Zelensky’s “obsession” with Putin, manipulating the UN report, relations with Turkey. Disinformation monitor #99

  • Ukraine the “aggressor
  • Zelensky fights his opponents and “admires” Putin
  • Russia manipulates the UN report on human rights in Ukraine
  • Manipulating a video from second-hand shop as a proof of “impoverishment
  • Ukraine as Erdogan’s “pawn
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: September 27 — October 3, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

Recently, we have noticed a growing interest of disinformers in Ukrainian-Turkish relations. The key idea they are promoting is “Ukraine on Erdogan's board is not a rook, much less an elephant. An ordinary pawn who doesn't even have a chance to become a figure."

The disinformers also changed the emphasis in the UN report on the human rights situation in Ukraine. Instead of writing about the real problems of people living in the frontline or the occupied territories, as well as vulnerable people in Ukraine, disinformers sought evidence of "discrimination against the Russian language" and other narratives of their own (which were not in the report).

Unexpectedly for us, many Russian sites focused on Ukrainian issues quoted an interview with a pseudo-expert from our database, who claimed that Zelensky was "obsessed" with Putin.

Shelling the occupied territories. "Ukraine the aggressor" against peace in the Donbas

The continuous flow of fakes about the shelling of the civilian population of the occupied territories by the Armed Forces was intensified last week by the news that the military was allowed to open fire in the Joint Forces Operation area without coordination with the high commanders. And although the case is about the ability to respond to shelling without undue bureaucratic difficulties, it did not prevent Russian disinformers from emotionally reflecting on "how Ukraine sabotages the comprehensive truce" and simply pump up their readers with outright manipulation: "Ukrainian military have been allowed to bomb Donbass".

Now the state of affairs is such that Ukraine can open fire whenever it pleases

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Zelensky vs Razumkov

This week, disinformers promoted several narratives about Zelensky. The first concerned his "obsession" with Putin: “Zelensky perceives Vladimir Putin as a kind of sacred value, and he, recalling or citing his statements, believes that he somehow approaches him ... He thinks that he played somehow against Putin, but in fact it is a latent desire to get Putin’s attention”.

They also quote Russian politicians who mocked Zelensky's words about Ukraine's "brazen" foreign policy: “due to internal problems and failed reforms, Kyiv has nothing to offer foreign partners, so the authorities brazenly cover up the disparity between their ambitions and their potential”.

Another important narrative about Zelensky was his conflict with Razumkov. They wrote that "Both Razumkov and Klitschko are called possible competitors of Zelensky in the upcoming presidential election." They described Zelensky's desire to get rid of his former colleague with fear and described it as follows: “the bug is small, but smelly ... And in combination with pathological fear and dread, the smell of this "bug" becomes completely unbearable”.

Russia manipulates the UN report on human rights in Ukraine

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine recently presented its new report in Kyiv. UN observers have pointed out numerous human rights violations and restrictions on freedoms in the Russian-occupied Crimea and parts of the Donbas, and have also noted an increase in shelling in the Donbas over the past six months.

Russian propagandists decided to completely ignore these facts. They distorted the content of the report and presented it as an example of devastating criticism of Ukraine by the international community. "Persecution of the Russian language, harassment of the media, shooting people: the UN about Ukraine" is how we can briefly summarize the main essence of disinformers' messages. "Zelensky's regime is purposefully, systematically and consistently violating human rights in Ukraine," wrote Russian disinformation sites targeting Ukraine. They did not fail to mention the alleged "forced Ukrainization" and conspiracy theories about the "external management" of Ukraine

“Zelensky's regime has been given an order that was not fulfilled by his predecessor Petro Poroshenko, to reformat Ukraine into "Anti-Russia" as quickly and harshly as possible. The order was issued by the United States and well paid, so everyone in Ukraine is trying to work off investments and to get an additional premium. [...] by this external order, the Zelensky regime acts rudely and consistently, harshly and brazenly [...] in order to maximize Ukrainization in opposition to Russia, squeezing out everything Russian from Ukrainian life, breaking down stereotypes, habits, and traditions. This goes hand in hand with the simultaneous suppression of any resistance and even criticism of their steps.”

"Impoverished people fight for second-hand stuff"

The twenty-three-second long video, which shows a stampede at the entrance to a second-hand shop in Dnipro, caused quite a stir among disinformers. Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues and Ukrainian information garbage sites have dubbed this video "a battle for underwear" and began to spread it as proof of alleged total impoverishment of Ukrainians. In the best traditions of propaganda, they filed a single case for a systematic phenomenon and did not miss the opportunity to paint a juicy picture of the economic apocalypse in Ukraine:

Shops, markets, and even more so, shopping centers in the country are empty [...]. The queues, and indeed the people at the counters in general, disappeared, because the European integration “decommunized” the funds which could be used to purchase goods. Only queues at the second-hand have become a peculiar sign of the current era of "dignity". At the same time, the queues in second-hand clothing stores from Europe began to look more and more like a siege. On the day of delivery, Ukrainians take positions at these outlets in advance, and at the time of opening, in order to get into the coveted store, they are the first to demolish everything in their path”.

In fact, on the day of delivery the large second-hand shops are usually stormed by re-sellers who buy it bulk in order to then resell the goods at more expensive prices piece by piece.

Ukrainian-Turkish relations: "The old witch is against it"

The deterioration of Russian-Turkish relations due to Turkey's non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea by Russia is reflected in the texts of Russian disinformation: "Ukraine on Erdogan's board is not a rook, much less an elephant. An ordinary pawn who doesn't even have a chance to become a figure. " And Russian mainstream sites under the bright headline "NATO has stated that one day Erdogan will declare Crimea Turkish" published a quote from a frankly pro-Russian former NATO representative in Moscow that "it will not be surprising if Erdogan suddenly decides to declare Crimea a Turkish possession."

At the same time, disinformers continue to speculate on "Why the West does not need Ukraine’s accession to NATO," not forgetting to discredit both Ukraine (“Kyiv aspires to NATO because it believes that it can declare war on anyone on behalf of the entire bloc. It is for this reason that NATO does not want to see dangerously inadequate members in its ranks.”), and the Alliance itself: "What common standards can we talk about, given the presence in one organization of the United States and Turkey, Germany and Estonia, Greece and Albania, Iceland and France?"

Also this week:

On the topic of coronavirus, in parallel with the intensification of the epidemic, the number of publications describing the tragic situation with the filling of hospitals in various regions is increasing. But because of the emotional wording, garbage sites are more likely to spread panic than information. Or to use theses about "coronavirus hell" for black PR against Terekhov on the eve of elections of the mayor of Kharkiv.

Ukrainian manipulative media continue to idealize Medvedchuk, calling him "the true leader of Ukraine, whom its people deserve."

They wrote that the EU had "dumped" Ukraine on the gas issue and was pursuing its own goals. And also once again predicted for Ukraine: "bankruptcy, cold winter, and dancing with tambourines by the fire." It is worth mentioning that no matter how many times these scarecrow predictions are voiced, Ukraine has always passed the heating season without critical problems. Even in the early years of the war it was so. Disinformers also pumped up Ukraine's conflict with Hungary over the latter's refusal to get gas via Ukrainian transit.

They pondered whether Saakashvili would become a "sacred victim" in Georgia. And he was mentioned as the man who turned Georgia into a "showcase for neoliberal propaganda."

They wrote about how officials of the Russian occupation administration in Crimea criticize and ridicule the Ukrainian strategy of deoccupation of the peninsula. They explained the existence of such plans in Ukraine by the activities of "extreme nationalists."


This week, disinformers wrote that Zelensky is afraid of competition in the election from Razumkov and therefore wants to get rid of him. And that the president is "obsessed" with Putin. Disinformers rejoiced at Saakashvili's detention in Georgia and reflected on his role in turning Georgia into a "showcase for neoliberal propaganda." In the field of international relations, they wrote that the EU "dumped" Ukraine in the gas issues, and that Turkey allegedly uses Ukraine for its own purposes. Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues, as usual, accused the Ukrainian military of shelling, and the state of "forced Ukrainization."

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.


We searched for topics in 13276 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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