Hot topics of Russian disinfo. Criticizing Gordon, Saakashvili is a threat to Shmyhal, Zelensky a worse liar than Poroshenko. Issue #38

  • Manipulators drag Ukraine into the American elections and call it a "puppet" regime.
  • They criticized Gordon and predicted a future "reprisal" of nationalists against him.
  • They criticized Zelensky's press conference, calling him "cowardly" and "unprincipled".
  • Disinformers were preparing Shmyhal's government to take on the negative of quarantine measures.
  • They exaggerated the dependence on Russian gas and tried to revive historical conflicts with Poland.
  • Want to find more themes? Take advantage of the updated dashboard.

Period: May 18—24, 2020

Period: May 18—24, 2020
Period: May 18—24, 2020

"Derkach files" and wiretapping presidents as Ukrainian national sport

Russian disinformers are helping to drag Ukraine into the American election campaign. This time, the focus was on the so-called "Derkach files", a published recording of a telephone conversation, where voices similar to Poroshenko’s and Biden’s can be heard. It should be noted that Derkach himself graduated from the KGB high school, which he mentions in his biography on his personal website.

Ukrainian manipulators used these tapes as an excuse to discredit the previous government and to speculate "whether Zelensky will imprison Poroshenko because of the records of the Attorney General's dismissal in exchange for a US loan from Biden?" Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues discredited not only the previous government but Ukraine in general:

All these are facts confirming what we have said many times - there is no government of independent Ukraine. There is a puppet regime which is governed by US government agencies on all key issues.”

І таким чином намагались довести, що Росія до цього непричетна. Тут згадується один з принципів російської дезінформації , який звучить: “Ховайте ваші руки”.

Russian websites promoted the idea that it is Kolomoisky who is involved in the publication of the recording, "who is again bidding with Trump's team for throwing out another batch of compromising material in exchange for ending his prosecution in the United States." Thus, they tried to show that Russia was not involved in the files. One of the principles of Russian disinformation is used here, which reads: "Hide your hands."

Also, Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues pumped up emotions, writing without any evidence that Poroshenko allegedly "was willing to pay $50 million for the destruction of these files, but "Trump’s people" turned out more generous." They advertised a still unfinished "new film-investigation of the" seizure "of power in Ukraine by the Biden-Clinton family", while fantasizing that after its premiere, “Ukraine will be shaken by loud scandals with the resignation of foreign agents: the careers of the Maidan troubadours such as Leshchenko and Nayem will collapse, and The Cabinet will be completely cleared of the children of Soros, etc.

In Ukraine, wiretapping of the head of state's office has long been something of a national sport”

"Professional suicide of propagandist Gordon": Girkin's interview

Ukrainian manipulative media continue to comment on Dmytro Gordon's interviews with Poklonskaya and Girkin (former FSB colonel, first defense minister of the puppet “DPR”, commander-in-chief of the “Novorossiya Army” terrorists). The manipulators assumed that these interviews "would play a positive role in the state propaganda of Ukraine" and emotionally added that "Gordon is an animal. One who is engaged in PR of war criminals. The strangest thing is that he does it under the cover of the SBU." It should be added that the SBU denies involvement in these interviews. It seems that these comments are designed to warm up the anxiety and hatred of opposition-minded citizens. After all, the accumulation of emotions among representatives of various camps is one of the classic methods of Russia's information war.

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues also paid attention to interviews conducted by an "odious Ukrainian propagandist," but they focused more on how quickly "Girkin will replenish the ranks of the dead," rejoicing that Gordon caused a "fit of rage among Ukrainian "patriots", and pondered whether the nationalists would commit a reprisal against him, because “the situation only once again shows that the power in the "independent one" is not in the hands of the showman president ut in the hands of the Nazis, ready to reprise with animal fury against all who trampled on their Nazi ideals at least a bit.

Considering what the journalist managed to say in the days after the interview with Poklonskaya and Strelkov [Girkin’s nom de guerre - TEXTY.org.ua], it seems doubtful that anyone else would agree to talk with the propagandist who had committed a “professional suicide

Russian mainstream media suggested that the real reason for the interview was that "Gordon as a journalist would like to enter a more extensive media space, the Russian one", and that Girkin made the mistake of agreeing to Gordon's proposal, "as DPR residents see the move as a betrayal."

I’m not sure that during the Great Patriotic War, one of the Soviet military leaders would give an interview to Völkischer Beobachter (the daily newspaper of the NSDAP)”

Manipulators about the president: "Is Zelensky is more stupid than Yushchenko or a worse liar than Poroshenko"?

All monitored websites discussed Zelensky's press conference. Clickbaits disseminated the words of a deputy of OPFL that the Zelensky epoch brought: "incompetence, superficiality, narcissism, resentment, vengeance, insincerity, cunningness, lying, cowardice, weakness". Zelensky himself continues to be compared to Poroshenko, for whom he did not become the "sentence" he promised during the election campaign.

Another powerful topic was the continuation of sanctions against Russian companies and social networks. Manipulative sites write that Zelensky extended the sanctions in order to "get the approval of ex-president Poroshenko" and they call him “cowardly” and "unprincipled."

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues further inflamed emotions around anti-Russian sanctions and wrote that Zelensky: "tears Ukraine away from the greatest Russian culture." They also accuse him of "resembling" Poroshenko and cite Kuchma as a model.

Russian websites also wrote that "the president has become susceptible to flatter and less receptive to criticism, although he had stated that he is already used to it." And they claimed that he "did not fulfill any of his election promises." As a result, manipulators predict, Zelensky will not stay in office, and instead "the West will put an even tougher radical using the nationalists."

Shmyhal to be blamed for all difficulties, Saakashvili creates a "shadow government"

After a brief lull, manipulators again accused the prime minister of all possible troubles and were selecting "candidates" for his replacement. Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues found another "candidate" to undermine Shmyhal. Saakashvili. He is credited with the intention to "form a shadow government" and promote his own party, the People's Forces Movement. But in the intervals between working on his own political career, Saakashvili has a more important task, as disinformers put it: "destroying Ukroboronprom at the behest of the West."

Why would the West, which disinformation has traditionally accused of militarizing Ukraine, would force it to get rid of its defense plants? The "explanation" is simple: the West wants to "force (Ukraine - Texts) to buy more expensively the weapons that the West will supply in order to fight the Russian Federation." Disinformers do not explain how the rich Western countries will profit from the sale of weapons to the not so rich Ukraine. But this lies within the Russian-backed myth of the West's desire to "deindustrialize" Ukraine.

Poles "cannot survive" without Russian gas and want to become "masters" in Ukraine

In this topic, clickbaits focused on energy issues. They write that shale gas companies are "on the verge of bankruptcy" due to the epidemic and declining demand. Although it is not surprising, disinformers have been writing that the shale gas industry is about to disappear almost since the first day of its appearance.

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues pay more attention to Ukraine's relations with the EU and especially with Poland. The general narrative comes down to the thesis that Europe is in crisis and the "old lady" will cling to any opportunity to profit from the aboriginals of Ukraine." According to the World Bank, Ukraine's GDP is 120 times smaller than the EU's GDP. It is difficult to imagine how exactly the EU will be able to "profit" from Ukraine under such conditions.

As for Poland, Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues frighten with "the growing geopolitical influence of Poland" and talk about the "colonization of the so-called Kresy Wschodnie", Eastern Borderlands. Kresy is the Polish name for the regions of Ukraine and Belarus that used to be part of the interwar Polish state. Inside Poland, pro-Russian manipulators criticize the Baltic Pipe project which would allow Poland to receive gas from Denmark, and they argue that Poland will never be able to become independent of Russian gas.

The book titled "KGB in France" describes in detail how the Russians used old national traumas and insults to weaken the West. We can see a similar trick now: "because every Pole is a "master" [Polish word “pan”, polite grammatical “You”, can also be translated as “master” - TEXTY.org.ua], a Ukrainian is for him stupid, rude, uncultured, and cheap labor force." The attempt to revive the conflicts between Ukrainians and Poles of centuries ago is hidden behind the "peaceful" theses that "Europe must be built on common values and economic interests without American geopolitics."

Also this week:

All’s bad with the coronavirus, yet the lockdown must be lifted:

On the response to the coronavirus pandemic, it was exaggerated that "testing is essentially absent", and "the consequences of the coronavirus in Ukraine will be a problem not only for Ukraine but also for its immediate neighbors, including Russia." In fact, on the contrary, Russia records about 10,000 new injections every day and even changes the methodology of calculating patients so that the figures do not look so stunning. But the gradual lifting of quarantine restrictions proved to be a convenient reason to pay attention to total injustice: "The nightclub in the heart of Kiev is already buzzing, while the sports club and swimming pool must remain closed."

Manipulators recommended: “in order not to look like the essential bastards, just open the remaining business, open public transport, and ask people to take care of themselves. Or, no. Even after that, you will forever remain in the eyes of people bastards without balls and conscience.”

Promoting Shariy:

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues have begun to actively promote Shariy: "Sociologists" inflate the ratings for the "servants of the people" and "drown" Shariy to force him to comply."

Defending Kolomoisky:

It was written that the publications of the leading Ukrainian media against Kolomoisky were aimed only to distract from Derkach's and Poroshenko's films: “Against the backdrop of Biden-gate, these publications synchronously publish materials stating that the US is considering the Kolomoisky case for money laundering. That is, according to the editors of the above-mentioned publications, this topic is the main agenda, and not the Biden-Poroshenko files”. The delay in publishing the official position on the audio recordings of the telephone conversation was explained as follows: "they were waiting for instructions to be sent to them from the United States."

Protecting Ukrainian Bulgarians from “extermination”:

The conflict over the decentralization of the Bolgrad district of Odesa region was presented as "in the Odesa region, they want to purge the Bulgarians." They exaggerated and pumped: "in this way the authorities want to break up the ethnic Bulgarian district, exterminating the Bulgarian nation itself in the territory," although it is only a matter of reforming the administrative division into communities.


This week, disinformers tried to find and widen the split between Ukraine and its Western allies. One of the reasons was the publication of recordings of conversations between former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and the then Vice President of the United States Joe Biden. On the one hand, they tried to label Ukraine as "interfering" in the US election. On the other hand, the topic of "foreign interference" by the United States in Ukrainian politics was pumped up. Politicians of the Democratic Party of the United States were blamed of the "interference".

The publication of various "files" has long been a kind of national sport in Ukraine. Usually there is nothing interesting or unknown in the records. For example, there was nothing new about the content of talks between Poroshenko and Biden, as of 2018. But extracts out of context are often used to promote the needed narratives. In early 2020, disinformers similarly used recordings of former Prime Minister Honcharuk's conversations and quoted his phrase about an "ignoramus in the economy" about President Zelensky.

Examples of headlines

"Derkach files" and bugging presidents as Ukrainian national sport

Zelensky’s power which Poroshenko never had | censoru.net

Will Zelensky imprison Poroshenko because of the recordings of dismissing Prosecutor General in return for Biden’s US loan? | zik.ua

Poroshenko the puppet: Ukraine on remote control | e-news.su

Trump’s people turned out more generous. Media tells us how Poroshenko tries to buy the Derkach files | ukraina.ru

Armen Gasparyan on the “Derkach files”: Biden had Poroshenko on the leash | How is the near abroad doing? | Morning barbarity report | e-news.su

"Professional suicide of propagandist Gordon": Girkin's interview

Gordon and Girkin as the incubators of Russia haters | informator.news

The Girkin-Poklonskaya provocation looks like a Zelensky-Yermak and Kremlin special operation - Rechinsky | ua24ua.net

Gordons Hague recording: “Worse under Zelensky” | nk.org.ua

Reprisal prepared in Kyiv: Gordon’s fate predicted to repeat the fate of Buzyna | rusvesna.su

SBU’s informational sabotage? Why did Ukrainian TV presenter interview Igor Strelkov? | life.ru

Manipulators about the president: "Is Zelensky is more stupid than Yushchenko or a worse liar than Poroshenko"?

Too wet: internet laughs at the video where Zelensky’s chair is being dried | hyser.com.ua

“Hoping for the losers”, or Zelensky’s plans of the second term | censoru.net

Vasil Volga: “Zalansky is like a frog on the ice” | e-news.su

Pitiful and pathetic sight. Degradation of a comic actor into a loser President of Ukraine | ukraina.ru

Pogrebinsky predicts Ukraine’s “moving towards an abyss” | riafan.ru

Shmyhal to be blamed for all difficulties, Saakashvili creates a "shadow government"

It’s futile to try and save today’s Ukraine | ua24ua.net

Money spent, deadlines missed. Why is Ukraine still building the “Yatsenyuk wall”? | e-news.su

NATO protecting Dr.Death and others, or “Kyiv back on the bad track” | naspravdi.info

Soros is implementing ex National Security Council secretary Danyliuk back into Ukrainian politics | antifashist.com

Ganzhara points out that Saakashvili will worsen the political crisis in Ukraine | slovodel.com

Poles "cannot survive" without Russian gas and want to become "masters" in Ukraine

Journalist: Coronacrisis can destroy Eurasia | newsmir.info

Political scientist Rar explains why NATO is more important than the EU for Poland | ukraina.ru

Europe unable to harvest crops without cheap labor force from Ukraine | e-news.su

Pushkov shames the US for its claims of “the knife in the heart of Europe” | vz.ru

How Kyiv helps the Polish economics | antikor.com.ua


We searched for topics in 10642 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.

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.


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