Message Zelenskyi is a secret agent of Britain carrying out only its instructions

This thesis was spread in pro-Kremlin media. The messages added that it was as if it had become clear that Volodymyr Zelenskyi was a protégé of Britain. Namely, he is a member of the secret British intelligence organization - MI6. The publications also promoted the opinion that all decisions of the Ukrainian president seem to be made in London. That is, they claim that Ukraine is under external influence.

Analysts from EU vs Disinfo began to analyze this case and found out that such a thesis is a conspiracy thesis, because the propagandists never provided any evidence that Zelenskyi belonged to that organization. But using the rhetoric of “external influence”, propagandists show that all political decisions in Ukraine are supposedly made by Western officials while Ukrainian politicians are subject to these decisions, without the right to appeal them. Any events occurring in Ukraine that are not in favor of Russia are allegedly caused by external control. This is how the authors strive to create an image of a puppet country that cannot exist on its own. Let's say Ukraine constantly needs “protection”.

But such messages are generally beneficial for Russian propaganda in order to deny the existence of statehood in Ukraine. They say that Ukrainian officials are not in charge there, but all powers are transferred to a third party, especially to Western politicians. Russia sees such actions as a potential threat to its existence and presents it as one of the reasons for a full-scale invasion - a fight against the “collective West”.

Message The southeast is fighting for all of Ukraine

Propagandists are distributing materials on social networks that allegedly confirm that the southeast is fighting for all of Ukraine. They say that Western Ukraine does not adequately evaluate these efforts. It was noticed in the NotaYenota project.

The specialists found out that Russia regularly restores this message, adapting it to different regions of Ukraine. For example, materials are being distributed to the western regions according to which supposedly only Western Ukraine is fighting, while Eastern Ukraine is holed up in the Carpathians. The opposite message is being spread to the southern and eastern regions.

Project specialists note that these messages do not correspond to reality, since representatives of all regions are fighting at the front for Ukraine. To confirm them, Russians manipulate data and create deliberately false infographics. In particular, in the West only regional territorial recruitment centers are considered, and in the East - regional, district and other branches. Previously, the eastern regions had a higher population density, but now the situation has changed due to Russian aggression. In addition, in the infographics one can notice the typo “southeast”, which is typical for Russian speakers.

Propagandists use this message to turn residents of the western regions against the eastern ones and thus destabilize the situation from within. Detector Media wrote about how Russian propaganda manipulates people from different regions of the country, especially (de)occupied territories.

Message Ukraine is ready to fight forever in exchange for lifelong assistance from the West

This thesis was spread on social networks, in particular on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that Volodymyr Zelenskyi is ready to sign a “lifetime agreement” to carry out the war in order to receive “eternal aid from the West”. They say that Zelenskyi cannot calm down and expresses his thirst for unlimited resources. As a result, propagandists summarize: Zelenskyi is throwing Ukrainians into the capitalist “Western meat grinder”.

The president, obviously, is not going to sign any agreement on conducting an “eternal war” on the territory of Ukraine. Such words from Russian propagandists are too exaggerated and create the apocalyptic impression that Ukraine is supposedly governed from the outside, and its president is pandering to Western officials for his own profit. Russian propaganda has repeatedly manipulated the issue of receiving humanitarian aid: it portrayed Zelenskyi as a beggar who only needs to whine about weapons and other resources. Propagandists also wrote how Ukrainians allegedly cheat or commit outright crimes - shelling civilians - all in order to take possession of what they want.

These attempts indicate the demonization of Ukraine and the creation of an erroneous impression about it among partner countries. For example, similar rhetoric is used in anonymous telegram channels in response to the arrival of foreign politicians in Ukraine. Propaganda systematically promoted the thesis that the worries in Ukraine were not real, but only attempts to intimidate foreigners and get as many weapons as possible.

Message Attacks by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Sevastopol are an “act of terrorism”

This thesis was widespread in propaganda media. Reports stated that on the night of September 13, 2023, a series of explosions were heard in temporarily occupied Sevastopol. Three fire epicenters were recorded. Subsequently, it turned out that soldiers of the Special Operations Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces carried out an attack on the city and, as a result, destroyed a Russian landing ship, as well as a submarine. Ukrainian intelligence reported that the vessels most likely will not be able to be restored. Pro-Kremlin telegram channels called such an attack “terrorist” on the part of Ukraine. They say that the attack was allegedly directed at civilians, and the Ukrainian army is only hiding behind the destruction of ships.

Analysts of the StopFake project analyzed this propaganda thesis and explained that Ukraine does not violate any norms of international law because it attacks military targets, with the help of which Russia commits war crimes against Ukrainians. Actually, terrorism is deliberate and targeted attacks by Russia on peaceful Ukrainian cities. The fact-checkers explained that by carrying out attacks on territories temporarily occupied by Russia, Ukraine is only defending itself. Such acts comply with the norms of international law.

The same ships were used by the occupiers to kill Ukrainians and destroy Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. According to Article 51 of the UN Charter on the right to self-defense, Ukraine legally attacks Russian military targets in occupied Crimea. That is, Ukraine is defending itself from a terrorist country, and this is not about a terrorist act.

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.

Message Poland “expels” Ukrainians from the country to serve in the Ukrainian Defense Forces

This information was disseminated by anonymous telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. The reports note that Poland has decided to “get rid” of Ukrainian refugees, so they will be mobilized. They say that Ukraine is suffering huge losses in the counteroffensive, so it needs to somehow return people to the country.

This case was analyzed by specialists from the StopFake project, who determined that in fact, the “deportation of men liable for military service” is generally impossible, since there is no legal basis for it. Ukrainian diplomatic institutions cannot deport Ukrainians for mobilization, just as the EU authorities are not authorized to form any units from Ukrainians on their territories. That is, there is no legal mechanism or precedent for the mobilization of Ukrainians by EU members.

Ukrainian law enforcement officers can investigate and prove in court the facts of illegal border crossings under martial law. And for extradition from abroad, it will be necessary to prove the guilt of each person liable for military service according to the laws of the country of his stay in a local court.

The European Union is consolidated in its position that they will not deport anyone against their will. According to EU law, all Ukrainians who arrived in the region after the start of a full-scale invasion are protected by the Temporary Protection Directive.

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.

Message Ukraine spreads “LGBT propaganda” to Ukrainian schoolchildren and destroys young minds

This thesis was widespread in the Russian segment of Facebook. Reports say that the “LGBTQization” of Ukrainian society is in full swing. And even in Ukrainian schools they create special LGBT education circles. In the messages, propagandists add that Ukrainian teachers are pandering to Europeans so that they can see the level of development of Ukrainian schoolchildren and their love for homosexuality. Actually, the authors hint that Ukraine is forcibly engaged in the “LGBTization” of Ukrainians. An alleged screenshot from the website of the Ivano-Frankivsk Lyceum is added to the publication, where they talk about the corresponding circle and give the advantages of visiting it. Among these, there is a high probability of “successful employment” in European companies.

StopFake analysts analyzed this case and found out that such information was untrue. They turned to the leadership of the lyceum, who confirmed that such a circle does not exist. There is also no announcement on the official website of the educational institution about the enrollment of children in extracurricular clubs and sections. The latest announcements concern catering. That is, the fake bots compiled a screenshot of the site and posted false information.

However, disinformers present the creation of such a circle as something unsafe and unnecessary for Ukraine. Although this is an adequate practice to develop consciousness and diversity in children. In our Newspeak section, we explained why a terrorist country is horrified by diversity and cherishes exclusively “traditional values” among its citizens. In short, Moscow shows how being part of the LGBTQIA community is considered unacceptable, a person is discredited; or why a person is considered “wrong”. Consumers of propaganda may be under the false impression that everything related to LGBT people is negative. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality.

Russian propaganda presents any attempts by Ukraine to create a tolerant environment as a threat to the younger generation. Allegedly, children suffer from the dominance of “sodomy”, which is why, according to the Kremlin’s conclusions, Ukrainians are being turned into homosexuals. We described the horrors of Western “homodictatorship” and how Europe allegedly influences Ukraine in this way in a large study about homophobia on social networks.

By the way, read how Russia is trying to protect children from the “undesirable influence of LGBT people” here. Also, find out how it also justifies its invasion as an “LGBT invasion” in a study based on the results of an analysis of messages during the year of a full-scale invasion.

Message “Unknown” vaccines are being tested on Ukrainian Defense Forces soldiers

This thesis was spread on social networks, in particular in telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that the so-called Western biological laboratories have already flooded the whole of Ukraine and are conducting experiments on the military there: in particular, they are testing vaccines of “unknown” origin. The experiments are allegedly carried out by the Pharmabiotest company, which is allegedly affiliated with clinics in the USA. The authors add that in the temporarily occupied Luhansk region, Russian troops found the corresponding “documents” confirming the testing. Interviews with supposedly Ukrainian prisoners of war are added to the publications.

VoxCheck project analysts analyzed this case and came to the conclusion that the Russians did not provide any evidence or documents in their publications to support their thesis. Moreover, the fact-checkers were unable to identify the characters in the video. That is, probable military prisoners of war. They suggest that the videos could have been compiled and passed off as Ukrainian prisoners. Or the occupiers forced the Ukrainian military to lie, blackmailing them in any way. After all, Russia can use prisoners of war for its own political purposes. For example, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry condemned such actions by Russia.

Read what is happening to Ukrainian soldiers behind the walls of Russian prisons in the Human Rights Media Initiative. Because intimidation, constant terror and blackmail are the actions of the Russians towards Ukrainian captives.

By the way, Pharmabiotest is a real laboratory where experiments are carried out. However, on the website of the State Expert Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine there is a list of all possible experiments conducted by different clinics. Therefore, Pharmbiotest conducted studies on the bioavailability of drugs such as Adesin, Tenzocard, Klovask, etc. All these names are common drugs. There is no mention of vaccine testing on the clinic's website. That is, propagandists threw in information without confirmation.

Message Ukraine kills civilians with cluster munitions and violates international humanitarian law

Mary Wareham, advocacy director of the arms department of the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch, allegedly admitted that Ukraine is killing civilians with cluster shells. On September 5, Russian media and pro-Russian telegram channels began to disseminate such information. Russians and propagandists refer to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2023 report. The analytical team of Detector Media has looked into the primary sources and tells what human rights activists wrote and what the propagandists thought up.

On September 3, the Human Rights Watch website published Mary Warham's column on the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine. In the text, she refers to Russia's “widespread use of cluster munitions” that has resulted in “civilian deaths and injuries, damage to civilian infrastructure, and contamination of agricultural land”. The human rights activist points out that Ukraine also uses cluster munitions, which “cause civilian casualties, but on a much smaller scale than the Russian army”.

In his blog, Wareham refers to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2023 report. This report mentions that the Ukrainian Armed Forces “used cluster munitions in attacks on Izium in the Kharkiv region between March and September 2022, when it was controlled by the Russian army”. The authors of the report note that the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine denied the accusations of using cluster munitions. The list of sources of the document contains a link to a letter from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. And the letter from the Ministry of Defense states that although Ukraine is not a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions of May 30, 2008, “The Armed Forces of Ukraine strictly comply with the norms of international humanitarian law when planning and conducting military operations”. Human Rights Watch condemned the use of cluster munitions, but primarily blamed Russia, not Ukraine, for their use on the battlefield. The authors of the report cited the discussion about the transfer of cluster munitions by the United States to Ukraine as an example of how “stigmatized” the use of these munitions on the battlefield is. But they were reminded of the threats to their civilians even after the end of the war due to the fact that they may not explode immediately. Propagandists claimed that the human rights organization criticized only Ukraine and admitted that it violates international humanitarian law, and ignored the criticism of Russia by human rights activists.

This is not the first time propagandists and Russians have turned to the topic of cluster munitions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which allegedly kill civilians. In July, Detector Media refuted a claim about the death of a Russian propagandist who was allegedly killed by Ukrainians with American cluster shells. With messages about the use of cluster munitions by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, propagandists are trying to plant several ideas on the audience. Firstly, that the Ukrainian military seems to be killing civilians, and this symbolically equates the actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the war crimes of the Russians. Secondly, they try to shift the responsibility for the suffering of civilians from the aggressor to the victim of the aggression. And for this, they use the tactics of “third party” propaganda — they put into the mouths of representatives of non-Russian public organizations and media theses that are consonant with the messages of Russian propaganda.

Message Putin hasn’t destroyed Ukraine yet because he doesn't want to kill Christians

Russian media and anonymous telegram channels circulate publications according to which Putin has not yet destroyed Ukraine because he does not want to kill Christians. Like, Russia has everything to defeat Ukraine, but the Russian troops “pity the Ukrainians”,  because Putin considers them Orthodox, like Russians.

Specialists of the EUvsDisInfo project drew attention to the message. They denied the message. In particular, the Russians undoubtedly killed and continue to kill Ukrainians, regardless of their religion. They continue to attack civilian targets, often using the “double blast” technique to increase casualties. Russia is also destroying numerous religious sites, such as an Orthodox church in Odesa. Project analysts note that Russia's failure at the front is more likely the result of systemic problems of the Russian army, logistical shortcomings and inappropriate planning, rather than self-restraint.

Using this message, propagandists want to portray Russia as a victim, fighting with a view to the safety of civilians. However, the examples mentioned above prove otherwise.

Message The American dollar is no longer used by the international community

Russian media and anonymous telegram channels distribute publications according to which the process of de-dollarization has allegedly begun in the world, caused by sanctions against Russia. In particular, until recently, the dollar was used in 70% of global transactions, and now only 59%. Propagandists are happy that countries are beginning to find an alternative to the dollar.

Analysts of the EUvsDisinfo project drew attention to the message. They note that propagandists return it depending on the circumstances. In particular, this message was “resurrected” on the occasion of the BRICS summit and statements on the creation of a common currency for this organization. At the same time, SWIFT data show that in July of this year, 46% of currency exchange payments through the system were made using the dollar. In addition, while the use of the Chinese yuan has increased to 3% of global international payments, the use of the euro remains at 24% and the dollar at 46%.

With this message, Russia wants to hide the failures of its sanctions-hit economy and show its “exclusivity” compared to the “collective West”. Detector Media talked about the creation and use of the term “negative growth” for a similar purpose.

Message Ukrainian soldiers are suffering from HIV en masse because they are offered free testing

This thesis was circulated on social networks, in particular on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that one of the local clinics in Kharkiv is providing free HIV testing. Consequently, propagandists sum up: since a free test is offered in Ukraine, it means that there is an outbreak of infection among the military. They also add that the cause is poor-quality blood, which was previously supplied by NATO countries to Ukraine. And they add “photo evidence” to the messages - one of the announcements about testing for the detection of HIV infection.

Fact-checkers of the VoxCheck project began to analyze this case and explained that HIV testing in Ukraine is free. All Ukrainians have the right to use this opportunity. Actually, according to the new version of the law on combating HIV, everyone on the territory of Ukraine has the right to free medical care and provision of antiretroviral drugs for treatment. The authors of the fake message hint that the Ukrainian healthcare system is suffering at the hands of “unprofessionals” and are intimidated by various diseases that are breaking out in Ukraine. However, the fact-checkers emphasize that free HIV testing indicates the relative quality and stability of the medical system of Ukraine. Testing is one of the elements of disease regulation or its timely detection.

By the way, in the first 6 months of 2023, the volume of HIV testing services increased by 52.7%, which even exceeded the pre-war figures. As a reminder, free HIV testing can be done at one’s family doctor, therapist or pediatrician.

In addition, Russian propaganda has repeatedly manipulated the issue of providing blood in the state. Thus, the Kremlin is trying to create a false impression that there is not enough blood in Ukraine, there is not enough of it, and therefore it is impossible to heal the army qualitatively. Among other things, in the opinion of consumers, misinformation was also suggested that they supposedly supply infected blood to Ukraine. That is, they portrayed the image of Ukraine as a state in which international partnership is not interesting. They also wrote that the Verkhovna Rada “orders” Ukrainians to donate blood. Women of Ukrainian fighters complain that their men are being transfused with “Russian blood”. And in general they explained that Ukrainians forbid foreign citizens to become blood donors. And with such messages, the authors fed the classic narrative about the existence of “Ukrainian Nazis”.

Message Ukraine “sold” Crimea to Western countries

This thesis was spread by the propaganda media. Reports say that during the Crimean Platform on August 23, 2023 in Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelenskyi “recognised” the transfer of the Crimean peninsula to Western countries. They say that after the de-occupation of Crimea, the West will try to seize it and establish its own order there. The authors conclude: Zelenskyi is not seeking to return Crimea to Ukraine, but merely trading it to Western leaders.

Fact-checkers of the StopFake project analyzed this message and explained that the international summit was not about “selling Crimea to Western countries”. Such a message is baseless and does not contain any factual basis. This is an invention of Russian propaganda and an attempt to discredit the international partnership of Ukraine and other states for the return of Crimea to Ukraine. Among other things, at the summit, for example, they discussed the total militarization of the peninsula, its isolation from the rest of the world. They also talked about the consequences of the occupation since 2014 and the return to Ukraine and further development prospects. But they did not talk about the “sale” of the peninsula to other countries.

The Crimean Platform is an international coordination mechanism initiated by Ukraine to bring the issue of Crimea back on the agenda. This year's summit was attended by 63 states and various international organizations. That is why Russian propagandists are using such rhetoric to demonize the West and Ukraine, which allegedly act only in predatory and selfish interests.

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.

Message Without the dollar and almost with Putin: how did Russian propaganda cover the BRICS summit?

In the optics of Russian propaganda, BRICS is being transformed into UN 2.0. without the West and with the leading role of Russia. Here is how the Kremlin covers its international isolation with information.

On August 24, the three-day 15th BRICS summit, an association that so far includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, ended in the largest city of South Africa, Johannesburg. BRICS members represent over 40% of the world's population and over a quarter of global GDP.

The Johannesburg summit was personally attended by four of the five leaders of the BRICS countries. Russia was represented by Foreign Minister Lavrov. South Africa is a party to the Rome Charter and in the event that the leader of Russia arrives on its territory, it is obliged to detain him on a warrant from the International Criminal Court and extradite him to The Hague. After lengthy legal consultations, the South African authorities have not conceded to international principles, so Putin had to content himself with an online speech.

The key event of the summit was the invitation of six new countries to join the BRICS: Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Previously, the organization expanded only in 2010, when the current host of the summit, South Africa, joined it. The biggest lobbyists for expansion were China and Russia. China, as the most powerful member of the organization, seeks to further strengthen its global influence against the backdrop of growing rivalry with the United States. Russia needs to expand to overcome partial international isolation. At the same time, Putin's online participation this year only symbolically emphasized this isolation. The other three BRICS countries have much warmer relations with Western democracies and are not interested in turning the organization into a bloc hostile to the West.

The key messages that Moscow spread in the context of the summit:

“Isolation Shattered Forever”

Moscow seeks to take advantage of any international interaction to promote the thesis that attempts to isolate it are useless. The BRICS summit was no exception. For example, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mariia Zakharova, summed up the course of the summit in her telegram as follows: “The results are brilliant. “Isolation” as an American weapon is destroyed forever”. But Putin's absence from the summit made it much more difficult for Russian propaganda to advance the relevant thesis. The Russian official media noted the usefulness of Putin’s participation in the meeting, even if it was online: “Volodymyr Putin takes part remotely, in the format of a video conference, which did not prevent our president from delivering a voluminous speech on the role of BRICS in shaping a multipolar world order. ..”. The same Zakharova, in an interview with propagandist Volodymyr Soloviov, decided to even appeal to India's success in space, just to prove that there is nothing wrong with Putin's absence: “A concrete example - yesterday the meeting of BRICS members was closed. Each speaker continues the discussion. The Prime Minister of India apologizes and says that he needs to personally remotely monitor the landing on the moon of the Indian spacecraft. He left the meeting room, his place was taken by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India. The world is so full of events today that the formal, protocol part is being adjusted. Therefore, for Zakharova, an arrest warrant from the International Court of Justice and the conquest of the moon are equally valid reasons to leave.

“BRICS is a more influential version of the G7”

Russian propaganda sought to pit the BRICS against the Group of Seven (G7), an association of major liberal democracies from which Moscow was excluded in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. Because of the fact of the expansion of the BRICS, the propaganda convinced that the organization to which Russia continues to belong has now become much more powerful than the organization from which Moscow was expelled. Therefore, propaganda social networks were filled with figures that should convince of the key role of the enlarged BRICS in the future world: “BRICS is now four times the size of the G7 in terms of population”, “BRICS now accounts for 36% of the globe, and this is twice as much as the G7”, “BRICS will become the owner of 44.35% of the world's oil reserves”. Potential new members of the BRICS in a separate order befell the comparison with Western countries by pro-Russian social networks: “These six states are home to more than 400 million people, which is comparable to the population of the entire EU. The size of the GDP per PCS of the new BRICS members exceeds $8 trillion: this is comparable to the size of the economies of the “locomotives” of Old Europe - France and Germany”. Finally, in one of the anonymous channels, it was assumed that BRICS would replace the UN in the future: “BRICS is gradually turning into UN 2.0. only without the West”.

Although these figures are formally correct, most of the old and new members of the BRICS are not at all going to resist the West to please Moscow. In addition, the BRICS countries are much more diverse in terms of the nature of their cultures, economies and political regimes compared to the post-industrial democracies of the G7. The G7 countries are also united by long-term military-political cooperation in the format of NATO or bilateral agreements with Japan. Between the key members of the BRICS, India and China, there is a long border confrontation. Newly invited members Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been engaged in a cold war in the Middle East with hot proxies, for example in Yemen or Syria. And only recently, with the mediation of China, they agreed on a temporary cold peace. Therefore, BRICS is primarily a consultative platform for states with very different interests, and this form of interaction in the organization is likely to continue in an expanded format.

“BRICS de-dollarizes the world and Russia”

Russian propagandists have long predicted an early end to the dominance of the dollar in international trade, which should protect Russia from the impact of international sanctions. Therefore, in the context of the summit, Russian propaganda intensified dreams of a single BRICS currency as an alternative to the dollar. This opinion was also promoted by Putin in his speech. Due to the diversity of the political regimes and economies of the BRICS members and their not very close economic interaction, the single currency is a completely unrealistic project that was not even on the summit agenda. The parties only agreed to consult on increasing settlements in local currencies. But the Russian media believes that, despite the difficulties, Putin will make progress in creating a single currency: “Putin intends to deprive the United States of their main weapon in foreign economic policy of the ability to use the dollar to influence other countries”.

Message Ukraine may become a NATO member in exchange for giving up part of its territory

This assumption was made by the Head of the Office of NATO Secretary General Stian Jensen. He stated that Ukraine could become a member of the Alliance in exchange for giving up part of its territory.

Such a thesis is unfounded and does not express the opinion of the entire Alliance. At the NATO summit in Vilnius, a representative of the Alliance, in a commentary to the Public, emphasized: “We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, and we are committed to achieving a just and lasting peace”. This is a response to Jensen's statement. The interlocutor also noted that Ukraine itself must decide when and under what conditions to achieve peace.

The case was also studied by the fact-checkers of the Center for Strategic Communications. They note that the issues of accelerating Ukraine's victory were discussed at the summit. They also pay attention to the fact that both Ukraine and NATO do not trade their territories and citizens. Russia is an aggressor country that deserves punishment, not encouragement of new territories. This could be a bad example for potential invaders in the world.

The message, voiced by Stian Jensen, plays into the hands of Russia. Russian propaganda can use it to promote narratives around the world at any cost and distract from Russian crimes. Earlier we talked about the manipulation that Western countries refused to provide Ukraine with a security guarantee.

Message The purpose of the “special military operation” is the release of the Russian military from Ukrainian captivity

On August 15, Russian Defense Minister Serhii Shoihu spoke at the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security, where he stated that “one of the priority humanitarian tasks of a special military operation is the release of Russian servicemen from Ukrainian captivity”.

Special military operation (in Russian - SVO) is a term that has entered the dictionary of the Russian new language and is used to refer to Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine. That is, the war unleashed by the aggressor country Russia. To justify the crimes against the Ukrainian people, Russian propagandists have repeatedly noted that this “operation” is designed to save the Russian-speaking people who are experiencing oppression in Ukraine, to denazify Ukrainians.

The Russian military began to be captured in Ukraine after they had attacked the territory of our state and committed war crimes. Russian propaganda deliberately distorts the causes and consequences in order to divert attention from the real situation and the real motives of the war - the genocide of the Ukrainian people and the seizure of territories.

Message The United States “manages” the counteroffensive in Ukraine

This thesis was spread on social networks, in particular on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that the US allegedly “manages” the agenda in Ukraine. Like, the political power of Ukraine is concentrated in the hands of the United States. The authors add that Zelenskyi is not at all capable of leading the state, because he “entrusted” it to Joseph Biden.

This case was processed by the specialists of the EU vs Disinfo project and they explained that, first of all, Ukraine is defending itself from an unprovoked Russian invasion, and the United States and other countries, respectively, provide assistance to it. That is, the thesis of external leadership is unfounded, because the strategic partners of Ukraine are trying to ensure peace, and not to introduce their own rules.

After all, propagandists want to show that all political decisions in Ukraine are made by Western officials while Ukrainian politicians are subject to these decisions, without the right to appeal them. Allegedly, any events taking place in Ukraine and not in favor of Russia are caused by control from outside. Thus, the authors are trying to form the image of a puppet country that cannot exist on its own and constantly needs “protection”.

Message Being a friend of the US is even worse than being an enemy

Polish-language anonymous telegram channels spread messages that being an enemy of the US is better than a friend. Like, Ukraine has sold itself, and the United States wants to “leave” the state to the mercy of fate with its own problems.

In particular, their authors claim that Ukrainians will pay off loans to the West and their “insane interest” with their lives. The loans, in their opinion, serve only to continue the war and “significantly weaken” the Ukrainian economy. The authors note that some European countries “protect their national interests”. They also note that aid to Ukraine harms Poland, and “too strong influence” of the United States on Polish politics poses a threat to Poland's national security. In addition, Ukraine allegedly creates real “economic problems” for Poland - they say, the number of migrants is constantly growing, which is why the cost of “their maintenance” is growing, and at the same time the level of criminal danger.

This text includes a number of Russian propaganda clichés. In particular, the information about the “crazy interest” loans for Ukraine and the “threat to Poland's national security” from Ukraine is a subjective statement. In fact, the Polish government has identified Russia as the main threat to its own security in a number of policy documents, such as the National Security Doctrine. Statements about the “threat of Ukrainian migrants” are manipulation. In addition, the messages contain elements that are not typical for Polish speakers. In particular, the phrase “Anglo-Saxons" and other words based on it, which can be seen in the text, are used just more likely by Russian propagandists.

By publishing such materials, they want to exaggerate the scale of Ukraine's internal problems and accuse everyone except Russia and its “friends” of potential threats to the security of the continent, discredit and stop Western aid to Ukraine. In fact, it is Russia and its actions against Ukraine that have caused all these problems and pose a threat to other neighboring countries of Ukraine.

Message Ukraine is the world leader in “black transplantation”

Propagandists actively disseminate information that Ukraine is the world leader in illegal transplantation. Like, in Ukraine they sell organs online and offline. In support of this message, they come up with a number of fakes. For example, in 2014, the OSCE stated that bodies of people without internal organs were found in mass graves in the war zone. Like, they were confiscated by illegal transplantologists. In addition, propagandists note that in June 2023, representatives of the Ministry of Health of one of the NATO countries allegedly agreed with Ukraine on the supply of a refrigerated wagon with human organs and body parts that are most often used in transplantation, in particular, eyes, some types of bones, fabrics. hearts and livers.

Analysts at The Insider drew attention to the message. They found that, in fact, in 2014, the OSCE stated quite the opposite. In particular, the then OSCE Special Representative and Coordinator for Combating Human Trafficking, Madina Dzharbusynova, said that her words were taken out of context by the Russian media. This concerns her statements in response to statements by several Russian NGOs during the OSCE Human Dimension Meeting about a possible seizure of organs for sale in eastern Ukraine. At the time, Dzharbusynova also cited a response from a Ukrainian spokesperson who said the allegations would be investigated once Ukraine gained greater access to the region. The Special Representative stressed at the time that the OSCE had no evidence of organ harvesting in the Donbas.

As for the fake about the refrigerated car, it was first circulated in Russian telegram channels, blaming the Turkish Ministry of Health for this collusion. In fact, organs cannot be harvested in advance, since even in refrigerators they can be stored for a very short time. For example, the liver - a maximum of 15 hours, and the heart - 6. In addition, even if such organs are sent immediately, the trip through Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria will last almost a day, taking into account the necessary stops. Donor tissues are rarely used for bone transplantation - patient tissues, synthetic grafts, or animal bone tissue are used for this.

By spreading such fakes, propagandists want not only to justify Russia's crimes against Ukraine, but also to discredit the Ukrainian authorities and everyone who cooperates with them. Detector Media has previously written about how Russian propaganda uses the topic of transplantology, presenting Ukraine as a country of lawlessness.

Message Russia has always strived for peace, it is Ukraine that does not want to “negotiate”

This thesis was spread by the propaganda media. The reports say that Russia is always concerned about “peace” and is trying to improve the “situation” in Ukraine. The authors add that Russia seems to be offering negotiations, while Ukraine flatly refuses to negotiate. And they summarize: Ukraine is to blame for everything.

The case was processed by the specialists of the EU vs Disinfo project, who explained that Ukraine is not obliged to somehow “negotiate” with Russia, because it is an aggressor country that attacked Ukraine. There is no question of any concessions, since Ukraine is defending its territories and striving for territorial integrity and maintaining borders as of 1991.

Fact-checkers cited Zelenskyi's interview with CNN as an example. There, the President assured that Ukraine would not give up any territories for the sake of ending the war with Russia. That is, the position of Ukraine is unanimous. Moscow commits daily war crimes on the territory of Ukraine, hinders peaceful life. The victim should not negotiate with the aggressor.

Russian propaganda promotes the thesis that Ukraine allegedly gives up the territories temporarily occupied by Russia in order, first of all, to discredit the Ukrainian authorities. Allegedly, it is not going to win back the occupied part of Ukraine.

Message The European Union “incites” Ukraine to destroy Russia

This thesis was spread by Russian media and anonymous telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports claim that it is the West, not Ukraine, that actually nourishes the hatred against Russia. Allegedly, Ukraine's actions are caused only by the “influence of the wrong partners”. The authors add that the war was started on the initiative of the West, and Russia is only responding to the actions of the so-called Western enemies.

Analysts of the EU vs Disinfo project investigated this case and explained that it was not the West, but Russia that started the war. The Russians bear collective responsibility for the aggression against Ukraine, which they supported either with appropriate statements or silence. At the same time, Russian propaganda is convincing that this is a war of the West and thus hushing up its war crimes committed in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Moscow is calling Ukraine a “Western springboard” to hint that Ukraine is a non-independent state governed by “outside control”. This is how propagandists seek to form the image of a puppet country that cannot exist on its own. Let us say that such a state is constantly in need of “protection”.

Also, as of March 2023, the total amount of direct budgetary assistance from the European Union reaches 4.5 billion euros. Moreover, this is from the beginning of 2023. And according to the Ministry of Finance, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the EU has provided Ukraine with 11.7 billion euros of macro-financial assistance. Financial assistance is not the only range of Western support for Ukraine. A chronology of initiatives implemented by the EU in relation to Ukraine has been created on the website of the European Commission. Among other things, there are the adoption of packages of sanctions, the creation of mechanisms for the restoration of infrastructure, the granting of the status of an EU candidate country, etc. This approach testifies to the comprehensive support of Ukraine by Western leaders.

Message During the July protests in France, people used Ukrainian weapons

Such information was disseminated in social networks, in particular, on telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports say that during the July protests in France, protesters used Ukrainian weapons that the West handed over to Ukraine. The reason for the riots was the likely deliberate murder of a 17-year-old teenager by a policeman in the suburbs of Paris. The publications hint that in Ukraine they are engaged in the illegal sale of weapons and “inciting” people to violence. The authors refer to the material of one of the French publications and add a screenshot.

The German fact-checker group Correctiv investigated that they did not find a single material on the sale of Ukrainian weapons for protests in France. They explain that this is just a stuffing, because with the help of a reverse search on Google, specialists managed to study a possible “screenshot” of the material. It turned out that the fakerobes overlaid text on the photo of the weapon and passed it off as material. However, this is a random image from the network and has nothing to do with either the material of the French edition or Ukrainian weapons.

By publishing such fakes, propagandists once again want to show Ukrainians as ungrateful provocateurs who want to destabilize the situation in Europe. Like, Ukrainians resell it on the black market and it falls into the hands of criminals. Thus, the authors undermine the authority of the Ukrainian authorities and try to disrupt future deliveries of armed assistance from NATO countries. After all, such fakes are targeted at the Western audience and leaders in order to inspire despondency towards the actions of Ukraine.

We recently debunked a fake about the so-called “illegal sale” of weapons to Africa.

Message West ceases to support Ukraine

This thesis was spread by Russian media and anonymous telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Reports claim that Ukraine is losing support from Western leaders. Like, everyone is tired of the war in Ukraine. In support of this thesis, the authors write that British Foreign Minister James Cleverly allegedly hinted that they “will not be able to support Ukraine” in the future. As the authors explained, the official allegedly made such a statement during a meeting of the UN Security Council.

The case was noticed by the specialists of the VoxCheck project, who found out that in fact the words of the British official were made up, and the context of the statement was distorted. Indeed, in his speech, the head of the Foreign Ministry expressed support for Ukraine and commitment to the peace plan of Volodymyr Zelenskyi. Cleverly noted that the Russians will be held accountable for the crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine. That is, the speech of the official does not contradict the ideas of supporting Ukraine. There are no signs that Britain is going to deprive Ukraine of aid.

This is how propagandists try to dissuade the Ukrainians because the West will allegedly stop supporting them. The authors systematically promote the idea of “decrease in support” and “weariness” of the West from the war in order to hint that gradually support will supposedly decrease and Ukraine will “be left” alone without help. Although the recent diplomatic event in Europe - the NATO summit in Vilnius - proved that Ukraine will not be left without help. As a result, Ukrainian officials received assurances from NATO leaders that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance after the victory. Also, as a result, Ukraine received a new weapon, a program for training pilots on the F-16, a new body - the Ukraine-NATO Council, coordinating relations between Ukraine and NATO. What propagandists wrote about the NATO summit in Vilnius can be read here.