Since the start of the Ukrainian revolution, subversive Russian media has been transformed into an outright propaganda machine. Since that time, the Kremlin’s factory of lies extended its operations, along with Putin’s expanding geopolitical objectives. This installment of Russia’s debunked falsehoods includes examples from different parts of the world, writes Yulia Davis for Russia Lies.
After the downing of a Russian SU-24 bomber, Turkey found itself in the crosshairs of Kremlin propaganda. A myriad of theories was spawned by the Russian media, including the claim that Turkey targeted the Russian plane for bombing ISIS oil fields. Russia’s state-owned TV stations and other publications claimed that Bilal Erdogan, the son of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, is involved in buying oil from ISIS.
To prove this allegation, Russian media disseminated social media photos, wherein Turkish restoranteurs were represented as “militant jihadists” and “ISIS members,” posing with Bilal Erdogan. These claims were propagated as facts by state-owned Vesti, RT, Lifenews and others.
In reality, Bilal Erdogan was posing with two owners of “Ciğeristan” restaurant, who took a number of photos with their famous customers.
Sputnik claimed that France condemned Turkey during a NATO Council meeting, accusing it of undermining anti-ISIS operations. French Ambassador Jean-Baptiste Mattéi responded that Sputnik’s “quotes” of what he said are “pure fiction.” He didn’t “condemn Turkey,” but instead called upon all countries to respect Turkey’s territorial integrity and emphasized the need to prevent any escalation.
Russian media reported that Austria and Slovenia are closing their borders with Serbia to stem the flow of refugees. Some Russian outlets even reported that it was already accomplished.
In reality, such a border closure is quite impossible, since Austria and Slovenia have no common borders with Serbia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Turkey had to recognize that the plane was Russian, stating that its markings couldn’t be missed. Mr. Putin conveniently failed to mention that Russian planes bombing Syria had their traditional Russian Airforce markings painted over, concealed, which is documented in the RT video directly from the Russian airbase in Latakia.
Russia repeatedly claimed that fighting ISIS is its primary goal in Syria. In fact, detailed analysis of the airstrike maps, based on the data provided by the Russian Defense Ministry, demonstrated that almost 80 % of Russia’s declared targets in Syria have been in areas not held by the Islamic State.
TV Zvezda, owned by the Russian Ministry of Defense, and other Russian media outlets have claimed that the U.S. moved its aircraft carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, because of “the success of the Russian aircraft in Syria.”
In reality, the carrier’s planned departure for maintenance was announced as early as August, 2015. It had nothing to do with Russia.
Sputnik claimed that President of France, François Hollande, said that “Assad is not the problem” in Syria. In reality, Hollande said that Assad isn’t part of the solution of the ISIS problem in Syria and emphasized that Bashar Assad cannot be part of Syria’s future.
TV Zvezda, owned by the Russian Ministry of Defense, had published a piece claiming Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had told journalist Elena Servettaz on the record that the Batkivshchyna party leader and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko was “constantly propositioning” him “to have a sexual relationship” with her.
In reality, Ms. Servettaz never recorded an interview with Yatsenyuk and refuted Zvezda’s outright fabrications.
Russian media reported that “Ukrainian Banderites in NATO uniforms” were killed in Syria, while fighting on the side of ISIS. They’ve presented no evidence to corroborate this contrived allegation. The photo of a “dead Banderite” used in the article was actually taken by Reuters photographer, Goran Tomasevic. It depicts a Syrian rebel, mortally wounded by a government sniper in Damascus on January 30, 2013. Photos used by other Russian publications to illustrate this “story” were also taken from other conflicts. There is clearly no substance to these absurd claims.
Russia claims that Syrians are so happy to be bombed, over 1 million of them returned to their homes in Syria. The Russian official also commented that most refugees in Europe aren’t Syrian.
Contrary to Russia’s representations, UNHCR statistics clearly show that the number of refugees from Syria continues to increase. The UNHCR statistics further demonstrate that most refugees arriving to Europe are in fact fleeing Syria. The majority of polled refugees said they were fleeing Assad, not ISIS.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin claimed during his press conference that Russia provided the United States with exact coordinates/flight plan for the path of the SU-24 bomber that was later downed by Turkey. He accused the U.S. of handing over this information to Turkey in order to deliberately target the warplane.
Russian media then proceeded to accuse President Obama of “conspiring” with President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to shoot down Russia’s plane. Russian media claimed that President Obama “approved” President Erdogan’s “plan” to down Russian jet during their G-20 meetings.
Pentagon officials refuted Putin’s allegations, stating that Russia did not provide the downed jet’s flight plan/coordinates to the U.S.
TV Zvezda, owned by the Russian Ministry of Defense, claimed that ISIS fighters are arriving to Odesa, Ukraine by the thousands. The only “evidence” cited in the article was a claim that the “expert’s” neighbor noticed many people in Odesa with “suspiciously-tanned skin.” It should be noted that Odesa is a popular tourist destination, a resort located on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. Zvezda’s photos, used to illustrate the article, depicted Hamas and Al-Nusra. There is no known ISIS presence or activity in Odesa, Ukraine.
Russian media continues its desperate attempts to establish an artificial connection between Ukraine and ISIS. Zvezda, owned by the Russian Ministry of Defense, intentionally twisted and misrepresented official deportation stats provided by Ukraine’s SBU. In order to support its ludicrous allegations, Zvezda invited a known LPR/LNR terrorist, Antimaidan activist Egor Kvasniuk, who infamously claimed that Ukrainian soldiers warm themselves up with the blood of Russian infants. His current allegations are just as false, not to mention preposterous.
RT printed a previously debunked claim, accusing Ukraine of supplying ISIS with weapons that were never in possession of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to begin with, as officially stated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense. Militants in question were in possession of the said armaments as early as 2013, during the rule of Ukraine’s former pro-Putin President, Viktor Yanukovych.
To corroborate their allegations of Ukraine’s alleged weapon sales to Islamic radicals, RT quoted a so-called “expert” with no qualifications or expertise related to Ukraine or weapon sales.
RT report claimed that a U.S. Airforce official confirmed that Russia did not bomb Syrian opposition forces. In reality, the U.S. Airforce official said quite the opposite: he stated that Russia’s strikes didn’t target ISIS.
The Russian media claimed that Turkey ordered blockade of Crimea, “to free the Crimean market for Turkish goods.”
In reality, Crimean Tatar activists are blockading Crimea, to protest its unlawful annexation by Russia. Their motivations have absolutely nothing to do with Turkey. Activists say that their end goal is to return Crimea to Ukraine. Their immediate demand is that Russia free several Ukrainian prisoners being held in Russia and Crimea on dubious charges. They include pilot Nadia Savchenko, filmmaker Oleh Sentsov and Mejlis (the Crimea Tatar governing body) member Akhtem Chiygoz, all of whom are internationally recognized as political prisoners.
Russia boasted of bombing ISIS HQ in Idlib, Syria – except there is no ISIS in Idlib and Russia can’t even find it on its own military map.
After Turkey downed Russia’s SU-24, Kremlin propagandists added Turkey to the list of targets in Russia’s ongoing information war against Ukraine and the West. In an apparent attempt of propaganda consolidation, state-owned Vesti claimed that hundreds of jihadists, whose loyalty lies with ISIS and whose ultimate goal is “jihad against Russia,” are fighting in Ukraine. Vesti claims that majority of these jihadist radicals are arriving to Ukraine through Turkey.
Vesti claims that official data of the UN confirms that “hundreds of islamists” are fighting in Ukraine, but doesn’t link to any “official report” that supposedly draws these conclusions.
In reality, dozens (not hundreds) of Chechens are fighting on both sides of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict in Donbas. Their participation has nothing to do with ISIS or Turkey.
Multiple Russian publications went into hysterical overdrive, reporting that a “powerful explosion rocked Stockholm.” TV Zvezda, owned by the Russian Ministry of Defense, went an extra mile by selecting a horrific image of a large-scale, fiery explosion.
In reality, there was no “Stockholm explosion” at all. A man dropped his drill, while hanging curtains, which caused a commotion. This exemplifies the propensity of Russian media to sensationalize their reports, spicing them up with inappropriate imagery taken during unrelated events.
Russian media (including RT and Sputnik) claimed that Russia was falsely accused of bombing Syrian hospitals that “did not exist.” This brazen claim was clearly untrue, as the hospitals did exist, until Russia bombed them.
By Julia Davis