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Hot topics of Russian disinfo: Zelensky the weakling, "kindergarten" in the Parliament, officials fatten, the people are enslaved Issue #20

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  • 24/01/2020Дата публікації

“The Honcharuk files” and the nonexistent economic crisis. As proof, information about the burst pipe in Kyiv is disseminated. A lot of criticism goes to Zelensky, who is called weak and indecisive. Ministers and officials are called vermin and criticized for high salaries. Over the last week, a lot of negativity has been poured on the deputies, the Rada is compared to a kindergarten, and the new laws are mentioned in terms of "serfs" and "lords".

Monitoring period: 13—19 January 2020

Click on the chart to scale it

Topics of disinformation, 13—19 January 2020

Honcharuk the incompetent “ignorant person”: scandal around the wiretapping of the Cabinet council

One of the main info drives last week was the publication of audio files where a conversation allegedly taking place during the meeting in Honcharuk's office is heard. In addition to quoting words from the record, forcing memes about "Olivier salad" and "ignorant person" supposedly voiced by Honcharuk, Ukrainian manipulation sites and Russian sites targeting Ukrainian topics actively quoted OPFL which once again urged the Cabinet to resign ("because every day that it is in power deepens the economic crisis in the country"). Both types of sites disseminated the idea that the whole scandal was taking place in the interests of Kolomoisky - "a well-known oligarch's ears can be seen behind this whole campaign."

Ukrainian clickbait sites write that the Cabinet members are deceiving the President and should be fired, "the leader of the state made one big mistake when he did not fire those who worked under Poroshenko ... who drove the economy into the full s**t [word closed by TEXTY]". It should be reminded that the odious Interior Ministry chief Arsen Avakov and Finance Minister Oksana Markarova stayed from the previous government headed by Groisman. As for the economy, in 2019 Ukraine demonstrated record GDP growth rates, declining inflation and rising real wages. Zelensky's decision to leave Honcharuk in office and not demand the Servant of the People fraction to fire him is commented on simply: "the president is indecisive, he can be manipulated."

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues hinted at the simultaneity of the processes in Ukraine and Russia: “The resignation of governments happened almost simultaneously. Well, meaning... While you [in Russia - TEXTY] had a scheduled rotation, we started an interesting circus. " And they predicted Avakov's appointment to the post of Prime Minister after Honcharuk's resignation: "As insiders note, it is the Minister of the Interior who wants to take over the post of Prime Minister of Ukraine, most of all, he didn’t fly to the United States so many times for nothing." Disinformation on this topic has emphasized "external governance", in the form of the Cabinet being approved somewhere inside Western institutions.

“The prime minister did not hear the "advice" of a kind and caring oligarch. He ended up with a real "sorosority" in his government, with chickens from the Soros's nest everywhere. Try to spit and you’ll hit either a State Department agent or a BRDO graduate”.

Salaries of officials: they thrive, the people live in poverty

Ukrainian manipulative sites, unsurprisingly, have been writing a lot about salaries of officials and ministers being raised. They compared the salary of the head of Ukrainian Post with the salary of Donald Trump or the head of the US Post: "in a poor country, his conscience allows him to demand a salary much higher than it could be in the rich US." They even tried to "shame" by comparing the salaries of officials with the salaries of the President of Ukraine. “The salary of the president of Ukraine is 20 thousand hryvnias. Therefore, people who assign bonuses of 250 thousand hryvnias to themselves should be simply ashamed. Do they really believe that they are doing more for the country than the head of state?” Recall that the average salary in Kyiv is 15 thousand, and 18% of Kyiv residents get more than 20 thousand per month, more than the President himself.

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian topics copied the manipulators' claims, they tried to discredit the new government: (“However, so far we see no result of the work of the new government, other than raising salaries for officials”) and they manipulated figures whenever possible (“Two figures: UAH 2 bln to develop entrepreneurship in the whole country, and 700 mln to “develop” a few people in the Naftogaz”).

The state of collapsed infrastructure: pipe burst at Lybidska

The hot water pipe burst in Kyiv provoked a wave of criticism not only of Vitali Klitschko but also of the authorities of the country in general. Clickbait sites called Klitschko "the most corrupt mayor in the history of Ukraine" and the authorities were accused of "spitting on the state of physical infrastructure and engineering networks of Ukrainian cities, amid loud statements by the President and the Cabinet of Ministers”. Both manipulative sites and Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues were especially active in accusing the Ukrainian authorities of having no systematic solution to the problems of outdated infrastructure. In this context, they promoted Medvedchuk as a “strong manager”. But the logic remains unclear: "At the time, experts in different fields developed a whole list of measures that made it possible to protect our cities from disasters." However, the publications do not explain why that initiative did not succeed and did not overcome today's problems.

The President, the Cabinet of Ministers and the “servants” still don’t give a damn about the state of physical infrastructure and engineering networks of our cities. No strategy, no state programs, no skilled personnel in the team

We’ll note that Kyiv has got, besides problems, also new successfully fulfilled infrastructure projects.


Zelensky in the unstable environment, "President being snubbed!" He wants peace but is afraid of a military coup

This week, Ukrainian and Russian media continue to discuss the aftermath of the UIA plane crash in Iran. Ukrainian clickbait sites continue to write about Zelensky's sluggish response to the event and they suggest: "If it weren’t for Iran’s «open-heartedness», Zelensky would have blamed all on the UIA pilots." Leading Russian publications continue to hint at conspiracy theories with the US lead: "Lavrov: Six US fighter jets were flying along Iran’s borders before the Boeing 737 crash."

While writing negatively about the head of state, some manipulative sites continue to stubbornly represent one of the leaders of the OPFL fraction as Zelensky's "main opponent". Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues continued the topic of Zelensky's weakness. They also emphasize the President's conciliatory attitude towards Russia: "Also, the expert drew attention to the fact that Zelensky rarely uses the phrase "Russia is an aggressor state".

Delegitimizing the Rada: deputies sleep and eat in the chamber, use erotic content and snot. Land reform and labor code are reduced to fairy tales about lords and serfs

In addition to a wave of devaluation of the President, this week was marked by various attempts to delegitimize the Verkhovna Rada. It is described as a grotesque place where deputies do not work but scandalize. The media use minor episodes. For example, clickbait sites have devoted entire materials to a deputy of the Holos fraction and his finger in his nose. The deputy is compared to a “kindergarten kid” and ridiculed in a derogatory tone.

“What a Shame” is the title of another news, about a deputy eating nuts in the assembly chamber of the Rada. Clickbait sites reacted as riotously to a servant of the People deputy slumbering during a Rada session: “Such a Mum's joy - well eaten, warmly dressed, quietly folded his plump palms on his stomach, and sleeping peacefully”. What many of this news have in common is that deputies are being talked about as young children, and there are constant parallels between the Rada and a kindergarten. The audience obviously likes to read such ridicule about their deputies, but Russian sites use them primarily in order to delegitimize our country's legislature, not just for entertainment.

At the same time, very important laws on the land market, labor code and decentralization were discussed in the Verkhovna Rada. All of these topics attracted the attention of the OPFL manipulators who were covered by clickbait sites. For example, about the land market: "The Ukrainian authorities have no right to pass a law on opening the agricultural land market without holding an all-Ukrainian referendum." This is manipulation, since there is no legislative reason to hold a referendum on this issue, and the Rada has the power to make that decision on its own.

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian topics went even further: "This is scary." A political scientist predicts a rebellion of serfs against the feudal lords in Ukraine." A common feature of many of their messages is the use of such archaic vocabulary as: lords, serfs, "rebellion". There are similar allusions to serfdom in the news of the draft labor code. Explanations of why the changes to the labor code will lead to "enslavement": "their goal is to untie their hands for the unobstructed mass firing of state employees and employees of enterprises that are to be privatized."

Limitations of the study:

We take the topics of Russian propaganda in Ukraine from the following groups of materials:

1) manipulative news from the Russian online publications which write on Ukrainian topics, for the population of the occupied territories

2) manipulative news from those Ukrainian sites where a significant amount of manipulative news has been spotted. This second category is targeted at Ukrainian audiences and publishes a lot of manipulative news of different ideological orientation

3) all news from mainstream Ukrainian publications

4) all materials from mainstream Russian news sites

In this study, we only regarded the topics which are in line with Russian disinformation campaigns. In the first and second groups of news, the materials were selected by AI classifier of manipulative news. Topic names reflect manipulations used in the topic. Accordingly, news stories on Ukrainian mainstream sites on the same topic may have a completely different content from that of manipulative materials.

Examples of headlines


Ukraninian authorities vacillate, and Americans are behind the Boeing crash

"Kitchen maids and clowns cannot govern a state": Liashko criticizes the authorities for their inaction in the case of aircraft downed in Iran | newsmir.info

If it weren’t for Iran’s «open heartedness», Zelensky would have blamed all on the UIA pilots | newnews.in.ua

«Evacuation of the US employees»: Ukraine uncovers secret versions of the Boeing crash in Iran | nahnews.org

The US is guilty of the Ukrainian Boeing crash - the story hasn’t ended yet | rusvesna.su

Lavrov: Six US fighter jets were flying along Iran's borders before the Boeing 737 crash | riafan.ru


Honcharuk the incompetent "ignorant person": scandal around the wiretapping of the Cabinet council

Ukraine scared that Avakov the Nazi curator can become the new prime minister | naspravdi.info

The «sorosuckers» revolt | naspravdi.info

Journalist: artillery preparation to «rescrew» the government “father Lukashenko”-style has started | replyua.net

«How to deceive a stupid president»: full text of the scandalous files of prime minister Honcharuk | ua24ua.net


The state of collapsed infrastructure: pipe burst at Lybidska

The herd of sheep who call themselves «the technocrat government» fail at lowering the tariffs for facilities - Skubchenko | replyua.net

Medvedchuk offered a way to solve the infrastructure problem 20 years ago - Skubchenko | golos.ua

Azarov on the Kyiv breakdown: «Probably Klitschko doesn’t realize that networks ought to be replaced» | ukraina.ru

Dzhangirov: only a manager, not a showman, can solve the infrastructure problems | ukrainianwall.com

Skubchenko: «One more pipeline burst in Kyiv but all is well in the «state inside a smartphone» | ukraina.ru


Salaries of officials: they thrive, the people live in poverty

«Naftogaz and Ukrainian Post CEOs earn more than the US President»: Vereschuk criticizes the high salaries and huge bonuses at the state enterprizes | replyua.net

Expert: the salary of head of Post Office in the US is 300 thousand dollars per year, the salary of Ukrainian Post Smilansky is around 1 mln per year | replyua.net

Skubchenko: «Grant eaters assign vulgarly high salaries to themselves» | ukraina.ru

Kusch about the salaries of officials: «The absolute low of the «looter team» | ukraina.ru

The era of poverty ends in Ukrainian government. How the ministers got rich | ukraina.ru


Zelensky in the unstable environment, "President being snubbed!" He wants peace but is afraid of a military coup

Romanenko opens Zelensky’s eyes to the truth about the government: "Snubbed like easy meat" | znaj.ua

Dolgachev: Zelensky considers Medvedchuk his main opponent | akcenty.com.ua

Deputy: Moscow included Medvedchuk as a part of operation to cover up the Oman thing | replyua.net

Zelensky team’s weakness is leading Ukraine to a complete loss of sovereignty | nahnews.org


Delegitimizing the Rada: deputies sleep and eat in the chamber, use erotic content and snot. Kiva speaks of "green plague"

Ukrainians are shown how the servants of the people work in the Rada: "Deputy’s sleeping, salary’s dripping" | znaj.ua

«What can I do?»: Arakhamia explains why the rapist deputy has not been deprived of his position | rupor.info

Tymoshenko: The process of liquidation of Ukraine has started | naspravdi.info

Methodology

We searched for topics in 11376 materials in Russian language from:

16 Russian sites (manipulative materials only), oriented at Ukrainian topics: alternatio.org, anna-news.info, comitet.su, crisis.in.ua, e-news.su, glavk.info, mir-lug.info, nahnews.org, naspravdi.info, nation-news.ru, newsland.com, nk.org.ua, odnarodyna.org, rusvesna.su, ukraina.ru, voenkor.info

66 Ukrainian online publications where over 10% of all news about Ukraine have been spotted as being manipulative (manipulative materials only): akcenty.com.ua, antikor.com.ua, argumentua.com, argumentua.life, baza-pravda.in.ua, begemot.media, bessarabiainform.com, beztabu.net, bin.ua, bn24.biz.ua, censoru.net, dialog.ua, dneprcity.net, expres.life, for-ua.life, from-ua.com, ghall.com.ua, glavcom.life, glavred.life, golos.ua, goruzont.blogspot.com, grom-ua.org, hyser.com.ua, inform-ua.info, ivasi.news, khersonline.net, kievpravda.com, kompromat1.news, kordon.org.ua, most-dnepr.info, most.ks.ua, newnews.in.ua, newsmir.info, odessamedia.net, onpress.info, osp-ua.info, person.org.ua, politjournal.com, politobzor.net, proua.com.ua, prportal.com.ua, replyua.net, rnbee.com.ua, rupor.info, skelet-info.org, sobytiya.info, spichka.news, spzh.news, strana.ua, t.ks.ua, timer-odessa.net, tochkazoru.pp.ua, u-news.com.ua, ua-vestnik.com, ua24ua.net, uazmi.org, ukr.life, ukrainianwall.com, ukranews.life, verhovenstvo.com, versii.com, vybor.ua, w-n.com.ua, xn--j1aidcn.org, znaj.ua

10 major Ukrainian online publications (all materials): 24tv.ua, bykvu.com, gordonua.com, interfax.com.ua, news.liga.net, pravda.com.ua, rbc.ua, segodnya.ua, ukrinform.ua, unian.net

15 major Russian publications (all materials): aif.ru, dni.ru, kommersant.ru, kp.ru, lenta.ru, life.ru, newsru.com, pravda.ru, regnum.ru, riafan.ru, russian.rt.com, slovodel.com, svpressa.ru, tass.ru, vz.ru

Manipulation in news was singled out by our improved AI classifier developed in the project We’ve got bad news. In the monitoring, we only regarded materials about social and political life which are about Ukraine.

The project was funded by the National Democratic Institute

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