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 15 July, on the 872th day of the full-scale war, our editorial office recorded:

Русскій фейк, іді на***!

Fake Zelenskyi is a “naked clown”, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine official Twitter account wrote

Pro-Russian users of social networks on Facebook and Twitter are spreading a screenshot allegedly from the official Twitter account of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. In a tweet published on December 22, 2018, before the presidential elections in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defense allegedly calls Volodymyr Zelenskyi a “naked clown” and an “American puppet”  and urges not to vote for “this piece of shit” because he will “destroy our country with the help of NATO”. It's fake.

The fact-checkers of the Reuters media drew attention to the case. This tweet was not found in a Twitter search on a verified account of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and Google. Also, searching for news by keywords in English and Ukrainian in Google did not bring any results. Also, Reuters specialists did not find this tweet in the archived versions of the confirmed Ministry of Defense Twitter profile.

Fact-checkers found out that the screenshot was edited. After all, photos posted on Twitter have rounded edges. However, in the screenshot they are square.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to discredit the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, humiliate Volodymyr Zelenskyi and show that even representatives of the Ukrainian authorities allegedly do not respect him.

Earlier, Detector Media talked about the message that Zelenskyi allegedly sold Ukraine to a Western fund.

Message All air defense systems were installed in Kyiv, so other cities of Ukraine are under no defense

Anonymous telegram channels spreading pro-Russian rhetoric reported on May 17 that approximately 10 explosions were heard in Odesa, there were “strikes at military facilities”. According to anonymous telegram channels, “the Russians realized that there was no good air defense in Odesa, they moved everything to Kyiv”, and therefore they are attacking this particular city.

However, such conclusions are unfounded. From May 17 to May 18, Russia launched 30  missiles, of which 29 were destroyed by air defense forces. This was stated by the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Also, on the air of the United News telethon, the speaker of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Yurii Ihnat, said that during today's missile strike over Odesa region, 8 missiles were shot down. This refutes the message that all air defense systems were installed in Kyiv.

Yurii Ihnat noted: “The capital is attacked most often, so this city, obviously, needs more protection”. He also added about “the eastern and northern regions – there is also a very serious vector of work and air defense is also working there. Therefore, we distribute our forces where it is most needed”.

By spreading such a message, Russian propaganda is trying to intimidate Ukrainians, arouse distrust in the authorities and split society. Like, the amount of air defense is not enough to close the whole of Ukraine, so the Ukrainian authorities determine “more and less important” areas.

This is not the first time propagandists have been spreading this message. Previously, it was promoted on the telegram channels of Mykolaiv, Odesa and Kharkiv regions. In October 2022, Detector Media talked about a message that air defense was taken from Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv regions, and Kyiv and Dnipro were “excessively” protected because they were “more strategically important” for the authorities.

Disclosure Russians are spreading a document allegedly on behalf of a Ukrainian commander with an order to “physically eliminate” curfew violators in Kherson

This “document” was circulated on social networks, in particular on anonymous telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. It says that the commander of the 124 Territorial Defense Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Dmytro Ishchenko, “orders to organize the security and defense of the highly mobile M142 HIMARS missile system” in Kherson, as well as “physically eliminate” curfew violators who resist or create a security threat. .

The fact-checkers of the StopFake project drew attention to the case, and determined that the order allegedly issued on May 9 and the “document” were fake. The text contains many errors and russianisms (including) and punctuation errors, which should not be in official documents.

Also, the seal of military unit A7053 contains the wrong code of the Unified State Register of Enterprises and Organizations of Ukraine (EDRPOU) - 12375678. StopFake analysts note that there is no subject with such a code in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Individual Entrepreneurs and Public Formations.

The press service of the 124th separate troop brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also refuted this “order”. On their Facebook page, they reported that the “document” distributed by the propagandists was fake.

By spreading such documents, propagandists are trying to discredit the Ukrainian army, destroy its credibility and show the cruelty and inadequacy of the leadership of military units. Also, Russian propaganda is not the first time trying to intimidate Ukrainian society. Earlier, Detector Media denied the fake that the military in Mykolaiv were ordered to shoot deserters.

Disclosure Ukraine blackmails Western partners with terrorist attacks if they stop supplying weapons

The Kremlin propaganda media and anonymous telegram channels are spreading information that Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser to the President's Office, is allegedly blackmailing the West. On the Rada TV channel, he allegedly warned Western partners that “in the event of a cessation of arms supplies to Ukraine, Europe will face numerous terrorist attacks and a large-scale war”. Russian propaganda writes that this is Podoliak's response to the statement by the head of EU diplomacy, Joselle Borrell, that “Ukraine without the support of the West would have to surrender within a few days”. This is manipulation.

As experts of the StopFake project note, Mykhailo Podoliak did not blackmail the West with terrorist attacks. On the air of the Rada TV channel on May 10, 2023, he stated that Russia continues to pose a security threat to the entire democratic world. And if the countries of Europe stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, this could lead to further aggression against Ukrainians, the scaling up of the war in neighboring countries and an increase in the number of terrorist attacks in Europe.

Mykhailo Podoliak commented on the words of Joselle Borrell. He noted that Mr. Borrell absolutely sincerely believes in the victory of Ukraine and does everything as efficiently as possible. He noted that “it is simply not necessary to say that Ukraine could become a puppet state if the West stops helping”. According to Podoliak, this is impossible, because under any scenario, “a third of the population of Ukraine will be destroyed”, a genocide will be committed.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to undermine the authority of Ukraine in the international arena, as well as to intimidate the whole world with war. Propagandists transfer the responsibility for Russia's crimes to the victim. Earlier, Detector Media denied the fake that the United States said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine would undermine the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during the counteroffensive.

Fake NATO experts are confident in the failure of the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian military

The Kremlin propaganda media are spreading information that the Ukrainian allies are allegedly confident that the counteroffensive will fail. Russian propaganda refers to the words of the former commander of NATO forces in Europe, Ben Hodges, who believes that “Western countries are actually aware of the catastrophic situation of Ukraine at the front. Therefore, they have no doubt that sooner or later the Armed Forces of Ukraine will lose”. It's fake.

The case was noticed by specialists from the StopFake project. In fact, Ben Hodges, in an interview with Business Insider cited by the propaganda, did not talk about the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, but on the contrary, he expressed “restrained optimism” about the effectiveness of the Ukrainian army, “considering the weakened, disorganized forces of Russia and the superior willpower of Ukraine”.

He also noted that it is necessary to abandon the view that the upcoming counteroffensive is decisive for victory. And in his opinion, the only thing that can spoil everything is “if the West puts such strong pressure on Ukraine that it will force them to stop before a complete victory”.

Thus, propagandists are trying to sow discouragement among Ukrainians before a future counteroffensive. They say that it will not be possible to defeat Russia, and Western partners also believe in this. Earlier, Detector Media denied the fake that if the Ukrainian military fails the counteroffensive, the West will stop supporting Ukraine.

Disclosure How Russian propaganda discredits the Crimean Tatars

In shaping the image of the Crimean Tatars, Russian propaganda uses a number of predatory narratives that Russia has nourished for centuries. Some of them are taken from tsarist times. In particular, we are talking about the Slavic, and not the Crimean Tatar nature of the Crimean peninsula. Russian propaganda repeats Soviet narratives about the “unreliability” of the Crimean Tatars and about the “positives” of Stalin’s deportation. Read more about how Russian propaganda discredits the Crimean Tatars here.

The modern propaganda machine is spreading the message that Crimean Tatars are political and religious extremists. According to the pro-Russian anonymous telegram channels, the qırımlı cooperate with the Ukrainian special services, carry out subversive activities, mine territories, lead the Defense Forces to targets, and participate in sabotage. We looked at four key organizations against which propagandists are spreading more defamatory messages regarding the message of Crimean Tatars as “political and religious” extremists. A number of theses about Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Noman Çelebicihan battalion, the Turan battalion and the Mejlis in almost 100% of cases describe them in a negative way, contain unfounded accusations of criminal activity; manipulative statements that personally and expediently discredit members of organizations.

1. Immediately in 2014, the Russians launched a campaign to persecute the Crimean Tatar community by outlawing the Mejlis, the representative body of the Crimean Tatar people. Russia accused the Mejlis of fomenting inter-ethnic tension and facilitating the extremist activities of the Crimean Tatars on the peninsula. Russia discredits the only supreme executive and representative body of the Crimean Tatars, recognized throughout the world and officially representing the nation at the international level. The Mejlis were critical of the Russian annexation of Crimea and defended the rights of Crimean Tatars, including the restoration of their property and cultural heritage. In 2016, Russia banned the Mejlis and labeled it an extremist organization, leading to harassment of its members, including arrests, detentions, and intimidation tactics.

2. The propaganda machine is also conducting a discrediting campaign against members of the volunteer Crimean Tatar battalion named after Noman Çelebicihan, who has been fighting on the side of Ukraine since 2016. Russian propaganda often accuses the members of the battalion of extremist political beliefs and participation in the food and energy blockade of Crimea. Russia has recognized the battalion as a terrorist organization. A large number of those detained for their alleged links to the battalion reported that they were tortured to extract confessions. So, it is highly likely that most of those arrested and found to be involved in the battalion are innocent. Over the past year, several members of the community who are charged with participation in the battalion have already received harsh sentences of 5 to 8.5 years in prison.

3. Russian propaganda in every possible way denigrates the activities of the Turan battalion, created in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The ideological basis of the battalion is ethnic and religious solidarity with the Crimean Tatars. In particular, propaganda accuses the participants of neo-Nazism. Turan is the name of the territory inhabited by Iranian-speaking nomadic peoples. The battalion is formed partly from fighters from other units of the Ukrainian army, and partly from those who have not served before, but live on the territory of Ukraine. Religion in it is an important factor, as the head of the battalion Almaz Kudabek assures: those who protect the interests of the Kremlin and kill Ukrainians automatically renounce their religion.

4. But the most frequent targets are members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international political organization seeking to create a unified Muslim state where the Islamic way of life will be restored and where Muslim law will prevail. Although some of the ideas of the organization run counter to democratic values, it is still not criminal, and is also far from terrorism and violent actions. Propagandists accuse the members of the organization of religious extremism and a powerful anti-Russian underground on the peninsula. In fact, Hizb ut-Tahrir insists on peaceful methods of struggle. The work of Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Russia, China, and most Arab and Central Asian countries. In other states, in particular in the UK, Hizb ut-Tahrir operates openly. The community operated in the same way legally in Ukraine. However, after the annexation of Crimea, the Russians arrested more than 70 people in the Hizb ut-Tahrir case. Russian human rights activists consider the persecution of members of this organization politically motivated.

Russia is persecuting the most active members of political associations, and its propagandists do their best to discredit any Crimean Tatar initiatives. This indicates that the Russian intelligence services see a threat to the ability of the Crimean Tatars to organize themselves and identify their own political position that contradicts the Kremlin.

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.