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Utility tariffs, impacts of Nord Stream, Russian verbal attacks on Ukraine. Disinformation monitor #89

  • Writing about “rocket-high” tariff raises
  • Mocking Ukraine’s attempts to oppose Nord Stream 2
  • Writing that Ukraine will be “forced to be peaceful”
  • Still discussing Putin’s article and openly calling to attach Ukraine to “The Big Russia”
  • Using Russia’s complaint to the ECHR to reiterate main propagandist theses
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: July 19 — 25, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation

This week, disinformers remembered utility tariffs again. Rising tariffs are a sensitive issue for Ukraine, they have destroyed the rating of many political forces and politicians. Therefore, they are convenient to use to promote pro-Russian theses. Another leading topic was Nord Stream 2. Disinformers tried to convince Ukraine that the gas pipeline was to be completed and called for "coming to the negotiating table not with ambitions, but with business proposals."

Disinformers also picked up news of Russia's complaint against Ukraine to the European Court of Human Rights. In fact, Russia in its complaint accused Ukraine of its own crimes of destroying the MH17 civilian aircraft, shelling, and persecuting political opponents. It is unlikely that Russia will be able to prove its rightness to the court, but it is using the very fact of the lawsuit to discredit Ukraine.

Pseudo-experts

This week we checked what is written in the materials where pseudo-experts from our database appear. We will do such reviews on a monthly basis in the next monitoring issues.

This month, pseudo-experts wrote about the dismissal of former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. They also expressed the opinion that the former minister could become a candidate for mayor of Kharkiv. Another topic commented on by the pseudo-experts was the US-Germany agreement on Nord Stream 2. Among other things, they wrote that the United States "re-trusted" governance of Ukraine to Germany. Putin's article, as well as comments on it from Viktor Medvedchuk, also provoked a lot of reactions. Many people from the database have previously published articles promoting this pro-Russian politician.

Impoverishment and "rocket-high tariff raises"

Autumn is approaching, which means that disinformers will increasingly turn to the topic of utility tariffs. This week, ungrounded "prophecies" appeared on clickbait sites that the electricity tariff "may increase to 3-4 hryvnias, and this is not the limit." They accuse the raising of the tariffs on the "mess" in authority bodies and write "that autumn-winter will be rich in new tariff Maidans". We have recently published a large article about the electricity market in Ukraine and its problems, read to understand.

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues write about the "extinction" of Ukrainians. Ukraine is part of a region where the population has been declining in recent decades. We wrote about it here. Disinformers put all the responsibility for demography on the "post-Maidan reality". Finally, there is a conspiratorial explanation for the population decline: “an agrarian country destined by Western partners to be such is unable to feed and employ more than 20 million citizens."

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Gazprom to put Ukraine on a "strict diet"

Disinformers use US-German compromise on Nord Stream-2 pipeline as a pretext for ridicule of Ukraine. “So the bows and groans of all the representatives of the Ukrainian authorities is understandable, they finally realized what they had done during the years of their ‘independence’ ”. Another thesis they use for manipulation is “if the whole raison d'être of Ukraine is confrontation with Russia, then if Europe and Russia come to an agreement, then “the state of Ukraine becomes unnecessary”. And on the example of Nord Stream 2, we see that his words are confirmed, because Europe and Russia not only agree perfectly, but also implement large-scale joint projects”. Ukraine has never sought confrontations with Russia and has avoided them in every possible way. It was Russia that occupied part of Ukraine in 2014 and started a war with Ukraine.

Disinformers also commented on Germany's commitments in the compromise with the United States on Nord Stream 2. They suggested that Ukraine renounce its desire to receive real compensation and security guarantees in exchange for the completion of Nord Stream-2, and instead: "come to the negotiating table not with ambitions, but with business proposals." The authors did not specify what the proposals from the Ukrainian side should be.

"Sprechen Führer" Kremin triggering Russian propaganda

Last week, State Language Commissioner Taras Kremin recorded violations of language legislation that occurred during broadcasts on several TV channels. In response, the Russian media which target Ukraine dubbed the civil servant a "Sprechen Führer" and tried to ridicule his post in every possible way.

Russia's state media also couldn’t ignore Kremin's address to Olympic athletes, in which the official urged participants in the Tokyo Olympics not to shy away from the state language. Kremin's words were distorted and interpreted as a direct ban on the use of the Russian language.

Ukrainian Olympic team banned from speaking Russian in Tokyo

Putin's article again

We all need to understand that the state of Ukraine does not exist, just as there are no independent states of Lithuania, Moldova. All these are the occupied territories of our Fatherland. They can become sovereign only as part of Greater Russia.”

Just as we expected, Putin's article continues to give disinformers a reason to reproduce the theses of the "Russian world." They continue to respond to criticism and refutation of the article, to consider that "Russophobia is destructive for Ukraine'' (not mentioning their Ukrainophobia), to call for "active action to reunite the Fatherland, because the reunification of our multinational people is inevitable" and simply describe Ukrainians as cattle in need of selection: "a huge layer of newly un-Russianed Ukrainians who have already given offspring born and raised in independent non-Russian and anti-Russian Ukraine."

Special attention was paid to Svitlana Kryukova from strana.ua and her Facebook post, "in which she not only criticized Putin's message to Ukrainians, but also used a number of post-Maidan clichés about 'Russian Victory worshiping'." It was assumed that it was a paid "provocation of the OP to divert attention from Putin's article", quoted reactions from social networks ("Sveta, welcome to HELL") and simply discredited the publication, which usually spreads theses of Russian propaganda: "Kryukova’s part of this "adequate Ukraine", has long been eaten away by the pileworm of Banderism and only earns with ‘representation of the interests of the South-East’ (in fact, its betrayal)”.

So, the Russians in Ukraine already form one people with the Russians in Russia and they do not need to be convinced of anything. As far as possible, they massively move to Russia, and whoever remains realizes that only the elimination of the Ukrainian state will save their descendants from assimilation and turning them into patented Ukrainians (like Kryukova)

Germany “bending” Ukraine

Ukrainian manipulative media were lively discussing the calls of the German Foreign Ministry for the implementation of the "Steinmeier formula" in Ukrainian legislation. It was often presented as a "betrayal," a "Biden-Merkel pact," or as "Germany ‘bending’ Kyiv." Some political commentators even frightened Ukrainians with a large-scale war in the event of non-compliance with these requirements: “There will be a military aggravation with Russia one way or another. The fact is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Ukrainian president to maneuver between Scylla and Charybdis." Conspiracy theories were also featured. President Zelensky was predicted to resign early and/or be removed from office.

The West is already tired of Zelensky, he tired everyone to hell and no one wants to deal with him anymore

Sudden coercion of Zelensky to implement the Steinmeier formula is a clear allusion to the extreme desirability of an early withdrawal from power

Russia "squeals" in the ECHR. "Ukraine will be forced to be peaceful"

Russia has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with an interstate complaint against Ukraine and accusations of shelling the Donbas, the MH17 disaster, blocking Crimea's water supply, and persecuting dissidents. Thus, in fact, using the complaint to the ECHR as an excuse to reproduce all the main propaganda theses in all Russian media.

And indeed: Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues immediately picked up the info drive, frankly happy with it ("Finally"), but without leaving the tone of his older brother: "The situation in Ukraine has left Russia no choice." They called this complaint "the beginning of a full-fledged compulsion of Ukraine to peace" and did not forget to anticipate criticism from the Ukrainian side ("there is no doubt that in Ukraine this complaint of Russia in the ECHR will be mocked"), often using hate speech against themselves: "Ukraine, of course, will laugh over stupid Russians and mock Rashka and Rusnia on talk shows."

Also this week

Various speculations have been written that Ukraine may get closer to China as opposed to the West. And disinfomers also called the people of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia "ungrateful peoples".

They complained that a monument to Red Army soldiers was being dismantled in Lviv and reflected on "Nazism" in Ukraine.

And they helped Medvedchuk spread Russia's propaganda theses from Vladimir Putin's article.

Summary

This week, disinformers wrote about rising utility tariffs and declining population in Ukraine. Population decline is a popular topic for вisinformers, but it is worth remembering that the Ukrainian situation is typical for the general region. This problem is no less serious in Russia itself.

A lot of attention was devoted to international events. Disinformers have released a lot of material about Russia's complaint to Ukraine in the European Court of Human Rights. It will be recalled that the very fact of the complaint means nothing, and Russia will have to prove its accusations (which will not be easy). Mention was also made of Germany's calls for the implementation of the "Steinmeier formula" in Ukrainian legislation.

In the gas sector, disinformers continue to predict Ukraine's collapse after 2024, when the agreement on gas transit from Russia to the West ends. Russian sites blame Ukraine for transit problems, which did not want to build "business" relations with Russia. It will be recalled how exactly all previous attempts to conduct business relations with Russia in the gas sector ended.

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 16935 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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