Zelensky’s press conference, confrontation with Akhmetov, military tensions. Disinformation monitor #107

  • Zelensky’s address in the parliament.
  • Thoughts on the “war” between Zelensky and Akhmetov.
  • Fake news about the supplies for the Armed Forces.
  • Ukraine shown as the aggressor again.
  • Speculating on the sanctions against Nord Stream 2.
  • Learn how topics of disinformation have changed over the year with our interactive visualization

Period: November 22 — 28, 2021

Disinfo topics

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

What’s new in disinformation?

Zelensky's press conference was a key source for last week's news. Disinformers discussed his "war" with Akhmetov and continued to portray him as an authoritarian leader and even a "second Lukashenko." He was also quoted as accusing the former authorities of "losing" Crimea and certain districts in eastern Ukraine.

As the military escalation has not disappeared, one of the targets of disinformers this week were the Ukrainian army. Disinformers distributed anonymous videos from social networks, which show alleged problems with the supply of the Armed Forces, and equipped these videos with clickbait titles.

Zelensky's press conference

Zelensky's press conference became the central news item last week. The media quoted both Zelensky himself and all the experts who decided to comment on the issue, arguing that the conference was a "desperate attempt to divert people's attention from the country's crisis" and that Zelensky himself was a "pocket president and a puppet in the hands of Kolomoisky. " The main result of the press conference was named as follows: "Zelensky is completely destroyed psychologically."

Russian media outlets called Ukraine Zelensky "a second Lukashenko" ("because he is purging, using the security forces, rigid vertical of the power, continuing usurpation of power") and they combined their thoughts on the event with theses about Ukraine's external governance. They described how "the Soroslings continue to campaign to snatch Ermak out of the President's Office", turned Zelensky into a puppet (“Zelensky, judging by his actions, is not sympathizing with Ukrainians either because his curators taught him to treat fellow citizens as a consumable, and this is his guarantee of being in power”), and they simply quoted anonymous social media contributors under headlines such as “ ‘This is agony’. The internet is buzzing, impressed by Zelensky's nonentity."

And what the Russian mainstream sites liked most from the whole press conference was the thesis that “President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that former Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko "lost Donbass", and former Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov lost Crimea”.

Here it is important to remember that Russian disinformation is always included in the discussion of high-profile events and tries to impose the conclusion that any Ukrainian government leads Ukrainians to impoverishment and catastrophe, and the country has no future. The greater the resonance of the event, the more actively Russian disinformation is included in its discussion.

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Akhmetov the "Kremlin's agent" against "Kolomoisky's agent" Zelensky

Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues liked the thesis about the "war" between Zelensky and Akhmetov. Following the mirror of the Strana.ua website (the original was blocked by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council), they quoted an anonymous source "close to the biggest Ukrainian businessman" about the causes of the conflict: “The conflict between them began after Zelensky's attempt to gain control over Akhmetov's TV channels''. And they describe how “Akhmetov will soon launch a powerful international campaign to show the threat of authoritarianism in Ukraine due to Zelensky's actions”. I.e., they tied to Akhmetov their own theses about Zelensky the dictator. At the same time, they used their favorite method, to write about the future as fait accompli, since such ruminations do not require any evidence, because the event has not yet happened.

And the thesis of Russia's influence to try a coup d’etat in Ukraine was ridiculed, and an accusing finger was pointed at the United States: “According to analysts, a real coup in Ukraine is possible only if it is sponsored by the United States or, at least, if they US will not actively interfere with it.”

"Porridge with maggots" for the Armed Forces

Last week, garbage sites that disseminate Russian propaganda decided to work a bit to discredit the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They were actively distributing a 14-second video in which a "porridge with maggots" was allegedly filmed, which was allegedly given out to the servicemen of one of the Armed Forces brigades for lunch. No detail of the video makes it possible to verify the authenticity of the video, and its source is anonymous "social networks".

Disinformers distributed this video using overly emotional headlines such as "Shocking military lunch: what is served as food in the Armed Forces", and they added unverified and manipulative comments: “Fighters of the Ukrainian army face such problems on a regular basis. The military shared footage of the food being offered. Repeatedly, foreign objects and insects were found in the plates. Sometimes food itself does not meet nutritional requirements”.

We remind you that the Ukrainian army is currently undergoing a food supply reform, which provides for a new format of work with suppliers and a new menu. In addition, any serviceman who has suggestions or complaints about food and supplies can contact the special hot line of the Armed Forces by phone: 0 800 500 539 or 095 911 05 69.

Russia continues to accuse Ukraine of disrupting the "peace process"

Last week, Russia's top military and political leadership, led by Vladimir Putin, actively promoted the narrative of "Ukraine's offensive in the Donbas" with the help of state-run Russian media. Russian high-ranking officials "state Ukraine's public withdrawal" from the Minsk agreements, accuse us of shelling civilians and using prohibited weapons. The President of the Russian Federation himself is personally involved in disseminating these theses and speaks about them during his contacts with European leaders. Similar statements are made by the representative of the Russian Federation in the Tripartite Contact Group Boris Gryzlov: “The Ukrainian authorities have crossed all reasonable boundaries with their actions, continuing to fire at civilians and infrastructure facilities in the Donbas and at the same time flaunting in the press the use of combat UAVs prohibited by the Minsk agreements and the armistice agreement”.

The official media reports of the aggressor country are supported by manipulative materials on lower-level propaganda and disinformation sites. The authors of these publications once again call for "forcing Ukraine to peace": “If the United States genuinely cares about Ukraine, it will look its Ukrainian counterparts in the eye and send them a tough signal: as the weaker side in this dispute, your only viable option is to stop hampering the implementation of the Minsk II agreements and move on to a diplomatic settlement. There is no point in holding on anymore. The US will not go to war against nuclear Russia on behalf of Kyiv”, comment the propagandists.

The West leads Ukraine "to be slaughtered"

The United States and the collective West are inciting Ukraine against Russia. This is exactly what the present, according to Russian propagandists and disinformers, looks like. Russia is aggressive in accepting any political statements in support of Ukraine, and is particularly annoyed by the West's provision of resources and military equipment to Ukraine. Russian propaganda calls it a "US special operation to force Ukraine into war." Disinformers do not tire of drawing parallels with the situation on the eve of the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and intimidate Ukraine with the "fate of Afghanistan."

Gas intrigues in Washington

This week we noticed an unexpected narrative on the subject of gas: "Biden is imperceptibly lobbying." Propagandists talk of a failed vote on the defense budget in the US Senate. Some senators have called for a vote on an amendment to the budget that includes sanctions against Nord Stream 2. In one publication, disinformers resort to conspiracy theories and claim that there is a secret agreement between the US and German governments.

Accornig to the conspiracy theorists, the German side had done its part by "driving the Greens to key positions in the new government." Then, the author calls the German Greens “a branch of the Democratic Party of the United States." We can only recall that both the United States and Germany are democracies where voters choose political parties and no one can "drive" anyone against the will of the voters. Another "explanation" by disinformers of the “US externally loyal policy” towards Germany is the desire to put pressure on Europeans to get “a lucrative deal to supply their gas to Europe" or "to force the European Union to impose joint sanctions against a third country."

Energy crisis in Ukraine

Ukrainian clickbait media continue to exploit the topic of energy and economic crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, they are spreading the Russian thesis about Ukraine's external governance: “The new loan tranche of the IMF is a veiled handout from the West for Kyiv's working out of the next round of anti-Russian hysteria”.

Disinformers spread statements by members of the OPFL faction that the government was hiding "the risks of fan power outages" and wrote about the tariffs which are "deadly high for industry." The only way out for Ukraine (to "save" the industry) is a "direct contract for the supply of gas." Regarding the shortage of coal, Russian sites targeting Ukrainian issues argue that Russia has not blocked the transit of the fuel from Kazakhstan.

Also this week:

Ukrainian garbage sites continued to reprint unchanging theses about the repression against Medvedchuk and on every occasion quoted emotional MPs of the OPFL party: “According to Kiva, in the near future ‘the people, gone berserk with hunger, poverty and cold, will tear this power to pieces’.

Statements of former Verkhovna Rada deputy Oleh Lyashko about the imposition of martial law in Ukraine were spread.

Russian websites targeting Ukraine again paid a lot of attention to Razumkov. They wrote: "Dmytro Razumkov today is Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday" and called him "Vladimir the Second".


Disinformers wrote about Zelensky's press conference. They wrote that Zelensky was trying to divert attention from the crisis and was also behaving like a "dictator." At the same time, they saw in it signs of "external management." The president's conflict with Rinat Akhmetov was not left out either. Disinformers attributed the conflict to Zelensky's desire to gain control over the oligarch's TV channels. It will be recalled that the same accusations were made against Poroshenko during his conflict with oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.

Also this week, propagandists tried to discredit the Armed Forces with emotional manipulations and sensational videos from social networks. And Ukraine is still called an aggressive party and it has been accused of shelling civilians. Disinformers still unequivocally diagnose that the West will abandon Ukraine to the fate of "an Afghanistan".

Another notable topic this week was energy. Ukraine is still predicted to be cut off from electricity. And the United States has been accused of plotting sanctions against Nord Stream 2.

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.


We searched for topics in 14752 materials in the Russian language from:

Manipulation in the 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.


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