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It was Poroshenko who cut down forests and caused floods. Hot topics if Russian disinfo. Issue #43

  • Manipulators frightened readers with strict lockdown and pumped up a confrontation between the center and local authorities.
  • They quoted and distorted Saakashvili’s comments.
  • They reiterated Medvedchuk’s theses of Russian propaganda.
  • They offered a way for pro-Russian opposition to protect itself against nationalists.
  • Pumped up emotions around Carpathian floods and looked for culprits.
  • Follow topics for more than a year on the dashboard.

Period: June 22—28, 2020

Disinfo topics

% of news related to the topic among all mews from the group of sites

Hysteric fit of the week

Saakashvili’s Facebook post about the burden of Ukrainian bureaucracy. However, this is almost not noticeable behind comparisons between Ukraine and Russia. Was it a bad choice of comparisons or provocation? “Saakashvili: Ukrainian state does not exist”.

Lockdown and epidemic: «people believed the fairy tales that coronavirus didn't exist»

Manipulators, struck by the new disease incidence anti-record, intimidated: "They will be catching and fining people en masse, all because most people believed in fairy tales tales about Freemasons and that the coronavirus does not exist." Although it is the manipulators themselves who promote these "fairy tales"; in previous issues we recorded statements that lockdown was not justified, and the coronavirus is not dangerous at all.

Meanwhile, Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues continue to flirt with local authorities, preparing a fertile ground for the theses of federalization: “The central government actually washed its hands, shifting the lion's share of responsibility for the development of the COVID-19 situation to local authorities (who largely fought with the epidemic on their own, involving businessmen) ".

Medvedchuk repeats a list of Russian propaganda topics before the Day of Constitution

Medvedchuk used the Constitution Day to list all the major Russian theses he has been diligently promoting for a long time. Among them: the thesis of external governance, of the power belonging to "unpunishable national radicals and "wandering activists", the tariff genocide and total impoverishment, the (made up in Russia) policy of "forced Ukrainization", the desire to “turn Ukrainians into slaves deprived of all rights” and the destruction of the health care system featuring Suprun in the lead role.

Saakashvili’s odious self-promotion

Meanwhile, Saakashvili feeds Russian disinformers with perfect content. "Saakashvili spoke about Russia's superiority over Ukraine" and "Saakashvili told how Russia is defeating Ukraine" are the headlines of articles owing to his quote about how "Russia is far ahead of Ukraine in terms of deregulation, tax system, and business development." Another of his quotes was turned into "Mikheil Saakashvili said that there is no state of Ukraine, instead there is only a bunch of officials, and the quality of people's lives is determined by a 'chip in the ear.'

Even the disinformers themselves saw this as an outright provocation and wrote that Saakashvili "decided to irritate Ukrainian society and once again play off Ukrainians against each other".

We would like to add that disinformation can also come from seemingly neutral words. However, Saakashvili did not say things in a neutral way. The chairman of the Council of Reforms under Zelensky is responsible (in our opinion) on a par with disinformers for publications titled "Saakashvili spoke about Russia's advantages over Ukraine", "Saakashvili: Ukraine has lost justice" or "Saakashvili: there is no Ukrainian state".

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Flood in the Carpathians, victim blaming

Even while writing about the natural disaster in Western Ukraine, Ukrainian manipulators managed to mention "pseudo-patriots": the flood was the result of "barbaric deforestation carried out by members of the Poroshenko regime under the close attention of Petro Poroshenko himself."

And Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues not only failed to express condolences to the flood victims, but also described them as "the residents of the Carpathians punished for deforestation." And they added: "Residents of Western Ukraine know how one should live in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Donetsk, but do not know how to stop the deforestation of the Carpathians and the floods as the consequence."

Also this week:

Deoccupation of Crimea is Zelensky’s “enslavement plan”

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues scoffed at the words of the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine that Russia owes Ukraine money for the fleet's stay in the Crimea: "nothing will come out of Ukraine except an outstretched hand." They quoted Russian politicians who seemed to be trying to convince themselves that "Crimea is lost to Ukraine forever."

Ukraine needs “squads” against nationalists

Manipulators continue to glorify Anatoly Shariy "whose party members are really hunted down by the neo-Nazis in Ukraine." It will be recalled that clashes between Azov and Shariy's party began after party activists beat two Azov participants in the Kyiv metro. Disinformers often mention the Azov (National Corps) members as typical "terrible nationalists", while pro-Russian media can also positively mention their leader Biletsky (example). As a result, disinformers may portray the Shariy party members as victims of nationalists and call for forceful decisions. They are already trying to implement a similar idea in some regions, led by the ROC in Ukraine.

EU disintegrates, US is in for a «Maidan», and Russia only benefits from the sanctions

Russian websites are trying to justify why Germany should oppose the US sanctions on Nord Stream 2. They call the sanctions "a gross US interference in German and European sovereignty." And Russia is strengthening and building “autarky” under the sanctions, i.e. a state with a closed economy that produces and consumes all goods itself and does not buy anything abroad. The most famous example of autarky now, though still not completely closed, is North Korea.

Summary

This week, disinformers presented the results of their own work as an innate stupidity of Ukrainians. They wrote that people in Ukraine believed the "fairy tales" that the coronavirus did not exist and because of this people would be "Caught and fined." The disinformers themselves had spread theses about the "artificial" origin of the coronavirus, or that it did not exist.

They also imposed the myth of responsibility for the floods in Western Ukraine on locals and "pseudo-patriots." They deliberately manipulated and reduced the causes of the floods to deforestation. We have already written that logging is not the main cause of natural disasters. But it is convenient for manipulators to use the fellings to split people into different camps and incite them against each other.

Another notable topic was the increase in street activity of pro-Russian parties. a member of parliament of the OPFL party suggested creating "squads" against the nationalists. And in Melitopol, the ROC in Ukraine created a "Cossack" patrol. It was informal armed groups that were at the forefront of Russian aggression in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

Methodology

We searched for topics in 8622 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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