Independence Day, Ukraine the “Instead-of-Russia”, accusing Zelensky of lies. Disinformation monitor #94
- Ridiculing the Independence Day celebration
- Defending blocked propagandist media
- Calling Zelenky a liar
- Complaining that Ukraine doesn’t want to “depend on Russia”
- Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization
Period: August 23 — 29, 2021
What’s new in disinformation?
In recent weeks, disinformers have focused mostly on humiliating Ukrainian statehood and its achievements. They wrote that Ukraine was "dependent" on the West, that Ukraine's economy was constantly declining, that its population was aging and emigrating, that the “Nazis” were ruling, and that Western allies did not care at all about its fate.
The large-scale celebration of Independence Day in Ukraine was a reason for Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues to reiterate again almost all of the main propaganda theses, and this time all at once, while also indulging in emotional Ukrainophobia.
Let us quote only the main theses that were voiced most often:
- In their texts, the propagandists tried to discredit the very reason for the celebration. Here, for example, is one of the headlines: “Ukraine 1991-2021. The country we have lost. Do you call THIS - INDEPENDENCE?”
- Criticizing Zelensky’s select statements: “As the authors of the Telegram channel Shariy.net reminded Zelensky, Christianity came to the territory of present-day Ukraine from Byzantium, and the Varangians arrived to reign "from far north of Kyiv", and "Antonov" went to Ukraine by inheritance from the USSR”.
- The military "legacy" from the USSR presented at the parade was emphasized in almost every text. “The Ukrainian authorities tried to pass off as the country's achievements what had already been developed and produced in the USSR”. They especially liked the phrase of Illya Kiva about the flight of Mriya: “the flight aroused pride and tremendous emotions in the audience, reflecting the superiority of the “occupationist” Soviet era, technology, and industry over the “pitiful reality” of today's Ukraine”.
- The new equipment present at the parade was either not mentioned at all at, or was described in this way: “at the last joint exercises, NATO members gave so much of their second-hand to poor relatives”.
- Foreigners present at the parade were not ignored either: “They have nothing to do, these NATO troops, on Khreshchatyk street, along which the Red Army troops were marching at one time”.
- External governance was, of course, also mentioned: “Ukrainians have nothing to celebrate on the country's Independence Day, because, in fact, in recent years, The Independent One [derogatory] has turned into a colony of the West”. This was presented as an explanation of alleged absence (untrue) of local military industry: “The West ordered: No development of mechanical engineering. Everything you need, you will buy from us”.
- Impressions of the parade turned into a conclusion: “Military squalor this year is cleverly disguised by the breadth of its scope”.
- The favorite topic of disinformers was fanned: “Not a single holiday in Ukraine is complete without nationalists”. They placed articles headlined like: “Ukraine is being turned into an experimental hybrid of the fascist regime and Sodom” where they couldn’t decide whether to intimidate their readers with the Nazis or with the LGBT community.
- They prophesied that “Ukraine will disintegrate if the country adheres to the same course that it followed during all 30 years of independence” and they tried to cover up the fact of the real Russian occupation of Ukrainian territories by fantasies that “parts of the country have already been chosen by Romania, Poland, and Hungary”.
- And they simply used the celebration as an occasion to systematize their classic "non-holiday" theses: “The noisy sounds of having fun have subsided, and Ukraine is returning to its usual rhythm of life. Corruption scandals, the rage of neo-Nazis, the looting of the remnants of the economy”. As you may remember, proposals to divide Ukraine were informally voiced by the Kremlin to our western neighbors in 2014.
Here is the quintessence of this psychosis:
“A lot of interesting things are happening on the fields of lush celebration and in the bushes of exuberant flowering of Ukrainian “independence”: “reverse gas”, and corrupt purchases abroad, and the sale of land to foreigners, and the barbaric deforestation for European needs … You can march with hamsters or with dogs, you can Ukrainianize the Kyivan Rus or the Crimean platform but people pay for everything”.
It should be noted that devaluing all the achievements of Ukraine is a standard method of Russian disinformers
Freedom of speech in Ukraine. "Sanctions for criticizing Zelensky"
Ukrainian manipulative media continue to produce texts in defense of pro-Russian blocked channels and media, disseminating the main theses of Russian propaganda: about the lack of media freedom, about the frightened Zelensky as a Ukrainian dictator and enemy of freedom of speech, about hypothetical autumn protests (writing about future negative events as a fait accompli is another of their standard techniques) due to tariff increases and about weak government, which "is so afraid that it does not spare resources to fight the media."
Their quotes are also picked up by Russian sites that reflect on "sanctions for criticizing Zelensky" and add quotes from Russian politicians that Ukraine has "an unusually undemocratic president."
Zelenky is "Ukrainian Pinocchio"
Disinformers continue to mock President Volodymyr Zelensky in every possible way. They called him a liar and accused him of foreign policy failures. Some attacks against Zelensky are almost touching. For example, he is accused of the fact that schoolchildren in Ukraine will not wear Soviet school uniforms on September 1. “Zelenskiy, it seems, doesn’t give a damn about the fact that children go to school and young people go to universities. And about how they will look at the time, festive or the usual way”. But even on this topic, they were able to notice the "humiliation of the Soviet regime" and non-recognition of "freedom of choice."
Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues quoted one of the pseudo experts from our database, who said about Zelensky's speech during the Crimean platform: "As they say, in simplicity of heart, all was lies, from the first to the last word."
Disinformers also discussed the forthcoming (this monitoring issue covers August 23 - 29, 2021) Zelensky's meeting with US President Joseph Biden. They speculated that Zelensky would try to use American domestic policy to "put pressure" on Biden.
«Сами американские демократы сделали украинский вопрос внутриполитическим для США. Теперь Зеленский намерен шантажировать Байдена, угрожая, что может дать республиканцам «козырь» против него».
“The American Democrats themselves have made the Ukrainian question a domestic political issue for the United States. Now Zelenskiy intends to blackmail Biden, threatening that he can give the Republicans a "trump card" against him”.
As we can see now, this was not the case at all.
And traditionally, disinformers, writing about the "riot" in the fall, promote the thesis of early presidential elections, which are supposed to take place in late autumn. They have not named any grounds for this and are limited to speculations such as: “Zelensky clearly understands: if he is not re-elected early this year, then next year he will be in prison”.
In general, Russia benefits from political instability in Ukraine, as early elections bring chaos to the already inefficient state system and slow down the implementation of reforms and important projects indefinitely.
"Anti-Russia", "Instead-of-Russia" and other names for Ukraine in disinfo
Russian websites targeting Ukrainian issues and leading Russian media have been thinking a lot about how well off Ukraine would be with Russia, or at least within the "Russian world."
“Ukraine and Russia could exist together, as Austria and Germany do. But without the help of Russia and in the conflict with Russia, something like this cannot be built for sure.” This is where the Anschluss of Austria by Nazi Germany comes to mind.
They called Ukraine's independence "degradation," and the state itself "a puppet" and "dependent" on the United States. Disinformers claimed that without US support, there would be a new "redistribution of land" and Ukraine would disappear.
Since the publication of Putin's propaganda article on Ukraine and Russia, we have seen a weekly reincarnation and a powerful stream of long-standing mentions of Ukraine as "Anti-Russia," a puppet of the West (or the Austrian General Staff, as was claimed in tsarist Russia) created to oppose Russia. We recently noticed a new concept of "Instead-of-Russia": "the idea that Ukraine can become an alternative center of the Russian world." In fact, these are two identical ideas that Ukraine should be associated with Russia, dependent on Russia and, at least, to be “the better Russia.” This thesis denies Ukraine the right to its own identity, independent existence, and choice of its own future.
Also this week:
Russian websites (followed by Ukrainian garbage sites) have again raised the issue of regional languages in Ukraine, adding vivid images such as "the language inquisition" or "Russophobic language patrols."
Ukrainian manipulative media continued the continuous flow of PR and quotes from Medvedchuk and advice to Zelensky to "find himself good lawyers of defense in the ECHR".
They wrote that Ukrainians allegedly "flee the country", "lose" their pensions, and suffer because of utility tariffs. And they complained about the loss of post-Soviet industrial capacity.
They also wrote that Ukraine accepted Merkel "coolly" because of her support for Nord Stream 2 and speculated that Ukraine would have to be "friends" with Russia in order to continue the transit of gas through the Ukrainian gas transportation system.
It was written that the President of Estonia "did dirt" by her statement that Ukraine would not get into the EU for another 20 years.
Last week, the key theme was the celebration of Ukraine's Independence Day. The key theses were the failures of Ukraine, the "dependence" on Western countries, the fact that corruption "thrives" in Ukraine, the army is a "Soviet legacy", and the country is facing an inevitable "split".
Zelensky was attacked no less often. He was called a liar and disinformers prophesied riots and early elections. And then prison. All the same was written a few years ago about the previous president Petro Poroshenko.
Another notable topic was the painful reluctance of disinformers to accept the fact that Ukraine is outside the "Russian world." They tried in every way to impose ties with Russia as either an "opponent" or as a possible "democratic alternative." That is, of course, if Ukraine abandons its “Russophobia”.
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:
- manipulative news from the Russian online publications which write on Ukrainian topics, for the population of the occupied territories
- manipulative news from those Ukrainian sites where a significant amount of manipulative news has been spotted. This second category is targeted at Ukrainian audiences and publishes a lot of manipulative news of different ideological orientation
- all news from mainstream Ukrainian publications
- all materials from local Ukrainian news sites
- all materials from mainstream Russian news sites
- posts in Telegram channels popular in Ukraine
In the first and second groups of news, the materials were selected by the AI classifier of manipulative news.
We searched for topics in 14559 materials in the Russian language from:
- 72 Russian sites (manipulative materials only) targeting Ukrainian topics: 3652.ru, 3654.ru, 8692.ru, anna-news.info, antifashist.com, antimaydan.info, c-inform.info, comitet.su, crisis.in.ua, delovoydonbass.ru, dnr-lnr.info, dnr-pravda.ru, dnr24.com, dnr24.su, donbasstoday.ru, doneck-news.com, dontimes.news, dontimes.ru, dosie.su, e-gorlovka.com.ua, e-news.su, evening-crimea.com, free-news.su, fresh.org.ua, fromdonetsk.net, front-novorossii.ru, gorlovka.today, jankoy.org.ua, kafanews.com, komtv.org, kv-journal.su, lgt.su, luga1news.ru, lugansk1.info, meridian.in.ua, metayogg.com, miaistok.su, mir-lug.info, mnyug.com, mozaika.dn.ua, nahnews.org, naspravdi.info, nefakt.info, newc.info, news-front.info, newsland.com, nk.org.ua, novorosinform.org, novorossiy.info, novosti.icu, odnarodyna.org, on-line.lg.ua, patriot-donetsk.ru, pohnews.org, politnavigator.net, politobzor.net, pravdanews.info, ruinformer.com, rusdnepr.ru, rusnext.ru, russian-vesna.ru, rusvesna.su, sevastopol.su, sevnews.info, sobytiya.info, svodki24.ru, time-news.net, ukraina.ru, voenkor.info, voskhodinfo.su, vsednr.ru, xvesti.ru
- 105 Ukrainian online media where over 10% of all news about Ukraine have been spotted as being manipulative (manipulative materials only): 0432.in, 112.ua, agrimpasa.com, aif.ua, akcenty.com.ua, antikor.com.ua, argumentua.com, baza-pravda.in.ua, bbcccnn.com.ua, begemot.media, bessarabiainform.com, censoru.net, dialog.ua, donetskie.com, elise.com.ua, expres.life, figurant.com.ua, finoboz.net, for-ua.life, fraza.ua, from-ua.com, glavcom.life, glavk.info, glavred.info, glavred.life, golos.ua, hpib.life, hyser.com.ua, inforesist.org, inform-ua.info, informator.news, intell.in.ua, ivasi.news, jizn.info, job-sbu.org, k-stenke.com, khersonline.net, kompromat1.info, kompromat1.news, kordon.org.ua, korr.com.ua, kyiv.press, lifedon.com.ua, mignews.com.ua, monitor-ua.com, newnews.in.ua, news247.com.ua, news24ua.com, newser.com.ua, newsmir.info, newsua.one, nezalezhna.com, onpress.info, ord-02.com, ostrovok.lg.ua, p-zona.com, podrobnosti.ua, politdengi.com.ua, politeka.net, politica.com.ua, pravda.rv.ua, prioritet.org, proua.com.ua, provokators.top, prportal.com.ua, replyua.net, rezzonans.in.ua, rnbee.com.ua, rupor.info, rupor.od.ua, rusjev.net, sharij.net, skelet-info.org, spektrnews.in.ua, spichka.news, spzh.news, startko.co.ua, strana.ua, t.ks.ua, tema.in.ua, timer-odessa.net, tp0432.in.ua, tribunanaroda.info, ua-reporter.com, ua-vestnik.com, ua24ua.net, ukr.life, ukraine-zmi.info, ukrainianwall.com, ukranews.com, ukranews.life, ukrpost.biz, ukrrudprom.ua, vesti-ukr.com, vesti.ua, vkulake.com, vlasti.net, voi.com.ua, vremya.com.ua, vybor.ua, vz.ua, xn--j1aidcn.org, zhitomir-online.com, zik.ua, znaj.ua
- 17 major Ukrainian online media (all materials): 24tv.ua, bykvu.com, censor.net.ua, fakty.com.ua, fakty.ua, gordonua.com, interfax.com.ua, lb.ua, liga.net, nv.ua, pravda.com.ua, rbc.ua, segodnya.ua, tsn.ua, ukrinform.ru, unian.net, zn.ua
- 16 major Russian media (all materials): aif.ru, dni.ru, kommersant.ru, kp.ru, lenta.ru, lentainform.com, life.ru, newsru.com, pravda.ru, regnum.ru, riafan.ru, russian.rt.com, slovodel.com, svpressa.ru, tass.ru, vz.ru
- 175 Ukrainian local media (all materials): 0432.ua, 048.ua, 04849.com.ua, 04868.com.ua, 0512.com.ua, 056.ua, 0564.ua, 057.ua, 061.ua, 06153.com.ua, 0619.com.ua, 06239.com.ua, 06274.com.ua, 06277.com.ua, 0629.com.ua, 0642.ua, 1kr.ua, 1news.zp.ua, 44.ua, 5632.com.ua, 5692.com.ua, 62.ua, 6264.com.ua, 7kanal.com.ua, actual.today, allkharkov.ua, atn.kharkov.ua, barometr.info, beg.dp.ua, bessarabiainform.com, city.sumy.ua, cxid.info, dancor.sumy.ua, dani-info.com, dnepr.com, dneprcity.net, dneprnews.com.ua, dneprnews.info, dnews.dn.ua, dnl.com.ua, dnl.dn.ua, dnpr.com.ua, donbass.ua, donetskie.com, dontimes.news, dozor.kharkov.ua, dp.vgorode.ua, dpchas.com.ua, dumskaya.net, dv-gazeta.info, dzerghinsk.org, ecity.cn.ua, gloss.ua, golos.zp.ua, gorod-online.net, gorod.cn.ua, gorod.dp.ua, gx.net.ua, inform.zp.ua, informator.dp.ua, inshe.tv, insidernews.info, irtafax.com.ua, iz.com.ua, izbirkom.org.ua, izmailvechernii.com.ua, izmnews.info, izvestia.kharkov.ua, kg.ua, kh.vgorode.ua, kharkov.dozor.ua, khersonline.net, khustinfo.com/video, kiev.informator.ua, kiev.vgorode.ua, kievpravda.com, kn.ks.ua, kolokol.od.ua, korabelov.info, kramatorsk.info, kramatorskpost.com, krlife.com.ua, krnews.ua, krug.com.ua, kstati.dp.ua, lenta.kharkiv.ua, lugradar.net, mariupol-express.com.ua, mariupol.in, mariupolnews.com.ua, mig.com.ua, misto.zp.ua, mk.mk.ua, most-dnepr.info, mrpl.city, mycity.mk.ua, mykharkov.info, nashemisto.dp.ua, nashkiev.ua, nashreporter.com, nefakt.info, news.mspravka.info, newsroom.kh.ua, nf.dp.ua, niknews.mk.ua, nikolaevnews.com.ua, nikvesti.com, novosti-n.mk.ua, novosti-n.org, novosti.dn.ua, novosti.zhitomir.ua, objectiv.tv, od-news.com, od.vgorode.ua, odessa-life.od.ua, odessa.net.ua, odessa.online, odessapost.com, on.od.ua, ostro.org, otkat.od.ua, podrobnosti.mk.ua, press-center.news, prichernomorie.com.ua, pro.berdyansk.biz, rama.com.ua#tab_3-widget_panorama_posts_feed-2, real-vin.com, reni-odessa.od.ua, reporter-ua.com, ru.korzonews.info, rupor.od.ua, ruporzt.com.ua, russkiev.info, slavdelo.dn.ua, sobytiya.dp.ua, sq.com.ua, subbota.ua, svsever.lg.ua, t.ks.ua, telegraf.in.ua, timenews.in.ua, timer-odessa.net, timeua.info, tnua.info, topnews.cn.ua, topnews.odessa.ua, topnews.zp.ua, topnews.zt.ua, topor.od.ua, treebuna.info, tribun.com.ua, tribune.com.ua, tvplus.dn.ua, ua-reporter.com, uanews.kharkiv.ua, usionline.com, verge.zp.ua, vesti.dp.ua, visti.ks.ua, vmestezp.org, vn.mk.ua, vo.od.ua, volnorez.com.ua, vseprokiev.com.ua, vv.com.ua, x1.com.ua, z-city.com.ua, zachem.com.ua, zaodessu.com.ua, zhitomir-online.com, zhzh.info, zi.dn.ua, zp.vgorode.ua, zptown.zp.ua, zv.zp.ua
- 100 Ukrainian Telegram channels (all materials): @ASupersharij, @AleksandrSemchenko, @BerezaJuice, @BiletskyAndriy, @BondarenkoElenaUA, @botsmanua, @donetch, @KAPVEY, @KlymenkoTime, @KrokooDil, @LastBP, @MaxBuzhanskiy, @OP_UA, @OlgaSharij, @PortnovUA, @Pravda_segodny, @PresidentPoroshenko, @SBUkr, @ShrikePolitics, @SlugaNarodu_Official, @Ten_NaPleten, @UkrainaCHP, @UkraineNewsUa, @V_Zelenskiy_official, @Yad_OK, @ZeFackTy, @ZeRada1, @advocatprava, @borodatayaba, @borys_filatovv, @dadzibao, @dark_k, @dobkinmm, @donbasscase, @ednist_ta_progress, @ednistinfo, @gistapa, @gordonuacom, @govorit_ukraina_novosti, @gpolitnews, @gribvictoria, @gryaznayaigra, @insiderUKR, @joker_ukr, @kachuratut, @kryuchoktv, @kyivvlast, @legitimniy, @legitimniy_live, @lugansk_inside, @maksnazar, @monovaolena, @multlychnosty, @mustafanayyem, @mvs_ukraine, @nabolelo_odessa, @nach_shtabu, @nedotorkani, @nextaUkr, @notesdetective, @ochkobakanova, @office_ua, @olejnikovschina, @oleksiihoncharenko, @online_novosti_ua, @pavlovskynews, @politikaukraine, @portnikov, @razvedinfo, @rezident_ua, @rus_demiurge, @sharij_official, @shaurma_inside, @sheptoon, @skosoi, @smolii_ukraine, @sonyakoshkina, @sorosata, @spletnicca, @stolovka_ukr, @tayni_deputata, @thanksrinat, @tsibulya_ua, @tzhitomir, @ua_hot_news, @ukr_novyna, @ukrainskinovosti, @valeriazaruzhko, @varta1, @vestiukr, @wagnergate, @yurasumy, @ze_landia, @ze_team2019, @zedigital, @zv_kyiv
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.