In the United States "Democrats bought the speaker". Russian Media Monitoring Report, April 15-21, 2024

Last week, Russian media wrote a lot about Ukraine's inability to defeat Russia. And that even if the U.S. Congress passed a bill to help Ukraine, it would not change the situation. For the propaganda, the allocation of billions of dollars in aid to Kyiv is proof of Ukraine's defeat and shows that America is trying to quickly save Ukraine, which is heading into the abyss. The vote itself is a consequence of corruption in Congress, as House Speaker Mike Johnson has profited from a shale gas field in exchange for putting the bill to a vote. The propaganda also wrote about Tucker Carlson's interview with Pavel Durov, the founder of the Telegram and VKontakte social network. And it spread only those statements that harm the reputation of the United States.

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Read about this and more in the new issue of our monitoring of Russian state media and manipulative websites that target Russian disinformation.

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Frontline for parents, European slavery for children

Last week, Russian propaganda praised the achievements of the Russian military-industrial complex. The propagandists portrayed the Russian army as modern and advanced, saying that the military is receiving advanced robotic systems: "Among them are multi-purpose robotic vehicles designed for the supply of materials, evacuation and use as a platform for the installation of various working equipment and weapons."

Instead, the Ukrainian army is portrayed by the Russian media as clumsy, unarmed, and lacking everything. First of all, people.

The adoption of the draft law on mobilization (No. 10449) by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is used by propaganda as evidence of the lack of motivated people in the Armed Forces. The Russian media say that the adoption of the new law is a way to forcibly take Ukrainians to war and that "those who do not have money will go to war, and this is the current reality in Ukraine."

The disinformers lied that "the law deprived even fathers with many children of the right to deferment" and that "the regime will find a use for their children."

Russia is trying to get rid of the accusations of illegally taking and stealing Ukrainian children, so it is inventing stories that it is actually Ukraine that is doing this: "Western media have already accused the Olena Zelenska Foundation of selling Ukrainian orphans to foreign pedophiles," and "after mobilizing such goods, the Kyiv regime will have more."

The fake that the foundation of the wife of the President of Ukraine is connected to child trafficking appeared in November last year. It was refuted, in particular, by the Stopfake team.

The Russian media also heaps accusations on European countries. The Europeans are allegedly the real child thieves and simply want to shift the blame for Ukraine's demographic woes onto Russia. In particular, on April 10, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that "social services in European countries are stealing Ukrainian children under various pretexts." "The cynicism is amazing. They trumpet to the whole world about saving Ukrainian children from the non-existent Russian danger. But at the same time, they carefully conceal the real problems faced by Ukrainian families in Europe."

Corruption in the U.S. Congress

On April 20, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the aid bill for Ukraine. The bill provides total aid to Ukraine of $60.84 billion. One-third of these funds, $23.2 billion, will remain in the United States and be spent to replenish American stocks.

Propagandists reacted to the event. The main idea was to reassure Russians and downplay the importance of American aid. The main message was that the aid would not change the situation at the front for Ukraine: "The new U.S. aid is unlikely to radically change the situation in Ukraine", "61 billion is simply intended to prevent the collapse of the Ukrainian armed forces, which the Americans consider very likely in the summer".

The aid is called "debt bondage".

Commenting on the event, Maria Zakharova noted that this is only to divert attention. She even used the phrase "Biden's regime," which prolongs Kyiv's "agony" and tries to stay afloat in the U.S. election process.

The propagandists accuse the U.S. of sponsoring terrorism, as Kyiv, according to them, will use the aid to organize attacks similar to the one in Crocus City Hall, as well as of fomenting war, while peace-loving Russia wants to negotiate: "The House of Representatives has voted to allocate $62 billion for the war against Russia. Please note: not to help Ukraine, but to finance the war in Ukraine against Russia with the lives of its Ukrainian slaves."

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, received a dose of propaganda hatred for "daring" to put the issue to a vote. He is accused of taking a bribe: "Republican House Speaker Johnson received a bribe from Democrats to build a terminal to export liquefied natural gas from Louisiana."

Another version of events is that Trump personally gave permission for Republicans to vote for the aid because Ukraine would soon lose and he would be accused of losing by blocking the aid. But after the victory, he will go to negotiations: "Why did Trump change his position? It is believed that Trump was told that a complete collapse of the Ukrainian armed forces could happen in the summer. And then Biden will build the whole campaign against Trump, accusing him, Trump, of America's defeat in Ukraine. And Trump decided to avoid this trap."


Durov at Carlson's

On April 17, an interview with Pavel Durov, the creator of the Telegram messenger and VKontakte social network, was published with American journalist and former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who recently also recorded an interview with Russian President Putin. As Durov said the day before, the conversation with Carlson took place in February.

Propaganda reacted strongly. Durov rarely gives interviews of this format. And some phrases could portray the United States negatively, so the quotes from the interview were doomed to be spread in the Russian media: "Pavel Durov told American journalist Tucker Carlson why he no longer comes to the United States. It turned out that the country's security services showed an unhealthy interest in the billionaire."

RosSIA spread a story about how someone tried to steal Durov's phone, which was meant to emphasize the high crime rate in the United States: "Three unidentified people tried to take Durov's phone, a fight broke out, after which the programmer was able to escape."

The disinformers liked the part where Durov "complained about Zuckerberg, US intelligence services and corporate censorship" the most: "The head of Meta Corporation (a corporation recognized as extremist and banned in Russia) Mark Zuckerberg tried to copy his ideas," "Durov complained about excessive attention from the FBI in the United States," "He said that during his last visit to the United States, an engineer was with him, whom 'employees or agents in the field of cybersecurity' tried to hire behind the businessman's back," "The Telegram founder also said that he did not believe in the security of American platforms, as espionage in the United States is explained by security. At the same time, the main pressure on his messenger is exerted not by the governments of different states, but by Apple and Google."

This is all part of a campaign to promote the Russian Telegram. We wrote about the dangers of this messenger and the theatrics of its founder, Pavel Durov, here.

But the propagandists ignored another interesting part, where Durov talks about oppression in Russia, because these messages are aimed purely at the Western audience, which is trying to present Durov as a fighter against the regime. It should be noted that Telegram's servers are located in Russia, and there are cases when the FSB has gained access to user correspondence.

Disinformers did not get this part.

Russian allies in Georgia

Last week, Russian propaganda was busy stigmatizing the Georgian opposition. On April 7, the Georgian parliament approved the first reading of the draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence," which triggered mass protests in the country. Critics consider this document to be an analog of the Russian law on "foreign agents" from 2012. Georgian authorities say that their bill has nothing to do with the Russian law.

Russian media supports the government's position. The protests in Georgia are presented as a violent confrontation where the street rules: "During the action, the protesters repeatedly committed violent acts."

Disinformers seem to justify both Georgian law and their own. And once again, they claim that it is only a borrowing of the US experience: "Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Georgian opposition unreasonably considers the draft law on foreign agents to be a Russian project since the United States was the first to come up with such a system," "We need to change the law, taking some of the rules of the American law as a basis. For example, Medvedev said that to establish criminal liability for foreign agents,"

On April 17, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili told BBC News that she would veto the bill if it was passed. After that, the Russian media circulated statements by Georgian politicians accusing her of being a "foreign agent." "Salome Zurabishvili is an agent of foreign influence herself. Accordingly, the only voice she can be is that of a foreign power, a global party of war."

For propaganda purposes, the adoption of the law in the Georgian parliament is a marker: if the law is implemented, Georgia is a country tolerant of Russia, and if not, it is another colony of the West: "Georgia has to decide whether it is becoming a Western colony or preserving its traditional values."

The Methodology

To monitor the information published on disinformation websites, we analyzed approximately 500,000 news reports collected from ~ 1,000 Russian websites. The data for the analysis was collected and provided by SemanticForce.

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 the topics relating to the war or its consequences for Russia. The number of mentions of a certain topic was then counted for each publication. Our conclusions are based on the respective findings and the quotes from paragraphs referring to each topic.

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This article was originally written in Ukrainian. It has been translated into English using AI tools such as DeepL, ChatGPT, and Grammarly. If you encounter an error that requires immediate attention, please inform us via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Your understanding and support are appreciated.

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