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Slow vaccination, Russian gas in Moldova, threats of the “liquidation” of Ukraine. Disinformation monitor #102

  • Authorities cannot cope with the coronavirus
  • Russia threatens with its gas pipe
  • Visit of US Secretary of Defense annoys the Kremlin
  • Contemplations on the “liquidation” of Ukraine
  • Learn how different topics raised by Russian disinformation have evolved over time with our interactive visualization

Period: October 18 — 24, 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 featuring pseudo-experts from our database. We will do such reviews on a monthly basis in the next monitoring issues.

Last month, pseudo-experts did not betray their habits and regularly wrote about Medvedchuk, praised his proposals and promises of cheap gas from Russia, and assured that all criminal cases against him were commissioned by the authorities. After Saakashvili's arrest, they began to write that the former Georgian president got what he deserved and Zelensky would suffer the same fate. Pseudo-experts became quite active after Razumkov's resignation, writing that without him there would be no mono majority in the parliament. They also feared a sharp increase in losses on the front line after the appointment of a new commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.

What’s new in disinformation?

Disinformers reacted to the sharp increase in the number of patients with coronavirus; the epidemic returned into their focus. They wrote about the "decommunized" healthcare system, which could not cope with the challenges, and argued that too few people chose to get vaccinated because Ukraine had abandoned “Sputnik”. Criticism of vaccines and vaccination as such was mainly seen in the Telegram.

Another big topic is gas supplies to Europe. Disinformers covered the gas attack on Moldova. They tried to find selfish motives in Ukraine's decision to provide Moldova with a small amount of gas in order to support its gas pipelines (for the gas pipeline to work properly, there must be at least a small amount of gas).

We noticed a whole cluster of news, where the thesis about the "liquidation" of Ukraine was reiterated. Disinformers wrote that the destruction of the country would be "useful" for Russia and even for the people of Ukraine. And they also once again contemplated about the "division" of Ukraine along the Dnieper.

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Coronavirus

The Ukrainian manipulative media liked [famous medical doctor] Komarovsky's emotional video, where the doctor describes the tragic situation with the coronavirus in Ukraine and criticizes Zelensky.

And Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues continued to admit that "the situation with COVID-19 in the Republics of the Donbas is alarming" and tried to distract from it with news about Ukraine: "Hard lockdown in Ukraine will be introduced in any case" and after that, "Ukraine will not pull through another lockdown."

Disinformers advised Ukrainian politicians to recall the successful experience of vaccinating the population in the USSR, ridiculed the "decommunized" Ukrainian healthcare system and remembered their own classic theses criticizing medical reform: “the healthcare system Ulyana Suprun-style turned out to be completely corrupt, despite the highly advertised electronic sick leaves, the institute of family doctors, and other things about the “television medicine”.

The reasons for the low level of vaccination of the population was seen either in external governance (“Because the American embassy forced them to stop using Sputnik despite the fact that Ukraine was unable to create its own vaccine. And the massive deliveries of ideologically correct vaccines began only in the middle of this year”) or in Ukrainian nationalism (“The processes of archaization and clericalization dominate in society because production, education, and science are rapidly degrading, yielding positions to the nationalist triad ‘army-faith-language’ ”). Note that Russia itself is constantly setting new sad records for the number of deaths attributed to Covid-19.

Unlike pro-Russian anonymous Telegram channels, Russian sites do not disseminate anti-vaccine theses. But in the Telegram last week you could read both about the unexpected consequences for society from coronavirus tests (“Deformation of social awareness, allowing and normalizing a dominant attitude towards oneself, agreeing to be in the role of a "victim" / experimental material, suppressing / disabling defensive reactions to suppression of the personality from the outside...”), and the need to protect anti-vaxxers (“Things have not yet gone as far as beating by a crowd and torturing in squares, as happened in the Middle Ages during epidemics. Nevertheless, opponents of vaccinations, or, as ill-wishers call them, "anti-vaxxers" had to experience what the people's anger, coupled with fear in the face of uncertainty, is. True, this persecution occurs mainly on the Internet, it is not for nothing that the modern era is called ‘digital’ ”).

Russia attacks the gas market of Europe

Russia's gas aggression in Europe continues and is accompanied by an active disinformation and propaganda campaign in the state Russian media. Disinformers loudly support the preparations for the launch of Nord Stream 2, they write that this is about to happen, and assure the world that the EU is about to start buying Russian fuel: "The EU is preparing for an emergency joint purchase of gas from Russia."

At the same time, they purposefully attacked Ukraine, ridiculing Zelensky's statements that there would be enough gas in our storage facilities for the winter: “The whole world is shaking from gas prices, and our clown is fine. Where is it normal? We don't even have enough gas for the heating season in our storages. Therefore, the children were sent on vacation earlier so as not to heat the schools, because there is nothing. And Zelensky is fine… ". In fact, gas reserves in Ukrainian gas storage facilities are really enough to withstand the winter. Read about it in detail in our article.

The official Russian media also spread fakes and unverified information about the low quality of gas in Ukrainian heating networks: “the inhabitants of the country began to notice that the "blue fuel" began to heat worse, which is why the water does not boil well, and the food in the ovens "smolders". Many people note a decrease in the calorific value of the gas and its bad smell. The expert believes that a decrease in calorie content may be caused by the fact that the fuel is poorly purified.”

Russian disinformation sites have decided to pay special attention to the media coverage of Russia's gas attack on Moldova, where negotiations on concluding new contracts for the supply of natural gas are currently underway. Russia's usual practice of using energy as a geopolitical weapon has led to a state of emergency in Moldova, recently led by a progressive pro-European government. Ukraine has lent a "gas" arm to its neighbor and borrowed a symbolic amount of fuel to keep Moldova's gas transportation system from collapsing.

In total, Ukraine pumped 16 million cubic meters of gas to Moldova, which is only 0.08% of gas reserves in our storage facilities, the total of which is 18.4 billion cubic meters. Disinformation Telegram channels did not hesitate to comment on these events and launched a conspiracy theory in the information space, according to which Ukraine decided to supply gas to Moldova free of charge as a thank you for the return of Judge Chaus: “Ukraine has decided to supply gas to Moldova free of charge. Opponents of the government get another great argument for destroying Zelensky's rating. When the country does not start heating in hundreds of social infrastructure facilities and does not have enough money for heating, we "give" borrowed scarce resources and put ourselves in even greater dependence on the Russian Federation. They give us Chaus, we give them gas. " We first discovered this message on the anonymous telegram channel ZeRada1, related to the channels that were exposed by the SBU. Later, these theses were picked up even by some leading Ukrainian online media.

The visit of the head of the Pentagon annoyed Russia a lot

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin paid an official visit to Kyiv during a diplomatic tour of the Black Sea region. He clearly assured Ukraine of US military and political support, condemned Russia's occupation of Crimea, and called on the latter to stop the war in the Donbas and stop destabilizing the Black Sea. In addition, Lloyd Austin and President Zelensky discussed the deepening of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO, and at the same time the issues of energy security of our country. Russian disinformation expressed violent indignation at Austin's statements and tried to downplay their significance with the help of "devastating" pseudo-analytics:

Not wishing to overpay for Ukrainian loyalty, Washington still has a large stash of dubious quality gingerbread cookies. One of them is the promise to let Ukraine join NATO which causes irony among skeptics and realists.” Or: “.. menacing words resounded, effective help was promised, but the guest avoided any specifics”.

“Liquidation” of Ukraine and Russia’s imperialist ambitions

Comments of Russian politicians, circulated by Russian sites, once again remind of the toxic imperialism of our neighbor: “The best remedy would be to liquidate Ukraine itself as a state. It would be better not only for Russia and the residents of the Donbas, but for the citizens of Ukraine itself, for those who live there.

They accuse Ukraine of wanting war with Russia, using this as a justification for their imperialism. That's why they are inventing a mission for Putin: “Mission of Russian President Vladimir Putin is to stop Ukraine from turning into anti-Russia”. They brag about their army: “The Russian army does not even need to cross the Ukrainian-Russian border in order to bring Ukraine to its knees and force Kyiv to ask for mercy”. They are directing foreign policy in the direction of "The strong themselves take what they want without asking anyone" and ерун regret that in his article Medvedev said that Russia will wait (rather than attack Ukraine): “Eastern Ukraine wants to join Russia just like Western Ukraine wants to join Europe. We need to let people do what they want! The only thing that is wrong is that today there are many times more people in Ukraine who are oriented towards Russia than there are residents in the People's Republics. And this injustice must be eliminated in the shortest possible time.”

Even mainstream Russian sites published texts under headlines like “ ‘Liquidation’ of Ukraine is dangerous: the mixture is too explosive” where they contemplated that “It makes no sense to expect that Kyiv would fulfill the Minsk agreements, since the Ukrainian authorities do not have agency, and the only way to establish peace in the Donbas is to liquidate Ukraine itself as a state”.

Well, OK, “Ukraine as a state” will be liquidated by someone (it will not disintegrate by itself, because the state is too convenient for the West); but who will “liquidate” these millions of people? After all, they will in any case remain in Ukraine or in those new states that, in the event of "liquidation", will appear in its place! Does someone think that these millions of enemies of Russia and Russians (or even tens of millions) are needed to Russia itself? Or does the West need these marginals on its territory? No, they will be the hardest burden for everyone, an explosive mixture. Even now, one might say, they are part of the international terrorist army, and in the event of the "liquidation of Ukraine" they will directly join its ranks.”

Also this week:

In their desire to promote Medvedchuk, Ukrainian garbage sites have extensively quoted Putin, who defended him and said that "Ukrainians are not allowed to raise their heads."

Disinformers once again wrote that "strong European countries, such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, oppose Ukraine's membership in the EU" and criticized Zelensky for supporting Ukraine's course to join the EU.

Regarding the events in the occupied territories, disinformers wrote about the detention of a serviceman of the Russian hybrid troops in the Luhansk region by the Armed Forces. They claimed that a "rally" in support of him had gathered in Donetsk near the OSCE mission office and blocked the work of international observers.

Propagandists complained that the term "Great Patriotic War" was being "banned" in Ukraine, wrote that "the sky is darkening" over Zelensky because of the offshore scandal, and predicted Razumkov's presidency.

Summary

This week, disinformers wrote about the new wave of the coronavirus epidemic in Ukraine. They accused the "external governance" of slow vaccination and criticized medical reform. Anti-vaccination theses were spread in Telegram channels. Disinformers provided informational support to the campaign to put pressure on Moldova during the conclusion of a new contract for the supply of natural gas from Russia. At the same time, they assured that they were ready to supply more gas to Europe, even though Russia has not yet used the additional transit capacity that Ukraine constantly offers; Russia even transits less gas than had been contracted.

On the topic of international relations, disinformers scoffed at Ukraine's hopes of joining NATO. At the same time, they threatened Ukraine with "liquidation." In the world of crooked mirrors created by Russian propaganda, Ukraine "wants" to attack the huge Russia, and for this, Ukraine "wants" to enlist the support of NATO. Meanwhile, Russia plans to "divide" Ukraine for its own "good."

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 18505 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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