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Was the President’s poll organized in order to obtain an atomic bomb? Disinformation monitor #59

  • Disinformers continue to cherish the dream of federalization of Ukraine and its disintegration into "principalities"
  • Russia is thrusting its vaccine down the throat of Ukraine, ignoring the needs of its own population
  • With his questions, Zelensky allegedly establishes a "cult of cannabis" and turns Ukrainian cities into a target for Russian weapons
  • Increasing the military strength of Ukraine, “the continuation of the policy of "non-interference" by Moscow is fraught with the final loss and occupation of historical Russian territories
  • See how disinformation topics have been changing over the year in our interactive visualization

Period: October 19–27, 2020

Disinfo topics

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

Local elections and the spectre of federalism

Last Sunday's local elections became the main topic of the week. As there are no final results yet, we suspect that disinformers will discuss them in the next few weeks. Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues wrote that the "servants" completely lost the election and that “A typical picture for any City Council is as follows: in the first place, the local party of the mayor; in the second place. OPFL or Eurosolidarity, depending on the region”.

They also campaigned for Popov, a candidate for mayor of Kyiv from the OPFL. But they wrote that he had a "bad biography" for today's Ukraine" because he was born in Kryvyi Rih and was the mayor of Horishni Plavny (at the time, Komsomolsk). In other words, disinformers accused Ukrainians of discriminating against candidates by place of birth, forgetting to remind that Popov was one of those responsible for the violence against protesters on the Maidan in 2013-2014, and at the time of Ukraine's declaration of independence he worked for the KGB. That is why his candidacy in the election became odious.

Disinformers speculate on what would happen "If forty-five deputies who are in line with Igor Kolomoisky leave the "servants" and predict the collapse of the coalition and re-election to the Verkhovna Rada. Along with the collapse of the coalition, it is alleged that "the central government will no longer be able to retain power in the regions, which could lead to polyarchy in Ukraine with the subsequent split of the country into several parts." To illustrate their fantasies, they used the story line from the TV series "Servant of the People" about the "disintegration of Ukraine into principalities." Now, after the local elections in Ukraine, decentralization has finally taken place and local self-government has received enough money and authority to solve local problems. This does not mean any kind of separatism or federalization.

Another argument in favor of "federalization" of Ukraine was the commitment of Vyacheslav Chornovil, a well-known dissident, politician, and Kravchuk's main rival during the 1991 presidential election. Chornovil did sympathize with the idea of federalization in the late 1980s as the best counterweight to the rigidly centralized Soviet Union, but he changed his stance after Russia's previous attempt to seize Crimea. Read more here.

Zelensky's five questions. "Plebiscite for the stoned"

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues could not leave Zelensky's "poll" free of their judgement. And although this so-called "poll" is indeed outside the legal field, has been the subject of criticism by the expert sociological community and has in fact been a manipulative device, Russian sites have added their own theses.

Assessing the content of the questions, the disinformers came to the conclusion that “For the first time in recent years, the Ukrainian authorities are concerned about the opinion of voters. But not on the most important issues for the country”, meaning a lack of issues that, for example, "relate to relations with Russia." Although, in fact, the question of the Budapest Memorandum did refer to relations with Russia.

Disinformers wrote that of all the questions, “it seems that only two of the "great five" have meaning." The first is related to "the Ukrainian president promoting the legalization of drugs," and "quite large-scale measures are being taken in the country to impose the cannabis cult." In particular, Russian manipulators wrote: "An impoverished, angry, sick Ukraininan, but ready to fight against Russia while stoned. This is the future prepared by the "independent state" by the current regime and its curators. Will the people of the southern Russian lands be able to realize who is really pursuing the policy of its destruction? That is the question. But the continuation of Moscow's policy of "non-interference" is fraught with the final loss and occupation of historic Russian territories."

But the question of the Budapest Memorandum was singled out as even more important. It turns out that public support for this issue "will untie the hands of the current government not only in its attempts to create its own bomb (which is almost impossible by now), but also to place nuclear charges or other formal and informal members of the "nuclear club" in Ukraine." And disinformers added: "The Ukrainian authorities are clearly not worried about the fact that the Ukrainian cities in which these bases will be located will become targets for Russian weapons."

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Russia suffers more than Ukraine does from coronavirus but obstinately wants to "share" its vaccine

In the now traditional topic of Covid-19, the coronavirus vaccine continues to come to the fore. Zelensky recently said in an interview that he had been presented with a potential Ukrainian vaccine. The president did not provide detailed information, so it is difficult to draw any conclusions, but it seems that even if the vaccine exists, it has not yet undergone clinical trials. As expected, the president's statement was quickly ridiculed by Russian disinformers, who have been advertising the "Russian vaccine" for the past few weeks and are now ridiculing potential Ukrainian developments: "There will be soon our own, national, probably borscht-flavored vaccine." Once again, since the Russian "vaccine" has not passed all clinical trials, its status is the same as that of the "Zelensky vaccine".

In addition to criticizing Zelensky, Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues wrote that “It was the US Embassy in Kyiv which forbade Ukraine to purchase the Russian coronavirus vaccine.”

The main argument why Ukraine needs the Russian "vaccine" was that "the situation with the spread of the coronavirus in the country is critical, most Ukrainian regions are already in the "red" zone." However, checking the official data on the spread of coronavirus, one can see that in Russia there are more cases of coronavirus (taking into account the population) and more deaths from it than in Ukraine. If the situation in Ukraine is critical, it turns out that a catastrophe is already happening in Russia. Surprisingly, in such a situation, Russia stubbornly offers its vaccine to Ukraine, instead of vaccinating its own population.

Also this week:

American “junk” for the Armed Forces of Ukraine: new Ukrainian navy bases “provoke” Russia

Russian disinformers write that the ships which Ukraine will receive from the United States are outdated and do not work. And the newest Javelin missile systems are expiring. As for the plans to build British military boats in Ukraine, they spoke even more prosaically: "Building their factories on the territory of the colony and using its resources is a centuries-old practice of Western countries that prefer to defecate in remote areas." In reality, thanks to the support of the United States and Great Britain, the Ukrainian navy is being replenished with new warships and is gradually becoming able to repel Russia at sea.

Of course, Russian disinformers do not like the fact that Ukraine can defend itself against Russian encroachments. They accuse US military planes flying over Ukraine of provocation and intimidate readers with NATO bases on Ukraine's coast. "NATO will be able to expand its not-yet-significant presence on the Ukrainian coast, thus challenging Russia." This is a typical trick of disinformers, they try to put Russia in the position of a victim that everyone provokes, thus trying to present Russian aggression as protection.

The blocked truth crusader, Viktor Medvedchuk

Russian propagandists ignored the scandal surrounding the book about poet Stus, but supported the wave of publications of Ukrainian junk sites about the so-called "real" reasons for blocking Medvedchuk's Youtube channel. It turns out that this was done "so that Ukrainians would not learn the truth about US biolabs and the Russian vaccine." Although, in fact, blocking Medvedchuk’s channel has helped reduce the number of fakes (and not the truth) about laboratories and the vaccine. Disinformers also bragged of Medvedchuk's "huge popularity among viewers," appealing to the number of subscribers. Although this rather shows cheating with the help of bots, as in his Twitter.

Summary

Last week, Russian disinformation was, as expected, focused on local elections. Such an important political event was used to promote major disinformation messages. They also supported pro-Russian forces and saw signs of approaching federalization and disintegration of Ukraine.

Russia itself has been turned into a peaceful victim forced to defend its borders from NATO nuclear weapons, the deployment of which, apparently, has been the main goal of Zelensky's five questions. All this, together with texts about Russia's scientific achievements in the fight against coronavirus and a great desire to provide vaccines to Ukrainians (even in spite of the lack of vaccines for the population of Russia itself) was aimed at proving once again the greatness of Ukraine's eastern neighbor and Ukraine’s puppet position on the hands of its “Western curators”.

Methodology

We searched for topics in 25236 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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