This week we saw plenty of historical re-inventions in pro-Kremlin outlets. For example, the staggering number of victims of communist regimes was dismissed as having been “pulled out of a hat”. It was also claimed that Georgia had joined Russia out of free will in 1801, although it was actually an annexation of (then) the Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti. The wording reminds us of a more recent annexation.
Or how about the demand made on state-controlled Pervyi Kanal that the EU should compensate Russia for genocide during WWII since the European armies invaded USSR and killed millions of people? This both ignores the contribution of allied European forces to defeating fascism and ignores the fact that the EU was founded after WWII.
Blaming Europe for atrocities did not stop there. In another show on state-controlled Rossiya 1, it was claimed that the USSR mass famine – known in Ukraine as the Holodomor – was caused by Europe. In fact, the famine was a result of Stalin’s policies, which in the case of Ukraine has been recognized as a crime against humanity in several international resolutions.
We also saw some official polishing of Russia’s history, with the claim that it was Soviet soldiers who saved 50,000 Bulgarian Jews from deportation to Nazi Germany during WWII. It was actually the combined forces of the Bulgarian people, the Orthodox Church and Bulgarian leaders that saved around 50,000 Jews from Sofia from deportation to Nazi Germany.
Misrepresenting the facts on the ground
One story spread in pro-Kremlin outlets was that the Ukrainian Armed forces had killed a boy in Donetsk through shelling. But in fact, the tragic death of the boy was caused by an unexploded mine according to local Donetsk authorities. This was also reported by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) who followed up on the information and came to the same conclusion as the local authorities. The SMM was then accused of not acting independently by Russian state-controlled TV; it was stated on a popular TV show that the independent monitoring mission receives instructions from Western Europe about what to report on. No evidence was presented to support the accusations. Read more about the OSCE SMM here.
The idea of a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine has been discussed lately. Russian REN TV made its contribution to the discussion by claiming that such a mission would result in … genocide.
Furthermore, the Ukrainian military was accused of raiding a Catholic monastery in search of conscripts, an accusation that was refuted by the Ukrainian Catholic Church as fake and, with no apparent sense of irony, Russia was identified as the guarantor of security in Ukraine. Seeing as Russia has illegally annexed a part of Ukraine and is backing the separatists in the East of the country, we feel that this is a statement that needs some further explanation.
But the highlight of this week’s wave of pro-Kremlin disinformation was the fact that the Russian Ministry of Defence used images from a computer game as its irrefutable evidence that the US is supporting ISIS. See the full story by Bellingcat here. This is not the first time this tactic has been used, and it is encouraging to see more international media sharing the story and helping debunk this particularly puerile form of disinformation.
The list of the instances of pro-Kremlin disinformation has been published in the latest Disinformation Review.
- Russian proxy republic leader in Donbas threatens to attack UN peacekeeper mission
- Ukrainian civil resistance to Russian occupation in Donbas
- “DNR leader” Zakharchenko orders confiscation of local crops
- Seven things you should know about pro-Kremlin disinformation
- Three things you should know about RT and Sputnik
- Inside RT and Sputnik: What is it like to work for Kremlin’s propaganda media
- Inside RT’s world of alternative news
- Democracies should prepare for the long fight against Russian disinformation warfare: study
- In the depths of disinformation: this is how RT propaganda works
- Former RT anchor: I became the target of a Russian propaganda conspiracy theory
- “Russia’s bunker busters will reach Finns underground” – how to ridicule and threaten at once
- Kremlin disinformation campaign extremely successful – EU East Stratcom
- Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia Today – leading outlets for anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda, Israeli researchers say
- 25 ways of combatting propaganda without doing counter-propaganda
- How Russian TV-channels promote pro-Kremlin narratives in talk shows
- Russian media forge more papers to blame Ukraine of downing MH17, make bad grammar mistakes