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Hungarian "Dove of peace". Russian Media Monitoring Report, July 1–7, 2024

Last week, Russian media wrote about the diplomatic trips of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. He visited Kyiv and asked the President of Ukraine to cease fire, then flew to Moscow with the same request. Around the politician's trips, Russian propaganda started producing numerous interpretations, as they always do. There were versions suggesting this was a Western plan for reconciling the countries following the Korean scenario, that Orbán would now become Putin's representative in the West, and that Orbán was making these journeys at Zelensky's request to establish a peace process.

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Read about this and more in the new issue of our monitoring of Russian state media and manipulative websites that specifically spread Russian disinformation.

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Moscow guests

Two important guests were in Moscow: rapper Kanye West and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Russian media vividly covered these individuals' visit. Kremlin propaganda shifted the focus to narratives favorable to the Kremlin.

American rapper Kanye West visited Moscow on June 30 and was in Russia for less than 24 hours.

The rapper caused a stir in the social life of Russians. They were running around Moscow in search of Kanye West, and some mistook other African Americans for the star rapper. This may indicate that, despite imperial ambitions, Russians want to see themselves as part of the West and are not thrilled about the prospect of living solely in the "Russian world," the authorities understand these sentiments and create an illusion of normality for the domestic audience.

Kremlin ideologist Alexander Dugin stated that the West is ideologically close to Russia: "Kanye West, by the way, is ideologically ours." News reports repeatedly mentioned that the rapper once praised Putin.

Overall, Kanye West's visit was used to emphasize that Russian culture could not be "canceled." Russia is breaking through the cultural blockade of the West: "The cancellation of the cancellation of Russia," "the cancellation of cancel culture."

Another ideological ally was Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who was in Moscow on July 5. Orbán's visit was unannounced. The Hungarian Prime Minister headed to Moscow immediately after Kyiv.

Orbán's journeys were dubbed a "peacekeeping mission" by Russian propaganda: "Arrived in Moscow to continue the 'peace mission,'" "Orbán arrived in Moscow. Earlier, he stated that he did not represent the EU on this visit but the adequate part of humanity that wants peace. And peace will come when someone works for peace. And he, Orbán, is working for peace. Russia also strives for peace."

Propagandists create the image of Orbán as the best European who understands the interests of his country and the EU. And the fundamental interests of Europeans are, of course, friendship with Russia and peace on the continent after fulfilling the Kremlin's demands: "Ending the conflict is easy — this is what Orbán is trying to convey to that European bureaucracy with his visit. All it takes is to hear and consider Moscow's conditions. They are simple and have not changed since they were first voiced on June 14, right before the failed Swiss summit for Kyiv."

In Kyiv, Orbán proposed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to cease fire. Naturally, Zelenskyy could not agree to this while the Russian offensive continues. Now Russian propaganda once again repeats that it is Ukraine that does not want to end the war: "On July 2, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, during a meeting in Kyiv with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, suggested that he consider a ceasefire to speed up peace talks with Russia. Zelenskyy rejected the proposal."

The propagandists also mention the Kremlin's demands. Back on June 14, Vladimir Putin stated that for negotiations to begin, Ukraine must completely withdraw its army from the temporarily occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions. This includes those territories under Ukraine's control, including Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. In addition, Ukraine must not join NATO and must have a "neutral, non-aligned, non-nuclear status." Putin also stated that for negotiations with Russia, Western countries must lift all sanctions against the Kremlin.

In the usual style of Russian disinformation, when it is necessary to confuse the public and obscure the truth, propagandists put forward many versions surrounding Orbán's trips.

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What else they wrote about

US election campaign

Russian media is full of news that Democrats in the US are demanding Biden withdraw from the presidential race: "American documentary producer, granddaughter of Walt Disney co-founder Abigail Disney, will stop donating money to the Democratic Party until Joe Biden is replaced in the elections," "CNN previously reported that more and more current and former officials representing the US Democratic Party are advocating for the current US President Joe Biden to withdraw from the race."

Russian media claims that Biden is a sick person who no longer perceives reality: "US President Joe Biden may suffer from a severe neurocognitive defect — because of this, for example, he confuses past events. He could have survived the debates with Donald Trump with the help of psychostimulants, the effect of which ended towards the end of the event, and his wife had to lead the head of the White House off the stage. Psychiatrist Vasily Shurov reached these conclusions after analyzing the debate video."

The main culprits as to why Biden did not withdraw his candidacy are Biden's family, who simply want to avoid punishment for corruption: "Why does Biden remain in the election race? Because his family decided so. And why did the family decide so? Because if Biden leaves the presidency, his son Hunter will go to prison for 10-15 years."

USA — Breeding ground for sanctions

Russian propaganda portrays the US not only as the main instigator of wars in the world but also as the country most interested in imposing sanctions: "Since 1950, the United States has imposed more sanctions than any other country in the world. According to data published by the US Treasury Department on December 28, 2023, Washington has imposed sanctions against more than 20 countries."

Here, the conclusion for Kremlin propagandists is obvious: Washington does this to prevent other countries from developing economically. This is how Russian disinformers want to show the population that sanctions are not really about punishing Russia for the war against Ukraine but merely tools of the US to restrain Russia.

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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.

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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.

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