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“Indian junk”. Russian disinfo persuades not to get vaccinated. Disinformation monitor #70

  • Sternenko is Poroshenko's competitor who distracts people from the failure of vaccination
  • Mocking Indian vaccine and calling Ukrainians “lab guinea pigs”
  • The IMF demands to raise the utilities tariffs and to pursue other "anti-social" policies
  • Zelensky is a “dictator” but a “puppet” one
  • Ukrainians will “give flowers” to the Russian army
  • See how disinformation topics have been changing over the year in our interactive visualization

Period: February 22—28, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new?

Disinformers openly rejoiced at any information about the refusal of the vaccine among doctors, and called to ignore the vaccination. Attempts were made to pump up doubts about the quality of the vaccine produced in India, although this vaccine was approved and purchased by Western countries (Canada, Britain). Here is a typical quote: “lab rats massively flee from the ship: no one wants to be an object for testing”. They also wrote that Sternenko is an alternative to Poroshenko as the leader of the allegedly few pro-Ukrainian voters.

Quote of the week

The IMF is a pawnshop for the chronic alcoholic for whom the only way to get money for a bottle is to pawn household appliances from home, or to pawn stolen stuff. To a country that works with the IMF, not investors come, but financial speculators.”

Fake of the week. A death in the Army caused by vaccine

Not a single week passes without a new fake about the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the coronavirus vaccine. This time on one of the Russian mainstream sites wrote: “Two fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), who participated in the so-called "Joint Forces Operation" in Donbass, have died after being vaccinated against COVID-19. On February 27, an officer of the press service of the People's Militia of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) announced this, as reported by "LuhanskInformCenter". Death after vaccination is an outright fake, but the fact that 11 servicemen were killed in the Donbas in February is a tragic reality of the continuous war with Russia which goes on not only on the information front.

Sternenko's verdict: "here comes vindication"

The coverage of the reaction to Sternenko's verdict by the Ukrainian manipulative media was aimed at maximally polarizing readers. They quoted both positive and negative emotional reactions from social media users, or, for example, disseminated an interview with Sternenko's alleged school teacher under the headline "’Villain, drug addict, murderer’. Sternenko’s school teacher speaks about the past of the radical". Added to this were conspiratorial reflections on a suspiciously fast protest, abstract theses that the verdict was a pretext for the nationalists to "warm up their engines," and that Sternenko himself "is not yet the cause of the future Maidan, he is a pretext for it."

The main leitmotif of the Russian sites that wrote about Sternenko's verdict was the demonstration of the lack of unity among the pro-Ukrainian forces: “In the evening, angry patriots, Soroslings, and even indignant Poroshenko-fans began to gather near Zelensky's office.” The latter should not have been there, though, since Sternenko is a rival "firm". An uncompromising struggle for the trippy voters is going on between "Eurosolidarity" and the Soroslings. The constituency, only 17-18 percent, so there can be only one leader. It’s either Poroshenko, or Sternenko together with the Soroslings”.

In addition, Russian websites created an artificial confrontation between Poroshenko and Sternenko. They wrote that the latter was "promoted in the media specifically to make him an alternative to the former president." Well, or in order to distract the population from the problems with the beginning of mass vaccination and the purchase of Indian vaccines.

In the protests in support of Sternenko, according to the Russian sites targeting Ukraine, only "radicals" took part. Preparations for the protests were described under the emotional headline: "Deserted streets and police cordons: Kyiv is preparing for riots of radicals (PHOTOS)." And Sternenko himself was described as emotionally as possible: “He is like your Navalny, only much cooler. An excellent track record for a true leader of the nation: extortion, kidnapping of a local council deputy, torture with the help of pliers, shooting from an unidentified weapon over the tortured man’s head, killing a man with a knife."

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Covid-19 vaccination in Ukraine: "Indian junk" and "the Covidian ghetto"

The way Ukrainian manipulative media wrote about the purchase of the COVISHIELD vaccine can be described by one of their own headlines: "The Indian Covid-19 vaccine continues to be ridiculed on the Internet." They accompany their texts with phrases such as "The Chinese in the scheme have been replaced by the Hindus" and reflections on large-scale corruption schemes in the Ministry of Health. The agency is suspected of corruption by real media, too. Tymoshenko's populist-fantastic statements were disseminated: "If our team had the opportunity to manage the situation, we would have developed a domestic vaccine and free tests."

Russian websites targeting Ukraine also followed the path of ridiculing and discrediting the vaccine produced in India: "Ukraine, which claimed to be 'Europe', found itself at the level of the Black Continent." However, it should be noted that the COVISHIELD vaccine is not only available to third world countries. Its customers include the UK and Canadian governments, which have approved and ordered both British and Indian versions of AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, Russian sites paid much more attention to the failure of communication about the start of vaccination and a significant number of refusals to vaccinate among doctors: “lab rats massively flee from the ship: no one wants to be an object for testing”. They fueled hysteria fantasizing how "because of the reluctance of Ukrainians to be vaccinated with Covieshield, doctors will forge documents," and their "manual" experts were used for quotes with calls to ignore vaccination, “until the Indian vaccine is publicly shot to all OP officials and all the Rada deputies and members of their families."

Russian websites, following anonymous Telegram channels, spread "insider information" about how the President's Office offered "$ 1,000 for Indian drug vaccinations" to opinion leaders, or how Zelensky "ordered the compulsory vaccination of teachers and doctors with Hindu shit paid for with taxpayers’ money”. In addition, many people contemplated on Telegram that the Ukrainian "high-ranking leadership will not be inoculated with the Indian junk. Part of the elite has already been shot with underground Pfizer and Sputnik."

Since the vaccination campaign has started in Ukraine, all citizens can register in the queue to receive the vaccine through the "Diya" web portal. They will receive the vaccine depending on their status (risk group and job) and the availability of the free vaccine. Regarding the desire to be vaccinated, according to surveys, over 60% of Ukrainians answered that they want to get a vaccine against the coronavirus. The level of vaccination support in Ukraine is higher than in Russia and roughly corresponds to the level of vaccination support in the US and the UK.

IMF "promotes" rising utility tariffs

Clickbait websites compared Ukraine to an alcoholic who pawns his last property for alcohol. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was described as a pawnshop. Propagandists were also skeptical of President Zelensky's "Plan B" in case the IMF did not agree to lend to Ukraine. "Another of Zelensky’s sentence about ‘Plan B’ refers to the same semantic construction regarding the settlement of the situation in Donbass… That is, neither in the case of the Donbas nor in the situation with the IMF, the government actually has no alternative plan." They also attributed to the IMF "anti-social" demands that the fund has never had: "The demand to increase the cost of utilities is also logical, if you look at the situation through the eyes of the IMF. The Fund does not position itself as a charity."

Since last week, manipulations about the "real" price of Ukrainian gas have continued, using an interview with Acting Minister of Energy Vitrenko: "And in his interview he confirmed the fact that the real cost of Ukrainian gas is many times less than the artificially inflated tariffs, he explains”. We wrote about this in more detail in the previous monitoring. In short, disinformers distorted Yuri Vitrenko's words that the consumer allegedly has to pay more for "Ukrainian" gas than it actually costs.

Clickbait websites, along with Russian sites targeting Ukraine, have criticized the civil service bill which expands the powers of an acting minister: “The personnel crisis, the lack of competent managers at Ze Team, due to which the parliament has to be bent across the knee, is a dangerous precedent that upsets the balance in the power system.”

Quotes from the speakers of the pro-Russian party Opposition Platform - For Life (OPFL) were featured as usual. The OPFL demanded "raising health financing to the level of” 5% of gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, Ukraine has long been spending much more than 5% on healthcare. One of the problems with the medical system is that money is not used efficiently. It is to solve this problem that the medical reform has been taking place, the one which is so persistently criticized by disinformers.

"Ze Dictator" is another's puppet

Russian websites targeting Ukraine make a long list of claims against President Zelensky: "closes the mouth (air) of TV channels, attacks with the help of the SBU non grata politicians and their wives, gives the opportunity to open fire on the DPR and the LPR." However, they deny the subjectivity of the politician and point to Western ambassadors “behind his back”.

Clickbait websites, such as "k-stenke.com" accuse him of "the sin of pride", which exceeds "caring for his own people." They claim that by closing pro-Russian channels under Medvedchuk's control, he will not receive the support of "the jingo patriots." And the closed channels could "support" the president in a "difficult moment". But in reality, they constantly mocked both him personally and the Ukrainian state in general.

Also this week:

Sanctions against Medvedchuk and the high treason case of Shariy

The fact that many Ukrainian clickbait sites remain loyal to Medvedchuk and his family is evidenced at least by the existence of news under the lengthy headline: “Dear Oksanochka, God is with us! All the holy people of the Russian land, pray to God for us”: in the comments under the appeal of Oksana Marchenko, more than 2 thousand Ukrainians wrote flattering responses, supporting her”. This is the reaction of "journalists" of one of the clickbait media to Oksana Marchenko's report about her joining the OPFL party. Russian mainstream media also added affectionate words to their headlines: "Medvedchuk's wife is considered a Joan of Arc, opposed to the "demon-possessed king" and together with Russian sites targeting Ukraine, they reproduced a transcript of Medvedchuk's interview with Russia-1 TV channel program "60 minutes".

In the same way, Russian sites quoted Shariy's obscene reaction to his being placed on the “wanted” list (the propagandists were especially glad to quote the part where the blogger calls Ukraine a "black hole" and Zelensky an "underdeveloped dwarf"). And the site ukraina.ru (known as one of the mouthpieces of Russian propaganda) even described in detail the astrological analysis of the personality of Shariy, alternating words like "burned Mercury" with ideologically correct interpretations: "He is helped by Mars in conjunction with Pluto. He is a brilliant journalist who defines his subject matter sharply. Watching his videos is straight pleasure. Short, capacious, whipped. Everyone who is interested in what is happening in Ukraine knows Anatoly Shariy, of course".

Ukraine's "besiegement" of Crimea

As for Crimea, disinformers disseminated a quote by German MP from the far-right Alternative for Germany, Waldemar Gerdt, who is suspected of ties to Russia: "Stopping the supply of fresh water to the territory is a kind of a medieval method of siege." And Ukraine was compared to Nazi Germany. This deputy has repeatedly shown loyalty to Russia and disseminated its narratives. He met with Medvedchuk in Berlin, visited the occupied Crimea, and praised Nord Stream 2.

They also did not forget to mention Zelensky and his wife, who own real estate in the Crimea: “Mr. Zelensky's wife is still the owner of property in the territory of the Republic of Crimea, there are no debts for utility bills, which means that he pays everything to the occupationists in quotes actively, calmly.

Ukrainians will "compete to be the first to present flowers" to the Russian army

Clickbait websites wrote about an imaginary "party of war" that "must" be removed from power. They repeated the delusion about the "external governance" by Europe via which "In seven years, Ukraine has turned from a generally prosperous state into one of the poorest European countries." In fact, over the past seven years, even the country's light level has increased.

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues threatened Ukraine with the Russian army to which: "Ukraine will not even resist, and Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk will compete to be the fastest to give it flowers." And they reiterated accusations that Ukraine does not wish to fulfill the Minsk agreements: "Kiev risks losing the DPR and the LPR if it does not stop geopolitical adventures and does not start implementing the Minsk agreements." Meanwhile, the militants have in fact stated that they will not comply with the ceasefire, which directly violates the Minsk agreements.

Traditionally, no changes

Disinformers described "dissatisfaction" with the spread of the Ukrainian language and commented on Lesia Ukrainka’s anniversary by accusing her family of anti-Semitism. They wrote that the closure of resources that spread Russian disinformation is a transition to "dictatorial laws." In international relations, it was written that the United States was "pressuring" Europe and "showing aggression" against Russia. Nord Stream 2 was claimed to be completed soon, and Ukraine was accused of opposing the project.

Summary

The image of alcohol-addicted Ukraine and the IMF pawnshop, doctors as lab rats and Indian junk, Oksana Joan of Arc Marchenko and the underdeveloped dwarf Zelensky are all disseminated in numerous texts, and quotes with similar statements are quickly and effectively engraved in the memory of those who happen to see them.

In parallel with efforts to reduce trust in the government, ideas are being spread that threaten to lead to many deaths. Calls to ignore vaccination with the Indian "junk", amplified by fakes about death after vaccination among the military, are becoming a weapon.

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.

Methodology

We searched for topics in 21077 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.

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