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Presidential summit, criticizing Zelensky’s initiatives, integration of Belarus and Russia. Disinformation monitor #82

  • Zelensky builds a university and fights with oligarchs
  • Anticipating Putin’s meeting with Biden and threats of escalation on the frontline
  • Attacking the Ukrainian language
  • Prophesying the integration of Belarus with Russia
  • Greek Catholics “sold the country and Christ”
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: May 31 — June 6, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

Coronavirus and vaccination are of less and less interest to both Ukrainian readers and disinformers. But more and more attention is paid to Zelensky and all his "projects": the bill against the oligarchs, the creation of the presidential university of the future and just all his videos, comments and speeches at press conferences. Propagandists also expressed various expectations about Zelensky's meeting with Biden and complained about possible European sanctions against Russia. And they rejoiced because sanctions against Belarus were pushing it into the arms of the "Union State."

Scary. Kravchuk the burner has found a way to solve the problem of the Donbas

Leonid Kravchuk's quote with criticism of the OPFL party and the metaphorical proposal "to burn it out of Ukraine" caused the expected outrage from the OPFL, which was immediately disseminated by Ukrainian clickbaits. Russian sites did not miss Kravchuk's interview, either. They described the biography of the head of the Ukrainian delegation of the TCG under the headline "Leonid Kravchuk on the trail of betrayal and lies" and did not forget to resent the proposal to "burn out the opposition" (which looks very strange on the part of Russia, which has long since dealt with its opposition, or, for example, poisoned and imprisoned Navalny).

Zelensky: university and oligarchs

Сlickbaits accompanied any more or less constructive criticism of Zelensky’s university project with emotional expressions, thus destroying constructive criticism and slipping into manipulations. Here are just a few quotes: "Zelensky's new moronic idea", "A pimply one [derogative for Yushckenko who had skin disease after he was poisoned presumably by Russia] has already built a ‘hospital of the future’, and now the nasal-voiced one is already building a ‘university of the future’".

Another popular topic related to Zelensky is the bill on oligarchs. Ukrainian manipulative sites defended the oligarchs ("it looks like lobbying the interests of multinational corporations, because the oligarchs become at obstacle, and the attempt to take control of the media"), they also predicted the futility of this struggle and even managed to draw parallels with Belarus.

Lukashenko has only the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the KGB, the prosecutor's office and the court, and there is no corruption. And the tariffs are much lower, because there are no agreements with the oligarchs. Maybe it's not about the authorities and laws? Maybe it's time to show political will instead of agreements, to appoint professionals instead of grant-eaters and wedding photographers?

And Russian sites, writing about Zelensky's struggle with the oligarchs, constantly quoted Dmitriy Kozak (deputy head of Putin's administration) and his thesis that "Russia uses the money of Ukrainian oligarchs who trade with Russia to help the people of the Donbas," thus only adding fuel to the fire classic manipulative accusations of oligarchs in all Ukrainian problems, from utility prices to problems in the Donbas. They wrote that the main purpose of the bill was "final cleansing of the Ukrainian media field" and "milking by the President's Office of a narrow stratum of particularly wealthy Ukrainians." And they did not forget to add ironically that Fiala and Pinchuk will most likely not be included in the register of oligarchs: “Understand, this is quite different! Can the financial representative of Soros himself get on the register of oligarchs? No, of course not."

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Zelensky's "same-color allies" in Germany and Biden's meeting with Putin

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues have complained about Europeans this week: "Threatening to disconnect Russia from the international SWIFT payment system is another proof of the unreliability of the European authorities in relations with Moscow." They refer to European Parliament’s resolution about sanctions that will be imposed on Russia in the event of a military invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, disinformers habitually shifted responsibility for the escalation at the border to Ukraine: "Kyiv will try to create a certain picture of the resumption of the conflict in the south-east of the country so as to radicalize Biden's position in the negotiations."

Regarding Putin's talks with Biden, disinformation hopes that the US president will offer Russia cooperation: “Everything suggests that the Americans are betting on a global battle with China, while Germany and Russia should play their parts in this alliance.

Disinformers were also triggered by statements by one of the leaders of the German Green Party that Germany should sell military equipment to Ukraine. Disinformers called the German Green “Zelensky's one-color allies" [Zelensky’s name is a derivative from “green” - translator’s note] and tried to discredit cooperation between the countries by comparing them with the Second World War: “One should wonder who slipped Ze the idea to remind Germany of the times not so distant when the Germans themselves fought with the Russians and also armed the Bandera’s gangs?

"Soroslings" and embassies defend Sternenko

The Odessa Court of Appeal found Sternenko not guilty of kidnapping. Ukrainian clickbait sites responded to this news with quotes from members of the OPFL party that "the government is courting the radicals." And Russian sites added their classic theses to the OPFL quotes: "Ze-team is afraid to quarrel with national radicals and Soroslings", "justice in Ukraine is selective", and Sternenko's release “was insisted on by foreign embassies, which see the young killer very a promising leader of the far right, through which Ukraine is largely intimidated and governed.”

Ukrainian voiceover is "language mayhem"

The Verkhovna Rada did not support the initiative of a group of deputies of the "Servant of the People" party to postpone the entry into force of legal norms that oblige TV channels to dub and broadcast all films in Ukrainian. Russian state media RT, citing a mysterious "source" in the Ukrainian government, presented the news as a signal of declining support for President Zelensky. "The problem is that fewer and fewer deputies support Zelensky, and this is perfectly demonstrated by the failed vote." At the same time, Russian sites that target Ukrainian issues have not restrained themselves. "In Ukraine, the ‘language mayhem’ continues, directed against the majority of the country's citizens, for whom Russian is their native language," "The harassment of the Russian language in Ukraine has reached a critical level."

Threats of a "Union state" with Russia

Disinformers rejoiced at EU sanctions against Belarus caused by the detention of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich. They wrote that the sanctions "in the foreseeable future exclude any possibility of dialogue between the parties." They also wrote that the EU and the United States were "waging a hybrid war against Russia and Belarus." And they will push Belarus towards ever greater integration with Russia.

As for Ukraine, they threatened with problems concerning fuel supply and airport losses: "Belavia paid $14 million for regular flights and service at Ukrainian airports, and that's how much their revenue could fall now." Instead, as they claimed, "All the cream in this case will be gathered by Poland and the Baltic republics," through which planes will now fly from Ukraine.

Leading Russian sites wrote that "The nightmare of the West is a union state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine." It will be recalled that the Soviet Union was formed as an interstate union of the Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Transcaucasian (actually occupied, but still separate) republics with Russia.

“Scheme of things" in Fener, "uniates" serving the LGBT, new repression against the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine

Disinformers claimed that "the Ukrainian bill, which proposes to prosecute people for criticizing LGBT people, became possible only thanks to the UGCC and its protégés." This is a bill to combat discrimination. The "support" of the bill from the UGCC is that the Greek Catholic Church supported the protests of 2013-2014. Which, according to disinformation, led to the fact that the Greek Catholics "had sold the country, and now they also sold Christ."

In addition, manipulative sites were quite active in spreading various gossip and conspiracy theories concerning the internal life of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its relations with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

In a parallel reality, Patriarch Bartholomew is about to become subservient to the Vatican: "Surprisingly, even among the believers of the ROC and UOC there are those who still do not believe that Patriarch Bartholomew is going to do it." Also, disinformers report that "[…] in the Patriarchate of Constantinople there is a division of opinions about the Orthodox Church of Ukraine" and that inside Fener [the Eucemenical Partiarchy] there is an incomprehensible carpet struggle, the ultimate goal of which is the opportunity to "make money at the expense of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine." Finally, manipulative Telegram channels and media actively disseminated information about a possible future attack on one of the Russian orthodox archbishops in Ukraine.

Also this week

Disinformers continued to sow panic over economic problems: they talked about discrimination against the eastern regions ("Galician yoke over Ukraine"), they quoted Azarov (who reflects on devaluation and his "experience of leading Ukraine's economy") and once again lied that "Ukraine gave up the railways to foreigners".

Ukrainian and Russian disinformers referred en masse to an article in The National Interest, in which the authors defended Medvedchuk, urged Biden not to cooperate with Zelensky, and described Ukraine as "accelerating its slide toward authoritarianism." We have repeatedly written about this "influential American magazine" and its outspoken pro-Russian position and love for quotes from Russian high-ranking officials.

Propagandists also wrote that the "prosecutor's office" of the militants has a desire to interrogate Protasevich. In Crimea, money is allocated for the supply of fresh water, but there is still not enough water to support the newly built military bases. They continue to falsely accuse the Ukrainian army of shelling in the front line. And they tried to present Nord Stream 2 as a competitive project, not a means of putting pressure on Ukraine.

Summary

This week, disinformers wrote a lot about President Volodymyr Zelensky and his recent initiatives. The idea of ​​a presidential university, which many experts call populist, was criticized as emotionally as possible, thus destroying the value of criticism. And the "anti-oligarchic" bills were seen as the intervention of "Western corporations" and the desire to take control of the oligarchic media. As for international events, disinformers froze in anticipation of Putin's meeting with Biden. They hope that Biden, like most previous US presidents, will try to "establish relations" with Russia. They also tried to discredit the idea of ​​supplying military equipment to Ukraine from Germany. As for the situation in Belarus, they continued the same line as last week. They wrote that Russia and Belarus were victims of a "hybrid attack" by the West and that they needed to integrate between themselves even more. At the same time, they threatened how this integration could hit Ukraine, for example, with a shortage of oil products.

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 20302 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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