Context

Stories in the ‘Context” section are not fakes. We publish them in order to provide greater insight for our readers about the techniques, methods and practices used by the Russian government in its information war.

Kremlin Watch Briefing: The murderer of ethnic Chechen in Berlin has been linked to the GRU

Topics of the Week German government remains silent after the murderer of ethnic Chechen in Berlin has been linked to the GRU. The dangers posed by social networks developed in authoritarian countries remain underestimated. The US Department of Defense seeks software to help with protection against election interference. Good Old Soviet Joke Leonid Brezhnev died in the USSR. I turned on the TV, Brezhnev was there. I turned on the radio, Brezhnev was there.

Political trolling in Hungary

By Péter Krekó, András Rácz and Patrik Szicherle, for DisinfoPortal With the 2019 Hungarian municipal elections approaching, disinformation campaigns and trolling activity will play an increasingly prominent role in Hungarian political life. Pro-government trolls, often working in concert with government-controlled media, are already shaping online discussions. These trolls’ profiles frequently discredit anyone perceived to be in opposition to the current cabinet of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The profiles not only

In Belgium, the Sleeping Beauty awakes, but slowly

By Tim Pauwels, for DisinfoPortal It might come as a surprise, but the land that hosts the European capital is still very much a blind spot when it comes to counteraction against disinformation or manipulation in the public debate. There is no structural factchecking initiative with International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) recognition. There is no dialogue with the internet platforms, nor any structural scientific research into the phenomenon. Belgians themselves seem

Russia claims Baltic States never turned democratic

By Polygraph Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Twitter account “In the early 90s the Baltic nations, after over 50 years of being a part of the #SovietUnion, gained their national independence. This event raised hopes and aspirations that the Baltic Soviet Republics would turn into modern democratic and rule-of-law states, which, unfortunately, never came true.” Source: Russian Foreign Ministry Twitter account, August 27, 2019 False By all metrics, the Baltic

Lega Nord’s Bedfellows: Russians offering illicit funding to Italian far-right party identified

By Christo Grozev, for Bellingcat In a previous joint investigation with BuzzFeed News and the Insider, Bellingcat disclosed the inordinately frequent travel of two Italian politicians from the close circle of the head of Italy’s far-right party Lega Nord, and self-styled “Italian Trump” Matteo Salvini. As previously reported by Italian media and BuzzFeed, one of the frequent travelers and advisers to Italy’s deputy prime minister  – Gianluca Savoini – took

Figure of the week: 55%

By EU vs Disinfo Between May and July 2019, bots accounted for a staggering 55% of all Russian-language Twitter messages about the NATO presence in the Baltic States and Poland, a study by the NATO Stratcom Centre of Excellence reveals. This represents an increase in bot activity from the second quarter of this year, when 47% of Russian-language Twitter messages about the NATO presence came from bots. What are they

Fake news can create false memories

Fake news can influence our memories – prove the results of the research published by the Association for Psychological Science (APS, earlier known as Americas Psychological Association). It was conducted by the group of scientists coordinated by Gillian Murphy, PhD from the University College Cork in Ireland in 2018, during the abortion referendum campaign. According to the report, fake news can cause the creation of false memories, especially if they

How the (ro)bots follow celebrities and politicians

The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) in London has recently published the results of the investigation about the authenticity of the accounts following the superstars of sport and showbusiness on Instagram and Twitter. One hundred of the most popular have been included. To examine the authenticity of the accounts, the authors of the report used algorithms – IG Audit for Instagram and Sparktoro for Twitter. Both tools allow to

Don’t mention Crimea!

By EU vs Disinfo The facts about Crimea’s annexation are now a taboo in Russia and subject to censorship. When the Russian version of Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari’s book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century was published in Moscow earlier this summer, references to the invasion of Crimea and the disinformation campaign around it had to be replaced with examples that were unrelated to Russia and Ukraine. Trump instead of Putin

The imperialist West strikes again (also, sex!)

By EU vs Disinfo Of the Kremlin’s favoured disinformation narratives, perhaps the most enduring is whataboutism about the supposedly persistent evils of Western imperialism and meddling around the world. As we have explained previously, a core component of the Kremlin’s global disinformation strategy is to deflect attention from its own crimes and authoritarian behaviour by pointing fingers at others and accusing them of the same transgressions – and typically resorting

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