Russia brandishes its arms, “riots” as in Kazakhstan are being prophesied in Ukraine. Disinformation monitor #111

  • Russia brandishes its arms while calling itself a “peacekeeper”.
  • Crimea loses its cultural heritage.
  • Protests as in Kazakhstan are being prophesied in Ukraine.
  • There’s a “conspiracy” between Poroshenko and Zelensky.
  • Allies don’t “factor in” Ukraine.
  • Learn how topics of disinformation have changed over the past year with our interactive visualization

Period: January 3 — 9, 2022

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

This week, disinformers write that the West is afraid of Russia's alliance with China, and Ukraine is Russia's "territory of influence." The main novelty of the New Year period were the protests in Kazakhstan. Disinformers draw parallels between the Central Asian republic and Ukraine and intimidate Ukraine with a “new Maidan” over rising prices. There was also a search for a "Ukrainian trace" in the protests in Kazakhstan. The accusations against Petro Poroshenko became an important domestic event. Disinformers call the persecution of the former president a conspiracy to create a convenient "sparring partner" in the election for Zelensky.

US and NATO exploit Ukraine against Russia

Regarding Ukrainian-American relations, disinformers continue to spread theses about Ukraine's dependence on the United States (“The United States is the main external collective curator of modern Ukraine”) while also drawing attention to the alleged unreliability of such an ally. After all, “The United States is ready to sacrifice Ukraine for the sake of the image of a superpower”, and generally, “The West needs the destruction of Ukraine”.

Propagandists continue to portray Russia as a peacemaker which only defends its borders, because “Vladimir Putin sees current Ukraine as a potential threat to Russia and is acting accordingly”. They contemplate about “the years of unceremonious invasion of the USA and NATO into the territory of influence of Russia” and explain Russia's aggression by countering the destructive influence of the United States on the world: “In 2021, it was decided that starting a game of raising the stakes by Russia would be more productive and less resource-intensive than agreeing that, before its final death, the United States would bring 2/3 of the planet down to the ruinous state of Ukraine”.

As for Ukraine's ability to counter Russian aggression, on the one hand, propagandists write that “Kyiv may not count on military support from NATO”, and on the other hands, they accuse the West of provocations because “The United States and other NATO countries support Kyiv's militaristic aspirations by supplying weapons to Ukraine and sending their military specialists there.”

A relatively new argument by disinformers on the subject was an appeal to Western fear over Russia's potential alliance with China: “The West is afraid to impose really tough economic sanctions against Russia, because the creation of a formal military alliance between Russia and China will mean the beginning of a full-scale confrontation up to the hot stage.”

It is important to note that the vast majority of Russian theses are echoed on Ukrainian manipulative sites. They are wrapped in clickbait headlines, saturated with emotional expressions and accompanied by quotes (= PR) of Medvedchuk. Thus, the pseudo-pro-Ukrainian position veils the glorification of Russia and its military capabilities, the discrediting of Ukrainian foreign policy and simply attempts to spread panic.

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Crimea loses funding and cultural attractions

The main topic of Russian news about Crimea last week was the curtailment of the Federal Program for the Development of Crimea and, as a result, a significant reduction in Russia's funding for the region's development. And though in the meantime there were published texts that “Crimea became one of the ten most subsidized regions of Russia in 2021”, there were many more texts about “the scandals around the Federal Target Program for the Development of Crimea and Sevastopol” and how “Sergey Aksyonov lost control over financial flows from Russia”.

In addition, Russian websites continued to complain about the lack of cooperation between Russia and UNESCO in Crimea and discussed the poor condition of Crimean cultural sites: “About 70% of all cultural heritage sites in Crimea are in need of anti-collapse or restoration work”.

Protests in Kazakhstan are a harbinger of riots and disorder in Ukraine

Recent mass protests and riots in Kazakhstan have become one of the hottest topics in the world media. Russian disinformers also did not miss them. They actively drew parallels between the economic situation in Ukraine and Kazakhstan and intimidated the Ukrainian audience with the inevitability of a "new Maidan" in our country. According to disinformers and pseudo-experts, its main preconditions, as always, should be the total impoverishment of the population and the uncontrollably rising prices. This narrative was actively promoted by Ukrainian manipulative media spreading Russian propaganda and by Russian websites targeting Ukraine. The basis for "serious" analytics like “Lessons of Kazakhstan for Ukraine. Can we repeat?” were rumors and “insides” from anonymous Telegram channels:

“#Inside Our source in the Office of the President said that they are actively monitoring the protests in Kazakhstan at Bankova Street... The Office of the President believes that the opposition in the regions of the country will try to organize such protests, and the oligarchs will finance them”

Meanwhile, Russian state media were searching for mysterious external "organizers" of the protests in Kazakhstan. Of course, they were Ukrainians and Americans: “The political crisis in Kazakhstan, which began as a protest against the increase in gas prices, was prepared from outside, in the Western countries ... serious preparations and similarities with the technologies tested on the Ukrainian Maidan are visible”.

However, given the fact that both Kazakhstan and Russia are authoritarian countries with economies based on raw materials and given that they both have been ruled by the same leaders for decades, one can assume that when writing about Ukraine, Russian disinformers mean their own country, Russia.

“Fixed match” between Poroshenko and Zelensky

Disinformers are closely watching the situation surrounding Petro Poroshenko's accusation of high treason. In their opinion, “it's just a theater play we must watch”. They believe that the main purpose of the criminal case against Poroshenko is to increase the political rating of the latter and thus to turn Poroshenko into a convenient "sparring partner" for future presidential elections. Russian manipulative sites quoted the odious ex-member of the Party of regions Olena Lukash: “Zelensky is preparing Poroshenko as a “boar to be slaughtered” for himself in the second round of the presidential election. Because Poroshenko is the most toxic and disgusting politician. He is the most lovely competitor in the second round for Zelensky, who is going for a second term. At the time of the election, they will both be hated by the people”.

Streams of conspiracy theories surrounding Poroshenko were supported by Russian state media which published materials in his favorite genre “social media discuss”. The main message is that Zelensky and Poroshenko agreed on everything and once again fooled the Ukrainians.

Biden despises and deceives Zelensky

Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky held negotiations over the phone in early January. The President of the United States reiterated his support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and independence, and assured Zelensky of adhering to the principle of "nothing about you without you" during the talks.

However, Russian disinformers decided, as always, to turn everything upside down and tell us what the presidents were "really" talking about. According to their version, "everything is not so bad, it’s even worse." Nobody factors in Ukraine, nobody needs us, and Zelensky is constantly shaking in “a feverish sweat of fear of the unknown” and experiencing some “visions”. Russian manipulative sites targeting Ukraine backed up this narrative with reprints of analysts from the Chinese portal Sohu (a news aggregator): “Moscow and Washington are ready for a general decision on Ukraine, and no one is interested in the opinion of Kyiv anymore”, they wrote. Finally, the Russian state media RT decided to accuse Biden of disrespecting Zelensky, as he allegedly chose the wrong time to call.

Also this week:

Medvedchuk and other OPFL politicians last week disseminated through trashy websites their theses that Zelensky continued to destroy freedom of speech and do everything possible to prevent prisoners of war from returning to Ukraine (i.e., reject Medvedchuk's mediation proposals).

In addition, Ukrainian trashy websites continued to fuel emotions by writing about economic impoverishment. Among their theses: prices are rising, Ukrainians are dying out and getting poorer, pensions are not sufficient for "biological survival", and because of low salaries, police plan to organize an all-Ukrainian strike.


This week, disinformers continued to discuss tensions on the Ukrainian-Russian border. They supported the official Russian narrative that Russia "protects" its borders and "spheres of influence" by threatening Ukraine. It was also argued that no economic sanctions could stop Russia, and the United States neglected Ukraine's interests in order to reconcile with Russia. As for the occupied Crimea, disinformers complained that the peninsula's cultural heritage was in decline, and that Crimea continued to be one of the largest consumers of Russian subsidies. Much attention was paid to the aftermath of the protests in Kazakhstan. They looked for a Ukrainian trace, and also claimed that similar "riots" could begin in Ukraine due to rising prices.

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 9309 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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