Disinformation Review: Week Seven
Thank you very much for all your reports.
In the past week, pro-Kremlin media focused predominantly on repeating older, already debunked pieces of disinformation. Thus, we see reincarnations of stories like “Turkey / Ukraine buying ISIS oil” with no new supporting evidence. Also, conspiracy theories are repeated about the downing of Russian Su-24, e.g. alleging that the EU paid Turkey to do this, as one Georgian media outlet claims: http://bit.ly/1OTXh5U.
In the Disinformation Review, you will also see the reappearance of a topic of disinformation that is as old as the conflict in Ukraine itself - that Ukraine deploys ethnic cleansing. Such claims have been used for the past two years to justify both Russian and pro-Russian forces’ military actions in Ukraine.
The only new “minor trend” we have seen in the past week concerns sanctions against Russia. Several media outlets have repeated that it is not the EU that decides whether EU sanctions are imposed on Russia, but the United States. The number of articles stating this was limited, but the disinformation message was repeated e.g. by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov himself; and it was multiplied not only in Russian (http://bit.ly/1Z7qZY5), but also in English (http://bit.ly/1QrJEus) and German (http://bit.ly/1Qg9Eea).
On the other hand, a completely different evaluation of the EU - in a mixednews.ru article (http://bit.ly/1Qmp5RQ) – states that the EU is not a body whose decisions are dictated by a third party, but is in fact established by secret elites with the aim of forming a new world government.
There is some interesting information this week about the different publishing pathways of single stories. It is quite common for pro-Kremlin media to multiply the same message in different languages, but this usually takes some time (e.g. the German article mentioned above was published at the end of November, then took two weeks to appear in English; and last week’s Slovakian article (http://bit.ly/1jQDVS8) about ISIS being financed by the USA is a translation of a Spanish RT article which is more than a year old (http://bit.ly/1mcXZ2S). On the other hand, some articles are translated and published in other countries and languages almost instantly: an article about the USA bringing 100,000 troops to Iraq appeared on the Russian site vesti.ru (http://bit.ly/1J4nrg0) first, and as you will see in the Review, was translated into English and Czech within 24 hours. Similarly, we saw the same disinformation about Turkey detaining Russian ships in the Black sea appearing in both English and Czech languages within 24 hours.
Also noteworthy this week is the technique deployed by Russia Beyond the Headlines, which quoted a “UK Honorary Consul” saying that Great Britain and Russia must set aside their differences and face their common enemy. In fact, Tim Lewin is no “UK Honorary Consul” but has been given this title by the Russian authorities, for a territory whose annexation is internationally unrecognized.
Russian media widely covered an incident with a Turkish fishing boat, whose fishermen, according to vesti.ru (http://bit.ly/1TKpBHh), were trying to ram a Russian destroyer, provoking warning shots from the Russian vessel to avoid a collision. The Turkish fishermen presented a different and less dramatic version of events: "We passed within a mile of a warship which was at anchor. We didn't even know that it was a Russian ship, we thought it was a NATO ship. We didn't realise we had been fired at," said the captain of the boat (http://yhoo.it/1QgbhbU).
Technical note: Next week we will publish the last Disinformation Review of this year, but we are ready to collect your stories even during the Christmas and New Year period. The next Disinformation Review after that will be published on Tuesday, 5th of January 2016.
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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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