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Hysteric over British boats. Disinfo monitor #57

  • The Russian vaccine against COVID-19 is being promoted by OPFL in Ukraine (its testing has not yet been completed).
  • US and UK wish “a proxy war by Ukraine”
  • “Signs” that the government wants to derail local elections are being looked for
  • “Cancelling” pensions in Ukraine is ascribed to Shmyhal, again
  • Veterans are being called “psychotic killers
  • See how disinformation topics have been changing over the year in our interactive visualization

Period: October 5–11, 2020

Disinfo topics

% of news related to the topic among all mews from the group of sites

"Greatest patriotism": OPFL promotes Russian vaccine for Ukraine

Manipulative websites and Russian information resources targeting Ukrainian issues try to present Medvedchuk as the savior of Ukraine. His meeting with the Russian prime minister on "easing the sanctions" for Ukraine was called "the greatest degree of patriotism." In addition to the prime minister, Medvedchuk met with Putin, who "promised" to provide Ukraine with a Russian vaccine if Ukraine asked for it: "Viktor Medvedchuk's initiative regarding the coronavirus vaccine is right in terms of destroying the walls for whose construction is attempted for Ukrainians."

It will be recalled that the Russian "vaccine", although officially registered in Russia, has not yet been tested. In fact, it was tested on 38 volunteers, but it did not pass the third stage of testing, which is now the process for the main potential vaccines in Europe and the United States. Until the last stage of the test is completed, it cannot be said that the vaccine works and, most importantly, that it is safe. Thus, disinformers use a hypothetical Russian "vaccine" as an excuse to show Ukraine's benefits of returning into Russia's orbit. Previously, such an argument was gas.

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues have tried to convince that the Ukrainian government does not trust the Russian vaccine because of "prejudice" and not its questionable status. And they argued why Ukraine needs to buy the vaccine from Russia: "Ukraine still uses some of the goods from Russia, for example, gas or nuclear fuel, which we also buy."

Anti-Western rhetoric: US and UK want "a proxy war by Ukraine and to earn money"

This week, Ukrainian sites targeting Ukrainian issues continued to respond to the flight of American bombers over Ukraine. They saw this as a ploy to "attack" Russia: “They "probe" for the purpose of subsequent hacking or destruction, not any section of the air defense of Russia, but its foundations, the main components”.

This approach is very typical of Russian disinformation. It is based on the narrative that Russia is peaceful, but that it "must defend itself" against the United States and Europe. It is easy to prove the falsity of such claims. For example, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, no one attacked Russia. Instead, the Russian military has managed to fight in Moldova, Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine, and Russian-controlled "private military companies" are fighting in Libya and sub-Saharan Africa. Russia constantly demands from the world community respect for its own sovereignty, but denies it to its closest neighbors.

Another issue to which disinformers paid attention was the signing of a partnership and fleet development agreement between Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Under this agreement, Britain will provide Ukraine with a loan for the construction of 8 missile boats, as well as the necessary technology. Ukraine will be able to equip ships with its own weapons. The manipulators accused Britain of "colonialism" and a desire to profit on interest on the loan: "Britain in this case acts in Ukraine in the same way as it did in its Asian colonies before."

In addition, they also manipulated the terms of the agreement: "This is just a veiled format of tribute to Western partners, because the funds will be loaned, and Kyiv will not only provide contracts for British companies, but will also pay interest." In reality, only 20% of the cost of boats should be received by British suppliers, everything else goes to Ukrainian manufacturers. In addition, Ukraine will receive from Britain technologies for the production of modern ships and money that would be difficult for Ukraine to attract in the market. Read more about the deal here.

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Dobkin wants attention

Mykhailo Dobkin, who lost his seat in the last election but did not lose his pro-Russian position, is still trying to stay afloat in Ukrainian politics. For example, he had previously run for mayor of Kharkiv to allegedly insure Kernes, although the Kharkiv mayor himself called the gesture an attempt to "use someone else's political capital to strengthen himself." Now Dobkin has withdrawn his candidacy, but last week he once again made Russian disinformers happy with "correct" quotes. This time, in an interview with Dmytro Gordon. In it, Dobkin expressed his respect for Putin, said he "does not see the Ukrainian nation," described the Maidan as "a technology, an evil, and a woe," and even put forward his version of events in 2014: "The Russians could have chased Yanukovych away, because at that time they were already ready to capture the Crimean peninsula."

At the same time, the ex-People's Deputy said that with these horse-screwers who now lead Ukraine, the fugitive president would definitely be the Ukrainian Che Guevara. At the same time, Dobkin stated that Yanukovych “is a hell of a liar” [obscene word in the original - Texty.org.ua]

Also this week:

“Ukrainian government’s plan to derail local elections”

Ukrainian manipulative publications, based on the pro-Russian anonymous Telegram channel "Resident", wrote: "The Office of President has set a task to double the number of tests. Thus, the number of reported Covid-19 diseases will also increase by about 40 percent”. From this, they concluded that by increasing the number of newly discovered cases "up to 10 thousand" per day, the authorities are allegedly trying to derail local elections.

And Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues added that the increase in the number of tests is not a consequence of the deteriorating epidemiological situation, but the subject of personal interest of Minister Stepanov, who "plays along with private laboratories that have already earned more than UAH 200 million on tests." It is unknown where they got this figure.

Shmyhal’s pension lapse: "Ukraine is an antisocial state"

In the field of economy this week the main role was played by the topic of pensions. Disinformers continue to distort Shmyhal's words as if he said that Ukraine would stop paying pensions. In fact, he said that the accumulative component of the pension should be launched.

This time, they manipulated a tragedy. In the town of Husiatyn, a man set himself on fire in the employment office, probably because he did not have enough work years to retire. Disinformers commented on the case: "It would once again remind Ukrainians of what old age awaits them in the anti-social state, where saving on people has long been a priority of domestic policy, and money for pensions is already not enough." You can read more about the state of the pension system and opportunities for its reform here.

Mental health day: “psychotic killers in the ATO”

On the eve of World Mental Health Day, Russian disinformers published a text headlined "Psychopaths, the norm of the country of the victorious Maidan. What did the Suprun reform lead to?” It linked the "collapse of the USSR and the rise of mental disorders" in Ukraine (although it should be remembered that such data may indicate not only an increase in cases, but also an improvement in diagnosis and changes in the system of medical statistics). Emphasis was placed on the "post-Maidan" period: "During the armed conflict and the daily pumping of aggressive negativity from the media, mental illness has simply become a national disaster." Subheadings in the long text contained the phrases: "Psychotic killers in the anti-terrorist operation" and "Patriotic sect of corrupt reformers." Ukraine is trying to provide psychological rehabilitation to veterans, but measures to improve the mental health of terrorists in the occupied territories or the Russian military have not been mentioned in the propaganda material. Attack on Suprun is notable, the minister who carried out important and successful reforms in Ukrainian medicine. This is another indication that any successful reform in Ukraine or the person who implemented it is always the goal of the Russian disinformation forces.

Are these threats? At the times of Kuchma...

Russian disinformers continue to ridicule the political conflicts in Ukraine, thus discrediting both the government and Ukraine itself. This time they commented on the wiretap files published by Geo Leros, where it is heard how voices similar to Komarnytsky and Tyshchenko are planning revenge on him. Commenting on the event, Russian websites mentioned Kuchma's time, writing that "listening to these threats is especially ridiculous to those who are familiar with Major Melnychenko's files," where "Kuchma offers options for the punishment of grant-eating journalist Gongadze." "Agree that against this background, promises to unscrew Leros's ear look like a child's play, especially considering how Georgy Gongadze ended his life." At the same time, this manipulation underestimated the seriousness of the very fact of threats, humiliated the memory of Gongadze, and discredited the exposure of corruption.

Summary

This week, disinformers aggressively promoted Russia's foreign policy priorities. On the one hand, they repeated the narrative of the West advancing on a self-defending Russia. With this narrative, the Russian Federation has repeatedly justified its aggression against other countries. That is why military cooperation between Ukraine and Britain is of such concern to the manipulators. The combat-ready Ukrainian army and navy significantly reduce Russia's ability to put pressure on Ukraine to return it to its sphere of influence.

On the other hand, they tried to create a respectable image of Russia as the first country to "develop" a coronavirus vaccine and with which it is necessary to maintain relations in order to gain access to the vaccine. This is outright manipulation, because the Russian government has registered a vaccine that has not passed all clinical testing. Until the testing is completed, it is not possible to say whether the vaccine is safe and effective. There are dozens of alternative vaccines in the world that are undergoing clinical testing. In this sense, they are no different from the Russian one.

Methodology

We searched for topics in 17706 materials in the Russian language from:

Manipulation in news was singled out by our improved AI classifier developed in the project We’ve got bad news. In the monitoring, we only regarded materials about social and political life which are about Ukraine.

Limitations of the study:

In this study, we only regarded the topics which are in line with Russian disinformation campaigns. Most of them are based on real events, as disinformation works more effectively this way. Topic names reflect manipulations used in the topic. Accordingly, news stories on Ukrainian mainstream sites on the same topic may have completely different content from that of manipulative materials.

We take the topics of Russian propaganda in Ukraine from the following groups of materials:

In the first and second groups of news, the materials were selected by the AI classifier of manipulative news.

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