Spilnota Detector Media

Message The goals of “SVO” will supposedly be achieved at any cost

Self-proclaimed colonel, collaborator and war criminal Eduard Basurin claims that “denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine continues”. In general, the Russian leadership and propagandists are promoting the message that the so-called “special operation” is constantly ongoing, and all its goals will certainly be achieved.

Experts from the Center for Countering Disinformation drew attention to this repeated mantra. For example, Volodymyr Putin announced the two above-mentioned goals of the SVO on February 24, 2023. Moreover, another reason for the full-scale invasion, according to him, was “the protection of the residents of Donbas”. Over time, the Kremlin has already changed entire war goals against Ukraine many times, which indicates its confusion and misunderstanding between the military-political leadership of Russia.

Read also: The main goal of the so-called “SVO” is supposedly not to seize Ukraine, but to ensure the security of Russia

Manipulation NATO seems to invade Russia “after the war in Ukraine”

Such information was disseminated on social networks in the Russian segment, commenting on the meeting of the presidents (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic) of the Visegrad Group, who discussed issues of international politics, including the Russian-Ukrainian war. The authors claimed that Czech President Petr Pavel allegedly explained during the summit of heads of state that the Visegrad Group was “ready to engage in aggression against Russia”,  and NATO would allegedly attack Russia “after the war in Ukraine”. This is manipulation.

The StopFake analysts investigated the case and found that there were no statements about NATO’s readiness to launch an invasion of Russia at the Visegrad Four summit - this is an invention of the propaganda media. The meeting of leaders was devoted to European security issues in the context of Russian aggression against Ukraine. The parties stated that Russia must bear responsibility for human lives and damage, and the four countries must “resolutely continue to fully support Ukraine and its citizens”.

Among other things, Peter Pavel said during the meeting that Russia is the main threat to the security of Europe and, accordingly, the defense Alliance. That is, the manipulators distorted the entire context of the officials’ statements and simply came up with profitable Kremlin theses.

Using quotes from public figures, military officers, politicians and other public figures, Russian propaganda is trying to convince consumers of disinformation of the authenticity of such expressions. Like, if the European leader himself said this, then he can be trusted, because he is an authoritative source although the authors do not explain how reliable the information presented in the manipulative publication is. This is how propagandists use the tactic of appealing to authority.

The Visegrad Group was founded on February 15, 1991 in the Hungarian city of Visegrad by the presidents of Central European countries - Poland, Hungary, and then Czechoslovakia with the goal of integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. After the collapse of Czechoslovakia, the official name of the group was the “Visegrad Four”, or V4, consisting of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. It was possible to achieve the European and Euro-Atlantic goal in 2004 - the four countries joined NATO, and on May 1 of the same year V4 joined the European Union. Currently, countries also cooperate in the fields of culture, education, science and data exchange.

Fake A third of young Ukrainians allegedly went to Russia because of “better medicine” and “less unemployment”

Propagandists spreading pro-Russian rhetoric in the media claim that, according to the results of a sociological survey by Global Service and European Migration Support Bureau, a third of Ukrainian youth have migrated to Russia. In addition, the majority of Ukrainian refugees there allegedly recognized Russian aggression as “liberation”, and among the reasons for migration they named “better medicine” and “less unemployment” in Russia. However, this is fake.

Specialists from the StopFake project drew attention to it. They found out that the companies supposedly conducting this survey did not exist, and the information about the survey itself was fictitious. The incorrect information also indicates that the name of the European Migration Support Bureau is misspelled (probably European instead of European). Structures with similar names that deal with refugee issues do exist (for example, the European Union Agency for Asylum and the European Asylum Support Office), but none of them published the data indicated.

In addition, the very fact of conducting such a study is questionable, since Russian media admit that the survey involved Ukrainians who “traveled to the territory of Crimea or former Ukrainian regions that later joined Russia”. This does not reflect the actual situation, since many refugees ended up in Russia due to the lack of alternative evacuation routes.

By spreading such fakes, propagandists want to justify Russia’s crimes by saying that it is allegedly ready to create a better life for Ukrainians, ignoring the problems of its citizens.

Message The main goal of the so-called SVO is supposedly not to seize Ukraine, but to ensure the security of Russia

This information is promoted by Spiridon Kilinkarov, a former Ukrainian politician, a traitor to Ukraine. He is hiding in Russia and speaking on Kremlin propaganda channels. In his opinion, Russia’s aggression is justified because it guarantees the country’s security. Kilinkarov argues that we are not talking exclusively about new territories for Russia, but about the exhaustive implementation of the assigned tasks for the Russian army.

The experts from the Center for Countering Disinformation examined this case. It turns out that by spreading such a message, the traitor makes Russia a victim of circumstances. They say that Russia must defend itself from NATO and the collective West, and therefore is forced to resort to armed confrontation on neutral territory, in Ukraine, playing ahead. A similar version of the reason for the full-scale invasion was voiced by the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Oleksandr Lukashenko: Russia launched a “preventive strike” because Ukraine was allegedly planning an attack on Belarus.

Сonspiracy theories How conspiracy theorists explain events in Ukraine and the world: The Alaska Payment Conspiracy Theory

Propagandists have been trying to explain current events using conspiracy theories for years, trying to justify the crimes of the Russians. Sometimes they use the most absurd theories for this, such as the “Alaskan payment conspiracy” or “Orkney conspiracy” theory.

According to it, the Russian Empire allegedly never received payment for the purchase of Alaska from the United States, and instead the ship Orkney, allegedly carrying payment in the form of gold, was deliberately blown up with insurance money by Oleksandr ‘Sandy’ Keith, a conman and expert on explosions. They say Orkney sank in the Baltic Sea while transporting payment to St. Petersburg from London. Oleksandr Keith, who went by several aliases including William Thompson, had previously blown up ships to claim insurance money in Europe. Russian politician Volodymyr Zhyrynovskyi of Russia's Liberal Democratic Party has repeatedly made these allegations, as well as allegations of bribery related to the purchase agreement.

The theory was disproved. Firstly, the fact that Russia did receive the money is evidenced by the fact that it was then spent on building railway junctions throughout the country. Secondly, according to the conspiracy theory, Orkney was blown up on the date when the money was supposed to be sent. It is stated that the ship sank in the middle of July 1868, when payment was supposed to be delivered on August 1, 1868. Additionally, there is no record of the disappearance of a ship named Orkney, only a similar ship called the Orkney Lass, which, according to post-event reports, was still in service and was probably bound for South America that year rather than St. Petersburg. Gold has never been found in the Baltic Sea either.

Russian propagandists use this theory as one of the first examples of how the West allegedly constantly wanted to deceive Russia. In addition, a number of Russian propagandists and high-ranking officials, appealing to this theory, have repeatedly threatened the United States with military intervention in Alaska, since within the framework of the theory this territory continues to remain Russian. They say that Russia has the right to this, since it did not receive money for it at the time. In addition, they also want to justify the “struggle against the West and Western values”. Russia is victimizing itself by reinforcing the myth that the West constantly wants to destroy it using such theories.

Manipulation Russians who opposed the war are now forced to look for food in landfills

Russian media claim that now Russians who left their country due to disagreement with Russian aggression against Ukraine are allegedly forced to look for food in landfills. However, this is manipulation.

Analysts from The Insider project drew attention to it. They found an article cited as a primary source in the manipulated reports. In fact, in the article “Freega - the idea of smart consumption”, journalist and photographer Serhii Stroitieliev talks about young Russians who moved to Georgia and remained faithful to the idea of “smart consumption”, or freeganism, without mentioning the difficulties of emigration. The article also notes that most of these people were engaged in freeganism back in Russia and that this is their way of life and practice associated with subculture, environmental and anarchist ideas.

By spreading such manipulations, propagandists want to discredit all those who oppose the war within Russia. Like, it’s unbearable abroad, but in Russia it’s good, so one needs to exchange principles for comfort.

Manipulation Russian troops are regrouping to more advantageous positions in the Kherson region

Propaganda resources are trying to disorient the Ukrainian Defense Forces with messages about the alleged withdrawal of the Russian army from some temporarily occupied territories of the Kherson region. Thus, on the morning of November 12, pro-Russian media published news about the regrouping of Russian troops near Dnipro, and on November 13 they deleted their publications and reported that the preliminary information was canceled.

The Center for National Resistance investigated this case and stated that the regrouping of Russian troops in the Kherson region has not been recorded. This was reported to the Center by local residents of the temporarily occupied territories (TOT) of the Kherson region, which are discussed in the “news”. It looks like this case is an information operation against Ukraine. The Center for National Resistance also added that the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kherson region is a matter of time.

Disclosure How the Russians launched a disinformation campaign against Ukraine through fake websites of Ukrainian and Western publications

On the social network X (formerly Twitter), since October 25, materials have been massively distributed on fake websites of well-known Ukrainian and foreign media. The fact-checkers of The Insider project were the first to write about this spam attack. Detector Media publishes the main techniques and narratives used in this spam attack.

Some of the tweets contain a link to several pseudo-novelty/analytical materials. The Insider analysts found that they were posted on sites counterfeiting well-known Ukrainian publications, such as OBOZREVATEL. In these columns one can see the messages of propagandists repeated many times - they say that Ukraine’s defeat is inevitable, Israel will completely take away Ukrainian military and financial assistance, Ukrainians will freeze without heating and will survive without salaries and pensions. It seems that all this is so that the “Kyiv regime” retains power.

Propagandists and foreign media sites falsify them. As noted in The Insider, pseudo-columns are published on “clones” of such publications as Der Spiegel, Welt, Fox News, La Parisien, Walla, etc. Western audiences are served the same narratives, only in English, French, German and Hebrew. The centrality of the attack and the connection of its organizers with Russia is indicated by the fact that within its framework they published links to Russian propaganda media, where a video about “drug addict Volodymyr Zelenskyi” was posted.

By resorting to this, propagandists want to cause panic among Ukrainians and despondency in the Ukrainian government, which should lead to destabilization of the political situation. This is also indicated by the fact that the attack occurred simultaneously with protests in several Ukrainian cities under the slogan “For demobilization!”, where the same visual materials were used. Detector Media has repeatedly refuted Russian manipulations and fakes aimed against the Ukrainian government, elected by the people.

Manipulation Sony has released PlayStation 5 in the colors of the Russian flag

Pro-Russian resources began to disseminate information that Sony, a company specializing in electronics and other high-tech products, allegedly released the PlayStation 5 game console and its accessories in the colors of the Russian flag. This is manipulation.

The case was investigated by fact-checkers from the VoxUkraine project. They found out that when creating new designs for the game console and joysticks, the authors relied on the colors of the Earth, and not the Russian tricolor. Thus, one of the designers explained that his team was inspired by the beautiful and powerful shades that can be found in the depths of planet Earth. The colors used are Sterling Silver, Volcanic Red, Cobalt Blue, and not pure white, blue and red, as in Russia. If one reads the colors according to the usual version, that is, from left to right, then it will be obvious that the sequence of colors of the presented game consoles and accessories is different from the sequence of colors of the Russian tricolor.

Pro-Kremlin propagandists trying to trace at least latent manifestations of the civilized world’s solidarity with Russia resort to manipulation and use information for their own purposes. They use one of the propaganda tactics when they write about such “support” for the transnational company Sony: they try to evoke in ordinary Russian citizens a feeling of euphoria - a psychological state in which a person experiences elation, happiness and joy, which is unjustified by objective conditions.

Disclosure Russian bots are spreading panic online about rising costs of living in Ukraine

In the Ukrainian segment of social networks, Russian robots spread information that prices in Ukraine are constantly being raised and they are profiting from Ukrainians. Allegedly, prices are rising and people will soon begin to starve. It is not true.

As the fact-checkers at the Center for Strategic Communications note, such comments about price increases in Ukraine are written by Russian bots commissioned by the Russian Digital Army group. They pretend to be Ukrainians and spread messages that Ukrainians will soon starve.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, cause panic among Ukrainians and distrust of the authorities. In fact, prices in Ukraine are rising due to the war that Russia started, but Ukrainians work and donate to the army. Earlier, Detector Media reported on the message that people in the country are starving and must stand in line for free lunches.

Message Ukraine will not receive reparations as it did not declare war on Russia

In the Ukrainian segment of Facebook, information is being spread that Ukraine will allegedly not receive reparations from Russia, because Volodymyr Zelenskyi “did not introduce a state of war”, and minor citizens of Ukraine will not have the status of “children of war”. It is not true.

The message was investigated by the fact-checkers of the StopFake project. They turned to the former Deputy Minister of Justice of Ukraine in 2015–2019, a teacher at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Serhiii Pietukhov, for comment. He said: “Russian reparations are a matter of international law. Reparations are a form of compensation for harm caused by one state to another. In this case, the international community has no doubt that there is a war between Ukraine and Russia, or in the terminology of international law, an international armed conflict. A formal declaration of war has long been no longer required in international law and is not a criterion for assessing damages or the debt to pay reparations”.

Pietukhov also explained that the status of children of war can be accepted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, regardless of the declaration of a state of war. This is a domestic decision and “no one within the country questions the existence of war”.

Consequently, the message that Ukraine will not receive reparations because it did not declare war on Russia is intended to create distrust in the Ukrainian authorities. Earlier,  Detector Media talked about the message that Ukraine did not declare war on Russia.

Manipulation The West and PACE are “interfering” in the Russian presidential elections

Propagandists spreading pro-Russian rhetoric in the media claim that the United States and “its European satellites” are allegedly interfering in the internal affairs of Russia and the 2024 presidential elections. This is how they reacted to the adoption on October 13 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) of a resolution declaring Volodymyr Putin illegitimate after the expiration of his current presidential term. The statement about “interference in the internal affairs of Russia” is unreliable.

Specialists from the StopFake project drew attention to this. They found out that this is manipulation, since the resolution is advisory in nature for implementation and cannot directly influence the presidential elections in Russia. The Assembly only recommended that Council of Europe member states recognize Putin as illegitimate after the end of his current presidential term and cut off all contacts with him except for humanitarian needs and peace. The document notes that Russia ignores the norms of international law and all recommendations of the Venice Commission (a body on constitutional law under the Council of Europe), in particular, changes to the 2021 Constitution. Under these changes, Putin has reset his previous presidential terms and could rule the country until 2036.

StopFake notes that Russians repeatedly reproach other countries for “failure to implement” the recommendations of the Venice Commission. For example, as in the situation with the Law of Ukraine “On Education” of 2017. At that time, Russia actively promoted the narrative of “oppression of Russian speakers”.

By spreading such fakes, propagandists want to create the image of a “victim” and justify the crimes of Russians. They say that Russia started the war to fight against the hypocrisy of Western states, because they want to destroy Russia. Russia constantly victimizes itself within the walls of international institutions. For example, Detector Media has already written about how Russian diplomats regularly spread propaganda in the OSCE.

Fake Russia destroyed a Leopard tank carrying German troops in Ukraine

Pro-Kremlin media in English and Spanish are disseminating information that a Russian intelligence group allegedly destroyed a Leopard tank, which Germany transferred to Ukraine along with a crew of soldiers from the German Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces). This allegedly happened in the Zaporizhzhia direction. Russian propaganda add that the seriously wounded mechanic has repeatedly stated that he is a member of the Bundeswehr, and together with the crew they are part of a German army unit. It's fake.

The case was investigated by the fact-checker of the EUvsDiDiNFo project. The information disseminated by Russian propaganda contains no details — names and surnames, a clear time and place where the Russians destroyed the tank. Moreover, Germany's military support for Ukraine is limited to equipment and weapons, as well as assistance in training Ukrainian troops on German soil.

This fake is a continuation of the Russian narrative that Russia is fighting against NATO and Western countries in Ukraine. By inventing victories on the battlefield, Russian propaganda tries to raise the morale of Russians and justify Russia's difficulties on the battlefield. They say that the Russians are fighting with the German military, which is much more powerful than the Ukrainian army. Previously, we talked about the manipulation that Jens Stoltenberg allegedly confirmed that Russia invaded Ukraine “because of NATO”.

Fake Romanians are selling the best places to watch the strikes of drones and missiles in Ukraine

Russian media, broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric, are disseminating information that supposedly “Romanians are selling the most trump spots overlooking the strikes of drones and missiles in Ukraine”. Also, users of the Russian segment of social networks are distributing screenshots with marks of these places. It's fake.

The case was investigated by the fact-checker of the StopFake project. On Google Maps, they found a place that Russian propaganda used to create a fake. The fact-checkers have established that the mark on the fake screenshot was placed near the place where drones fell as a result of a Russian attack on Izmail and Reni in early September.

There is no mark on Google Maps. However, after examining the map, the fact-checkers found a mark in the same place where the “bombing of Ukraine” could allegedly be observed. It is misspelled in Russian as “observation platform” and does not contain any additional information. Therefore, it follows that the tag about the location of the “bombing of Ukraine” was either added in a photo editor, or created in private list mode, which other users cannot see.

Moreover, there are no mentions of such places in Romanian media and social networks. The Romanian military themselves are intensely monitoring Romania’s ground and airspace, and border guards prohibit photographing and filming Ukraine from the coast of Romania.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to discredit Romania and its inhabitants and broadcast the opinion that Romanians do not support Ukraine. They say that for them missile attacks on our state are like a show and a way to have fun. Previously, Detector Media refuted the fake that NATO is preparing for the defeat of Ukraine and the occupation of the western part of Ukrainian territories by Romania and Poland.

Manipulation French winemakers faced a crisis due to “anti-Russian sanctions”

This thesis was spread by propaganda media. Reports say that wines and vineyards are being destroyed in France precisely because of the sanctions imposed by the French government on Russia. The authors add that Moscow was the largest importer of wines, but after the “sanctions war” the French “played it out” and are experiencing a crisis in the wine industry. The publications also try to point out that imposing sanctions on Russia is supposedly ineffective, and as a result, the European countries themselves are supposedly suffering. After all, they are experiencing the impact of the “lack of Russian sales market” themselves. However, this is manipulation.

The fact-checkers of the StopFake project were able to process the case, explaining that the French wine industry is indeed not in the best conditions, if not in crisis. For example, in August 2023, the French government allocated 200 million euros to recycle excess wine production. This initiative from the French Parliament is caused by excessive production and, as a consequence, a decrease in its demand. Actions by the French authorities should curb price fluctuations and support producers who are losing their income. That is, the problems in the wine industry are in no way caused by anti-Russian sanctions or other prohibitions against Moscow. The authors of the manipulative message simply used the news about the crisis situation with wine and presented it as a consequence of the “struggle” with Russia.

In general, as experts say, the level of red consumption has fallen throughout the country: primarily due to the fact that the French began to prefer craft beer. Even in one of the materials of the French daily newspaper Le Figaro they write that wine has given way to beer in 2023 and, according to recent surveys, 56% of the French choose an intoxicating drink. Also, an analytical study by the European Commission for June 2023 shows a decline in wine consumption in other EU countries: by 7% in Italy, by 10% in Spain, and by 15% in France.

As for the “large Russian sales market”, the main consumer of red wine and importer has always been China, not Russia. In particular, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cessation of Chinese wine supplies even then had a negative impact on the entire wine-growing region of the country. And now wine producers cannot reach pandemic level exports.

Russia is trying to distort the impression that sanctions supposedly do not affect it, while other countries that are economically stable and ready to impose restrictions on Moscow are suffering from the “reverse effect”. But, let’s say, they suffer from the lack of the Russian market. The Kremlin systematically cultivates rhetoric about the so-called “big Russian market” in order to hint that the EU countries will not survive at all if they do not sell their goods to Russia. If they resist, they will face the same fate as the French wine industry. However, according to monitoring by the Kyiv School of Economics, as of July 2023, 254 companies (7.6% of companies that received income in Russia in 2022) have completely ceased their activities in Russia. And 1,191 (35.9% of the total) foreign businesses also folded. Companies will one day abandon Russia, not seeing this as a risk for themselves.

By the way, according to the European Council, 2022 was a bad year for the Russian economy. According to experts, in 2022 Russia's gross domestic product fell by at least 2.2% under the best scenario and to 3.9% under the worst-case scenario. The Russian economy will continue to contract in 2023. GDP is expected to contract by 5.6% or 3.3%.

Message Elections to the State Duma in the temporarily occupied territories were held “legitimately”

On September 10, 2023, Russia held elections at various levels with by-elections of “deputies” to the State Duma and heads of a number of regions to local authorities. Elections were also held in the temporarily Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine – in parts of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Anonymous telegrams claimed that the turnout in Ukrainian regions was “high”, which means that people allegedly show great interest in the formation of Russian politics — “competitive, fair and impartial”. And they add that the expression of the will of the people testifies to the so-called legitimacy of the past elections.

Like these elections, and any previous ones, together with pseudo-referendums, these are not real elections and sometimes not the absolute expression of the will of the Ukrainian people, in particular. Earlier, the Verkhovna Rada appealed to foreign states to recognize the illegality of the elections. Among other things, they adopted resolution No. 9581 based on the results of the plenary meeting. It states that the occupation authorities are intimidating, blackmailing and forcibly involving Ukrainian citizens in elections through illegal passporting and replacing Ukrainian identification documents with Russian counterparts.

Such elections contradict the general norms of international law and violate the legislation of Ukraine. Moreover, such actions on the part of Russia, first of all, put Ukrainians in danger - after all, they are forced to vote at gunpoint. The European Union also (back in June) condemned Russia's attempts to hold pseudo-elections at the temporarily occupied territories. Then EU representative Peter Stano said that Moscow has no legal rights to the seized Ukrainian territories and that, in fact, Russia is acting arbitrarily, ignoring all norms and rights. As a result, Russia only seeks to give legitimacy to its actions, hiding behind good goals. It seems that the desire to vote and be part of Russia comes from the Ukrainians themselves. And accordingly, they are given scope for “self-determination”.

The head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration Artem Lysohor also noted that the occupation authorities have admitted the failure of their forced passportization and allow people to vote without a Russian passport. And local collaborators were allowed not to open polling stations, but to conduct voting from home.

That is, this approach to holding “elections”, on the contrary, is the result of low turnout at the polling station, the disinterest of Ukrainians in voting and resistance to the occupation authorities. However, the Kremlin is trying in every possible way to whiten itself and demonstrate “democracy” amid the widespread chaos: they even invited the so-called “foreign supervisors” who highly appreciate the work of the occupation exit polls. But those “observers” turned out to be supporters of Russia and, apparently, covered the work of the Gauleiters with bias.

Manipulation Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that Russia invaded Ukraine “because of NATO”

This information was disseminated by Russian media. Reports say that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg allegedly confirmed that it was the North Atlantic Alliance that “started the war in Ukraine” and that Russia invaded Ukrainian territory due to “NATO expansion”. This is manipulation.

Fact-checkers of the StopFake project took up this case and found out that in fact the Secretary General did not say this, and his quote was distorted. Experts explain that the quote itself was compiled from Stoltenberg’s speech at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on September 7. Then he talked about the failed policy of dictator Putin, who, on the eve of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, blackmailed the Alliance and demanded that Eastern Europe be given to its sphere of influence.

We are talking, in particular, about how, at the end of 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry demanded that Western states “stay away from Ukraine”, preventing Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration. At that time, Russian “parliamentarians” sought a legal guarantee that NATO would renounce any military activities in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

Actually, commenting on the events of the past, Stoltenberg said that Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine is in fact a strategic mistake and a dictatorial failure.

By distorting quotes from public figures, military officers, politicians and other public figures, Russian propaganda is trying to convince consumers of disinformation of the authenticity of such expressions. Like, if the military man himself said this, one can trust him, because he is an authoritative source. This is how propagandists use the tactic of appealing to authority.

Russia systematically deals with the distortion of quotes. This helps it promote its own theses, and if they are “consonant” with the statement of authority, the information acquires legitimacy in the eyes of users of anonymous telegram channels. Read the latest fake cases:

  • How the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces admitted that Ukrainian air defense hits residential buildings. 
  • Zelenskyi “called” the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ counteroffensive a failure. 
  • The Ukrainian Parliament decided to legalize medical cannabis so that people “endure pain, stress and injury”.

Fake Romanian Defense Minister called on Ukrainians to conduct military operations away from the common border

Russian propaganda media published information that Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tilver allegedly made a statement in which he called on the Ukrainian government to move military operations, barracks and enterprises away from the common border so that Romanian territory would not be damaged. It's fake.

The case was investigated by fact-checkers from the Myth Detector project. The Romanian fact-checking organization Factual told the fact-checkers that the Romanian defense minister did not make such a statement. Also, the Romanian Ministry of Defense officially denied this quote and published a statement on the media monitoring platform Inforadar.

The Romanian Ministry of Defense suspects that this fake appeared as an echo of Russian attacks on the territory of Ukraine, which resulted in drones falling onto the territory of Romania. Fragments of drones fell on September 4 and 9.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to quarrel between Ukraine and its allies and shift responsibility onto our state for the fall of Russian drones on Romanian territory. They say that if there were no Ukrainian barracks there, there would be no strikes. However, it was Russia that started the war in Ukraine and is destroying infrastructure and civilian objects. Previously, we refuted the fake that Ukraine confirmed that Russia carries out precision strikes exclusively on military targets.

Fake The Baltic countries could carry out drone strikes on Pskov

Similar theses were heard on Russian propaganda television channels. They say that the border with Estonia lies not far from Pskov and some strange sounds were allegedly heard from there. Russian propaganda states that “the question of Estonia’s participation remains open”. “Pskov is located on the NATO border. Where did the launch come from? From Ukraine or what? In any case! From the Baltic territory? Destroy the hell out of the Baltic countries if that’s the case”, the propagandists said on air. It's fake.

As EUvsDiDiNFo analysts note, on the night of August 29, a series of explosions occurred at Pskov airport. It later became known that four Il-76 military transport aircraft were damaged as a result of drone strikes, and at least two aircraft were destroyed. A spokesman for the government of the Republic of Estonia commented to Newsweek about Estonia's involvement in the attacks on Pskov and stated: “This is false information”. Also, the Latvian Ministry of Defense issued a similar statement, denying any involvement by Latvia, and condemned the accusations against the Baltic countries.

The drone strike on Russian territory is the result of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022. Thus, Kremlin propagandists are trying to accuse the Baltic countries of “provocation” and are using nuclear blackmail to intimidate the inhabitants of these countries. Earlier, Detector Media talked about manipulation, as the UN said that Ukraine threatens nuclear security in the world.

Message Ukraine itself is to blame for the war because it provoked Russia

This thesis was spread on social networks, in particular on anonymous telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that Ukraine provoked Russia and decided to “attack Ukraine”. They say that Ukraine’s constant European integration course harms Russia, because its enemy, the European Union, was approaching Russian borders. The authors conclude: Russia has carried out a large-scale offensive on the territory of Ukraine and is legitimately defending its values.

Analysts of the EU vs Disinfo project analyzed the case and explained that Russian aggression is aimed at the destruction of Ukraine as a state and the destruction of Ukrainians as a nation. The Russian army is committing genocide in Ukraine. The message about the destruction of Ukraine was expressed in early April by Russian political strategist Tymofii Serheitsev in an article on the website of the propaganda news agency RIA Novosti. The author proposed to destroy everything that makes Ukrainians Ukrainians, as well as to eliminate those who cannot be broken and conquered. The existence of Ukraine was denied, because “history has shown the impossibility of creating a state in Ukraine”.

In addition, Russia argues that Ukraine's desire to join NATO or the EU is a direct threat to Russia's security. However, Ukraine’s membership in any international organizations is the choice of Ukraine and its people, and not the imposed will of third parties.

In the end, the Kremlin, with the help of this message, is trying to justify Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine and finds third parties, blaming them for all the troubles. However, any political decisions in Ukraine are made by Ukrainian officials. Ukraine is ready to join any organization and support European initiatives, if there is the will of the people. Invading Ukraine was the decision of Russia and the Russians, which they supported either with appropriate statements or silence.

Fake The Pope of Rome was added to the Peacemaker database in recognition of the greatness of Russia

Pro-Kremlin media disseminated information that Ukrainians allegedly included Pope Francis in the Peacemaker database, which publishes enemies of Ukraine and is a center for researching signs of crimes against Ukraine’s national security, peace, human security and international law. Pope Francis allegedly came to this site due to the fact that he called on Russians “not to abandon the legacy of the majestic empire”. It's fake.

The case was investigated by fact-checkers of the Center for Countering Disinformation. The propagandists came up with this news, because there is no mention of Pope Francis on the website of the Peacemaker. That is, it was not included in the database.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to discredit Ukraine and worsen its relations with Western partners and world leaders on the basis of religion. Earlier, Detector Media denied the fake that Pope Francis called for the release of Pavlo Lebed, Metropolitan of the UOC-MP, from arrest.

Fake On Independence Day, Ukraine shot down a plane carrying the leader of the Wagner group Yevhenii Pryhozhyn

Russian propagandists spread the information that “it was definitely Ukraine that killed Pryhozhyn (...) This is a terrorist attack by Ukraine on Independence Day. Russian propaganda accuses Ukraine of selling an Embraer business jet owned by Yevhenii Pryhozhyn, on August 23, 2023, near the village of Kuzhenkino, Bolohivskyi district, Tver region. It's fake.

During a press conference with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said that Ukraine had nothing to do with the crash of a private plane in the Tver region of Russia, in whose passenger lists Yevhenii Pryhozhyn  was.

Also, the American Institute for the Study of War reported on its website that “Putin almost certainly ordered the Russian military command to shoot down Yevhenii Pryhozhyn’s plane”. The President of Russia could take revenge on Pryhozhyn for the attempted rebellion that took place at the end of June 2023.

By spreading this version of the death of the leader of the Wagner group, Russian propaganda is trying to accuse Ukraine of interfering in the internal affairs of Russia and shifting responsibility for the death of Pryhozhyn  to the Ukrainians. Also, the Russians are trying to divert attention from domestic political problems within Russia. Earlier, we told how a video of a plane crash in the Voronezh region of Russia was circulated on the network and stated that this was supposedly the moment of shooting down a plane carrying Yevhenii Pryhozhyn.

Message Russian air defense, “evil Bandera” or a bomb on a plane: what propagandists wrote about the likely death of the leader of the Wagner group Pryhozhyn

His people killed him, he was killed by enemies, he decided to take a break - those are a few versions of the event thrown by propagandists in order to confuse the audience.

Oleksandr Kotenko

On August 23, 2023, an Embraer business jet owned by Yevhenii Pryhozhyn crashed near the village of Kuzhenkino, Bolohivskyi district, Tver region. Later, the Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviatsia published a list of passengers, according to which there were 10 passengers on board, including Yevhenii Pryhozhyn and co-founder of the group Dmytro Utkin. On the morning of August 24, the body of Pryhozhyn among the dead had not yet been identified.

Yevhenii Pryhozhyn is a Russian war criminal, oligarch, founder of the Wagner terrorist organization within the Russian army, recognized by the Ukrainian parliament as an international criminal organization. In the past, a restaurateur, which is why he began to be called “Putin's chef”. The Kremlin provided financial and military support to the Wagner group when the mercenaries performed tasks in Sudan, Libiia, the Central African Republic and participated in Syria and the Donbas, as well as in a full-scale war in Ukraine.

On June 23, 2023, Yevhenii Pryhozhyn reported that the troops of the Russian Ministry of Defense had hit the place of deployment of the Wagner group, as a result of which many mercenaries were killed. He announced the “march of justice”, said that there were 25 thousand Wagner groups, and they were going to “sort things out”, and everyone could join the “march of justice”.

This was the beginning of the Wagner mutiny - an internal conflict in Russia between the Ministry of Defense and the regular Russian army and Wagner led by Yevhenii Pryhozhyn. During this conflict, the Wagner group killed more than 13 pilots of the Russian Aerospace Forces. On June 24, negotiations took place between the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Oleksandr Lukashenko and Yevhenii Pryhozhyn, the rebellion itself was stopped, the criminal case for “armed rebellion” was closed, and the Wagner group and Pryhozhyn himself left for Belarus, and then to Africa.

Russian propagandists, authors of anonymous telegram channels and pro-Kremlin media responded to the death of Wagner group leader Yevhenii Pryhozhyn with a number of messages. We have highlighted some of them.

Pryhozhyn’s plane was blown up, there was a technical breakdown or he was shot down by Russian air defense

After the crash of the plane, on board of which Yevhenii Pryhozhyn was probably on board, the pro-Kremlin media put forward the version that Pryhozhyn’s plane was blown up from the inside - allegedly someone planted a bomb. Also technical breakdown is not excluded. However, the Wagner group telegram channels promoted the thesis that the plane was shot down by the Russian air defense system, and the locals allegedly heard two loud explosions. Also, anonymous telegram channels published a video with a characteristic trail in the sky.

The variety of versions shows that there was no unequivocal attitude towards Yevhenii Pryhozhyn in society. Those who did not sympathize with him tend to believe in a “technical error” or “explosion from the inside” due to the supposedly planted bomb. Prior to the mutiny, official Russian propaganda portrayed him as a tenacious and efficient military leader who had military accomplishments in Ukraine and earlier in Africa. After the rebellion, he was portrayed as a traitor, a thug, and a dangerous criminal element. Despite the change in the official version, some military correspondents and bloggers continued to consider him a hero, so the version of a technical error is unpopular in their media environment.

Pryhozhyn was killed by Ukraine, it was a terrorist attack on Independence Day

“It’s definitely Ukraine that killed Pryhozhyn. For Putin, Yevhenii Pryhozhyn is no longer a problem. For Shoihu, Pryhozhyn is no longer a problem. Big bosses do not take revenge, because they have a lot of real problems and real enemies. This is a terrorist act of Ukraine on Independence Day”, Russian propagandists wrote.

The American Institute for the Study of War reported on its website that “Putin almost certainly ordered the Russian military command to shoot down Pryhozhyn’s plane”. Analysts believe that this is how Putin could have taken revenge on Pryhozhyn for the attempted mutiny that occurred at the end of June 2023.

By blaming Ukraine for the murder of Yevhenii Pryhozhyn, Russian propaganda is trying to shift its internal political problem outward, to shift the responsibility to another country. Like, Ukraine interferes in the internal affairs of Russia.

In Russia, Pryhozhyn was not given a promise that they would not be killed

Russian propagandists write: “It was necessary to sit in Africa or Belarus, where Lukashenko gave his security guarantees. Nobody in Russia promised him anything. Or rather, they promised to open all criminal cases and they did”.

This thesis allegedly removes responsibility for the death of the main “Wagner” from Russia. They say that Yevhenii Pryhozhyn himself is to blame for his death, because no one provided him with security guarantees in Russia - they were voiced by the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Lukashenko. In one of his interviews, Putin noted that he could forgive everything except betrayal. He adhered to his principles and punished treason. So, Putin in this situation is depicted as a “man of his word”.

Yevhenii Pryhozhyn did not die, but staged his own death 

The opinion that Yevhenii Pryhozhyn could have staged his own death was expressed both by pro-Kremlin political scientists and propagandists, and by so-called liberal journalists and experts in exile. “But in order to hide forever, taking one of the many spare passports, a burned-out plane is also a good excuse”, they wrote on social networks. 

Allegedly, the leader of “Wagner” was tired in the “service” and decided to leave everything and rest. However, this version is conspiracy theory and resembles a conspiracy theory, according to which Hitler did not commit suicide on April 30, 1945, but fled to Argentina and lived until the end of the twentieth century. Such mythologization only adds mysticism to the figure of Pryhozhyn, which in the eyes of fans makes him an even greater hero. 

Putin killed Pryhozhyn 

“Yevhenii Pryhozhyn, despite being an outspoken enemy of Ukraine in this war, stood out qualitatively against the backdrop of the lazy, stupid top of the Russian Federation”, write anonymous telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. But they add, speaking of the death of Pryhozhyn: “Today Putin could not cut his teeth, openly, or rudely, or like a man, but simply using resources that did not belong to him”. 

This opinion is shared by the “Wagner”, but they do not say directly who exactly they mean when talking about the death of Pryhozhyn. In the “Wagner” telegram channels they write: “He died as a result of the actions of traitors to Russia. But even in hell he will be the best! A similar thesis is promoted by another Russian propagandist, hinting that Russia did not react properly to the death of two important military figures. In his telegram channel, he wrote: “We shot down a plane with two of those who have the stars of the Hero of Russia - and wait for official information, don’t be nervous”.  

According to this version, Putin could have eliminated Yevhenii Pryhozhyn because of the Wagner rebellion that began on the evening of June 23, 2023. The death of Yevhenii Pryhozhyn may be the beginning of the end of this structure as an independent organization. 

One of the Russian propagandists wrote about this in his telegram channel: “Putin cowardly destroyed not the Wagner group, but a brand that had been created for decades, terrified and was known all over the world”. 

Consequently, Putin is shown as a cunning politician with no honor, a man who does not keep his word, and his style of reprisal against political opponents - “kill in the toilet” - is unchanged. Having eliminated the war criminal Yevhenii Pryhozhyn in broad daylight, having done it defiantly, the Russian dictator also seeks to intimidate political rivals and the Russian elite. They say that everyone who goes against Putin will have a fate like that of Yevhenii Pryhozhyn. 

Yevhenii Pryhozhyn was killed by the intelligence services of other countries 

“Both the CIA and the Mi-6, and the French DGSE and the GUR could well pull off such a thing. The public assassination of one of the most media and influential public figures is a huge blow to the Russian collective unconscious”, wrote anonymous pro-Kremlin telegram channels. 

This version was put forward by Russian propagandists in order to discredit the West and divert attention from other versions and likely killers. Here Russian propaganda applied the tactic of reflection. The leader of the criminal organization is heroized by some propagandists and “Wagner”, romanticizing his “achievements”. 

A cult of personality was created from Pryhozhyn in Russia, but he is a criminal, and Putin saw him as a competitor who, by his actions, raises the vertical of power and violates the state's monopoly on violence.

Fake Forced mobilization in Ukraine is a special operation of the Kremlin

In the Russian segment of Facebook, they distributed a screenshot of supposedly news from the Deutsche Welle website with the heading “Forced mobilization in Ukrainian regions controlled by Kyiv may be a special operation of the Kremlin”. They also write that such publications are an example of the work of “Western propaganda”, which is trying to whitewash Ukraine and shift responsibility to Russia. It's fake.

The fact-checkers of the StopFake project drew attention to the case. The image has been specially edited to spread misinformation. In fact, there is no such publication either on the Russian version of the Deutsche Welle website or in other languages. The publication published only articles about forced mobilization in the territories occupied by Russia. Olesia Halkina is also listed as the author of the news, but the name of this person cannot be found in open sources.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to discredit the West and Western media that allegedly whitewash Ukraine. Like, they also distribute fakes in order to create an image of solid evil in Russia. Earlier, we talked about the manipulation that in Ukraine they created a military uniform for pregnant women in order to send them to the front.

Fake Russia strikes exclusively on Ukrainian military installations and never attacks temples and cultural sites

Russian media broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric spread the information that the Russians carry out precision strikes exclusively on Ukrainian military installations, and do not attack social infrastructure and religious buildings. It is not true.

The fact-checkers of the Center for Strategic Communications drew attention to the case. The UNESCO international organization cites the following figures: as of July 20, 2023, experts have documented 270 cultural sites (temples, museums, historical buildings, monuments, libraries and archives) in Ukraine that suffered at the hands of the Russians. And the Institute for Religious Freedom said it had recorded the destruction, damage, or looting of at least 494 religious buildings.

On the night of July 23, as a result of Russian missile strikes on Odesa, the Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral and 2 architectural monuments were damaged and 6 residential buildings were destroyed.

Thus, Russian propaganda is trying to whitewash Russia, which is attacking Ukrainian cities. They say that their goal is exclusively military facilities, and the Russians allegedly do not commit war crimes against Ukrainians. Earlier, Detector Media talked about the message that Ukrainian officials allegedly pass off military facilities as civilian ones.