Hot topics of Russian disinfo: proposing a “mild” federalization. Issue #40

  • The attention to Avakov was called a result of intrigues by “the Soroslings” adding that “veterans and a wrong reform of the police are to blame for everything”.
  • In anticipation of the local elections, Russian disinformers are betting on regional forces that will allegedly promote "mild federalization" after their alleged victory.
  • Tkachenko's appointment was written about within the context of constant mentioning of his "master" Kolomoisky, and disinformers once again emphasized the president's alleged dependence on the oligarchs.
  • Manipulators wrote that the plans to deoccupy Donbass "will never be realized", and as for Crimea, they attributed aggressive intentions to Ukraine.
  • They were outraged that displaced persons from the occupied territories would be present at the Minsk talks.
  • Monitoring data for more than a year is awailable on the dashboard

June 1–7, 2020

Period: June 1–7, 2020
Period: June 1–7, 2020

Waiting for the local elections: the "servants's" greed and "mild" federalization

Last week, the topic of local elections was unsurprisingly accompanied by a large number of commissioned publications and black PR. Manipulative media themselves, fencing off their candidates for the mayor of Kyiv, wrote: "In the struggle for the chair of the Kyiv mayor, dirty technologies were used".

And Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues criticized and ridiculed the lack of an extensive regional representation of the ruling party: "There are so many problems in the Servant of the People that no one could create party cells in the regions. What kind of communication with the society can we talk about if there are no party representations in the regions of the country?” The party was accused of "not only the lack of competent party builders, but also the greed of the ‘servants’ “ and the president's office, of “banally deciding to save on local elections.

“Party functionaries are busy pushing the necessary bills in Verkhovna Rada and constant intrigues within the faction, and no one did the work”

Russian disinformation has criticized the policy of decentralization because "local government has long been the patrimony of regional oligarchs." At the same time, they argued that the situation in the country would improve if regional forces came to power because "this can help the regions to protect themselves from negative trends coming from the central government." Once again, they added the thesis of federalization, proposing to swallow it "soft", "a variant of soft or mild federalization is possible, which could help Ukraine maintain inner peace."

However, they did not explain what exactly was meant by "mild" federalization and what this "inner peace" was.

New minister of culture and the personnel miracle that failed to happen

Staff changes in the Cabinet last week, including the appointment of the Minister of Culture and the Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, did not go unnoticed. And if almost nothing was written about Olga Stefanyshyna, except for her connections with Poroshenko, Tkachenko became the main character of many headlines. His appointment as Minister of Culture was called a "parody", manipulators emphasized the connection with Kolomoisky ("Wherever his master tells him, that's where he will go"), they concluded that “a man who has served one oligarch for the last 10 years and is not a self-sufficient figure cannot manage any processes" and the only good news was that from now on Tkachenko "will no longer be able to break the bottom and participate in the election of the mayor of Kyiv." Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues described Tkachenko as the "general director of the 1+1 channel - our local Ukrainian "Radio of a Thousand Hills", Kolomoisky's faithful serf, thief of the Odessa film studio and just a good guy." Most of the criticism is not fake or even based on statements by pro-Ukrainian people, but in the context of (pro) Russian sites it is manipulation, as it is aimed at discrediting the government as an institution of our state.

The new appointments provoked in Ukrainian manipulative publications the topic of the "personnel miracle", which "failed to happen" during Zelensky's presidency. And the president's complaint about the "staff shortage" was called a consequence of the failure of the LIFT program (presented by Zelensky in late May, a platform for attracting professionals from various fields) and the fact that “Complaining about the staff shortage in the government, the head of state allows nominees of the oligarchs and his own closest associates to de facto lead the state, distributing spheres of influence and, therefore, financial flows”.

“Zelensky’s promises to put an end to the influence of financial and industrial groups on the state power remained only promises

Avakov "an experienced and strong leader", Zelensky "doesn't decide anything"

For the second week in a row, there have been reports of Arsen Avakov's possible resignation due to a series of scandals with the police. Manipulators on various sites focused on two main theses: "veterans are to blame" and a "wrong" police reform. Clickbaits accuse the then government of "while making a picture of reform on the background of the patrol police, the really important law enforcement units were destroyed."

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues focus more on the aftermath of the war in Eastern Ukraine: “there’s a civil war in the country, and an incredible amount of all sorts of thugs takes part in it, then sooner or later these thugs will return home and do what they did to the population of the Donbas”.

Most of the criticism goes to the "nationalists" whom Avakov "patronizes" and to the "under-reform" which allegedly washed out the "professionals" from the police. It is important to note that exactly such non-certified "professionals" are often involved in cases of police brutality. At the same time, Russian websites wrote about President Volodymyr Zelensky: "Zelensky ... is not responsible for all this mess simply because he himself does not decide anything."

Manipulators show Avakov himself rather as a wise "gray cardinal" without whom no decision can be made. "It is important for the authorities to have an experienced and strong leader in the leadership of the internal affairs bodies (Avakov - Texty.org.ua)." They explain the increased attention to Avakov with the intrigues of "Soroslings" and representatives of anti-corruption organizations: "it's about a quarrel between "the locals" and "the people of the State Department", and you can go and try to understand which of them is the worse."

Ukraine is the “anti-Russia”

Another important topic this week was the geopolitical confrontation between Ukraine and Russia. The key narratives here are the reintegration of the occupied territories and the possibility of further economic cooperation with Russia.

Regarding the reintegration of the occupied areas in Eastern Ukraine, clickbaits have disseminated the words of the former adviser to the head of the National Security and Defense Council Serhiy Syvokho: “Naturally, there is a large percentage of those who want to return to Ukraine, but do not want to return to Ukraine, which Poroshenko tried to create, where the Donbas was constantly abused

In matters of cooperation with Russia, they promote the topic of Ukraine's dependence on the Russian market: “cooperation with Russia and the CIS is the only option suitable for Ukraine; for Europe Ukraine is simply a "raw materials appendage”.

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues write that plans for deoccupation "will never be realized." At the same time, they claim that Ukraine has aggressive intentions towards Crimea: “Kyiv constantly talks about this in order to drive into the heads of young Ukrainian citizens the idea that the Crimea can supposedly be recaptured from Russia”.

At the same time, Russian sites are trying to sow distrust in the EU and the United States. For example, EU consultants dealing with decentralization and effective governance are called "scammers". For them, the manipulators offer a simple forecast: “Having visited Ukraine, they are being introduced into Ukrainian corruption schemes, which are fuel for many international scammers. This is all an ordinary scam, the same as the EU itself is.

For several weeks in a row, disinformers have been promoting the topic "The EU is robbing Ukraine." Although they are still unable to explain how the developed countries of Western Europe can "profit" at the expense of Ukraine.

Finally, they write about Ukraine being "under the control of the United States" and hope that "eventually the information blockade, which is now established in Ukraine, will crack, and then the citizens of the country will learn about all the crimes committed by the authorities."

Such theses are targeted at people who are in the field of influence of the Russian media. However, with the very frequent repetition and infiltration into the Ukrainian information space, some of these judgments fly out of the mouths of politicians and officials - they reach their targets.

Zelensky self-promotes with construction and appoints

"clowns" to Minsk

As for Zelensky and his entourage, clickbaits have written a lot about exposings by MP Geo Leros. Earlier, the deputy published recordings of conversations of the brother of the head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak, where the man offered to promote a state appointment for a fee.

Manipulators are surprised by the high level of trust in Zelensky. They write that the president is deliberately shifting responsibility for failures to the prime minister and other officials in order to protect his rating. “This is in the eyes of Ukrainians an imitation of that supposedly Zelensky has nothing to do with what is happening in the country”.

Clickbaters also drew attention to the plans to deploy a "large-scale construction" of infrastructure in the country. According to them, this is a way to attract the sympathy of voters to the “Servant of the People” party in the local elections: "the head of state began to openly attribute to himself other people's merits for the sake of public relations and raising his own rating."

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues were outraged by the fact that at the initiative of the Ukrainian side, displaced persons from the occupied territories would be present at the Minsk talks. They blamed Zelensky himself for this: “Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed "clowns" who imitate the negotiation process to posts of responsibility”.

Leading Russian sites call Zelensky's policy "flawed, incompetent, and ineffective." And the president himself is accused of "surrounding himself with people connected with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and American financier George Soros."

Also this week:

“All of your global anti-epidemiological theory turned out bullshit”

Russian disinformers continue to pump up emotions around the coronavirus and to drive readers into logical traps: “The drug did turn out to be worse than the disease. Actually, there are two questions: if quarantine measures did not help and were not so necessary, then who will be responsible for the damage to the economy? And if they helped and were necessary to save people's lives, then who will be responsible for the lives of those who die due to the quarantine being lifted? The answer to both questions is: no one”. We will remind that social distancing, masks, and antiseptics are necessary. Weakening of quarantine is already causing an increase in new cases.

The end of the era of poverty

Manipulative sites write about the statements of the Rada deputies on Ukraine's cooperation with the IMF: “President Zelensky is obliged to make public the conditions that the International Monetary Fund has set for the country and to name the representatives who will negotiate the loans”. And they are also amused by the news that a video of the fights in the Rada got into an advertisement of a European theater.

Crimea’s disappeared water

Russian MPs suggest "forgetting" about the Dnieper water for Crimea: "The North Crimean canal, which previously supplied Dnieper water from Ukraine to the Crimea, has fulfilled a historic mission, but now the peninsula must solve the water supply itself." And disinformers quote Poklonskaya's words that the decision to block the North Crimean channel will affect "the state of the ecosystem of both the lower Dnieper and the Crimea." In general, they say that the Ukrainian authorities "pursue a misanthropic policy."

“American Maidan”

Disinformation reports say that because of the "racist pogroms", the United States has "lost the right to comment on human rights." And the American police are accused of "lynching". This is one of the long-standing narratives of pro-Russian manipulators. Allegedly, "international law" and "human rights" are not respected by anyone, so Russia has the right to do anything in its territory.


Disinformers wanted to use the scandals surrounding the Minister of Interior Arsen Avakov in order to discredit Ukrainian veterans. They called them "thugs" and tried to shift responsibility for police violence onto them. They also regretted the "under-reform" of the police. But the main problem of the reform for them was not that old corrupt personnel remained in the ranks of law enforcement but, on the contrary, the loss of valuable "professionals". That is, police officers who did not pass the certification and did not return to service.

Manipulative sites wrote a lot about the "staff shortage", because of which Zelensky brings to power "nominees of oligarchs." In general, much criticism has been leveled at the president's recent decisions. He has been accused of shielding himself from criticism with the prime minister. And, he is allegedly trying to self-promote with infrastructure projects before the local elections. But disinformers were particularly hateful about the President's Office's decision to include displaced persons as representatives in the Minsk talks. The DPs were called "clowns" who would "imitate the negotiation process."

In domestic politics, disinformers are attacking the decentralization reform. They write that local authorities "are the patrimony of regional oligarchs" and instead try to promote their own idea of "federalization".

Examples of headlines

Anticipating the local elections: the "servants's" greed and "mild" federalization

Zelensky has given Dnipro City to the mercy of Kolomoisky as a compensation for PrivatBank, - Aleksander Kochetkov | ua24ua.net

The best city on Earth is turning into sh** | ua24ua.net

“Servants of the People” lack local activists. The party of power turned out greedy | front-novorossii.ru

“Party-zation of Ukraine”: Zelensky’s party changes local elections | dnr-lnr.info

New minister of culture and the personnel miracle that failed to happen

Zelensky lets nominees of oligarchs and his own entourage rule the state — Deutsche Welle | antikor.com.ua

“Appointing Tkachenko a minister is a parody” | ua24ua.net

The poor child of the “staff shortage” | ukrrudprom.com

Kolomoisky’s manager, Borodiansky’s nepot. What makes minister-to-be Tkachenko famous | nk.org.ua

In accordance to Goebbels testament. Who and why will head the ministry of culture of Ukraine | ukraina.ru

Kolomoisky’s media man to be appointed to the cultural front, Poroshenko’s person to European integration | front-novorossii.ru

Avakov "an experienced and strong leader", Zelensky "doesn't decide anything"

Avakov to the MPs: “It’s not you who will teach me to love the Motherland” | pravda.rv.ua

Why is Ukraine turning into Somali? | lifedon.com.ua

“Ukraine is arming itself”. Nemensky tells why Avakov will remain the Minister of Interior| ukraina.ru

How Avakov “loves” the motherland. The minister agrees it’s bad but not quite so | ukraina.ru

People of Zelensky’s party call on “men with balls” to dismiss Avakov | lenta.ru

Ukraine is the “anti-Russia”

Natalia Korolevska is sure that Ukraine won’t restore itself without Russia | begemot.media

Chaplyha disclosed the scheme of foreigners buying Ukrainian internal debt cheap | nahnews.org

Ukraine’s unwillingness to negotiate with the Donbas directly is the sign of LPR’s and DPR’s independence | feedproxy.google.com

Time to talk about markets? Russia and Ukraine remember mutual trade | front-novorossii.ru

“US leash went slack”. Oleinik sees a chance for sound forces in Ukraine | front-novorossii.ru

Zelensky self-promoting with construction and appointing "clowns" to Minsk

Ukrainians still see Zelensky as a “good tsar” deceived by “bad boyars” - political scientists | kordon.org.ua

Roads and showers. How Zelensky’s turning Ukraine into a construction lot named after himself | skelet-info.org

Zelensky warns the nation of a new struggle against jamón | front-novorossii.ru

DPR realizes why the wise Ukrainian people elected “histrion” as their president | novorossiy.info

Perverted PR: are Zelensky and Poroshenko playing in concert? | rusvesna.su


We searched for topics in 11673 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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