What, are you serious? Do you really trust your country’s democratic elections? This is the question pro-Kremlin manipulators want people to ask themselves over and over again with the aim of sowing mistrust in European democratic institutions.
This week, pro-Kremlin disinformation tactics accelerated attempts to react to the ongoing investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 US elections. After ridiculing the debate about the role of Russian interference in the US and German elections and laughing at the discussion on Russian media’s distorted view on the Catalan referendum, the focus moved to distracting the audience from the topic with some classic “whataboutism”.
Hence this week, the broken mirror came up saying that the accuser has committed the same offence that they are now blaming on Russia.
“Fairy tales” of Russian hackers
We learned this week that the US is now trying to set up a “colour revolutions matrix” ahead of Russia’s 2018 Presidential elections, that US secret services have latched onto the “fairy tales” of Russian hackers and trolls to divert attention from the eavesdropping on former President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, and that the “US ruins countries, provokes civil wars, drives whole nations into poverty and misery, sets up sanctions to those who in Europe want to buy cheap Russian gas, organises coups and colour revolutions, continues to occupy Germany and Japan, conducts wars without UN sanction under false pretences and fake coalitions” – nothing goes unmentioned. Germans and Japanese must be surprised to hear the breaking news of US occupation.
Meanwhile English versions of disinformation outlets claimed that, as the US had spied top German officials, we should assume that the US swayed the German elections in its own favour. This type of disinformation takes a past scandal and links it through a non sequitur to elections in general and the last German elections in particular; the German Parliamentary Committee investigated it.
Western values ≠ incest parades
The amount of attributes the disinformation campaign is able to attach to “Western values” is striking. We heard that Armenia will celebrate incest parades because of the new law on domestic violence. In fact, the bill will introduce criminal and administrative liability for specific cases defined as domestic violence. After Armenia it was Italy’s turn, where a sex cruise is tailored as “support for Western values” and democracy.
Any representative of the West visiting Crimea is another hit story, as efforts to legitimise the status of Crimea illegally annexed by Russia in 2014 continue. This week it was the “Norwegian diplomats” who will convince the West that Crimea is part of Russia, not Ukraine. But there were no diplomats within the group of Norwegians that visited Crimea recently.
The Western ghosts of history were also invited to work for the disinformation messaging. Allegedly in 1941 it was Finnish spies who first threatened to kill Vladimir Putin’s great aunt, and then “a fascist bullet hit her back”. The only lapse in this story is that there were no Finns even close to the region in question in 1941. Oh, and the great aunt in question actually seems to have been President Putin’s grandmother.