Last week the term ‘war’ was used by the pro-Kremlin outlets more often in different contexts. The “chemtrail” conspiracy theory was spread once again, this time it was NATO who sprayed Poland with poison, according to Russian disinformation. Read more in the latest weekly Disinformation Review.
When Shakespeare wrote the famous words “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” he pointed to the fact that what matters is what something is, not what it is called.
A war by any other name
This week in pro-Kremlin disinformation, we noticed ample usage of the term “war.” First off, the ban on Russian athletes in the upcoming Olympics was yet again described as a war on Russia. In fact, it was the systematic state-sponsored doping program in Russia that made the IOC decide to suspend certain Russian athletes. Russian athletes not convicted of doping will be allowed to compete under the Olympic flag. Hardly a war, then.
Furthermore, in a Hungarian outlet, it was stated that immigrants are fighting a war against authorities in Sweden, and that the Swedish Prime Minister wants to use the military against immigrants in the country in order to restore order. The Swedish Prime Minister did indeed suggest the use of the military, but not in the context of immigrants, but to end violence between criminal gangs.
What about Ukraine? There is a war going on there, isn’t there? Most definitely, but what kind of war is it? Is it a civil war, i.e fought without foreign involvement? Is it a war that has no links to Russia? Is it Ukraine that started a war against Russia?
All were suggested by pro-Kremlin disinformation this week. Well, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has concluded that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government. It is safe to say that this is a war being fought on the territory of Ukraine, not in Russia.
The holy matrimony between conspiracies and disinformation
Many people have heard the conspiracy theory about chemtrails before. It is an old favorite in conspiracy outlets, re-appearing again and again. But the culprit is not always the same. Often the “chemtrails,” or as the scientific community calls them “condensation trails”, are blamed on some government-run secret program by conspiracy theorists.
This week, NATO was blamed for spraying Poland with poison via “chemtrails.” As thoroughly presented by the DFRLab, this particular conspiracy can be traced as far back as 2010. A common trait with disinformation and conspiracy theories is that there is no need to present any evidence to support the claims you make, which of course is the case also in this example.
As we have seen several times before, conspiracy theories and disinformation often go hand in hand. Conspiracy theories can generate a lot of clicks and attention, so they are used for setting the scene for targeted disinformation about something or someone. See for example the Rothchild conspiracy theory promoted on Russian state TV or the conspiracy theories surrounding the downing of flight MH17, or indeed the classic Russian disinformation campaign presenting AIDS as caused by US experiments.
In the words of Shakespeare, a rose would smell as sweet by any other name. Disinformation is often designed to be confusing, and the use of conspiracy theories helps out in that aspect. But in the end, you just have to look at what it is – disinformation will be disinformation, no matter how you dress it up.
Pro-Kremlin propaganda’s narratives recorded this week (all false):
- In Kyiv, there is not a single Russian-language school
- Ukraine admits that Russian gas imports are profitable
- Ukraine has legalized a genocide against the citizens of Ukraine
- The exclusion of Russian athletes in the Olympics is a form of war
- Foreign military instructors are preparing five battalions of Ukrainians who are almost nationalists, the aim is to attack Donbas
- New law in Ukraine allows military to operate with impunity
- Ukrainian military fired on a passenger bus in Donbas
- The EU supplied Syrian terrorists with weapons
- The West exports perversity
- The US supports the Islamic State, while Russia defeated it
- Norway struggles to find a substitute for the Russian fish market
- Ukraine was the first to start a war against Russia
- The United States of America is the only state in the world that officially supported the glorification of Nazism in the UN
- NATO sprays Poland with chemtrails
- Only one million people live permanently in Moldova
- Immigrants are fighting a war in Sweden
- Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel said that the EU had made a decision not to support the extending of sanctions against Russia
- Ukraine does not implement any reforms
- Europe is pretending that Russians are subhuman
- There is a civil war in Ukraine
- Ukraine would sell even its nuclear bomb if they still had it
- The Russian Federation did not and does not wage war on the territory of Ukraine, on the territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics
- The ban imposed by Ukraine on the book “Stalingrad” by British historian Antony Beevor testifies that Ukraine has returned to the Stone Age of human civilization due to its ultra-nationalism
- Sanctions are, in fact, a full-scale economic war
- Pro-Kremlin propaganda’s years of European horror
- Anti-Semitism tolerated by pro-Kremlin propaganda
- Flight MH17: Why can’t the Kremlin tell the truth?
- Russian troll factory expands its work space threefold in 2018
- A year of Russian propaganda: 1310 cases of Russian fakes debunked by EU watchdog
- Breaking the rules: Crimea, disinformation, doping
- Czechoslovakia should be grateful to the USSR for 1968, Russian propaganda says
- Revisionism, misinterpreted facts, video game image as evidence – this week’s pro-Kremlin difinfo tactics
- Seven things you should know about pro-Kremlin disinformation