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Fokin the “giant of public conscience” and the tariff genocide. Disinformation monitor #56

  • Fokin is the only one who read the Minsk agreements, and Ukraine is waging war against Russia, not the other way around.
  • Autumn has begun, and disinformers recalled the "tariff genocide".
  • Ukrainian presidents are always getting worse, and Zelensky is behaving "spectacularly brazenly"
  • Medvedchuk promotes the Russian coronavirus vaccine.
  • Disinformers manipulate the topic of Karabakh to force concessions in the East out of Ukraine.
  • See how disinformation topics have been changing over the year in our interactive visualization

Period: September 28 – October 4, 2020

Disinfo topics

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

Hero of the week

National treasure of Ukraine” Vitold Fokin whom disinformers present as “the founder of independent Ukraine, 87 year old Peacemaker, Giant of public conscience

Lie of the week

Russian agent Derkach: “13 billion dollars were taken away from the population in a corrupt way and taken out of the country in the form of external government bonds”

Dismissing the “giant of public conscience” Fokin

Vitold Fokin still remains the focus of manipulators and disinformers. Last week, his dismissal as first deputy head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Tripartite Contact Group was discussed. Both Ukrainian manipulative publications and Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues promoted the same theses.

First, “war is a convenient matrix for the existence of authority plankton in Ukraine”, therefore “the political elite of Kiev is not interested in ending the war” and “everything that Ukraine has done since 2014 was intended to worsen the social situation on the territory of the republics to such an extent that they asked to be accepted back into Ukraine”. Fokin's dismissal was linked to an official refusal to comply with the Minsk agreements, and Fokin himself seemed to be "the only one in the Rada who read the Minsk agreements." Although it will be recalled that the first clause of the Minsk agreements provides for a complete ceasefire, and it is the Russian occupation forces that are neglecting the regime of silence and even using directed wildfires for combat purposes. The holding of local elections is directly related to the restoration of control over the Ukrainian state border with Russia, which is not mentioned by those who promote a special status and the holding of elections on the occupied territories.

The second thesis is best described by the Russian headline "Mortal Enemy of the Nazis: The Representative of Ukraine Told the Truth About Donbas and Russia for the First Time." It was promoted mostly by Russian sites, emphasizing that Fokin's quote about the absence of Ukraine's war with Russia is a confirmation of their anti-Ukrainian theories. Writing about the "Nazis", they mentioned Yarosh, who "offered Volodymyr Zelensky his candidacy as the head of the Ukrainian delegation" to the TCG, and quoted deputies from the OPFL as saying that the authorities were only convincing with their actions that is was Ukraine who was at war with Russia, and not the other way around. "B-52 missile carriers over Ukraine! What is that, if not war?").

By the way, it was the OPFL that tried hard to benefit from these events on the eve of the local elections. In the columns of manipulative media, they reasoned that "having so shamefully betrayed Fokin, Zelensky made a real gift to Medvedchuk just before the election" and once again criticized the "party of war", as they call the extremely peaceful Zelensky.

Russian disinformers named Fokin “National Treasure of Ukraine” and presented him as “the founder of independent Ukraine, 87 year old Peacemaker, Giant of public conscience”.

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Money from the high utilities tariffs goes for "megasalaries of Soros's top managers"

The heating season is approaching, and we expect disinformers to write more and more about the "tariff genocide." Manipulators use the topic of utility tariffs to discredit any government in Ukraine. They accused the government of high tariffs, which allow for “super profit for energy oligarchs, mega-salaries of Sorov’s [we assume that this is a mistake for "Soros’s" - Texty.org.ua] top managers of Naftogaz, payments on the pyramid of bonds and IMF loans, as well as revenues of numerous parasitic firms owned by tender corruptors”. Ukrainian fact-checkers have already written about the "mythical" increase in water and electricity tariffs which simply does not exist.

In reality, the market price of gas in Ukraine depends on the balance of supply and demand from European suppliers. Disinformers refer to their own calculations of the wholesale price for gas in EU: “the price fell to 36-54 euros for one thousand cubic meters (1.1-1.7 hryvnias for a cubic meter)” and they write that in Ukraine the price is high due to “re-export and manipulating the notorious “market price”.

The price depends on the region, demand, and agreements with suppliers. Ukraine competes for the best price with other countries on equal terms. In the first decades of its independence, Ukraine enjoyed "special" conditions for gas supplies from Russia. Thanks to them, gas was slightly cheaper, but due to a very low fee for the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine. And after 2006, Russia constantly raised the price of gas until it became higher than in the EU. Read more about Russia's gas policy in Ukraine in this report (from page 11 on).

Another topic for manipulation was Shmyhal's words that the solidarity pension system has become a burden for the country: "Ukraine has stated that it will not be able to pay pensions in the future." In fact, Shmyhal did not say anything about Ukraine's waiving of its obligations. Currently in Ukraine there is only a “solidarity pension system”, where most people receive a single, small pension. Shmyhal did not propose to abolish it, but only to supplement it with a cumulative component. You can learn more about why most countries in the world have problems with an aging population and pensions from one of our projects, and you can read about the cumulative system in this article.

Ukrainian presidents: every next one worse than the previous

Manipulative websites disseminated the words of the Russian agent Derkach that "13 billion dollars were corruptly taken from the population and taken out of the country in the form of foreign government bonds." He blamed "the group of [fugitive ex-president of Ukraine Viktor] Yanukovych and [the fifth president, People's Deputy from "European Solidarity] Petro Oleksiyovych [Poroshenko]." There are even two lies here, the first one being about the bonds. They cannot be "taken out" of the country. These are securities issued by the Ministry of Finance in order to attract money to the budget. Usually, the Ministry of Finance does this when it is necessary to cover a budget deficit, or when it is possible to attract "cheap" money at a low interest rate instead of expensive loans.

The other lie, or, more precisely, deliberate manipulation concerns the mixing of the roles of the two previous presidents of Ukraine. As for Yanukovych, there is a lot of evidence that he and his entourage did withdraw illegal money from Ukraine, there are investigations, there are assets blocked and returned to the budget. There is no such evidence or even cases against Poroshenko. In general, disinformers systematically discredit all Ukrainian presidents and try to show that each of them was worse than the previous ones. It is written about Zelensky's team that it "began to plunder it [the country - Texty.org.ua] according to Poroshenko's schemes, adopted the ideology and rhetoric of the previous government and finally destroyed its authoritativeness in the eyes of the people."

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues also criticized Zelensky for talks with the Polish leader: "such a demarche by Zelensky, which, firstly, strikes with absolutely spectacular brazenness, and secondly, the complete lack of practical reasons for such an ultimatum." They called the request of the Ukrainian president to restore Ukrainian burials on Polish territory an ultimatum. The looting of these graves is condemned in particular by representatives of the Polish intelligentsia, and the Ukrainian side asks the Polish partners to restore the burial site. It should be added that this is not the first time that Russian disinformation has worked to deepen Ukraine's disputes with its western neighbors.

Also this week:

Vaccine from the godfather of Medvedchuk’s child

Simultaneously with Russian leading media, Medvedchuk's words were disseminated by Ukrainian manipulative websites that "the authorities should focus not on road construction, but on buying the vaccine from COVID-19, which has already been developed and is being used in Russia." They are trying to create an image of a powerful "patron" for Russia, with whom it is necessary to maintain good relations, and for this, Ukraine could gain access to the vaccine (how safe the Russian one is unknown, it has not actually been tested).

“Servants” refuse to go to the frontline even for the sake of local elections

The scheduled meeting of the Servant of the People party on the front line was postponed due to weather conditions and the epidemic. This is where the facts end and the manipulations begin. Emotions were pumped on the shitsites ("They forgot about Donbas, they didn't do anything for it, for a year. It's too late to advertise. It's too late to go there. Now it's like absurdist theater"), they thought about the peace PR as a key "thing" of the party. (“after all, the "big construction" and the country in the smartphone suffered a complete fiasco and did not bring ratings. And the demand for peace in society is growing") and tried to offer "more useful" options ("They should not do a faction meeting in Donbas but distribute their deputies throughout the Donetsk oblast, give them party flags and make them pass among the people, look at the reaction"). It should be noted that roads are still being actively constructed in Ukraine, and millions of people use the "Diya" government app in their daily lives.

After the information about the postponement of the field meeting, Russian disinformation publications operating in Ukraine joined in. They, referring to a "source in the faction" of Strana.ua, which denied the objective reasons for postponing the meeting, ridiculed the deputies for the alleged unfounded fear; "Some are absurdly afraid. They say we will go, they will bomb us, and there will be re-elections. Allegedly, this is the plan. But this is nonsense, of course, they are just afraid to go."

Frightening with Karabakh in the East, demanding concessions from Ukraine

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues try to find a Ukrainian trace even in the events in the Caucasus region. They write that "Reluctantly, they [Ukrainian government officials - Texty.org.ua] had to support Azerbaijan in the war over Nagorno-Karabakh, and not Pashinyan's supporters close to them in grants and the spirit." They are also frightening their readers with the example of aggravation in Karabakh: “For Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh is the clearest example of how not to behave in a situation of local conflict in the presence of uncontrolled territory. And yet, what we see in Donbas is not a way to freeze the conflict, but a way of its endless smoldering." This is a surprisingly honest description of Russian policy in eastern Ukraine. Russia is not interested in ending the violence, on the contrary, for Russia, "smoldering" is a way to maintain its influence in Ukraine forever. She considers control over the whole country to be the price of "peace" in one part of Ukraine. But Russia blames Ukraine for its own policy, equating it with Armenia, which occupied part of Azerbaijan.

Summary

Disinformers continue to write about Vitold Fokin, a former member of the Contact Group in Minsk from Ukraine, who was recently dismissed. He has repeatedly voiced Russia's position about the occupied territories. Russian sites called him a "peacemaker" and a "national treasure."

In addition to negotiations with Russia, the manipulative sites returned to the seasonal topic of tariffs and utilities. They tried to convince that energy independence from Russia was not good for Ukraine. But the history of ten years of gas blackmail shows that Russia offers good gas prices only when it has to compete with other suppliers.

Besides the tariffs, disinformers speculated on pensions. They distorted Shmyhal's words about the reform of the pension system, pretending that Ukraine could not pay pensions.

Methodology

We searched for topics in 18053 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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