Zelensky the “weakling”, “panic” in Ukraine. Disinformation monitor #113
- Russia is again and again looking for justifications for its aggression
- Zelensky could not cope with his political opponent
- Weapons supplied to Ukraine are "obsolete"
- Complaining that judges were easier on Poroshenko than on Medvedchuk
- Learn how topics of disinformation have changed over the past year with our interactive visualization
Period: January 17 — 23, 2022
What’s new in disinformation?
This week, disinformers tried to persuade their readers that there is "panic in Ukraine", but at the same time claimed that Russia "will not attack" Ukraine. As always, the propagandists blame the United States and "the advance of NATO troops to Russia's borders." They also fantasized that the United States had accepted Russia's demands to "bend" Ukraine and to fulfill Russia's vision of the Minsk Protocols.
Much attention was also paid to the return of Petro Poroshenko to the country. Disinformers reminded their readers that "Poroshenko and Zelensky have the same owners, the collective West." And once again predicted a "new Maidan" due to protests by supporters of the previous president.
The Russian invasion which the US "want so much"
The topic of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine remains one of the most popular topics in our monitoring. Russian sites are openly happy that "Ukrainians continue to panic" and are doing everything they can to increase this panic. At the same time, they do not forget to accuse Ukrainian government agencies: “The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine is sowing panic over the “invasion”, and the Foreign Ministry accuses Russia of these panic attacks”.
“Ze-team does allow the chance of the notorious “invasion”, but at the same time does not welcome the panic, in which two categories of Ukrainian citizens risk trampling each other in a stampede. Some, when they run en masse towards the Russian troops with flowers, bread and salt, and the second, when they run away, flashing their heels, “over the curb”.
Russian disinformers continue to emphasize that Russia is not going to attack: “If in the phrase “Russian invasion of Ukraine” the word “Ukraine” is replaced by the word “Mars” or “Moon”, its formal content will change, but the relation to current politics will remain unchanged: There is no Russian invasion of Ukraine”.
They accuse Washington of "trying to justify its expansion and the advance of NATO troops to Russia's borders." But they don't fail to add aggressive rhetoric about Russia's military power or emotional considerations such as: “The dead end of the idea “Let Ukrainians [pejorative hate-word for Ukrainians is used - TEXTY.org.ua] boil in their own juice” becomes obvious, because this “juice” is the basis for a bloody sauce prepared specifically for Russia”
In addition, the topic of the Minsk Protocols returned to the texts of disinformers. Some Russian sites write that everything that is happening around Ukraine today is “a hysteria hyped by the West to cover Kyiv's sabotage of ‘Minsk-2’ ”, others fantasize that “The United States agreed to all the conditions of the Kremlin and now they are hard bending Kyiv to fulfill the Minsk Agreements. All visits of American officials to Ukraine are about this, and not about what everyone thinks about”.
“The United States has long been ready to recognize Russian priority not only in the Donbas, but also in Ukraine, and recently also in Eastern Europe, just to be able to somehow maintain their dominance in Western Europe”
"Epidemic" of false bomb alerts in Ukraine and occupied Crimea
In Ukraine, a wave of false bomb alerts of educational institutions, subway stations, and government facilities continues. According to Ukrainian officials, most bomb alerts come from Russia and Belarus. They call using IP-telephony, which makes it difficult to identify the attackers and the place from where the call was made. However, Russian sites hardly cover real Ukrainian events.
After all, there have been mass threats of bombs in schools and universities in occupied Crimea lately, as well, and these are the focus of Russian media attention. Some of propagandist websites confine themselves to Aksonov's quotes that the threats "came from abroad", others, not surprisingly, accuse Ukraine: “sending messages about ‘bomb placing’, the Ukrainian special services monitor the actions of the Russian security forces, doctors, the Ministry of Emergencies”
Zelensky is “a weakling”, Poroshenko is “putting Ukraine on fire”, a “new Maidan” is coming soon
Petro Poroshenko's return to Ukraine with pomp was one of the top events last week. Supporters of the fifth president came to meet him at the airport and held mass rallies in his support during the court hearings. Poroshenko's return and the lawsuit against him also caused a great deal of disinformation. Russian manipulative websites and Ukrainian clickbait trashy sites compared Poroshenko and Zelensky and wrote that there was no difference between them:
“Zelensky fully continues the policy of the fifth president Poroshenko in surrendering national interests and sovereignty... Poroshenko and Zelensky have the same masters, the collective West, with the help of whose borrowed money the regime of the fifth president was maintained, and now the current is, too”
The trial of Poroshenko was called "clowning" and Zelensky was ridiculed because he "failed to become a strong leader." Anonymous Telegram channels wrote about the "weakness of the president's team" and threw in some "insides" from Bankova Street: "loser", “they wanted to extinguish Poroshenko’s flame, but Poroshenko understood the whole situation and bent the whole Ze-team nicely. Demonstrating Zelensky as a coward." At the same time, the Russian state media gladly broadcast vivid pictures from under the courtrooms and once again predicted a "new Maidan" for Ukraine.
Interestingly, Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, criticized the campaign against Poroshenko and said that Zelensky's actions "do not improve the reputation of the current Kyiv regime." In these words, Zelensky is subtly mocked, because Poroshenko's current accusations resonate with the Russian disinformation of Poroshenko's period, when they infused Ukrainians with theses about "blood trade" and "the war which is good for the oligarchs."
The West is supplying Ukraine with “junk metal of weapons”
Against the backdrop of the Russian threat, Western allies have begun handing over defense weapons to Ukraine. Russian officials were outraged by the West's support and threatened with an "increase in tensions" in the region. At the same time, Russian disinformers tried to throw in their theses that weapons supplies to Ukraine are inefficient and pointless.
“If the US and the UK want to supply Ukraine with these weapons, then they take upon themselves guarantees that the weapons will not appear elsewhere. If I were them, I would not take such responsibility, given the level of corruption in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the desire of some of its representatives to earn money. These MANPADS can be resold to radical Islamists, who would later use them against civil aviation”, pseudo experts of Russian manipulative media claimed. The transfer of arms from the Baltic states was called "junk metal of weapons", and the transfer of the 152-millimeter shells from the Czech Republic of which there is acute lack was ridiculed.
We can recall that it was not “radical Islamists” but the Russian hybrid troops that shot down the civil MH-17 passenger airplane in the summer of 2014.
Russia is "legitimizing" the occupation of Crimea with a Syrian dictator
Last week, the occupationist Crimean authorities received a delegation from the Syrian dictatorial regime of Bashar al-Assad. Much attention was paid to this event in the state Russian media. They are trying to use it as a confirmation of the legitimacy of the peninsula’s status in Russia. The occupationists signed a number of agreements with the Syrian dictatorial regime and agreed to cooperate.
“Crimean ports are ready to become the main southern sea gates of Russia as part of the development of trade and economic relations with Syria”, the Russians claimed, and the Syrians replied that they are ready to “develop inter-parliamentary cooperation between the republics more actively, especially under the conditions when some unfriendly countries are trying to hinder us in this by imposing economic sanctions”.
Also this week:
Medvedchuk's private experts were offended by the fact that Poroshenko was released and Medvedchuk was not, which was actively reported in the puppet media: "For Medvedchuk, the judge made a decision in 30 minutes, and for Poroshenko it took two days." And US sanctions against OPFL members of parliament Taras Kozak and Oleg Voloshin were turned by these media into a confirmation of who is the real "opponent of Ukraine's foreign governance."
Both Ukrainian and Russian sites of all types wrote that the Russian Communist Party had submitted a draft law to the State Duma of the Russian Federation recognizing the so-called L/DPR. However, both Ukrainian and Russian websites came to the conclusion that this project is unlikely to be supported by the State Duma. However, Russian websites suddenly changed their opinion in their texts containing threats because of non-fulfillment of the Minsk Protocols by Ukraine: “American stubbornness in indulging the unwillingness of the Kyiv regime to implement the “Minsk Agreements” unties our hands on the issue of recognition of the LDPR”.
In addition, Russian propagandists wrote that NATO actually wants to occupy Ukraine, Russia is trying to “protect the Donbas from Zelensky's military adventure, which the Alliance is pushing him to” and “the only thing that has so far held back the leadership of Ukraine from the offensive is the fear of Russia's determination to respond asymmetrically, despite all the threats made by NATO”.
Propagandists disseminate the statement of the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko about the threats to Belarus from Ukraine. “Ukraine continues to concentrate units of the National Guard comprised of radical nationalists, this is worse than NATO military personnel, and this is in close proximity to our country”, he claimed commenting on the special border operation "Polissya". It will be recalled that the Border Guard Service of Ukraine introduced intensive security measures on November 24, 2021 after Belarus began to inflame the migration crisis on its borders with the EU.
Disinformers continued to write about a possible invasion. They claimed that there was "panic" in Ukraine, but Russia was "not going to" attack. They shifted all the blame for the escalation to the United States (whose soldiers are not present in Ukraine) and not to Russia (which has assembled more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border). In line with this topic, they also mentioned the "bomb alerts" in various places in Ukraine.
Disinformers called Petro Poroshenko's return to Ukraine clowning. They wrote that Poroshenko and Zelensky were exactly the same and broadcast a picture of the protests from court ("a new Maidan").
Two theses were put forward regarding the supply of arms to Ukraine from foreign partners. The first is that these weapons are not needed and are inefficient "junk metal of weapons". The second is that the Armed Forces are "corrupt" and “These MANPADS can be resold to radical Islamists, who would later use them against civil aviation”.
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 16282 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 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.