While the Kremlin cryptkeeper was rumoured to have been put in the deep freeze and Daghestani mobs attempted a pogrom-like attack, the Kremlin propaganda machine continues to push lies and our database edges past 16,000 reported cases of pro-Kremlin disinformation.
This week, we shall begin with a horrific show of anti-Semitism, an attempted pogrom, which unfolded at Makhachkala airport in Russia’s Republic of Daghestan. There, a violent mob stormed the airport and attempted to attack passengers arriving from Tel Aviv, Israel.
The Kremlin and its disinformation outlets did what they know best. They pushed out disinformation in order to deflect the blame, not surprisingly, onto Ukraine and other foreign forces.
Moscow has cozied up to Hamas terrorists and spread disinformation about Hamas’ attack on Israel. These actions beg the question whether the anti-semitic outburst in Daghestan is a warning sign of the chickens coming home to roost. Moscow might be unable to control the situation as the war in Ukraine continues to drain Russian security forces.
You are hot and you are cold, or not
As the heating season is slowly making its way to Europe, the pro-Kremlin information manipulation ecosystem has brushed off the summer dust from their energy-related disinformation narratives, with one exception.
We reported last November on Russian energy-related disinformation narratives. A leading narrative, supported with deceptive and scaremongering videos and fabricated imagery, claimed that Europeans would freeze without Russian natural gas flowing to European markets, causing widespread unrest and chaos across the continent. Once again, reality proved pro-Kremlin mouthpieces wrong; neither did Europeans freeze to death nor overthrow their governments as Europe freed itself from dependence on Russian gas.
For the moment, the Russian disinformation ecosystem appears to have resigned to leave the tales of frozen people in an internal deep freeze, perhaps hoping to thaw them one day. As for now, they are concentrating their efforts on other, if nevertheless familiar, narratives.
Rinse and repeat
Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets continue to spread tired old hyperboles. Sputnik, a notorious factory of deceit, claimed to its Spanish-speaking audiences that it is impossible for Europe to get rid of Russian natural gas imports, or that doing so would cost a whopping one trillion euros.
Similarly to last year, the pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem is trying to sever the transatlantic bond.
A particularly toxic strain of this narrative tried to portray Europe as ‘enslaved’ by the US. Another well-known pro-Kremlin mouthpiece, RT, stated that the EU is receiving orders from the US, which is trying to maximise its revenue and profits.
These false narratives clearly imply that Russia is terrified by the lost revenues resulting from the halted fossil fuel exports to the EU. In order to get back their energy-enabled stranglehold of Europe, Russian leaders and their propagandists are now attempting to convince European citizens that sanctions are hurting Europeans and that only the US stands to gain.
On 20 October, GeneralSVR, a popular Telegram channel, alleged that Putin had suffered a heart attack. Then, on 23 October, the same channel claimed that Putin had died and was in ‘deep freeze’ at his Valdai forest residence, in a freezer meant for frozen food no less, while his henchmen were battling for power in the Kremlin.
However, Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied the claims, and domestic outlets have not yet broadcast Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake on a loop – as they did during the 1991 coup attempt.
It is easy to brush off such rumours, but their existence may still play into the Kremlin’s hands. Speculation about Putin’s health, and his demise, serves a number of goals for the Kremlin, as Ivan Preobrazhensky has reported.
Firstly, it tries to deify Putin and dupe people into believing that he is the ‘irreplaceable leader’ without whom neither Russia nor the international community can survive. Secondly, it distracts from topics that are more uncomfortable for the Kremlin, like how the ‘three-day special military operation’ is going.
We have 16,000 reasons to continue our fight
Lastly, we have now passed 16,000 disinformation cases in our Disinfo Database. Time for celebration? No, we at EUvsDisinfo say.
The fact that disinformation cases continue to pile up in our database is a reminder that there can be no room for complacency in the fight against ever mounting Russian disinformation.
Luckily, the craft of countering foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI), including disinformation, is enhancing its ability to detect and respond to such threats with new instruments such as the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the efforts to develop a robust FIMI toolbox.
Also blinking on EUvsDisinfo’s disinformation radar:
- Borrell is the US and Bilderberg Club’s colonial manager for Europe. Russian TV1 is contesting Belarusian propagandists’ hold on the title of ‘the craziest propagandists’ out there. For this purpose, Russian disinformers decided to cook up a conspiracy alleging that EU High Representative Josep Borrell is a mere puppet of world-dominating secret elites and the great Satan himself , the US. Too bad, there is no compelling evidence presented for these extraordinary claims. Maybe the reason is that there is none to be presented.
- Moldovan authorities are putting ‘forceful pressure on the Russian military’ and preparing for an armed conflict with Russia. This narrative is a recurring pro-Kremlin piece of disinformation portraying pro-European Moldovan authorities as aggressive and revanchist. These narratives also attempt to undermine Moldova’s strengthening of its defensive capabilities. The country’s leadership has pledged to maintain Moldova’s neutrality, as fixed in its constitution.
- Russia is one of the safest countries in the world. This is a continuation of a soothing story that Russian leaders tell their citizenry. Not only are Russian ways of war humane, as we reported last week. The same apparently holds true for Russian society, which, according to Russian sources, is the safest in the world. Sadly, these claims could not be further from the truth for Russian cannon fodder sent mercilessly to the meat grinder and for citizens suffering at home.