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Discrediting the Olympic team, criticizing Zelensky, counteracting the Crimean platform. Disinformation monitor #91

  • Discrediting Ukrainian Olympic team
  • Criticizing Zelensky
  • Prophesying turmoil without Avakov
  • Writing about the fleeing judge Chaus
  • Manipulating over the murder of Belarusian activist
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: August 2 — 8, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation

Last week there were several important events that provoked the activity of disinformers. The Olympics was an opportunity to humiliate Ukraine and its capabilities in international sports. Even though by the number of medals the Ukrainian national team was in the 16th place (among 90 participating countries). We will remind you that because of constant scandals with doping the Russian national team didn't have the right to participate at the Olympics under their own flag.

Among other things, disinformers called Zelensky an "uneducated scum" for "turning into another Poroshenko”, and predicted instability for Ukraine due to Avakov's resignation. Russian websites also produced numerous "versions" of the murder of a Belarusian activist in Ukraine, denying the possibility of interference by Belarusian special services.

Olympic Games. Discrediting Ukrainian team

While Ukrainian manipulative publications emotionally describe "Skabeeva’s butthurt over Belenyuk’s golden medal and hopak dance", Russian sites, as expected, think a lot about "what explains the weak performance of the Ukrainian team at the Olympic Games in Tokyo", as "Ukrainians bring medals in the coffers of other countries" ("their motherland is where they are better paid") and simply discredited any achievements of Ukrainians.

“After a long lull, every new bronze medal in Tokyo is highlighted here as the greatest sporting achievement, talked about all day on all channels, rubbing this moment of glory to holes. They dreamed of gold in Ukraine in the first days of the Games, but now they are shyly silent”.

“The only things about Ukraine which will be remembered are scandals: another attempt to play on the Crimean affiliation, doping, statements by athletes about the "zero" medical sphere in the country, and so on. Only this does not motivate you to win.”

In fact, Ukraine's place among all countries participating in the Olympics depends on how to count. For example, the number of medals in Ukraine is 16th (among more than 90 participating countries), and the rating which takes into account the type of medal (gold, silver, bronze) gives the 44th place. And while you can always strive for more, it can be considered a really good result.

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Zelensky: either Goebbels or just a simple "uneducated scum"

Ukrainian manipulative media continue to emotionally criticize Zelensky. "Zelensky is an uneducated scum, I want to spit into his distorted face" and write how he uses "PR based on the deception of Russian-speaking Ukrainians."

And they simply reproduce the theses of Russian propaganda: about the alleged restriction of the rights of "Russian-speaking children to study in their native language", about how "strange Zelensky's arguments about love for Crimea and its nature sound against the background of blocking fresh water supply to the peninsula." And they just criticized how "Zelensky suddenly decided to worry about the opinion of Ukrainians living in the uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions", thus criticizing him for the quote in which he said that if you feel Donbass as Russia you need to go and find yourself a place in Russia .

They even drew parallels with the Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany Goebbels: "replace the word ‘Jew’ with the word ‘Russian’, and you will get an interview with Zelensky!"

And Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues came to the (already unoriginal) conclusion: "The transformation of Zelensky into Poroshenko is over."

"Political scientists" and astrologists (!) prophesize turmoil after Avakov's dismissal

The recent dismissal of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has provoked a storm of disinformation. Russian and Ukrainian manipulative media have been actively spreading various predictions about the future consequences of Avakov's resignation. Almost all of them foresaw the political destabilization of Ukraine in the autumn and/or early parliamentary elections. Even astrologers began to comment on Avakov's resignation:

“Avakov, as a typical Capricorn with the Moon in Leo, ruled over a lot of people in the country. He was its gray cardinal. In fact, both Zelensky and Yermak obeyed him’, said Ross (the astrologist often gives political forecasts and for that, he is in our base of promoters, his profile is here) who compiled a horoscope for Ukraine and saw in it mass protests due to "Steinmeier's formula" or the fact that Kyiv will be forced (not specified by whom) to let water into Crimea. The astrologer did not rule out the "tariff Maidan." “It doesn't matter for what reason it happens, but it will be hot in Ukraine. It is possible that Razumkov (speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine - ed.) will leave after Avakov”.

As usual, there were also anonymous insiders on Telegram channels:

While Arsen Avakov is taking a break in Italy, the President's Office through the SBU is destroying his empire. Now they go to the bottom, they take the most ardent corrupt officials or the most real bandits, who are followed by a trail of cases. Insiders say that the Italian voyage of the ex-Interior Minister may go on for a long time”.

Our sources report that in the coming month it will be very hot in Kharkov. The city will be covered by a wave of detentions and resignations to weaken the influence of the former Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. The president's office expects to clean up the streets of Kharkov by September. At the same time, insiders from law enforcement agencies reported that the units of the SBU and the Ministry of Defense will be in constant readiness. All of this will be disguised as law enforcement exercise.

Chaus the fleeing judge and problems for Ukrainian presidents

Disinformers do not forget about the fate of Judge Chaus. He was abducted twice and passed from one law enforcement agency to another. Read more about the history of his misadventures here. Disinformers compared him to Georgy Gongadze, the journalist who was killed by police in 2000. For example, disinformers write that "For Zelensky, Judge Chaus is like Gongadze for Kuchma." They speculate that Chaus "has information about Zelensky and members of his entourage since the time when the Ze-team was not yet in power and cooperated with Poroshenko."

An even more important topic in the context of the corrupt judge is the narrative of "external governance." Russian sites targeting Ukraine write that Chaus was "not accidentally" kidnapped at a time when another attempt at judicial reform has begun. They also speculate that he got into NABU. "NABU, and SAP, and HACC are closed power structures of external management, which were created in order to put under full control the entire political elite of the country." Interestingly, the disinformers could not articulate how exactly Chaus could be dangerous to Zelensky. But their golden rule is to always talk about "external governance" and US influence on the anti-corruption system in Ukraine. This is one of the theses by which they prove that Ukraine does not really exist and they have learned to explain any event in our country in that way.

Vitaliy Shishov murdered by anyone "but Lukashenko"

Last week, Belarusian opposition leader Vitaliy Shyshov was found hanged near Kyiv. Russian sites targeting Ukraine and Russian mainstream sites reacted to the event with a wave of publications. They did not defend a single position or version, but instead multiplied them. They wrote about the possible involvement of the National Corps, about the "American footprint", and about the fact that the death of the oppositionist “is a so-called ‘sacred victim’ which is designed to rekindle up the long-extinguished protests in Belarus." In general, this is the usual strategy of Russian disinformation, to sow distrust in official information, to breed various rumors and versions (including fantastic ones).

The only version they did not promote was the intervention of Russian and Belarusian special services. On the contrary, they strongly persuaded that the murder of the activist was a "provocation" against the Lukashenko regime. And they laughed at Ukraine, where, according to disinformers, "there is a leaky border, through which Saakashvili runs here and there, and Chaus is thrown here and there like a sack of potatoes."

Counteracting the "Crimean platform"

The planned August summit of the Crimean Platform is really bothering disinformers and Russian propagandists. Anonymous Telegram channels have started rumors that it will fail, as many countries have already refused to participate in it:

“In the corridors of power, there were rumors that Zelensky set the task of preparing an information plan for promoting the message that the Crimean platform was held at a high level, since many countries have already refused, and the rest will not be represented at the highest level. Therefore, the OP knows that opponents are already preparing to use the failure of the Crimean platform as a bargaining chip to reduce the image of Ze power.”

And some of the most radical political commentators called for sanctions against the summit participants: “These people should be deprived of the right to enter Russia, to own assets in our country. Each participant of the "Crimean Platform" is an enemy of Russia and its statehood”.

Also this week:

Ukrainian manipulative media continue to promote Medvedchuk: they describe how he "smashed to pieces" the evidence against him, quoted criticism from the Russian media, and simply continuously produce articles with the phrase "political repression" in the headlines.

Disinformers wrote that Ukraine would receive a loan from the IMF because the Verkhovna Rada had passed laws that "restore the control of anti-corruption bodies over Ukrainian politicians and introduce Western oversight of the judiciary." They also write that the Ukrainian economy is based on "Ukrainian guest workers abroad" and think about who will "stop the raises" of electricity tariffs.

They wrote that Russia would "not abandon" its puppets in the occupied territories and intimidated readers with Ukraine's alleged aggressive intentions. Lukashenko was also quoted as saying that "Ukraine, being a satellite of the West, is pursuing an anti-Belarusian policy."

Summary

This week, disinformers downplayed the achievements of the Ukrainian national team and reflected on the "state of Ukrainian sports." Zelensky was once again dubbed "a Poroshenko" for his words that people who love Russia and want to live there, need to move there. Russian websites also commented on the recent murder of a Belarusian activist near Kyiv. They used the usual propaganda tactics to disseminate different versions and thus to destroy the credibility of official investigations.

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 16297 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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