Hot topics of Russian disinfo: “Shmyhal’s bloody regime”. Issue #35

  • "Federalization" is back. This is how the mayors' disputes with the central government over quarantine measures are interpreted.
  • Nefedov and Saakashvili intensified the reiteration of the thesis of "external governance".
  • Publications from the Kremlin orbit distorted the memory of the tragedy of May 2, 2014 in Odessa.
  • Lyashko and Tymoshenko promoted themselves using the topics of the sale of land and migrant workers.
  • After a series of rebuttals, OPFL is still disseminating fakes about biolabs.

Period: April 27 — May 3, 2020

Topics of disinformation, 27 April — 3 May, 2020
Topics of disinformation, 27 April — 3 May, 2020

Zelensky will use law enforcement against the "party of mayors"

This week, clickbaits wrote about the "arbitrariness of the mayor of Cherkasy", who began to make statements about the lifting of quarantine in the city before the government's decision. For several weeks now, disinformers have been using differences between local authorities and the government and the president over quarantine to argue their long-held thesis that Ukraine is "federalizing."

The wording was often "party of mayors." The idea of its creation really began to be discussed in Ukrainian political circles. Disinformers write that the mayors lack "local enforcement and political power," and the president should not "pry into regional affairs."

There are two main narratives about mayors. Here’s the first: “Zelensky has nothing to say against mayor Bondarenko. Absolutely nothing.” Disinformers call the government "impotent" and disorganized, threatening that it "will more than once regret that it raised a hand to a sensible mayor."

The other narrative: mayors have become a "convenient victim" for the president to show his power, unlike Putin, the Russian church, the corrupt officials, and the oligarchs. This narrative states that "forcing local authorities to be friendly" is a preparation for local elections. "The government has already realized that it cannot win under the 'green' brand and is looking for whip and gingerbread methods to reach an agreement with regional authorities."

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues write a lot, and negatively, about the mayor of Dnipro. He allegedly "allocated more than 12 million to advertise himself and his exploits." Most mentions of mayors are referenced to anonymous Telegram channels. Why is this bad? Such channels can easily spread lies and disinformation. No one is responsible for what is written there by their reputation, the channels are sold, they openly offer to post things for a pay, and a significant part of them is being filled with content from Russia.

It is also written about Filatov that the authorities have "compromising material" against him: "Boria the Gravedigger understands that perhaps after the quarantine they will come after him and his entourage, and that someone will "break down" and disclose all the tendering schemes." Therefore, he and other mayors need "immunity from the enforcers," so he cannot afford to lose his position.

"Soros's children" dismissed from the Customs Office, "anti-Russian" online lessons, and "Shmyhal's bloody regime"

Clickbaits are already predicting the resignation of Shmyhal's government. They write that the Rada committees refuse to approve the government's program. If the government receives approval of its program from the parliament, it will have one year of immunity from dismissal. Without an approved program, the government hangs in the air and can be dismissed at any time. Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues dubbed Shmyhal "bloody" because of a rally of entrepreneurs on Bankova Street for easing quarantine measures, even though there was no violent confrontation at the rally.

Disinformers claim that Zelensky plans to use the noise around the Cabinet's program and its possible resignation to divert public attention from the significant concessions in the energy sector received by Rinat Akhmetov's companies: “around the really poorly written Cabinet program, it will be possible to stage ritual PR dances”.

Clickbaiters, as well as Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues, have intensified attacks on former Customs chief Maxim Nefedov. He is called "a child of Soros" and accused of corruption: "The customs plan has failed, corruption schemes have flourished like never before, but he always complains that he is not allowed to work, and he leaks things to the West. Who needs him?

Another victim of disinformation was a school teacher who taught a history lesson about the Revolution of Dignity. "Fifth-graders in Ukraine were shown another online lesson, where schoolchildren were taught to hate Russia under the guise of patriotism." To show where the "hatred of Russia" comes from, disinformers speculate about "grants from Soros" that the teacher allegedly "received." And she herself is accused by disinformers of "hypocrisy" because she taught history of the Party at a university during the Soviet era. It should be noted that the history of the Party was a compulsory subject in Soviet higher education, and the subject was reduced to systematic state propaganda.

The Rada: yells about the "protection" of land and attacks on the National Bank

Also this week, Ukrainian clickbaits wrote a lot about Yulia Tymoshenko. She manipulated the topic of the land market: "she is ready to make every effort to ensure that Ukrainian land belongs to the Ukrainian people." And she accused Naftogaz of corruption: "According to Tymoshenko, the "servants of the people" do not even want to consider the issue of corruption in Naftogaz, and she has evidence that the company stole 72 billion hryvnias from the state."

It will be recalled that in recent years Naftogaz has managed to start reverse gas supplies from Europe, it sued Gazprom for almost $3 billion (the reason for the dispute was the agreement concluded by Tomoshenko as prime minister which provided for mandatory payment of contracted gas volumes, regardless of whether Ukraine received them or not), Naftogaz also concluded a new transit agreement, finalized unbundling and a implemented a number of other successful reforms. Finally, Tymoshenko said that Ukraine "cannot survive" if it is ruled by "amateurs." Apparently, she and her party are the professionals.

In addition to Tymoshenko, clickbaters paid a lot of attention to Oleh Lyashko. They quoted the former deputy as saying that the restriction on leaving the country for seasonal workers is "enslavement of Ukrainians."

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues frighten Ukrainians with hunger because of land sale: "All this shouting around COVID-19 was invented to reduce the population, especially those not worthy to be fed." They also repeat over and over again the paranoid theory that "external management" wants to use banks to "take away land" and give it to "foreigners." The NBU is accused of allegedly "forcing" banks to seize land from peasants. Manipulators want to use the negative information wave about the land market to attack the National Bank of Ukraine as one of the few high-quality institutions in Ukraine. This attack can also be explained by the fact that the NBU nationalized Kolomoisky's "PrivatBank" and did not allow the Russians to comfortably withdraw money from Ukrainian branches of Russian banks after the war started in 2014.

Waiting for the IMF money and guest workers' Maidan

Ukrainian manipulative media last week wrote a lot about the inability of Ukrainians to go to work abroad due to quarantine measures and about how "the government tried to seize control of migration flows." They pumped emotions that the authorities needed "to take away people’s passports" in order to be more effective, and fantasized that "Ukrainian oligarchs, via the government, will now trade in Ukrainians as a living force."

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues also disseminated the thesis that Ukraine "does not release eager work migrants abroad." They wrote about "online riots of guest workers and threats to organize a guest workers’ Maidan" and developed the opinion that the restriction on leaving the country was caused by the omnipotence of the oligarchs, as "the Ukrainian oligarchy faced a shortage of labor within the country and the need to constantly raise wages." And all attempts by the Ukrainian authorities to negotiate directly with other countries on the organization of flights and the provision of appropriate conditions and official employment for workers were described as: "No one in the world sells slave labor so openly now, as Ukraine does, bargaining with the West over the fate of guest workers."

The pretext was the delay of a plane that was supposed to take Ukrainian workers to Britain. This event caused widespread outrage in the mainstream Ukrainian media. Subsequently, the plane took off, and the government officially announced that the charters would carry those workers who have a work visa and health insurance.

Continuing the topic of relations with the IMF, Ukrainian manipulators regretted that "the IMF is no longer eager to cooperate with Ukraine, it has a line, like the line for an extra thousand for the retired people, of countries with a much more convincing credit history than us." And Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues, in addition to the classic theses about how "Under the governance of the IMF, Ukraine is steadily becoming a raw material appendage of the West," disseminated a fake that “the IMF wants to create a position of its special representative in the Ukrainian parliament to control the necessary laws ( ...) It was supposed that Mikheil Saakashvili would be recommended for this position, but the IMF has more reliable candidates”.

“If you do not appoint the children of Soros to the Cabinet of Ministers, the IMF will not give you money. If you do not appoint the children of Soros to the supervisory boards, the IMF will not give you money. If you do not sell the land, the IMF will not give you money. If you give PrivatBank back to Kolomoisky, the IMF will not give you money. If you dismiss Sytnyk from NABU, the IMF will not give you money. Please note that soon it will be a year that you fulfill all the requirements of the “partners”, but there is still no money. Are you not afraid that your prime minister will be ordered to fuck a pig and broadcast it live (as in the Black Mirror series) and will again be threatened not to be given money? And you will agree again”.

Anniversary of Odesa tragedy and "Banderites gone amok"

The anniversary of the May 2 tragedy in Odesa appeared disproportionately in the Russian media. Writing about the events of 2014, they disseminated the classic thesis: "the people in Kulikov Field were destroyed with a direct submission and approval of the Kyiv junta" with the help of "Banderites gone amok and insane thugs" (actually anti-Maidan protesters were helped to get out, despite the confrontation). Disinformers also disseminated quotes from deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, who once again decided that they had a right to speak on this issue, threatening that "if someone thinks that the mass burning of people in Odesa in 2014 and the jubilation of pro-Bandera freaks on this occasion throughout Ukraine is forgiven and forgotten, that it will be possible to retouch, he is deeply mistaken".

Ukrainian manipulative publications focused on the statements of the leaders of the OPFL

like "Neither the past nor the current government wants Ukraine to know the truth about the crime in Odesa." And they dismissed in their words all structures that do not adhere to the pro-Russian position. This time, “in connection with the publication by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine of such an openly provocative and cynically manipulative statement, distorting the truth about the causes of the Odesa tragedy, filled with Russophobic cliches and cliches in the spirit of cave nationalism of Poroshenko - Parubiy - Turchinov”.

I believe that those whose hands are covered in Odesa blood should better die before their current overseas masters turn their backs on them.

Also this week

Manipulators and disinformers continued to write about quarantine protests that "if escalated, could lead to the country’s disintegration." With Medvedchuk's support, they disseminated the fake about the "work of American biolabs in Ukraine", accompanied by the conclusion that Medvedchuk is "the main patriot of Ukraine", as he is the only politician who voices this fake.

they speculated a lot about the (non)appointment of Saakashvili. It was predicted that he would turn into a powerful opponent of Zelensky ("Zelensky released him, and he will never bottle him back") and that "if the situation allows, Miho can even bring the people to the barricades."

They once again referred to the pro-Russian American magazine Foreign Affairs, this time with the thesis "America considers the recognition of Russian Crimea" and continued to promote the idea of "the damage caused to EU countries by economic sanctions" against Russia. However, this time they added the thesis "about the country that suffers the most losses due to its refusal to trade with Russia - about Ukraine."

And they simply did everything possible, again, to consolidate for Ukraine the image of "a failed state, one of the most unhappy in the world, which is unable to solve the problems of its own survival."


Using their traditional methods, Russian disinformers are looking for "break lines" and trying to deepen them. In recent weeks, they have been trying to play on the opposition between mayors and the central government, presenting their differences over quarantine as a sign of Ukraine's "federalization." Traditionally for Ukrainian situation, disinformers attacked those institutions and individuals that have implemented reforms and made the state more efficient.

This week, the NBU and the unexpectedly dismissed head of the Customs Service, Maxim Nefedov, came under attack. Characteristically, the attacks on the NBU coincide with the interests of Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who has recently become increasingly pro-Russian, and his TV channel 1+1 (not included in our monitoring) even showed a conspiracy theory story about American biological laboratories in Ukraine involved in "production" of coronavirus. Yulia Tymoshenko's attack on Naftogaz is also in line with Russian interests, as Naftogaz effectively resisted Gazprom's blackmail and even forced it to pay about $3 billion in compensation.

"May 2 in Odessa" is a recurrent theme that initially helped mobilize mercenaries, including from Russia, for the war in the Donbas, and is now being used to show that Odesa is a Russian city under Ukrainian occupation.

Limitations of the study:

In this study, we only regarded the topics which are in line with Russian disinformation campaigns. Most of them are based on real events, as disinformation works more effectively this way. Topic names reflect manipulations used in the topic. Accordingly, news stories on Ukrainian mainstream sites on the same topic may have completely different content from that of manipulative materials.

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

In the first and second groups of news, the materials were selected by the AI classifier of manipulative news.

Examples of headlines

Zelensky will use law enforcement against the "party of mayors"

Corrupt officials should be imprisoned, not mayors. Head of Cherkasy reproaches Zelensky of the corruption of the “servants of the people” | ukranews.com

Besarab: if mayor of Cherkasy is “pressed”, not only his city but people across Ukraine will stand by him | kordon.org.ua

Boris Filatov will spend 100 million to advertise his achievements before the election | antifashist.com

Kernes, Trukhanov, and Filatov form regional resistance to the “Servants of the People” and Zelensky | naspravdi.info

He doesn’t threaten Putin, nor Portnov and Kolomoisky: Zelensky has found a weak link he can threaten | censoru.net

"Soros's children" dismissed from the Customs Office, "anti-Russian" online lessons, and "Shmyhal's bloody regime"

Save the treasury: Why Zelensly decided to remember the “old guard” of Yanukovych | xn--j1aidcn.org

Who and how prepares the dismissal of the Shmyhal government? | expres.life

Purges in the Tax and Customs: the “children of Soros: will return to power one day | expres.life

Ukrainian children taught history with a pan on the head | politnavigator.net

From Party history to Soros course. Now it’s clear that the school program is not only stupid but also dangerous | nk.org.ua

The Rada: yells about the "protection" of land and attacks on the National Bank

“Spectre of bankruptcy hovers over Ukraine” | ukrrudprom.ua

“No miracle happened”. Tymoshenko brings Zelensky down and raises the people. A few days are left | pravda.rv.ua

Tymoshenko reacts to Zelensky’s treason. Historical moment delayed | akcenty.com.ua

“Servant of the People” deputies celebrate the land law in a Kyiv restaurant | antifashist.com

Ex deputy explains how Ukrainian black soils will end up in the hands of foreigners | front-novorossii.ru

Waiting for the IMF money and guest workers' Maidan

Guest workers won’t be let out of Ukraine: oligarchs are in need of cheap workhands | politnavigator.net

Ukraine approaches the critical point. Will millions of the poor blast it apart?! | ruinformer.com

Ze pimps. Kyiv extorts money of EU countries for each band of work migrants | politnavigator.net

Anniversary of Odesa tragedy and "Banderites gone amok"

Banderization of Ukraine is a routine, fundamental state process | rusdnepr.ru

The Odesa fear of “Ze idiots” is prelude for repression repeated | novorossiy.info

“The Odesa Khatyn”, Azarov calls on Ukrainians to light a candle in memory of victims monstrously murdered by Ukrainian Nazis | front-novorossii.ru

Cynicism and manipulations. Medvedchuk calls for dismissal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its statement on the tragedy on the House of Trade Unions | ukrainianwall.com

Other topics

“It’s the symbol of hell”. Kyiv Nazis outraged by the restoration of Eternal flame | politnavigator.net

What’s more scary? Epidemic, asteroid, or president Zelensky? | antikor.com.ua

Razumkov, Shmyhal, and Avakov are opposed to the Saakashvili appointment, They are scared... | ua24ua.net

Saakashvili comeback. Why “Servants of the People” got scared of the “ape with a grenade” | kordon.org.ua

Saakashvili as the false teeth of Soros | e-news.su

Stalin’s adherer Kiva predicts Ukraine’s death and destruction because of expansion of the West | novorossiy.info


We searched for topics in 10755 materials in the Russian language from:

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.


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