Thank you very much for your reports. Once again this week, we see new languages represented in the Review - this time Dutch and Serbian. If we continue this trend, we will be able to identify disinformation trends in most European languages, and almost in real-time. If you know about credible partners who could help us with those languages that are still missing in our Review (you will see it in the table below), please tell them about this product.
Three European presidents were targeted by pro-Russian media in the past days. One of them is the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko - Ukraine is again the most targeted in the Review.
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev was accused of intending to flee his country to become a German ambassador. It is noteworthy that this unproven information came just four days after President Plevneliev gave an interview to the Independent, saying that “Russia plans a hybrid warfare campaign aimed at destabilising Europe”.
France’s President Hollande was quoted incorrectly by major Russian outlets like Sputnik and RIA as saying that it is not Asad but ISIL which is the true enemy of France. And pro-Russian media in the Czech Republic went so far as to accuse the French authorities of staging the Friday 13th terrorist attacks: AC24.cz sought to convince Czech readers that the French Government planned these attacks in order to strengthen its position against France’s loudest advocate of Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen’s Front National party.
Trend of the Week: Repeating is the Mother of all Disinformation
As the Trend of the Week, we see the re-emergence of an older piece of disinformation, which was identified at the beginning of the month - connecting Ukraine to ISIS terrorists in every plausible, often even implausible way. In the past days, this trend has intensified, ending with Dmitry Kiselyov stating in his Sunday show that Ukraine provides weapons to islamist terrorists.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mariya Zakharova, Russia is the only country that truly tries to bring peace to Ukraine. Russian media recycled two older and already debunked disinformation pieces, both of them related to Maidan as Ukrainians celebrated its second anniversary on Saturday. The first says that the victims of Maidan were shot by Maidan activists; the second that almost 300 women were shot by Maidan activists. Neither happened. What is more striking, the second piece of disinformation was amplified by DNR “prime minister” Zakharchenko - who had denied the same information more than a year ago.
Older pieces of disinformation were repeated in the Dutch media. NGO Promote Ukraine believes such articles could be aimed at worsening the image of their country before the Dutch referendum about the Association Agreement. And our contributor Igor Solovey reminds us of the article by StopFake.org, which says that pro-Russian media will now have to try to discredit Ukraine through European media - as so few in Ukraine believe what the pro-Russian media outlets report.
One last piece about Ukraine: Several media claimed that at the beginning of the New Year, Ukrainians will be banned from leaving the country. There are no such plans in place.
Too hard to believe
Among the stories we have spotted this week are that Syria has endured a coup staged by the CIA, Mossad, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and France; and that Austria and Slovenia have closed their borders with Serbia (sic) to stem the flow of refugees.
But most of the attention was brought to Izvestia. The fake letter from the American Embassy in Moscow they reported on, and the way USA officials dealt with it, brought a lot of amusement to the media, both traditional and social.
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Thank you very much once again for your reports, we are looking forward to the new ones,
East StratCom Task Force
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