dedo Vasiľ (ded_vasilij) wrote,
dedo Vasiľ
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Disinformation Digest. issue NEXT


  • Analysis: Winning with songs

  • Polls (I): Revealing Russian perceptions

  • Analysis: Red lines

  • Response: EU assistance in Georgia

  • Polls (II): More enemies, please

  • Friday fun: Computer games galore

"Nowadays, you don’t win with tanks, but with songs"

This week's Eurovision Song Contest took Ukraine to the top of the international news agenda. For pro-Kremlin media, though, this was the week when Europe helped Ukraine steal Russia’s rightful victory.
The tone was set when NTV ran a headline where the Russian word for Eurovision (evrovidenie) was slightly changed to mean “Euro-HATE” (evroNENAvidenie). Kremlin-loyal media focused on how the verdicts of the juries had differed from the result of the popular vote, which had Russia’s contribution as the winner. This was translated into the popular pro-Kremlin narrative about European leaders being out of synch with their voters' positive opinions about Russia. In another piece, NTV let a Russian expert elaborate this narrative into a story about conspiracy, blaming "the new voting system, which was perhaps not accidentally changed this year.”
Tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda attempted to discredit Ukraine’s winning singer Jamala. Under the headline “Jamala and her parents don't shy away from making money in the Russia they hate,” the newspaper claimed to document that Jamala has performed in Russia and that her parents own a hotel in Crimea, which is why “their income depends on tourists travelling to Crimea.”
On Colta.ru, cultural commentator Andrey Arkhangelsky saw the Eurovision Song Contest as a meeting place: ”Every year, millions of Russian television viewers go on a date with the real Europe […] [Here they] have the opportunity to look at those Europeans they have heard so much about. Who want to deprive us of our identity." Russian viewers should "ask themselves the question if these are really our enemies? Do they really want to kill us?” Against this background, Arkhangelsky asks "why it is a matter of life and death for Russian authorities to win in a competition with people [the Russian authorities] so actively despise.”
Arkhangelsky optimistically underlines that Ukrainian and Russian viewers voted strongly in favour of each other’s contributions: “This shows that Eurovision has been able to do something that no one else has been able to do so far”. According to Arkhangelsky, “Russian propaganda has learned a lesson - nowadays, you don’t win with tanks, but with songs. The result is that the world's attention once again is focused on Ukraine. [..]  In other words, Ukraine’s victory equals Ukrainian legitimacy."
Russia Today, targeting a European audience, took a combative stance. An opinion piece, which was shared more than 11.000 times of Facebook, announces the death of the song contest: "Mark the date. Saturday May 14, 2016, the day the music died and a song contest whose well-intentioned original aim of national harmony has become the latest front in the Western elite’s obsessional and relentless new Cold War against Russia." It elegantly links the outcome of the voting to a narrative about the relationship between elites and the population, which resonates with its audience: "The Establishment may give us plebs a say, but it has mechanisms to make sure that it gets the result it most desires." RT also advertises the success of the online petition to revise the result and disqualify Ukraine - as the Digest went to press, more than 370.000 signatures had been collected. (Images: Colta.ru and RT.com)

Revealing Russian views


A recently published analysis, made for the European Commission, of the perception of the EU in its 10 key partners shows revealing differences between public opinion in Russia and the other nine nations. The data confirms what readers of the Disinformation Digest already know: Russian media actively paint a negative image of the European Union.

According to the data, Russian are among those hearing most frequently about the European Union: more than 60% hear about the EU every day. At the same time, for 75% of the respondents this information comes from media, which in 90% of the cases are local (Russian) media - the same level as in China.
Given that media are the main source of information about the European Union and frequently report about the EU, respondents' views arguably reflect the dominant narratives on the EU in Russian media very closely. The result of watching Russian TV and listening to Russian radios is an overwhelmingly negative attitude to the EU: In no other country polled is the negative attitude to the EU so strong and the positive views are so weak. Russians were also the only respondents to associate negative adjectives with the EU, with the three most cited being hypocritical, multicultural and arrogant.

Red lines


The pressure on Russia’s largest independent internet media, RBC.ru, continued last week when its three editors in chief were fired. The Disinformation Digest has previously already reported about the problems RBC faced under the headline “Too successful?”. Rumours about the Kremlin’s dissatisfaction with the outlet gained traction through the lay-off. The most widely believed interpretation of the events remains that RBC overstepped a red line when it reported extensively on how Putin’s inner circle of friends were featured in the Panama Papers. In an interview with Financial Times, which was widely quoted in Russian media, Elizaveta Osetinskaya, one of the removed editors, named this as the most probable reason for the drastic changes in RBC’s management. The new management is expected to arrive in early July and will serve as a test of how the Kremlin’s attitude to independent media develops as the September Duma elections approach. For a thorough analysis in English of the recent history and the state of play among Russian independent media and the pressure they find themselves under, read this report from Meduza.
To celebrate the European Days in Georgia, the East Stratcom Task Force teamed up with the EU Delegation to produce seven video stories of ordinary Georgian people whose lives have been changed for the better thanks to EU-Georgia cooperation. The videos are being displayed on several Georgian news sites and will be shown on national TV as well as on 21 local TV channels across the country.

If you click on the image above, you will meet Dato, who wants to be an entrepreneur. With EU help he can now easily register his chicken farm as a company in his own village. The other videos focus on how the EU opens up new study opportunities for Georgian students, how the new EU trade agreement brings benefits to Georgian businesses and how EU aid helps Georgian citizens increase their income. Two further clips show that the EU is committed to improving security in Georgia and that it helps create a more equal society.

Watch and share the videos on the European Union in Georgia Facebook page. Not all the clips have been posted yet, so more is in store if you visit again soon.

More enemies, please


According to a recent survey published by Russian pollster "Public Opinion Foundation" (FOM), Russians show increasing interest in politics. 48% of respondents interviewed at the end of April affirmed that they are interested in politics in general, which is the highest value measured by FOM since 2001.
Since January, interest in foreign policy has been declining, while Russian citizens are becoming increasingly interested in domestic politics. The social group that most follows foreign policy are citizens above 60 years, avid consumers of pro-Kremlin TV channels. Those aged between 18 and 30 are among the least interested in foreign affairs. Half of the respondents also stated that the Russian government devoted as "much attention to foreign politics as needed", while 63% of them said that the current course of Russia's foreign policy brought about more successes than failures.
Abbas Gallyamov, a political scientist interviewed by Kommersant, believes that people associate success in foreign policy with the increasing number of "Russia's enemies" and animosity towards Russia. Nevertheless, Gallyamov highlights that in parallel with the Russian population's rising interest in domestic matters, the proportion of those who believe the leadership directs "too much attention" to international issues is also growing (27% in May 2016 compared to 20% in November 2015).
Friday Fun: Social media users had fun when the Russian embassy in London illustrated its claims about chemical weapons in Syria with an image from the popular computer game Combat and Conquer. Below, some images that social media users posted in response, as collected by Middle East Eye.
Tags: disinformation review
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