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Discrediting Ukrainian culture, defending Medvedchuk, the new minister of healthcare Liashko. Disinformation monitor #80

  • Liashko is “Doctor Death No. 2” created by Soros
  • Medvedchuk’s case is a tool to blackmail the Kremlin and to revenge Russia for Navalny
  • Embroidered shirt is “the symbol of stealing and culturelessness” and a tool to “artificially separate the Little Russian and the Big Russians”
  • Ukraine is an “understate” and Russia will defend “the Russian things” in Ukraine
  • Ukraine promotes “keyboard warriors” who destabilize Crimea
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: May 17—23, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

"Columns of Ukrainian homosexuals" aroused the sense of humor of Ukrainian clickbait sites. However, on Russian websites, Skabeeva's statement was quoted in all seriousness in order to give her assessment of the transgender pride march in Kyiv and to scare her readers with the influence of sodomitic Europe. The traditional holiday of embroidered shirts was also turned into a tribute to the symbol of "theft and culturelessness" by disinformers. And the appointment of Lyashko to the post of Minister of Healthcare was accompanied by the reproduction of the usual wave of hatred for Suprun and medical reform. There were also aggressive attacks on Ukrainian statehood, Ukraine was called a "non-state" and its disintegration was predicted again.

Stepanov's dismissal. "Doctor Death is back"

Minister Stepanov's dismissal has been the focus of all news related to coronavirus and vaccination. Ukrainian clickbait sites have split into two camps. The former generally supported the resignation and considered who initiated it and why. The second camp tried to stand up for the former minister, calling him an effective manager, and shifting all problems in the field of counteracting the coronavirus epidemic onto prime minister Shmyhal's shoulders ("the Prime Minister of Ukraine should bear direct responsibility for the failure to fight the coronavirus epidemic"). They wrote that it was "revenge of Suprun's supporters", "Dr. Death is returning", and Stepanov's resignation "will lead to the outflow of valuable professional medical personnel from the country."

Theses of the second camp about Lyashko as "Doctor Death 2" were supported by Russian sites that write about Ukraine. They linked the previous minister's resignation to a recent visit by the US Secretary of State, complaining that Lyashko's appointment "will restore the Suprun process" and that the Ministry of Healthcare will "hand it over to Western embassies." Lyashko himself was called "a creature of George Soros's structures" and "one of the brightest representatives of the so-called Soroslings in Ukraine."

Medvedchuk's case. Repression in Ukraine and revenge for Navalny

Ukrainian clickbait sites continue to remind their readers that "Medvedchuk is the only representative of a truly opposition political force in Ukraine today." They reiterate that "Ukraine has a whole system of punitive repression" and do not hesitate to quote Azarov: "This is a strategy to turn Ukraine into a springboard for aggression against Russia."

Russian websites that write about Ukraine follow the same path and use the same arguments. They also draw parallels with Navalny ("The situation with Medvedchuk may be a mirror response of the West to Putin"), compare Zelensky with Yanukovych (referring to Tymoshenko's imprisonment in 2011), turn the case against Medvedchuk into a way of blackmailing the Kremlin demanding a meeting with Putin, and simply add weight to their theses with quotes from "a West-Ukrainian expert."

Putin will not publicly harness himself for Medvedchuk, but after a while some kind of "counterpunch" from the Kremlin will definitely arrive

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Embroidered shirt as a "symbol of Ukraine's destruction"

While Ukrainian websites discussed politicians' embroidered shirts and Zelensky's fashion style, Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues managed to turn the Embroidery Day into an occasion to remind about their anti-Ukrainian propaganda narratives. They wrote that the embroidered shirt had become a "symbol of theft and culturelessness," a "symbol of the destruction of Ukraine." They turned the mass long-term support of this holiday by Ukrainians into "forced introduction of the cult of embroidery", and the scandal in Kharkiv (due to a woman's statement against the parade of embroidered shirts) became a source of reflection such as “Kharkiv, occupied by the current Kyiv regime, artificially attempted to be turned into the centre of jingoism. Fortunately, without success. "

Of course, the Russian world had to be mentioned: “The myth about "embroidered shirt" was invented by new Ukrainian politicians in order to emphasize the "self-identity" of Ukrainians and to convince everyone that the population of Ukraine is some kind of "original ancient civilization" and not a Russian nation. It looks like sheer idiocy and is done to artificially separate the Little Russians and the Great Russians - parts of the same people”.

Russia protects "the Russians" but not in Belarus

Russian sites targeting Ukraine continued Putin's "Anti-Russia" theme last week: "The country will turn into a militarized zone and be pumped with weapons, constantly pushed for provocations against Russia in order to draw it into a war." At the same time, they painted gloomy scenarios of Ukraine's "future." These scenarios fit into the narrative of Russian propaganda about Ukraine as a "non-state." Disinformers claim that Ukraine is "Collected from different territories", "The armed Forces of Ukraine drive on Russian fuel", "The owners of Ukraine are the local oligarchs and Americans."

Another topic is the traditional protection of "Russians" in Ukraine. Disinformers claim: "Kyiv authorities have taken hostage Russian residents of Ukraine." They specify that "Russians" live in almost all regions of the country, and Russia is ready to "rigidly answer" for "Any attempts to destroy Russian things in Ukraine". We have already seen exactly how Russia responds to the illegal detention of its citizen in Belarus. Russia is not defending the Russians, but its own puppet, the unrecognized regime in Belarus. Russia would like to do the same in Ukraine.

Another thesis that Russia is actively using and which is being dispelled by propagandists is the "hostility" to Ukraine of its western neighbors. "Poland claims Galicia and Volhynia, which were part of it from 1921 to 1939, Romania claims Bukovina and Bessarabia, and Hungary claims Transcarpathia." In reality, at least Poland and the Baltic states are reliable allies of Ukraine, which supported it after Russia's aggression. Ukraine also has constructive relations with its other neighbors, despite historical contradictions.

Headline of the week: “Kyiv’s Plan B: the LGBT start their march on the Donbas”

The pride march of transgender people in Kyiv did not leave Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues and Russian propagandists indifferent. As a result, even Ukrainian mainstream sites quoted Skabeyeva and her statements that "columns of Ukrainian homosexuals" were going to attack the Donbas. However, unlike Russian sites, they quoted her with humor.

Crimean "keyboard warriors"

As for Crimea, disinformers write that "under the auspices of the Americans, a special project has been created in Ukraine to destabilize the situation in Crimea." This project will work with the help of the "keyboard warriors" on the Internet. And its goal, as disinformers claim, is to "shake up the situation in general in the Russian Federation." Crimea is now under Russian military occupation, political persecution is flourishing there, especially against Crimean Tatars, and there is still a shortage of drinking water. Nothing can destabilize Crimea as much as Russia itself.

Zelensky the boaster and “a drug addict"

Disinformers wrote that Zelensky was using the National Security and Defense Council "to settle scores and redistribute spheres of influence" and that sanctions against Russian companies and pro-Russian politicians were illegal. They assessed the president's success in two years in office: "GDP under Zelensky declined, industry continues to fall", and they accused him of self-confidence. Finally, they pondered whether Zelensky was a "drug addict": "Whether Zelensky is a drug addict is a mystery, but so far many facts indicate this."

Also this week

Propagandists wrote that Russia can celebrate victory in the battle for the completion of Nord Stream 2, and the United States has sacrificed the interests of Ukraine. Also, they wrote about the confrontation between Zelensky and Klitchko in Kyiv. The Armed Forces were accused of shelling the "defenders of the Donbas." They wrote about Judge Chaus, who was not quite found, and that Zelensky was trying to accuse Russia of kidnapping him. They were frightened by the fact that the land in Ukraine was "bought at the price of an iPhone or a bottle of expensive cognac" and by the fact that the Russian language was "persecuted" in Ukraine. They tried to hold Ukraine responsible for blocking the talks in the Tripartite Contact Group. And the bill on "oligarchs" was called "the purge".

Summary

Behind the constant political topics, one can sometimes forget that cultural aspects are an integral part of Russian propaganda. However, the reflection of disinformers on the day of the embroidered shirt only confirms that the seemingly insignificant questions, such as "whose borsch?" have no less (or even more) weight than discussions of current political events, such as Stepanov's resignation or the case against Medvedchuk. After all, the ideology of the "Russian world" is aimed not so much at supporting pro-Russian political forces as at devaluing Ukrainian self-identity. That is why Soviet (imperial) history must be preserved, while Ukrainian symbols and traditions must be discredited.

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 21318 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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