"Zaluzhnyi in a cage". Russian Media Monitoring Report, April 22-28, 2024

Last week, the Russian media wrote a lot about the Russian army's victories on the battlefield. Propagandists see these local successes as a breakthrough for the Ukrainian front and promise that the goals of the "SMO" (Special military operation - Ed.) will be achieved soon. They also widely covered the visit of Moldovan oppositionists to Moscow: pro-Russian politicians talked about the negative impact of European integration on Moldova, the threat to traditional values, and promised friendship with Russia after coming to power. Moscow's media also got the United States on its heels, with plans to ban TikTok unless Chinese owners sell a company operating in the US market. In Russia, this was predictably called an infringement on freedom of speech.

Читати українською

Read about this and other issues in the new issue of our monitoring of Russian state media and manipulative websites that target Russian disinformation.


Victory is coming soon

Propaganda praises the Russian army's local successes in certain areas of the frontline: "The special military operation is taking its course, the frontline is slowly but steadily creeping further west of the long-suffering Donetsk", "Russian troops have not stopped in their advance since taking control of Avdeevka on 17 February".

Propagandists keep the morale of the population and troops up with stories about the breakthrough of the Ukrainian front, so theses accompany reports of Russian successes that the entire defence line will soon be broken through: "The Russian army's offensive could lead to a 'dam break' and a subsequent 'domino effect' for the Armed Forces of Ukraine", "The defense of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in some places has begun to fall apart. So far, just a little. But this is a significant sign. The whole world is beginning to discuss the possibility of the collapse of the Ukrainian armed forces' front". They explain their advance by the fact that Ukrainians are fleeing: "The reason for success is simply the flight of Ukrainian soldiers".

There is some truth in the explanation of the offensive: "Now it's just that the Russian army is accelerating its offensive to take as much territory as possible before American aid starts arriving at the front and strengthening the Ukrainian army". He forgets to add the numerous Russian casualties during such attacks.

At the same time, Russia is escalating the atmosphere with statements about its plans to capture Kharkiv and Sumy. This is a classic creation of uncertainty in a specific section of the frontline, which causes anxiety among the population and forces the military leadership to stretch its forces.

Russians also write a lot about the US supply of ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. First, they are outraged by this very fact: "The United States has gone beyond the bounds of what is permissible with the supply of ATACMS long-range tactical missiles". Secondly, they reported that the Russian army had successfully intercepted them.

Zaluzhnyi killed or in captivity

Last week's shock sensation was the news on some Russian "garbage" websites that "former Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi may have been killed along with high-ranking Ukrainian army officers".

Other propagandists are not as radical and write that "Zelenskyy has taken Zaluzhnyi hostage".

Disinformers report that "SBU officers detained former Ukrainian army chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi... This happened after the general resigned and refused to become an ambassador to the UK".

These dramatic events are allegedly due to the end of the presidential term of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who wants to clear the field of competitors and avoid talk of his illegitimacy after 20 May. According to another version, Zaluzhnyi refused to become an ambassador to the UK, so he was imprisoned without trial.

The source of the fake news is the Resident Telegram channel, which propaganda calls close to the Office of the President of Ukraine: "The Resident telegram channel, which is close to the Office of the President of Ukraine, shared information about the fate of the former chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Zaluzhnyi". In this way, disinformers are trying to add value to the source. The Resident channel, as established by the SBU, was created by Russian special services.

Feeding the Moldovan opposition

On 21 April, a congress of Moldovan politicians took place in Moscow. These forces oppose President Maia Sandu, with anti-European rhetoric and a great love for Russia.

About 500 supporters of the Moldovan oligarch Ilan Shor, who fled to Moscow and was convicted in absentia of corruption in his home country, attended the congress.

At the end of October, Moldova will hold presidential elections and a referendum on joining the European Union. Therefore, the Kremlin is betting on these politicians.

The Russian media, of course, could not ignore the event and provided information support: "A congress of Moldovan politicians called 'Victory' was held. It announced the creation of the Pobeda-Victoria bloc, which included the republic's opposition parties Shor, Chance, Revival, Victoria, and the Alternative Force for the Salvation of Moldova".

The disinformers repeat Shor's claim that Moldova has been captured by the West and is turning into another foothold in the fight against Russia: "The politician (Ilan Shor - Ed.) accused President Maia Sandu of usurping power and called Moldova a 'captured state'. "Today, any oppositionist in Moldova is a traitor from the very beginning. Any political event ends in arrests, searches, and punishments by the ruling pro-European regime".

The participants of the Moscow "party" plan to nominate a single candidate for the post of head of state, develop ties with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and fight against the values imposed from outside and the pressure of the official authorities in Chisinau.

And Russian media are happy to spread statements by Moldovan politicians about imposed European values: "The values that the EU authorities impose on the peoples of the community's member states are alien to Moldovans and Gagauz, Gutsul said at the congress. The EU authorities are pursuing a policy aimed at erasing differences between peoples, legalizing same-sex marriage," and the need to celebrate Victory Day on 9 May: "We stand for the memory of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War and that 9 May is Victory Day" and about paradise for Moldova if it is close friends with Russia.


Censorship in the United States

Last week, Russian propaganda again portrayed the United States as a country of unfreedom. The United States was branded as a country of freedom for trying to protect the data of TikTok users so that it would not end up in China.

On 5 March 2024, the US Congress presented a bill that would restrict the use of the app across the country. The House of Representatives approved it on 13 March, the Senate on 23 April, and Joe Biden signed it on 24 April.

TikTok is owned by China's ByteDance, and the bill suggests that it abandon the social network. Only then will it not be blocked in the US. According to the bill, ByteDance has to sell the social network within nine months, otherwise it will face a nationwide ban in the United States.

The disinformers claimed that America was violating the first article of its own Constitution. In fact, it is acting unconstitutionally.

Russian media quoted individuals who attacked Biden as the main culprit behind the social media block. The propagandists also boast that this could turn young voters away from Biden.

The propaganda accuses the West of hypocrisy because it allegedly bans freedom of speech: "Modern liberalism is becoming totalitarian and therefore an enemy of real human freedom. Biden banned TikTok. And Leyen (Ursula von der Leyen - Ed.) said she could ban TikTok. This is their fight against freedom of speech."

Instead, disinformers ignore the facts about bans in Russia on Facebook, Instagram, and several other media outlets.

The Methodology

To monitor the information published on disinformation websites, we analyzed approximately 500,000 news reports collected from ~ 1,000 Russian websites. The data for the analysis was collected and provided by SemanticForce.

Each paragraph was processed using an algorithm which defines its topic automatically. The resulting topics (i.e. groups with similar content) were short-listed by the topics relating to the war or its consequences for Russia. The number of mentions of a certain topic was then counted for each publication. Our conclusions are based on the respective findings and the quotes from paragraphs referring to each topic.

logo NDI eng

This article was originally written in Ukrainian. It has been translated into English using AI tools such as DeepL, ChatGPT, and Grammarly. If you encounter an error that requires immediate attention, please inform us via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Your understanding and support are appreciated.

disinfomonitor russo-ukrainian war disinformation eng russian propaganda

Знак гривні
Знак гривні