The Pessimistic Arestovych, Putin’s Death and the Blocking of Draft Dodgers’ Bank Cards. Ukrainian Media Monitoring Report, 1-31 October 2023

In October, the Ukrainian trashy websites spread fakes about the blocking of bank accounts and plastic cards which belong to draft dodgers. Oleksii Arestovych still remains one of the most popular military experts in the segment while the news on Putin's death has been presented with absolute certainty.


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Draft Dodgers, Beware of Blocked Cards!

Many of last week's publications on the trashy websites were dedicated the the imminent blocking of bank cards belonging to those liable to military service. The news came out under such headlines as: “Draft Dodgers Will Learn to Live on a Shoestring: Banks to Start Blocking Draft Dodgers’ Cards”, “Banks Have Started to Block Draft Dodgers’ Cards” and the like. The idea is simple: if you fail to follow the instructions in the summons, expect instant blocking of your bank account.

There has been a lot of debate around the potential action against those summoned to territorial recruitment and social support centers (TRSSC) who fail to show up. In fact, this is just a lie wrapped into a clickbait headline which plays along with Russia’s desire to undermine the mobilization campaign and demonstrate Ukraine's overall collapse.

So what can actually happen? For example, a person liable to military service fails to comply with the summons to update their registration details, refuses to undergo a military medical commission (MMC) or does not have military registration at the place of residence.

In this case, a report on an administrative offense is drawn, and the TRSSC issues an order to impose a fine which is sent to the state enforcement service for enforced collection. If the offender fails to pay the fine voluntarily, the service officials acting under enforcement proceedings arrest the person's bank accounts until the offender pays the fine unless the order is overturned in court.

The procedure is identical to the hypothetical consequences of a failure to pay other fines such as those imposed for traffic violations.

Legal experts agree that Ukrainian legislation does not provide any framework for blocking draft dodgers’ cards.

It should be noted that certain articles published on the trashy websites explained that “men’s bank accounts are arrested under the decision of the State Enforcement Service on enforced collection of fine, and those who fail to follow the military registration regulations should expect fines”. However, the headlines of the news reports did claim that “banks have started blocking cards belonging to draft dodgers”.

Arestovych is the top expert on trashy websites

Despite his questionable reputation, Arestovych still remains the darling of trashy websites. Oleksii Arestovych is a Ukrainian blogger and former external adviser to the Presidential Office of Ukraine. In January 2023, he was fired for making false statements regarding the terror attack on Dnipro.

For example, the Politeca published daily news reports with Oleksii Arestovych's comments from 1 to 19 October. Now that Arestovych is no longer Zelenskyy's adviser, his sparkling optimism has changed to gloomy pessimism:

“The people are exhausted”, says Arestovych about the complicated situation on the southern front,

“We must regroup immediately: Arestovych comments on the tough situation near Bakhmut”,

“The situation is getting worse: Arestovych warns about the future of US supplies to Ukraine”,

“The situation has quickly escalated: Arestovych comments on the fierce attacks of the Russian army to make a bridgehead for the upcoming offensive”,

"Situation critical": Arestovych's forecast on the war changes to expect in 2024”,

“A full-scale offensive has begun, Arestovych calls on Ukrainians to evacuate: what you should know and who should be packing to leave”,

“Arestovych explains why the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east has stalled: “They took away our opportunity”,

“The city turned into a trap”: Arestovych tells about the AFU’s tragic mistake in the battles for the East”.

There is a possibility of these publications being commissioned by Arestovych himself which would make sense in view of his recently announced political ambitions. His popularity with trashy websites may be explained by the readers’ interest in pessimistic news rather than more positive reports. Be that as it may, his pessimistic statements align perfectly with Russian propaganda crafted to convince that Ukraine is bound for an imminent defeat.

Some of Arestovych’s explanations also create an illusion that all hope is lost and Ukraine is losing the war. However, Arestovych is a self-proclaimed expert who lacks the relevant experience, formal training and even time to study the theater of war in detail. He is known to make a living as a life coach which appears to be his primary occupation taking a significant amount of time.

And finally, one should keep in mind that many of his previous forecasts failed to materialize.

Putin is Dead!

Ukrainian information space provides fertile ground for conspirological theories, and Ukraine is certainly not alone in this regard.

Last month, the trashy websites dropped a bombshell on the readers by claiming the Russian president Vladimir Putin to be dead.

The information on Putin's death went viral on social media. According to some Telegram channels, on the evening of 22 October Putin suffered a heart attack in one of his residences, but was allegedly resuscitated by the medics. On the evening of 26 October, it was announced that the dictator had indeed passed away.

The trashy websites dishout out shocking details: “FINALLY! Putin has died, he is already being embalmed: NO BURIAL FOR THE BODY? Putin's death: the shocking details!”, “It all happened on Thursday, 26 October at approximately 20:40. According to political analyst Valery Solovey, Putin’s body is being held in a freezer in his Valdai residence”.

Such stories are often created to raise positive expectations which are quickly destroyed upon contradiction, which is powerful demotivator.

It is extremely important not to fall for those who create such scenarios and conspiracy theories. There is always a reason: for example, the news about Putin’s death gave a huge boost to the audience of the Russian Telegram channel “General SVR” which actively promotes theories about Putin's death. The channel is said to be associated with the so-called professor Valery Solovyov who is constantly talking about Putin’s terminal illnesses. This means that the newcomers may be treated to Russian disinformation far less innocent than the provocative reports on Putin's death.

According to TGStat data, more than 82,000 new subscribers joined the Telegram channel just last week. Therefore, the drop of such news may have been aimed at increasing the audience of the channel, and the Ukrainian trashy websites helped to further this goal.

The Methodology

The corpus contains publications from 86 news websites in the occupied territories and Ukrainian-based online outlets which were found to be publishing a significant number of manipulative reports. The analysis covered a total of approximately 40,000 news items. Each paragraph was processed using an algorithm which defines its topic automatically. The resulting topics (i.e. groups with similar content) were short-listed by socio-political topics. The number of mentions of a certain topic was then counted for each publication. Our conclusions are based on the respective findings and contain quotes from paragraphs referring to each topic.

Trashy websites: ua-vestnik.com, newsua.biz, ukrainianwall.com, politeka.net, newsua.one, from-ua.com, ua24ua.net, kompromat1.info, newformat.info, kompromat1.news, korupciya.com, rkm.kiev.ua, tt.inf.ua, k-stenke.com, p-zona.com, akcenty.com.ua, taras-ua.com, uatime.net, lifedon.com.ua, tochkazoru.pp.ua, 368.media, navarti.in.ua, ord-02.com, newskraine.com.ua, agrimpasa.com, censoru.net, ukr.life, holosua.com, hit.miformat.info, crime-ua.com, rnbee.com.ua, pravda.rv.ua, dosye.com.ua, slovo.odessa.ua, beztabu.net, grom-ua.org, zarobitchany.live, popilnya.online, ukr.red, prportal.com.ua, tema.in.ua, intvua.com, xn--j1aidcn.org, doslova.com, news.lugansk.info, newnews.in.ua, likeme.pp.ua, sprotiv.org, euro-ua.com, tribunanaroda.info, ua-stena.info, bn24.biz.ua, nacburo.org, ekoinvest.pp.ua

Occupation news websites: e-news.su, ruinformer.com, politnavigator.net, sevastopol.su, antifashist.com, anna-news.info, crimeapress.info, naspravdi.info, kianews24, kafanews.com, dan-news.info, kerch.fm, dnr-pravda.ru, donbasstoday.ru, gorlovka-pravda.com, rusdnepr.ru, guberniya.info, 3mv.ru, vsednr.ru, c-inform.info, comitet.su, doneck-news.com, xvesti.ru, novosti.icu, dnr24.com, denis-pushilin.ru, time-news.net, sobytiya.info, delovoydonbass.ru, mir-lug.info, meridian.in.ua


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