Passions over oligarchs and the military danger that never disappeared. Disinformation monitor #108

  • Zelensky’s coups.
  • “Recognizing” the occupation of Crimea by Lukashenko.
  • New military threats for Ukraine.
  • Opposing oligarchs to the “external governance”.
  • Learn how topics of disinformation have changed over the year with our interactive visualization.

Period: November 29 — December 5, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

Zelensky is in the spotlight after his press conference and his speech in the Verkhovna Rada. Disinformers tried to inscribe in his conflict with the oligarch Akhmetov their theses on external governance and ridiculed the "coup" announced by Zelensky. Theses on external governance were also used on the topic of dual citizenship for the Ukrainian diaspora. Also this week, they wrote on an unprecedented scale about the "recognition" of the occupation of Crimea by Russia by the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Lukashenko.

Zelensky and the coup. "State Department bets on Akhmetov and defects from Kolomoisky?"

Ukrainian garbage sites continue to "protect" oligarch Akhmetov from Zelensky, and to "glorify" the oligarch, discrediting the president: “Akhmetov has assets quoted on international exchanges, which confirms the transparency of his business for the West. [...] Plus a media empire. Plus political contacts. The Greatest has experience of corporate concerts and an apology to Kadyrov. SBU is with Bakanov. The Prosecutor's Office is with Venediktova. Police are with Monastyrsky”. Such texts may be paid for by Akhmetov himself (a separate investigation is needed to determine this), but they coincide with Russian narratives containing criticism of the Ukrainian government as completely insignificant. It will be recalled that previous presidents were shown in the same way.

But it is noteworthy that Russian sites targeting Ukraine are also defending the oligarch ("Rinat Leonidovich is a serious man"), and further dilute the conflict between Akhmetov and Zelensky with their theses on external governance, which has recently become very popular with Russian disinformation. They write that Akhmetov “came to an agreement with the State Department, by presenting Razumkov's candidacy" and use this as an occasion to remind that “in Ukraine, since the first presidential elections, the president’s legitimacy has been determined by the United States”.

Russian disinformers also appeal to foreign governance when considering the possibility of a coup d'etat in Ukraine. We will remember that Zelensky declared about a planned coup and reported that the coup was being prepared by the Russian special services who tried to involve Akhmetov in it.

While the Ukrainian mainstream media refrain from evaluative judgments, as it is very difficult to draw conclusions based on scanty information published by Zelensky, and there is no other information, and while mainstream media cover the coup topic through quotes from politicians (Shmyhal, Monastyrsky, Arahamiya, Kornienko, and others), Russian sites emotionally reflect that “if Zelensky's policy remains pro-Atlantic and anti-Russian, then nationalists and supporters of European integration will support him and a coup will not be needed”. They are being supported by Russian mainstream sites that write about the "Ukrainian undercoup", publishing headlines like “He also fought off the alien invasion! Zelensky prevented a coup” and contemplating that “The theme of the Ukrainian coup looks more and more like operetta, pop song, replete with numerous inconsistencies and absurdities”.

In general, Ukrainian mainstream sites that cover events and statements according to their real weight in Ukrainian society wrote less about the coup than Russian disinformation. The latter generally like to write about the coup in Ukraine.We see a surge during the latest monitoring period:

Screenshot 2021-12-09 at 16-18-39 Свіжа деза з Росії.png

COUP: the height of columns shows the change in material containing the word “coup”. Purple: Russian media targeting Ukraine, manipulative articles. Black: leading Ukrainian websites, all articles

"Russian" Crimea for Belarus

Lukashenko officially recognized Crimea as Russian and agreed to meet with Putin in occupied Sevastopol. Therefore, quite as expected, both mainstream and manipulative Russian websites spread his quotes with theses of Russian propaganda: "Ukrainian military, former Soviet military, in 2014 offered the Russian side to enter the Crimea in order to prevent the deployment of NATO troops there." And mainstream Russian media added to this news a truncated quote from Dmitry Kuleba that if Belarus really recognizes Russia's occupation of Crimea, "Kyiv will act in full." Which, without additional context, looks like an empty threat and aims to discredit Ukraine's foreign policy.

In addition, Russian websites broadcast their outrage over UNESCO's reluctance "under Western pressure" to send its experts to Crimea (because "such a trip can only take place within the resolution stating that Crimea is part of Ukraine") and rejoiced with Aksyonov about detention in Crimea of "a group of Ukrainian saboteurs". Not forgetting to add to the news his criticism of Ukrainian politicians, whose “ ‘love’ and ‘care’ are expressed in terror and attempts at sabotage, in an effort to harm the Crimeans as much as possible. This is how it goes, Bandera’s ‘love’ ”.

Mocking Zelensky and his idea of multiple citizenship

Almost every week you can read texts on both Ukrainian and Russian garbage sites, the main purpose of which is to discredit Zelensky, and with him the entire Ukrainian government. They often quote anonymous emotional social media contributors, publish cartoons, and give the floor to their regular publicists.

If earlier none of the decent experts and bloggers wanted to support Zelensky, today even the non-decent ones do not want to.”

Zelensky's press conference and his speech in the Verkhovna Rada strengthened this direction. After all, emotional criticism of Zelensky's personality organically accompanies the criticism of his ideas and bills. The idea of ​​multiple citizenships for Ukrainians was especially popular with disinformers. Ukrainian manipulative sites turned it into "there will be 65 million of us at once, and the aggressor will not be able to conquer such a powerful state", and Russian websites targeting Ukraine linked multiple citizenships to the benefit of Ulyana Suprun and all “those like her who come from the metropolis in order to carry out external governance in Ukraine". After all, "Dual citizenship is a way to legalize foreign rulers in Ukraine."

Russian sites did not leave without their comments the idea of creating an economic passport for Ukrainians: “And now money from the use of mineral resources will run after Ukrainian kiddies. An excellent fraud for the next 10-18 years for the nation whose grandmothers on the Maidan dreamed of their grandchildren living under communism, crossed out ... in Europe”.

Ukraine prepares to attack Russia

Russia continues its informational aggression against Ukraine. Russian propaganda has once again accused Ukraine and the West of preparing to attack Russia. For example, manipulative and some mainstream Russian sites called NATO a "collective Hitler," and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Kyiv was planning a "new military adventure." These theses were supplemented by the statements of the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova that the Armed Forces of Ukraine had recruited more than 120,000 servicemen to the zone of the Joint Forces. Russian disinformation sites writing about Ukraine continued to develop the narrative of a possible attack of Ukraine on Russia. They wrote that our country was on the "path of Nazi Germany" and was preparing a "preventive strike" on Russia.

"Lukashenko ready for the war with Ukraine"

Russian websites targeting Ukrainian topics pick up on all of Lukashenko's quotes in which he broadcasts and reinforces Russian narratives. And although last week's most popular quote was the recognition of Crimea as Russian territory by the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, it was complemented by other Lukashenko phrases about foreign governance. For example, the thesis of the West's desire to unleash a "war" in the Donbas, or that the pressure on Belarus is the West's war against Russia, and that "the West is using migrants to contain the Belarusian army."

Also this week:

"Zelensky must use Medvedchuk's capability to establish relations with Russia" and while Medvedchuk is being persecuted, dialogue with Russia is impossible. These were the theses that were spread by Medvedchuk's experts at Ukrainian garbage sites.

Russian state media disseminated a video in which a teacher from a Kyiv school quarreled with a student and said she was proud to be "Russian." Russian websites writing about Ukraine ridiculed the initiatives of the language ombudsman Taras Kremen.


This week, disinformers reacted a lot to various statements and speeches by Zelensky (of which, a lot accumulated). We have many times described the changed trend of Zelensky's coverage by disinformers. During the election campaign and in the first six months of the presidency, he was almost praised. Now his coverage is no different from that of the previous president. Hence a lot of mocking, accusations of "external management" and the constant search for competitors (now this is how Razumkov is portrayed). Separately, many sites have paid attention to his idea of ​​dual citizenship, which should link the diaspora with Ukraine. Disinformers write that it will be beneficial to Ulyana Suprun and "those like her who comes to Ukraine from the metropolis to carry out external management." As for the military escalation at the border, the hostile tone and constant accusations of "NATO aggression" against Russia remain. There is also a lot of attention paid to the oligarchs, especially Akhmetov, with whom President Zelensky has recently been in conflict.

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 14599 materials in the Russian language from:

Manipulation in the 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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