Spilnota Detector Media
Detector Media collects and documents real-time chronicles of the Kremlin disinformation about the Russian invasion. Ukraine for decades has been suffering from Kremlin disinformation. Here we document all narratives, messages, and tactics, which Russia is using from February 17th, 2022. Reminder: the increasing of shelling and fighting by militants happened on the 17th of February 2022 on the territory of Ukraine. Russian propaganda blames Ukraine for these actions.

On 19 June, on the 846th day of the full-scale war, our editorial office recorded:

Русскій фейк, іді на***!

Manipulation Due to Ukrainian refugees, the number of thefts in Polish stores increased by a third

This thesis was circulated on social networks, in particular on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that the level of shoplifting has increased significantly in Poland. Like, it's all because of the Ukrainian refugees, who “neglect all the laws”. The authors of the messages refer to the material of the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, in which they allegedly investigated the issues of thefts involving Ukrainian refugees. This is manipulation.

The propagandists distorted the context of the entire material, because it was about the general trend of thefts in Poland. According to the data of the Police Headquarters, published by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, in 2022 the number of shoplifting increased by 31.1%. Journalists explain that people steal mainly basic food products from small shops. They also stressed that organized crime groups are predominantly responsible for these thefts. At the same time, there was no mention of “Ukrainian refugees”. Although the material itself is titled “Poles are stealing goods from shops more and more”, the journalists investigated the general issue of thefts without appealing to specific people or age groups.

Russian propaganda systematically manipulates the issue of Ukrainian refugees abroad. Thus, they are trying to present Ukrainian refugees as criminals or terrorists, which is a cultural and economic threat to the EU in order to reduce support for Ukraine and Ukrainians. We wrote about this in our own investigation.

We recall that Detector Media previously also analyzed a manipulation in which propagandists claimed that, allegedly because of the Russian language, the attitude of many Poles towards Ukrainians worsened.

Manipulation Residents of Georgia lined up at the Russian border to “run away from mass protests”

This thesis was spread on social networks, in particular on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Amid protests in Georgia, reports say a “huge queue” of people wishing to leave for Russia has formed at the only checkpoint across the Georgian-Russian border. Like, Georgians are running away from protests and “color revolutions” to Russia. The authors of the messages add a screenshot from the electronic map, where you can supposedly see “live traffic”. This is manipulation.

The Insider project specialists investigated the case and found out that there really was a queue of people on the Georgian-Russian border, it was formed on March 5, while the protests began on March 6. The day before, the checkpoint was closed due to bad weather and the danger of avalanches, and it was opened only on the evening of March 7. In the screenshot, you can see that the crowd was in two directions, that is, from Georgia to Russia and vice versa. Analysts explain that it was this situation that caused a large number of people on the Georgian-Russian border, but the propagandists distorted everything in their own way.

The public of Georgia actively opposes the adoption in the first reading of the law “On the transparency of foreign influence”, called the “Russian law”. It is considered an analogue of the notorious ban on “foreign agents” in Russia, which actually suppressed the already weak voices of the opposition and made it impossible for international monitoring missions to be present inside the country. The law, adopted by the Georgian Parliament on March 7, 2023, provides for the creation of a register of “agents of foreign influence”. The authorities will create a special open database of organizations and individuals if the share of foreign investments in their activities is at least 20%. It is noteworthy that the voting continued in violation of the rules of parliament and without public discussion.

We recall that Detector Media analyzed messages aimed at discrediting the protest movement in Georgia.

Message Anti-Russian sanctions destroy the “economic sovereignty” of Europe

This thesis was circulated on social networks, in particular on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that Europe's “economic sovereignty” has been destroyed due to the imposition of sanctions on Russia. Like, the “collective West” wanted the collapse of Russia, which means “exactly the opposite”: Europe cannot exist without Russian energy resources, and will soon fall apart.

Analysts of the EU vs Disinfo project investigated this case and found that the thesis about a stable Russian economy is not true. According to the World Bank, the International monetary fund and the Organization for economic cooperation and development, 2022 has been a bad year for the Russian economy. According to experts, in 2022, Russia's gross domestic product fell by at least 2.2% in the best scenario and to 3.9% in the worst one. The Russian economy will shrink in 2023 as well. GDP is expected to contract by 5.6% or 3.3% according to the organizations. Analysts emphasize that the sanctions really work and the data show this.

Analysts also explained that the European Union has taken specific steps to phase out Russian energy resources and replace them further. Therefore, the “collapse of the European Union” is another conspiracy thesis of Russian propaganda.

Tactics and tools How Russian propaganda uses “fake dilemma” tactics

A fake dilemma is a propaganda tactic in which the propagandists offer only two options. At the same time, in general, the “choice” option required by propaganda is obviously beneficial.

For example, the phrase “who is not with us is against us” has been well-known since Soviet times, it is a classic embodiment of the fake dilemma tactic. Either “you are with us” and enjoy all the privileges of “your own” - obviously a beneficial option - or “you are against us”: you are the enemy, and the attitude towards the enemies of the people in Soviet times was tough.

This tactic was used by Russian propaganda in the internal information space during the so-called “shared mobilization”. Russian men were also offered two choices: either go to the front to “defend homeland”, or join the ranks of “traitors”. Moreover, even in the manuals that were prepared in order to minimize the negative moods of the mobilized, that is, those who left Russia after the announcement of mobilization, they recommend ridiculing them, calling them “refugees” and “those who wait”, while emphasizing that words should be avoided that will hint to listeners that people left the country against their will.

The Russians also use this tactic in the temporarily occupied territories, offering Ukrainians Russian passports. The essence of the dilemma: either you get a Russian passport and have the opportunity to work, earn money and somehow survive; or, keeping the Ukrainian passport, you are an enemy. The danger lies in the fact that the effectiveness of tactics increases in direct proportion to the length of time under occupation. Many people are running out of resources, and hence the ability to resist the invaders.

Disclosure Unknown people spread information that Ukrainian refugees in Germany will be given 500 “greeting” euros

Such information was disseminated on social networks, in particular, in the German and Russian TikTok segments. Reports say Ukrainian refugees who have recently confirmed their status will be given 500 “greeting” euros. Like, this is an initiative of the Bundestag, which recently adopted a resolution and issue funds to Ukrainians “from the pockets of the Germans”.

The German group of fact-checkers Correctiv decided to check the information and contact the official representation in the Bundestag for a comment. The Bundestag denied such information and stressed that Ukrainian refugees do not receive any additional payments, including “greeting” money. The Bundestag also stressed that they are not creating a procedure for receiving cash payments; such a bill has not been submitted to parliament.

Fake The President of Latvia “made Zelenskyi laugh with words about the victory of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that on March 3, during a meeting between Volodymyr Zelenskyi and Latvian President Egils Levits, he made Zelenskyi laugh with words about the return of Ukrainian territories and the subsequent victory of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Allegedly, Zelenskyi “does not believe in the victory of Ukraine”. It is not true.

Analysts of the StopFake project drew attention to the case, they determined that Zelenskyi laughed in response to the words of the head of Latvia that with the return of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the territorial integrity of Russia within its internationally recognized borders will also return. As analysts explain, the President of Latvia talked about security guarantees for Ukraine and the peace formula, which is to achieve “long-term peace”. The President of Latvia stressed that “long-term peace will mean the complete territorial integrity of Ukraine and for Russia too”. After the words about the territorial integrity of Russia, both presidents laughed, and this can be seen on the video.

In addition, the meeting of the presidents was accompanied by simultaneous translation, which naturally occurs with some delay, so it may seem to the listeners that Volodymyr Zelenskyi really laughed because of the idea he heard about the return of all the territories of Ukraine, but this is not true.

Fake Germans are “against the entry of Ukraine into NATO”

Such information was disseminated in social networks and propaganda media. The reports say that a sociological survey was conducted in Germany, which illustrated the attitude of the Germans regarding Ukraine's accession to NATO. Like, many Germans strongly opposed the entry. The authors of the messages refer to the material of the German edition Die Welt, which allegedly contains the results of the survey. It is not true.

The experts of the StopFake project investigated the case and found out that the journalists of the Die Welt publication did not conduct any sociological survey, but made up the results.

Analysts are convinced that the basis for creating this fake was an article called “We should seriously think about Ukraine's membership in NATO” since the propagandists cited as an example the comments of ordinary users of the Die Welt website, which do not represent “the attitude of the Germans towards Ukraine's membership in NATO”. Under the article, over 800 comments of various content were published, but the Russian media cite only a few of them to illustrate a point of view suitable for Russian propaganda.

As for the material itself, it contains forecasts for the provision of security guarantees to Ukraine, and in general it was not about any “sociological survey”.

Russian propaganda systematically spreads messages that the West does not want to help Ukraine in the war, relying on non-authoritative sources of information or disfigured quotes. Thus, Russia is trying to undermine the authority of Ukraine at the international level, distort reality and allegedly show that the European community does not consider Ukraine and does not want to see it either in NATO or, for example, in the EU.

Orest Slyvenko, Artur Koldomasov, Vitalii Mykhailiv, Oleksandra Kotenko, Oleksandr Siedin, Kostiantyn Zadyraka, and Oleksiy Pivtorak are collaborating on this chronicle. Lesia Bidochko serves as the project coordinator, while Ksenia Ilyuk is the author of the project.