus on heroism rather than on victims.
As the surviving veterans, who used to lead 9 May parades, die out from the natural cause of time, Russia has found a new way of marking the anniversary: The focus is no more on the famous military parade on Red Square, but on the more inclusive annual march in which Russian citizens carry portraits of relatives who lived through or perished in the war, the so-called “Immortal Regiment.”

The Immortal Regiment began as a grass root initiative in 2007, but was picked up by the Russian government, which has turned it into an official practice. According togovernment sources, 650,000 citizens participated in this year's march in Moscow only, reflecting the significance of Victory Day for Russian society. A total of more than two million people marched in more than 50 countries across the world, Russian government TV Pervy Kanal reported.
Despite the undoubted popularity of 9 May in the Russian society, independent Russian voices showed some signs of growing concern with the new practice. Prominent opposition journalist Oleg Kashin underlined: “‘Foreign politicians,’ who want to take this holiday away from us have become a part of the official mythology, without which we cannot imagine Victory Day." According to Kashin, “Try and rebel against the Great Victory - you will yourself be trampled by the people […] Putin has successfully tied the 9th of May to himself to the extent that if you are against Putin, you automatically, and even unwittingly, are against the St. George ribbon, and then against the parade, and against the "Immortal Regiment,” and against all the grandfathers who fought in the War."
This year, an increasing number of important Russian critical voices expressed concerns with what they saw as elements of fascism in these mass events and their ideology: Popular poet Dmitry Bykov presented a poem in Novaya Gazeta, in which he warns against an assimilation between modern Russian society and the fascism of the past. Independent TV Dozhd re-published an essay by Russian writer Boris Strugatsky, where he expresses concern about fascism in modern Russia, tying the systematic use of disinformation to fascism with a Hemingway quotation: “Fascism is a lie told by bullies”. (Images: and Komsomolskaya Pravda)

Fertile soil for pro-Kremlin propaganda

This Tuesday, the Finnish Institute for International Affairs published an in-depth report about pro-Kremlin disinformation on the conflict in Ukraine, entitled Fog of Falsehood. The study presents several case studies as to how the Kremlin's narratives were transferred into various EU Member States, including the Visegrad countries.

The study as well as other sources shows that the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign is intensifying in Central Europe where pro-Kremlin outlets and social media pages targeting local audiences proliferate. Hungarian news site ( recently revealed that in Hungary, the number of online outlets that support the official Russian narrative more than doubled since 2014. The piece highlights that besides the expansion of radical right-wing media, entrepreneurial hoax sites (e.g. Aktí,, Titkolthí and openly pro-Putin portals (e.g. Hídfő.ru, Oroszhí,, the migrant crisis has also brought about a boom in the number of websites specialised in exploiting anti-immigrant sentiments (e.g. Napimigrá – "").

A similar picture arises in the neighbouring Czech and Slovak Republics, the Finnish analysis shows. compiled a list of 42 Czech and Slovak news sites spreading pro-Kremlin disinformation last year. These web portals, so the authors of the study, "have been established hand in-hand with the escalation of the Russian-Ukraine conflict in late 2013 and 2014".

In Poland, on the contrary, the study observes that "in general, public perception in Poland is not receptive of Russian metanarratives" and that Russian narratives failed "to penetrate and affect the interpretation and assessment of the events in Ukraine as presented in opinion pieces or editorials".
The Hungarian site "Daily Migrant" has four sections: news, humour, media and terror. Its news section, pictured above on a recent weekday, features stories about Europe's home-grown terrorists, thus linking migration to terrorism.
The celebration of Europe Day in Tbilisi last week attracted more than 10.000 participants. Communications materials prepared for the event drew on the revised EU communications strategy, drawn up by the East StratCom Task Force and the EU Delegation in Georgia.

Sergey Magnitsky in the spotlight

An event organized by a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) on 27 April was set to show a new film by Andrei Nekrasov. According to the film director, the motion picture proves that the story of Sergey Magnitsky (the lawyer who helped uncover massive tax fraud in Russia and later died in jail), as Western media report it, is a fabrication by Magnitsky's associate Bill Browder.

Citing legal reasons, the Member of Parliament eventually cancelled the screening of the film and this was duly noted in Russian state media. News agency TASS referred to the European Parliament cancelling the screening of the film on orders by Browder, although the event was organised and cancelled not by the Parliament, but by one single MEP. In the article, Nekrasov compares the EU to North Korea for not screening the film. Similar claims were made by RIA Novosti,, and theFifth TV Channel.

In addition to repeating false information concerning the circumstances of the cancellation (e.g. that the EU Parliament disrespects freedom of speech,, 1:50), pro-Kremlin TV channels also took the opportunity to promote Nekrasov's findings and the "true story" of Magnitsky (, 0:50). Rossiya 24 for instance "revealed" that Magnitsky in fact did not carry out any investigation (, 2:15) and that "Browder evaded 0.5 billion roubles tax" (, 4:20), while Pervy Kanal reminded that the Magnitsky case was orchestrated to discredit the Russian government (, 1:55).

A planned screening of the film on the ARTE TV channel did not go ahead in the wake of the event in the European Parliament.
Friday Fun: Instead of the "immortal regiment", Russian caricaturist Sergey Elkin finds an "offshore regiment" on the streets. Participants carry banners naming prominent tax havens, featuring Panama, Dubai, Hong Kong, Cayman Islands, Barbados and Lichtenstein among others. (Image: Sergey Elkin on Twitter)
Tags: disinformation review

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