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Putin’s anti-Ukrainian article, Avakov dismissed, rebooting the courts. Disinformation monitor #88

  • Hatred of Ukraine, Putin’s special edition
  • The unexpected dismissal of Avakov
  • A new wave of coronavirus
  • Zelensky “the thief” and the judicial reform
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: July 12—19, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

The quote below describes the spirit of many articles that appeared after Putin’s seminal on. We decided to offer it in full:

“Any discussions and actions begin with the main thing: they are Russians, this is the land of the Russians. That is, these are not colonial claims, not some kind of pain for the lost territories. It's just ours by definition. Try to challenge this position, eh. Also, this statement denies the existence of Ukrainians as a nation. The maximum is that they are a territorial group of Russians, not even a sub-ethnos. Just like the Kubans or the Pomors. With their own funny rural dialect. But how can one actually refute the Ukrainians, if in that zoo many animals consider themselves Ukrainians? - It's simple. They are ‘political Ukrainians' there. And it is not so difficult to destroy a "political nation" without resorting to genocide. Just as you can create a political nation without the use of selection and eugenics. In principle, several thousand Ukro-Nazi Bandar-logs, hung on street lamps in Ukrainian cities, will destroy the political nation “Ukrainian” at once. And the cities will become Russian.

When do the presumptions turn into real action? Oh of course, not in the short term. But they already justify any actions in defense of the Russian population (and they are all Russian there). Including combat action. Including the liberation of parts of our Russian territory.

Clickbait of the week. “Avakov will run for mayor of Kharkiv”

Under this headline, Ukrainian manipulative sites quoted (and at the same time promoted) pro-Russian politician Mikhailo Dobkin, who named Avakov as his main competitor. In fact, opinion polls show that Dobkin's main competitor is Acting Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov, who is supported by 42.9% of those who decided and would take part in the vote. 17.8% are ready to support Mikhailo Dobkin.

Putin's article and refined hatred of Ukraine

Ukrainian clickbait media, when writing about Putin's article on the unity of the Russian and Ukrainian people, mostly criticized it. They called it "propaganda in its purest form and the justification of a new round of aggression." Only a small number of sites (under the guise of neutrality and impartiality) quoted the article without any rebuttal. And only those sites that constantly promote Medvedchuk and OPFL (such as mignews.com.ua or vesti.ua), used this pretext to write how Putin is defending Medvedchuk, and “because of Zelensky's personal ambitions, the whole of Ukraine suffers''.

Meanwhile, Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues idealized Putin's article, quoted it on any occasion (and we assume that we’ll see these quotes in our monitoring for a long time), presented it as the only possible truth and interpreted it like the Bible is interpreted by theologians, explaining the hidden meanings. For example, they called the main thesis that "Russia will never become anti-Ukraine'' (although, given the amount of anti-Ukrainian and even Ukrainophobic content in the main Russian news, this has happened for a long time), or that Putin has thus officially announced “War against the West and for Ukraine. " The content of the whole article was placed under the title "United People, Russian Language, External Governance, and Bandera''; "One nation, one Putin." All reactions to the article from Ukraine (especially by Zelensky) were ridiculed. Well, they simply used this propaganda text as an opportunity to oppose themselves to the West (for example, to analyze "Western, Hollywood films” and dispel the "Myth of the ‘slave essence’ of the Russians").

In general, this article became only a small (albeit very loud) addition to the Kremlin's purposeful systemic anti-Ukrainian propagandist line. Its worst influence is that it has once again provoked Ukrainian political leaders, experts and the media, and forced them into a discussion with a powerful machine of Russian propaganda. And the rules of this discussion are not determined in Ukraine. It is conducted in a post-truth world, that is, in a situation where objective facts have less of an effect on public opinion than appeals to emotions and personal beliefs. Therefore, all the expert refutations of the main theses of this text will not be able to win (or at least get an advantage), they only amplify the sound of propaganda once again.

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Avakov's dismissal: "The Devil incarnate"

Disinformers describe Arsen Avakov's political fate during the presidency of Volodymyr Zelensky as follows: “He sided with the former clown and ensured a fair vote count. And then he became the mainstay of the president in the first years of Zelensky's rule, restraining and manipulating for his own benefit the prosthetic actions of right-wing and former ATO fighters”. He resigned last week and was replaced in a blitz. As the dismissal happened within a week, we expect that more publications about it will be included in the next monitoring.

From the reactions we have seen so far, Avakov is described as "a man who drowned in blood and tears and ruthlessly persecuted all these years those who opposed the bloody coup d’etat in Ukraine." Propagandists wrote that he had become a "symbol of stability" for "external curators." And he was dismissed by Zelensky "who liked the taste of power and money from it" or by "curators who removed Avakov from the post of minister, so that in the next upgrade of Ukro-power, he took a higher position and only strengthened his position and influence."

Russian disinformers are accustomed to perceiving Russia as the center of the world and therefore they even explain the resignation of the Ukrainian minister by their local events. “The article by Russian President Vladimir Putin caused a serious commotion in Ukraine and could have caused the resignation of the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs”.

Coronavirus statistics and the "Covid dementia"

Delta variant’s approach to Ukraine resumes a wave of panic on Ukrainian manipulative websites. They produce clickbait headlines with phrases such as "People will die under the walls of hospitals," quoting as experts people whose regalia are "a system analyst." They are also actively dispersing the story about the Pfizer vaccine, which was transported to Kharkiv in violation of the temperature regime. And although the Ministry of Health immediately commented on the situation, announced an investigation and that the party of vaccine was returned to the warehouse of Ukrmedpostach State Enterprise, this did not prevent the distribution of texts such as "Stupid excuses: they stubbornly want to pass off the thawed Pfizer vaccine as normal."

We will remember that before they in the same way devalued Covishiels and Sinovak vaccines which had arrived in Ukraine earlier. The goal is trivial, to sow distrust in vaccination and thus increase the number of patients and deaths.

Zelensky the thief "handed courts over under Western rule"

While Russian sites focused mainly on Murayev's quotes about Zelensky ("The former Rada deputy called Zelensky a cloud in his pants, and his election a mistake"), Ukrainian clickbaits continued to comment emotionally on any of his actions or quotes, producing clickbaits ("Zelensky is a criminal and he will be imprisoned”) and they simply contemplated that the President of Ukraine “does not understand at all that his actions have consequences in real life”.

However, Ukrainian manipulative media paid special attention to the adopted bill on resetting the High Council of Justice. The adoption of this law was welcomed by Ukraine's Western partners and also welcomed by Ukrainian experts involved in judicial reform. In defense of judges and the old (non-transparent) system of their appointment with the impossibility of control, clickbait sites turned the topic of judicial reform into an already universal thesis about external governance: "Zelensky handed over the courts to the West and declared war on Ukrainian judges." Again, this is a traditional Russian method of attacking any positive change in Ukraine or even the government's intentions to change anything.

"Nord Stream 2": Ukraine's "daydreams and blackmail"

Germany and the United States have signed an agreement to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The agreement does not take Ukraine's interests into account and makes it even more vulnerable to Russian aggression. Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues wrote that "Ukrainian politicians can continue to fantasize on this topic (stopping the Nord Stream 2 - Texty.org.ua), but no one is going to take into account their opinion on this issue." They called recent signals from the Ukrainian government about rapprochement with China "childish blackmail." And they assured that “for China to somehow stand between Ukraine and Russia, it is necessary for Kyiv to become an important component of Beijing’s life. And this is not even expected. " In this, they are right.

Ukraine is still the "anti-Russia"

Russian websites targeting Ukraine continued to develop a narrative of "external governance" in Ukraine: "The task that the West has set for the Zelensky regime is to draw Russia into a full-scale conflict with Ukraine. Zelensky tries his best, although he manages to play the piano with his genitals better. But Russia is still not coming to war. And does not allow to finally drain the Ukrainians and Russians in the trenches”. They also threaten that "Reunification (that is, the occupation of Ukraine - Texty.org.ua) will come this time as well, because there is Russia, which feels its responsibility for the whole nation, no matter how it is divided by temporary boundaries." It will be recalled that it was Russia that occupied Ukrainian territory, started the war in Ukraine and is still maintaining it.

Also this week

Once again, they wrote about the repression against Medvedchuk and supplemented the already classic theses with quotes from his response to Putin ("We need a free and just state, not a national reservation").

They found an old video where Kuchma says that Ukraine did not "feed Russia" during the late Soviet Union and they also wrote that there is a famine in Ukraine according to a UNICEF report (in Ukraine there is indeed a high percentage of malnourished people, but no famine) .

It was written that the deputies fought in the Verkhovna Rada, and Zelensky wants to "drag through a toxic bill" on the legalization of medical cannabis before the summer break in the meetings of the Verkhovna Rada.

The hysteria continues due to the international Sea Breeze exercises off the coast of Ukraine. Such training and the constant presence of Allied fleets do not allow Russia to use its advantage at sea to put pressure on Ukraine.

Summary

During the "monitoring week", many of the publications on the websites we follow discussed the resignation of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Putin's article on the "non-recognition" of the Ukrainian people. The former head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was called "bloody" and "odious" and accused him of repression of "those who opposed the bloody coup in Ukraine." Another common narrative is "Avakov is the protege of external governance" and he is being prepared for promotion.

Putin's article has become a veritable encyclopedia of anti-Ukrainian clichés, baseless accusations and distortions. But in fact there was nothing new in it. The Russian president wrote about the "one nation" and once again tried to convince his readers that the "West" was trying to "tear" Ukraine away from Russia. For us, this is another indication that Russia refuses to recognize Ukraine's independence and will continue to spend time and resources on its destruction.

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 18077 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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