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Discrediting independence, trying to cause disenchantment of the US, Crimean platform. Disinformation monitor #93

  • Criticizing any action in preparation of Independence Day
  • Trying to show that Ukrainians are poorer than during Soviet times
  • Threatening with “the Afghan lesson” for Ukraine
  • Zelensky’s either weak or a dictator, or both
  • Crimean platform “irrelevant”
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: August 16 — 22, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

Pseudo experts

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

Pseudo-experts wrote about international politics, especially regarding Nord Stream 2. They argued that the West has abandoned Ukraine for selfish motives. They also overestimated Medvedchuk's influence and wrote that his party's rating would have exceeded the Servants of the People rating had it not been for sanctions. As for gas issues, they intimidated Ukraine with gas shortages and spread the naphthalene-smelling old thesis that the country would soon "crawl on its knees" begging Russia for gas. They also mentioned the reshuffle in the military leadership and special agencies and predicted the intensification of military hostilities.

What’s new in disinformation?

Disinformers argued that celebrating Ukraine's Independence Day did not make sense and called independence "lost time." They also manipulated the standard of living in Ukraine, trying to convince their readers that it was higher during Soviet times. They called the events in Afghanistan a "grim lesson" for Ukraine and openly rejoiced at the American retreat. As for the Crimean Platform, they tried to downplay its status and show it to be irrelevant to the fate of the peninsula.

Preparing for Independence Day: "Festive squalor"

Although the celebration of Ukraine's Independence Day took place this week, last week Ukrainian manipulative media, in which we also see Russian narratives, speculated about "What ‘successes’ President Zelensky will not talk about." They saw the national holiday as an opportunity to remind once again that "Ukraine is a tale of lost time" and to spread the classic manipulation of Russian propaganda, that "At the time of independence Ukraine was one of the most developed republics of the former Soviet Union" or that "Russia and almost all other post-Soviet countries have surpassed the level they were at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Ukraine has reduced it by a third.”

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues distributed the same "thought viruses". However, it should be noted that whether life has improved or deteriorated over a period of time depends solely on the evaluation criteria. And so, for example, the daily aspects of our lives over the 30 years of independence have changed greatly for the better.

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"Catastrophic decline in human wellbeing" in Ukraine

In the economic sphere, gas supply and transit remain key issues. Disinformers wrote that Merkel "deserves praise from the country's citizens for her position on Nord Stream 2, as Berlin has become the main gas center in Europe." Leading Russian websites wrote about the recent rise in European gas prices (after the agreement between Germany and the United States on the Nord Stream): “Many, and especially Ukraine, blame Gazprom for this. However, in reality, Russia has nothing to do with it." Then they themselves write that prices have risen after Russia did not book the capacity of the Ukrainian GTS in September.

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues scared their readers with inflation and economic problems in Ukraine: "Increasing prices for goods and services, raising utility tariffs against the background of a catastrophic decline in the human wellbeing." It was said that the standard of living "dropped to a historical minimum." These theses have been repeated hundreds and thousands of times over the years, regardless of the real state of affairs. We have already written above that the assessment of living standards depends on the evaluation criteria and that in most areas the standard of living has increased significantly compared to the Soviet period.

Disinformers also called for populist economic policies, especially commodity price controls, in response to inflation: "government has failed to force businesses to keep product prices down." Read here what is wrong with price regulation.

We shall also remember that, despite apocalyptic forecasts of disinformers, Ukraine has record breaking harvests of grain, export levels in general, and the highest average salary in national history.

Afghanistan is a "grim lesson" for Ukraine

Disinformers used the catastrophe in Afghanistan to discredit Ukraine's allies: "The expert called on Ukraine to learn a 'grim lesson' from Afghanistan and become an 'adult'." They wrote of the Taliban as an example of a force that did not believe in "foreign aid" and gained control over their country.

A supporter of the USA falls off the landing gear of a US military plane, which he clung to in horror to remain in Afghanistan, where America's enemies defeated both the US and its allies”.

Telegram channels speculate that the United States wants to use Ukraine in "provocations" against Russia and then will not support it: “And the Ukrainian authorities should definitely learn at least one lesson from the events in Afghanistan. Under no circumstances should one participate in provocations that the war party in the West is working on against Russia together with the war party inside Ukraine.

They also disseminated the fake that Ukraine had allegedly left its troops in Afghanistan. In fact, 1. it did not leave anyone, 2. there were only ex soldiers who in fact worked for a private company that had a contract with the UN. Read more about what really happened here.

Crimean Platform

Russian sites targeting Ukraine wrote about “The ‘Crimean Platform’, which should demonstrate the fact of Ukraine's existence and its right to Crimea. In this regard, it resembles the Kyiv gay pride parade, which every year demonstrates the existence of Ukrainian gays and their right to same-sex love, which to outside observers seems only a perversion. About the same perversion as Ukraine's claims to Crimea”.

They accused Ukrainian government officials of ignoring a request from an official of the Russian occupation administration in Crimea to participate in the summit: “They do not need the truth about Crimea, their interest is only in one thing, namely to arrange a propagandist Black Sabbath of Russophobic witchers on the banks of the Dnieper river”.

In Telegram channels, they wrote that in Zelensky’s office, "Now they have decided to warm up the interest in the topic of Crimea and the platform, which starts against the background of the Afghan crisis and causes little interest among the Western press and politicians." The general narrative is that the "Crimean Platform" is unimportant, unsuccessful, and does not affect anything. It will be recalled that the summit was attended by 44 countries and 3 international organizations, including all NATO countries and most European countries.

Rehearsal of parade

Russian disinformation which was published in Ukrainian manipulative media adapted itself to the tastes of the Ukrainian audience and came from afar to discredit the military parade on Independence Day. Thus, there they focused on the huge traffic jams in Kyiv because of blocked streets and they disseminated Skabeyeva's reaction to "how the Ukrainian paratroopers perform ‘Putin is a d**khead’ presenting this as curiosity. Russian sites broadcast this same reaction much more aggressively (the Ukrainian audience to which the Russian disinformation from Ukrainian manipulative sites is directed would never swallow such a presentation): “Russian-Ukrainian relations are dead after this song by the Ukrainian military at the parade, unless everyone who insulted the president of Russia, well, and the whole the Russian people, will not be found and punished publicly” and they simply used the parade as a pretext to discredit the whole of Ukraine: “Show-off at an impressive level”.

Zelensky’s dictatorship

For Russian websites, Zelensky remains a strange symbiosis of a weak politician who takes offense at Biden and the entire West because of too little support, and a dictator who "weakens the power structures before the autumn riots." However, autumn is approaching with no signs of riots so far, and therefore new versions of old forecasts have already begun to appear: "the situation will remain stable in Ukraine until the end of the year, but next winter, under certain circumstances, the situation may destabilize."

Neither Zelensky, nor his predecessor Poroshenko, nor any other president of Ukraine are capable of solving serious issues such as war and peace, especially in the Donbas.

Fulfilling the order of the West about anti-Russian rhetoric, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky demonstrates his failure

Also this week:

Both Ukrainian manipulative media and Russian websites targeting Ukraine continue to create and fan language problems in Ukraine. And the Russian sites do not forget to add to any language conflict a bright conclusion, as, for example, that "Ukraine is the prison of the nations", and "Russians in Ukraine are guerrilleros without guerrilla headquarters". At the same time, they tried to convince their readers that Ukraine had aggressive intentions and was going to go to war with Russia in the Donetsk region and Crimea.

Ukrainian manipulative publications attacked or, conversely, promoted Klitschko, writing that Zelensky “began a sweep for early elections” and that the mayor of Kyiv was the first on this conditional list of purges. And Medvedchuk's manipulators put Medvedchuk in the first place and continued to adapt Russian propaganda theses in favor of OPFL: "Medvedchuk prevents Zelensky from completely embezzling the country, handing it over under foreign governance."

Both Russian and Ukrainian garbage sites hyped over the protests of Ukrainian nationalists, describing them as "Ukrainian authorities are trying to subjugate right-wing radical street groups and use them for their own purposes," and compared Ukrainian nationalists to the Taliban and the Islamic State.

They called Merkel's meetings a "farewell road tour." They wrote that "It is time for the German government, which wants to be a friend of Ukraine, not to remain silent, but to defend the rights of the people of the Donbas" and assured that Merkel would push Ukraine to unfavorable compromises in the East.

Summary

This week, disinformers launched an information campaign to discredit Ukraine's independence. Among other things, they manipulated the figures in order to (contrary to the facts) show that Ukrainians have become poorer during the last 30 years. On the subject of economics, Russian sites have written extensively about Nord Stream 2 and imagined how it will allow them to manipulate the energy market in Europe. Regarding international relations, the manipulators used the dramatic situation in Afghanistan to discredit Ukraine's relations with the United States. And they wrote about the Crimean Platform summit as contemptuously as they could and tried to convince their readers that it was an unimportant event, with a low diplomatic status.

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 18000 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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