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Just like in 1937, Russians invent concentration camps. Disinformation monitor #62

  • Emotional elaborations on the plans of constitutional “juntalings
  • Discrediting the state via legislatory “spam”
  • Insulting Ukrainian sociology
  • Accusing Ukraine of building concentration camps
  • Trying to bury the mayor of Kharkiv alive
  • See how disinformation topics have been changing over the year in our interactive visualization

Period: November 9–15, 2020

Disinfo topics

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

“Good old hit” of the week

Poroshenko is "preparing a coup against Zelensky." Once again. Well, or for a very long time (we have been seeing this message for over a year). Disinformers write that this time everything is true: "before it was largely empty talk, but now after the election everything has become much more serious." And "about the early” parliamentary elections "only lazy people don’t talk now". So they are not lazy only in the OPFL?

Title of the week: “Constitutional juntalings at the arena of the green circus: hilarious or sad?”

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues have increased the emotionality and metaphorical nature of their texts on the constitutional crisis in Ukraine. The approach to covering the crisis remains unchanged. As a result, a description of the suffering of the "locally bottled Soroslings" and Medvedchuk's fascination with the power of "reasonable pragmatism of a mature politician" was born.

Deputies' PR turns into a fake of "billions of hryvnias to thank the Maidanites"

Russian sites targeting Ukraine continue to disseminate statements by Ukrainian fugitive former politician Mykola Azarov about how well he managed the economy and how he would fight the effects of the coronavirus: “I did this (supported business by benefits - Texty.org.ua) in prosperous years, when there were no problems with Covid”. Azarov probably supported business, but it seems that only the business which was run by the entourage of the then-President Yanukovych. This is well illustrated by Ukraine's economic performance when Azarov was the prime minister. In the language of journalists of the business media during Mykola Azarov's tenure in the government, there was even the word "Azarivshchyna", which meant a gross violation of the law by the tax authorities and draconian fines without good reason.

Leading Russian and Ukrainian-focused websites have also circulated reports on a proposed lawon participants in the Revolution of Dignity and the families of Heroes”, proposing benefits to families of participants in the Revolution of Dignity. According to the justification note of the proposed law, 86 billion hryvnias are needed to implement the deputies' plans. Disinformers present this as evidence that Maidan is withdrawing money from the country. But if you read the financial justification of the bill, we are talking about benefits not only for participants in the Revolution of Dignity, but also for all participants in hostilities (which means more than half a million people).

It is unlikely that such a bill will be adopted. For comparison, 120 billion hryvnias is the entire budget of the Ukrainian armed forces. There is simply no such money in the budget. Most likely, the deputies submitted this bill for the sake of public relations, in order to show how much they care about the people who defend Ukraine. This is an example of "legislative spam" from which the Verkhovna Rada suffers. In the Ukrainian information space, such spam is usually ignored, but it often gives disinformers a reason to discredit the Maidan, reforms, and Ukraine in general.

Disinformers fuel panic and hysteria and incite citizens to meaningless revolt:

Given the imminent lockdown and medical crisis due to the corona, food riots and pogroms should be expected

There is no money even for the salaries of law enforcers. And if Zelensky thinks that the people's anger will fall not on him, but on Shmyhal, Lyubchenko, and the government as a whole, then he is mistaken. They will go first of all to the Bank street” (President’s Office - Texty.org.ua)

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Here’s how Ukrainian sociology is being discredited

Russian websites circulated a text in which an "expert" far from sociology wrote: "Electoral sociology, like history, is often the notorious Napoleonic whore in the convoy of winners." This is how he describes the discrepancy between the rating of the OPFL in the polls of KIIS and the Razumkov Center. However, the text itself is full of conclusions based on very weak arguments. For example, 3.4% of the difference between the data of the centers in support of OPFL is author "not quite a statistical error", not taking into account that it is necessary to consider an error of data of both centers, instead of only KIIS (2,6% for KIIS, 2.3% for RC). Taking into account the error of the two surveys, the difference becomes quite possible and within the limits predicted by the pollsters.

This text, which includes manipulations to devastatingly criticize professional sociology in Ukraine, was intended to lead the reader to the headline: "Will Ukrainian sociology exacerbate the conflict in Donbass?" , foresee "aggravation of confrontation in the east of the country and, possibly, in the Crimean region" and the destruction of the "middle class of the country."

In another text, the KIIS survey data prompts the author to another unexpected (at least for a critical reader) conclusion. It turns out that since "57.5% of respondents believe that Ukraine as a country is falling apart, is going to split. At the same time, 33% of respondents are convinced of the opposite: "the country is being sewn together, is on the path of unification", these are clear signs of schizophrenia in Ukrainian society. Recall that schizophrenia is understood as a bifurcation of consciousness - there are all signs of such a bifurcation in society as a whole”. Although from this point of view, there is probably no "schizophrenia" only in totalitarian societies, where there are no public opinion polls. Because the diversity of opinions is a natural phenomenon inherent in all human communities. The KIIS poll was commissioned by people affiliated with the pro-Russian Opposition Platform For Life party, which has been criticized for ambiguous questioning and limited answer options. The KIIS explains that the questions and answers formed from the results of the focus groups. You can read more about this story here.

It should be noted that in Ukraine, indeed, the sociological community is often discredited by fabricated ratings from pseudo-sociologists. However, there are also well-known professional sociological centers that control the quality of their data and work in accordance with international standards. It is their activity that is being attacked by (pro)Russian sites, because it shows an unfavorable and well-founded truth. Read our project about which of the sociologists can be trusted and which cannot.

Also this week:

Weekend lockdown: "sabotage and gimmicks"

Russian sites only criticized the weekend lockdown, forgetting to mention that any quarantine measures save lives and that, despite the economic damage, it becomes impossible to ignore the spread of the epidemic (we have described our position here in more detail).

Once again, the Russian vaccine was advertised: "Maybe it's not a 100% panacea, but it's definitely better than the weekend nonsense." And it should be recalled once again that this vaccine has not yet passed all stages of clinical trials. And that after that, its production will continue. So it is unknown when it will be available (and safe). Meanwhile, the number of hospitalizations and deaths is growing.

Kharkiv “criminality” as described by Russian mainstream sites

Ukraine is a country where the mayor of a city of millions can be kidnapped and killed. At least, this is the idea that Russian mainstream sites are trying to suggest to their readers. Because it is difficult to explain otherwise why they picked up the news that “The mayor of Kharkiv, who won the election, mysteriously disappeared. A criminal case has been opened". However, the story of the alleged premeditated murder (which is only the result of one person's appeal to the police and the formal opening of the case for one day) forgot to mention that Kernes "disappeared" when he was transported to a clinic in Germany due to severe coronavirus. And if this was ever mentioned, then in the end the Russian media added something vague: "in social networks, there were repeatedly reports that the mayor allegedly died." However, they ignored the not-so-vague refutations from the city council about the death of the mayor, or, for example, this photo of Kernes alive in Charité Clinic.

Ukrainians remember “Nazi” methods and want to build “concentration camps”

Another example of how Russian disinformation creates a parallel reality to the Ukrainian media is the "law on internment." This proposed bill basically describes how the state should treat prisoners of war during a special period (ie, in fact, during mobilization and military aggravation). Its rules must be in line with the Geneva Convention and international law. In addition to prisoners of war, the proposed law describes how the state can interact with internees, i.e. citizens of the aggressor country, who can be relocated from the place where they live in the event of extreme threat to national security.

Disinformers present this proposed bill as a way to "imprison Russian citizens in special camps without trial or investigation." Although the bill does not mention any camps. In addition, they quote Ukrainian pro-Russian politicians, who are heating up the hysteria: "the Ukrainian people keep in mind the memory about the methods of the Nazis, and there is a line of lawlessness that the people will never allow to be crossed."

For reference, the Geneva Convention stipulates that any state may intern citizens of the aggressor country in the event of a serious danger and requires the provision of their rights and needs during this period. The same is reiterated in the bill.

Summary

On the most important issues, the stance of propagandists remains stable, only the form and emotionality of presentation change. For example, we have been reading forecasts of a coup d'etat from Poroshenko for a year now. Also, since the very appearance of the coronavirus in Ukraine until the introduction of weekend lockdown, any attempts to slow down the spread of the virus are subject to devastating criticism. The Constitutional Court remains on the list of heroes liberating Ukraine from the power of "colonizers", second only to Medvedchuk and the Russian vaccine.

At the same time, the mouthpieces of Russian propaganda are catching any popular news item in order to use it to promote their ideas. For example, this week, by analogy with the concentration camps, they completely distorted the law on internment, attached too much importance to ordinary parliamentary PR because of impassable and unenforceable bills, and even picked up the fake on the abduction and death of Kernes because all this fits well with their own image of Ukraine.

Methodology

We searched for topics in 20900 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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