The Russian version of News Front is very much devoted to events in Ukraine. The self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” of Eastern Ukraine are massively represented on the site, very often with, just as the mission statement suggests, appearances on Skype. The section for International News is dominated by content from Russian state media outlets RT, Sputnik, and RIA Novosti.
The same stuff as always
Generally, the Russian version of News Front offers the same stuff as other pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets. It’s more interesting to study the versions in other languages. The 3.11 percent of the site’s visitors that reside in Germany, for instance…
Here we find a completely different tone. Even the Mission Statement (in German) is louder:
Much of the content devoted to Germany has a strong anti-immigration tendency and is to a large extent provided by various European outlets connected to nationalist, anti-immigration groups.
On the other hand, when we look at the English version, the migration topic is entirely absent. One can note that there is no section for British or US News either. Most of the material on this site is collected from Russian sources like RT or New Eastern Outlook. There is also a plethora of material from the US and UK “alternative” sites with left-leaning tendencies. The English version is very rarely giving any sources for the articles of the site.
The pattern is similar in all the different languages. In each case, News Front attempts to identify what each audience is most susceptible to in terms of sharing content on Russian priorities. Ukraine or Syria are not major topics for audiences in Germany, Britain, France or Hungary. They would not visit News Front if the site was entirely focusing on Kremlin priorities. But a German audience can be attracted with a trigger-word like “Kulturbereichung” or “Migrationshintergrund.“ And British readers react to “Brexit“, “The Collapse of the US,” or the “Deep State“.
There is a quote by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the man who initiated China’s ambitious market reforms after the death of Mao in 1995: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice”.
News Front is applying the same Chinese wisdom: They don’t care if the content is leftist or rightist, racist or anti-capitalist. The important thing is to create platforms for Kremlin disinformation.
Read the disinformation cases from News Front in the EU vs Disinfo database.
- Russian propaganda outlets want freedom of deception, believe EU leads witch hunt against them
- Distraction as a tool of Russian propaganda
- Ukraine-related narratives dominate Russian propaganda
- Propaganda contractors: Russian state TV airs staged interview to denigrate Ukraine
- Seven strategies of domestic Russian propaganda
- The EU’s “concentration camps” in Ukraine: A сase of proactive disinformation