Weekly update on Kremlin disinformation efforts in Europe
While the military activity on the Crimea-Ukraine border is escalating, the Russian Federation accused Ukraine of an attempt to send saboteurs into Crimea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denied the accusations and called them “fantasies”. Russian media slightly differ in describing the story, especially concerning the goal of the alleged saboteur mission. There also seem to be several other discrepancies, for example the alleged photograph of the saboteurs’ tent presented by Russian authorities turned out to be a stock photograph.
DNC break follow-up
Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who claimed responsibility for the DNC break, released personal information of several US Democratic lawmakers, including their private email addresses and phone numbers. There is a strong suspicion that Guccifer 2.0 is connected with a Russian state-sponsored intelligence group FANCY BEAR. Although the post with the released information has been removed from the website, the hacker promised via Twitter that he will post the rest of the data to Wikileaks. Meanwhile, Julian Assange, some of Donald Trump’s allies, and Russian state-controlled media keep suggesting that Seth Rich, a DNC staffer who was tragically murdered in July, was somehow involved in the DNC hack.
Putinversteher of the Week
We use this weekly opportunity to award the Putinversteher of the Week to highlight the most obvious attempts, intentional or not, to go on Kremlin’s hand and assist it with spreading its view all over Europe. We believe it is necessary to appreciate in this ceremonial way that without these little helpers, Russian disinformation campaign could never reach its present lengths.
Donald Trump’s campaign chief Paul Manafort handed in his resignation. Donald J. Trump thus becomes the next finished chapter of his extensive resumé. Among advising to campaigns of several Republican presidents, including Ronald Reagan, he also cooperated with a Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos or Mobutu Sese Seko; a military dictator from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Manafort is currently facing accusations of previously receiving payments from the former pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. According to the AP, the Ukrainian anti-corruption agency published copies of handwritten accounting records with details of cash payments up to $12 million from the Ukrainian politicians to Manafort.
For helping not one, but possibly two Vladimir Putin’s preferred presidential candidates, we decided to name Paul Manafort our next Putinversteher of the Week.
Tweet of the Week
Kremlin Watch reading suggestion
“Factual Entertainment: How to make media literacy popular”; by Paul Copeland from the Legatum Institute
One of the key factors related to countering disinformation and propaganda is media literacy. Till recently, media literacy was mostly perceived as a part of school education; but the situation in the world has changed. and the media literacy needs to adapt to the new age. One reason can be seen in today’s Ukraine where the older generation is the main target audience of the Russian disinformation campaign. Since their school days are already over, there is a need to find another approach to help them in maintaining a critical approach to media.
Generally speaking, there should be a wider cooperation between media literacy experts and people creating entertainment content in specific news and media agencies. For example, media literacy can be used as a plot line in soap operas or telenovelas as a mean of how to amusingly educate target audience. The main character might for example, make a good or wrong decision based on his interpretation of certain news. Another example could be breakfast and morning shows with different guests and celebrities who would be interviewed about topics related to media literacy, but in an entertaining and light-weight manner.
Euroatlantic experts on disinformation warfare
Anton Shekhovtsov focuses in his blog post on the evolution of the relationship between Russia and the European far-right.
German Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik published a study by Susan Stewart about a Russian campaign with the aim to discredit Germany. The author recommends reacting swiftly to anti-western attacks.
“The Russians have learned how to use Western standards in journalism to their advantage”, said Serhii Kuzan, a Ukrainian lawyer, advisor to the Secretary of Ukraine’s Council on National Security and Defense, the coordinator of the Kharkiv division of the Ukrainian Volunteer Network Free People, and one of the main coordinators of the Friends of Ukraine Defence Forces Fund in an interview with The NATO Association of Canada.
Infographic of the Week
Although Russia keeps denying all accusations of indiscriminately killing civilians in Syria in their airstrikes, according to Syrian Network for Human Rights report, Russian forces already killed 2,704 civilians, including 746 children.
Current state of pro-Kremlin scene in the Czech Republic
The pro-Kremlin websites focused on the not yet clear events in Crimea where according to the Russian sources Ukraine sent saboteurs. As usual, the pro-Kremlin servers ignored that Ukrainian officials strictly deny all accusations and Russia has not provided any evidence so far. Instead, they reported that the United States are behind everything; since they dislike the way Turkey is warming its relations with Russia.
Another centre of attention was a statement of the Ukrainian MP Yevhenii Muraiev on 112.ua TV channel about the non-existence of evidence of Russian military presence in Donbas. None of the monitored websites felt the necessity to question his claims, although one of them reminded the out-of-context words of the Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff who in January 2015 said in a briefing that he has no information about the presence of Russian units in Eastern Ukraine.
Kremlin Watch is a strategic program of the European Values think-tank, which aims to unravel and confront instruments of Russian hybrid war which is focused against liberal-democratic system. Find out more at www.europeanvalues.net/kremlin