Russian disinformation remains very much active. This report analyses the narratives spread in the Baltic states (in Russian), Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The report summarises the work of several NGOs cooperating within the Open Information Partnership (including our service) in the period of June 27 through July 4, 2022.
Similarly to the previous report, a few themes can be distinguished around which the false pro-Russian narrative is centred. These are:
- Events of the War,
- Situation of Russian minorities in different countries,
- Ukrainian refugees and their status in different countries,
- Consequences of economic sanctions on Russia,
- Military threat to Eastern Europe,
- Consequences of the broadly understood military aid to Ukraine.
In case of the key false narratives, hyperlinks have been provided to point the reader to appropriate pages. The word “key“ refers to articles and posts that generated a significant number of interactions (i.e. comments, likes, or shares).
Russian disinformation in the Baltics: sanctions hit the West
The topic of the blockade of Kaliningrad’s transit corridors has not been used by pro-Kremlin propagandists during this period. The most frequently undertaken topic was the Western sanctions imposed on Russia and their alleged destructive impact on the economies of the West.
Due to the military operations, there are two new themes around which disinformation has been formed. According to one of them, the West uses Ukraine to fight its war against Russia. This is supposed to be an opportunity for the Ukrainian state to join NATO, which poses a grave threat to the national security of the Russian Federation. The other theme emphasises the antisemitism and Nazism of Ukrainians, by referring to the events of World War II.
Continuing narratives of Russian propaganda are aimed at convincing the readers that Ukraine is losing the war, Ukrainian troops are attacking civilians of the Donetsk People’s Republic, and that the West is losing interest in helping Kyiv. The latter narrative is supposed to be validated by the fact that Ukraine remains outside of the international alliances, such as NATO and the European Union, and that ordinary citizens are tired of the topic of the war.
Ukrainian refugees are presented as a factor having negative impact on the internal stability of the countries that help them. This narrative points out that Latvia and Poland do not have sufficient resources to ensure good living conditions to the refugees.
The propaganda emphasises the inefficiency of Western sanctions to Russia. Propagandists focus mainly on the fact that this is an opportunity for Russia to strengthen its relations with Belarus. They also emphasise the alleged dissatisfaction of citizens with their governments’ anti-Russian policies, which are leading to economic hardship.
Russian propaganda emphasises that Russian culture is under attack, and Estonians are openly hostile towards Russians.
Military aid provided by NATO countries is, according to Russian disinformation channels, misused and stolen. The specific allegations highlight the alleged presence of the aid-provided weapons on the black market. This is also supposed to endanger the countries of the West in the longer term.
Russian disinformation in Bulgaria: Ukraine is losing at the front
Pro-Russian narrators introduce a strong anti-Western perspective. They impose the opinion that Bulgaria chose the wrong side of the conflict, and as a result the country will collapse due to the lack of support from its long-standing ally, Russia.
According to the propaganda, Western “mercenaries” are fleeing, and Russia is growing in strength.
According to the pro-Russian message, Western “mercenaries” from Germany, Poland and Georgia were to flee the front, abandoning their weapons. The Russian Ministry of Defence said that Kyiv hires activists who are paid for pretending to be dead. This way, it is easier to accuse Russian troops of committing war crimes.
Issues concerning the consequences of imposing sanctions were not raised very often. Nevertheless, it should be noted that one article addressed this topic. According to the author, information about Russia’s bankruptcy is a lie, the goal of which is to promote Western states and convince citizens of the European Union and the United States of the effectiveness of the sanctions.
Russian disinformation tries to warm the image of Vladimir Putin and condemns the expulsion of diplomats
Furthermore, there are attempts to show the global support that Vladimir Putin is supposed to enjoy. Propagandists try to impose a pro-Russian narrative, according to which Russophobic citizens of Western countries are an insignificant number compared to the total population of eight billion.
Bulgaria is also accused of acting under the direction of the United States and Great Britain in connection with the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats from Sofia. It was the Russian ambassador to Bulgaria who considered the expulsion of her subordinates to be an unprecedented move hostile towards the Russian Federation, which was initiated by the above-mentioned states. One of the pro-Russian commentators points out that this event may result in a serious response from Russia, and Bulgaria may fall without Putin’s support.
Russian disinformation in Czechia: Western countries fight to the last Ukrainian soldier
Russian propaganda focused on military issues. It was pushing through the theses that Ukraine has been defeated and that the West has been fighting its fight with Ukrainian hands. For this purpose, a fragment of Sergey Shoygu’s quote about “fighting to the last Ukrainian soldier” was shared on several platforms.
In the context of military events, attention should be paid to the accusations against Poland. They concern the alleged plans to annex the territory of Ukraine by the government in Warsaw. To steer the attention away from the attack on the shopping centre, pro-Russian articles point out that the entire event was staged by Ukrainians. They also claim that the shopping centre was not the target. The attack was aimed at a factory repairing damaged Ukrainian military equipment.
Ukrainian soldiers are also still accused of seeking refuge in civilian facilities, so that it would be easier to accuse Russians of war crimes later. The most commonly imposed narratives are:
- Russia was forced by the West to attack Ukraine, and the West is escalating nuclear threat;
- Ukrainians are Nazis.
The latter narrative seems to fade away and appears only when justifying the Russian attack.
Russian disinformation tries to discredit refugees and uses sanctions as part of an information war
Ukrainian refugees are still presented as privileged and abusing benefits that many of them do not need.
Sanctions are also presented as part of the economic war between Russia and Western countries. Russia – as disinformation channels emphasise – is winning this war as well.
Other examples of Russian disinformation in Czechia
The West is to pose a threat to Eastern Europe. The United States and its allies are to escalate nuclear tension and provoke Russia.
Russian disinformation also reports alleged executions of Western advisers and “mercenaries” by Ukrainian troops. At this point, it is worth noting that the narratives about “mercenaries” in the discussed period appeared only in this context.
NATO and the European Union have been described as close to collapsing due to war fatigue. This message is intended to encourage concessions to Russia. The government in Kyiv is also portrayed as insolvent towards its creditors. Also noteworthy is the topic of secret biological labs in Ukraine. However, this narrative seems to be losing its meaning and strength.
Russian disinformation in Estonia: ungrateful Ukrainians with a Soviet mentality pose a threat
In the discussed period, pro-Russian activity in Estonia was not very high. Russian disinformation seems to have focused on the Russian-speaking population of Estonia, which is easier to reach. Russian propaganda focused in particular on Ukrainian refugees.
Ukrainian army was accused of shelling the shopping centre in Kremenchuk, with the goal of obtaining more financial and military support from the West. Moreover, pro-Russian channels indicate that in 2014 the people of Donbas welcomed Russians with open arms, and indicate that there is nothing wrong with self-determination. They mention Estonia as an example, which after all had proclaimed its independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Ukrainian refugees are still presented as a threat. They are accused of communicating in Russian, and their alleged Soviet mentality is emphasised, which is to lead to the Russification of the country and the destruction of its image as a progressive and modern state. Pro-Russian commentators continue to label Ukrainians as picky, ungrateful and unwilling to work.
The pro-Russian narrative tries to discourage Ukraine from joining the ranks of the countries associated in the European Union. According to the authors, the only “benefit” is the absurd restrictions that Ukraine will have to follow. The war is portrayed as part of a global conspiracy in which the oligarchs benefit financially.
Russian propaganda in Georgia: a false narrative in which the West is pushing Georgia towards war
Russian disinformation in Georgia has focused on the Pride Week during this period. As a result, the subject of the Russo-Ukrainian war generated little interaction and views in most cases. Some narratives, however, combined the influence of the West on Georgia, i.e. by organising pride marches, normalising the LGBTQIA+ community and imposing sanctions on Russia.
Ukrainian Nazis, attempts to discredit aid to refugees
Ukrainians are still presented as Nazis and opponents of Christianity, and Western countries are accused of forcing Russia to attack. According to this narrative, the United States dragged Ukraine into the war and treats it as a testing ground on which they can test the capabilities of the armed forces of the Russian Federation. An example of a completely different message is the one in which Ukraine is accused of planning an attack on Russia.
With regard to refugees, a narrative has appeared urging Poland not to provide aid to Ukrainians. According to it, Georgians should take similar actions.
Pro-Russian narratives in Georgia related to sanctions
In connection with the sanctions, the European Union is accused of acting to the detriment of the environment and its citizens. This message is related to the alleged use of coal to replace the cut-off Russian gas. As in the previous report, this time there were also accusations that the West was punishing Georgia for not imposing any sanctions on Russia. This is a false claim intended to discourage citizens towards Western countries.
Messages continue to show the ineffectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Russia and their negative impact on the economies of Western countries. There were also claims that Georgia was punished by the West for not imposing sanctions. According to pro-Kremlin channels, this was the reason why it did not receive the status of a candidate for the European Union. Moreover, if it joined the European Union, it would have to immediately impose sanctions on Russia, supply arms to the fighting Ukrainians and start a war with Russia.
There were also other narratives related to attempts to force Georgia into open war with Russia. According to the first of them, Georgia’s candidate status was supposed to be a bait for it to open a second front in the war with Russia. The second, on the other hand, emphasised that the British Minister of Defence’s visit to Georgia was intended to conduct secret talks with the Georgian Prime Minister, whom he was to persuade to start a direct military confrontation with Russia.
According to pro-Russian commentators, the United Stated provide Ukraine with weapons for financial profits
The military aid provided by the U.S. is presented as coming only for the sake of financial gain. This is evidenced by information in which 800 American defence companies want to produce weapons in the coming years. The message is also continued, according to which rearming Ukraine only prolongs the war, and Kyiv should make concessions to Moscow. One of the pro-Russian channels suggests that Western-supplied weapons are being used to launch attacks on civilian facilities located deep inside the separatist republics and Russia.
Russian disinformation in Hungary: an “expert” repeats the typical false narratives about Ukraine
Russian disinformation in Hungary focused on all aspects of military operations. Russian propaganda channels used a WSJ-NORC poll among Ukrainians. According to the survey, as many as 47% of respondents believe that the Ukrainian government is largely responsible for the outbreak of the war, 24% said that their government bears little responsibility, and 82% that responsibility lies with Russia. The pro-Russian narrative deliberately distorts and falsifies the results, stating that as many as 70% of Ukrainians blame the president for the outbreak of the war.
Furthermore, narratives are continued predicting the imminent defeat of Ukraine, that the West forced Russia to attack, that it fights the Russians with Ukrainian hands, and that foreign “mercenaries” are present in Ukraine. Some articles blame Ukraine for the global food crisis. They also state that Russia is not fighting with full force, the West is losing interest in helping Ukraine, and that reports of Russian war crimes are fabricated.
According to propaganda channels, economic sanctions do not have the intended effect and hit Western countries more than Russia.
Ukrainians are also accused of murdering the Donbas population for the last eight years. This was to lead to the current war.
In addition, the G7 countries are presented in an unfavourable light. They have been compared by the narrators to the once attractive woman who still thinks about herself like that. The goal was to discredit Western countries.
It is also worth briefly discussing a specific case. A video has been shared on YouTube in which a right-wing politician interviews an “expert” in the military field. The material had 100,000 views within 3 days. The “expert” repeats many of the commonly used pro-Russian narratives. According to him, NATO is a criminal organization, the sanctions hit the West, not Russia, which only becomes stronger. According to the pro-Russian “specialist”, Ukraine attacked Russia, and the United States is waging a war to weaken Russia as China’s strongest ally.
Russian disinformation in Latvia: the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO is a step towards a global conflict
As in the case of Estonia, Russian disinformation focused on reaching the Russian-speaking part of the society. For this reason, the disinformation in the Estonian language has had few interactions and only created a few narratives. The content concerns the topic of refugees and military aid to Ukraine.
The authors of disinformation messages claim that the demographic structure of Latvia is changing due to the influx of migrants from Ukraine and Africa. In their opinion, this constitutes a threat to the national identity of Latvians.
Military aid sent to Ukraine is presented as one of the main factors prolonging the war and possibly contributing to its escalation. By providing such aid, Latvia may – according to propagandists – be dragged into the war.
Russian disinformation presents the decision to admit Finland and Sweden to NATO as a step towards a global conflict. Ukrainian leaders are viewed in an unfavourable light and are labelled corrupt and unreliable opportunists.
Russian disinformation in Lithuania: blockade of the Kaliningrad Oblast provokes Russia and escalates tensions
As with the rest of the Baltics, Russian propaganda focused on spreading disinformation in the Russian language. The topic of the Lithuanian blockade of transit to the Kaliningrad Oblast is still present. According to pro-Russian commentators, these actions are intended to provoke Russians and escalate the war.
One article stated that Kherson Oblast is joining Russia, and the decision to do so was made by Ukrainians and is legally binding. Another article uses an out-of-context excerpt from a recording of an interview given by the German chancellor. In the above-mentioned fragment, Olaf Scholz laughs at the question asked by the journalist. This is supposed to suggest that Germany does not take aid to Ukraine seriously and is losing interest in it.
Pro-Russian narrators continue to claim that Ukraine is using propaganda to accuse Russians of crimes. Western countries are portrayed as rotten and corrupt and are said to be using Ukraine to fight against Russia.
Ukrainian refugees are still presented as privileged. The legitimacy of collecting bicycles for Ukrainian children was questioned. One blogger said that due to this, the problems of less wealthy Lithuanians are neglected. It is worth mentioning that this narrative reached as many as 10,000 people.
A Lithuanian parliamentarian said that his country’s authorities could use the war to limit civil liberties. Also noteworthy are the attempts to discredit people who are recognised as openly and actively supporting Ukraine.
Pro-Russian disinformers portray the war in Ukraine as an opportunity for profit. According to them, NATO and the United States benefit from money laundering through the war. Gas companies are another example of unfair profits. Supposedly, they artificially raise prices and justify their actions with the outbreak of war.
Russian disinformation in North Macedonia: propaganda channels quote Russian dignitaries
During the period under review, propaganda focused on the dispute between North Macedonia and Bulgaria. It concerned the detailed preconditions for Macedonia’s accession to the European Union. The theme of the war was used by propagandists to quote statements from Russian state officials such as Lavrov and Medvedev.
Vladimir Putin accused the West of artificially creating a food crisis and stated that Russia is not blocking the export of Ukrainian grain. Propagandists paint the image of Russia as a party to the conflict, which has done everything to resolve it through diplomatic channels, unlike the authorities in Kyiv. In the above narrative, the Ukrainian authorities are accused of aggressive actions and breaking all agreements. “Mercenaries” fighting in the ranks of the Ukrainian army are to commit crimes and to a large extent have criminal records.
Dmitry Medvedev warned against the encroachment of any foreign forces in the Crimea. In his opinion, such actions could obviously lead to a global conflict. This narrative has been around since 2014 and is used to blackmail NATO. On the other hand, Sergey Lavrov stated that supplying the Ukrainian army with weapons obviously prolongs the war. This narrative deprives Ukraine of the right to defend itself against unjustified aggression. At the same time, Russia’s advantage in the military field is also emphasised.
Russian propaganda in Poland: “appeal” for peace and emphasizing the importance of the Volhynian massacre
The typical pro-Kremlin narratives of Russian propaganda do not seem to have an appropriate impact on Polish society. Poles show support for Ukrainians and the aid provided to Ukraine by Polish government.
Ukrainian Nazis from the Waffen-SS
Pro-Russian narrators recall that Ukrainians fought in SS units, and anti-Ukrainian commentators call Zelensky’s words about the fight against Nazism ”the biggest joke of the Century”. Propagandists emphasise that Czech citizens are tired of the conflict, and the Dutch are fed up with Ukrainians and are evicting refugees from their homes.
Articles by Mateusz Piskorski and Witold Modzelewski have been published on pro-Russian right-wing websites. The former sticks to the narrative about the conflict being provoked by the West. The latter assesses the current conflict between Russia and the West, in which the Western countries, at the expense of Ukraine, are trying to prolong the war that’s already been lost. According to these narratives, Poland does not act as an independent state and imitates the West in order to satisfy its leaders. It is worth paying attention to the title of the last article – it refers to the above-mentioned words of the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation.
An image shared on the right-wing website informing about the affiliation of Ukrainians to the Waffen-SS. Source: Facebook
Anti-Ukrainian post on the „Wołyń Pamiętamy” foundation’s page, in which an attempt is made to embarrass the statement of the President of Ukraine. Source: Facebook
Russian disinformation suspects refugees of potential influence on local elections and attempts to dominate Polish politics
Pro-Russian commentators accuse refugees of possibly influencing local elections. Grzegorz Braun suspects that in the future a Ukrainian party might take power in Poland. Pro-Russian sources also highlight that Poles have been deceived. In their opinion, most of the Ukrainians came from areas not affected by war in search of social benefits and privileges. In one of the materials, they accuse Ukrainians of ingratitude, which is manifested by not paying for services provided. They are also accused of alcoholism, partying until dawn with heavy use of vodka, or pushing into the line to see the doctor.
An “appeal” for peace, in which Ukraine is accused of provoking Russia to attack
An „Appeal for Peace” was published on a right-wing website, in which Ukraine was blamed for the war. According to the signatories, the conflict was triggered by alleged changes to the language law, which were to discriminate against the Russian-speaking citizens. The second factor that led to the escalation was supposed to be Kyiv’s attempts to join NATO.
The Volhynian massacre, i.e. the pro-Russian bone of contention between Poles and Ukrainians
In connection with the upcoming anniversary of the Volhynian massacre, the right-wing pages tried to remind about the crimes committed by the Ukrainians (the ”Wołyń Pamiętamy” Foundation and wPrawo.pl). Grzegorz Braun invited people to a conference devoted to the historical crimes committed by Ukrainians against Poles. The words of Agnieszka Ścigaj, who encouraged Ukrainians to settle in small towns and villages, were used as evidence to support the conspiracy theory about the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Russian disinformation in Slovakia: sanctions destroy the West, not Russia
Most interactions in the Slovak information space were generated by disinformation about the economic consequences of imposing sanctions on Russia. Pro-Russian narrators emphasise that the sanctions hit Western countries, and as a consequence, Slovaks suffer from e.g. skyrocketing prices of energy and food. Two articles note the alleged lack of impact of the sanctions on the Russian economy and highlight the weakness of Western countries.
Attempts to undermine the effectiveness of Ukraine’s military effort and military aid from the West
The main narrative related to the war between Russia and Ukraine is the one that emphasises Ukraine’s defeat and Russia’s military advantage. A recording was presented in which a Ukrainian soldier states that he is hiding in a kindergarten. This is presented as a proof that soldiers fighting in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine use civilian facilities as shelters.
Commentators emphasise the futility of sending weapons to Ukraine, as such shipments are destroyed by the Russians. On the other hand, Milan Uhrik, an opposition MP, stated that Slovakia prefers to buy weapons for Ukraine rather than to help its own citizens.
Attempts to accuse Western countries of provoking the war
Moreover, narratives highlighting the weakness of the West are continued. There are also those accusing the West of forcing Russia to attack, and the United States of steering the actions of the European Union or Slovakia. Pro-Russian observers accuse the European Union of hypocrisy and Zelensky of short-sightedness. The president of Ukraine is supposed to naively think that his country will join the European Union in the near future.
Russian lies in Ukraine: wounded and dead soldiers serve as donors for organ transplantation
Ukrainians are accused of “controlled terror” in the occupied territories. Commentators claim that Ukraine is not only losing at the front, but also in the information war. In their opinion, Ukrainians torture captured Russians. They also emphasise the alleged pressure on the government in Kyiv regarding Ukraine’s territorial concessions to Russia.
The narrators continue to spread the message about Ukrainian war crimes and alleged tensions between Ukraine and Western countries. Ukrainians are still portrayed as Nazis, and “mercenaries” are to fight in the ranks of their army. Russia was forced to attack by the West and is not using its full strength.
The United States and its “henchmen” are to fight the Russians with Ukrainian hands. Poland is to annex Ukraine, and Russian soldiers in the east are to be greeted as liberators. According to pro-Kremlin propagandists, all reports of Russian war crimes are exaggerated. A theory circulates on Telegram, according to which heavily wounded or killed Ukrainian troops are sold abroad to be used as donors of organs for transplantation.
Russian disinformation discredits Ukrainian refugees, proves the harmlessness of sanctions and portrays the people of Donbas as Russians
The narrators present Ukrainian refugees as rich who do not need any help, and tend to be ungrateful. Their welfare is to be put above that of the citizens of the countries to which they have come seeking refuge. Poles are allegedly tired of the presence of neighbours from across the eastern border and are not as eager to help any more. According to pro-Russian commentators, Amnesty International was to accuse Lithuania of racism and chauvinism. Lithuanians are to treat Ukrainians better than other refugees because of their skin colour.
Pro-Kremlin agitators portray the sanctions as harmless to Russia due to the lack of China’s participation. Economic restrictions negatively affect the economies of Western countries. The Ukrainian economy is to be on the verge of collapse, and the President’s Office has not prepared any plan of action that would save the economy.
People of Donbas are presented as ethnic Russians who need help from the Russian Federation.
According to the pro-Russian narrative, Ukraine receives outdated weapons and its government is corrupt
Russian propaganda emphasises that Ukrainians are being supplied with outdated weapons and armoured vehicles. This is believed to be caused by the reluctance of the West to hand over modern equipment to Ukraine and the lack of such weapons in military warehouses. Moreover, the message about the weakening of the military potential of the countries supplying armed forces to the fighting Ukrainian soldiers continues. Ukrainians are suspected by propagandists of planning an attack on Russian territory using weapons provided by the West.
Ukrainian leaders and commanders are portrayed by the pro-Kremlin sites as corrupt and incompetent. In published articles and posts, statements are made about trade in medicines obtained as part of humanitarian aid. Defence Ministry officials are accused of planning to steal money collected for the purchase of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles. They are to hide their misdemeanour behind the confidentiality of sensitive data, thanks to which no-one will find out about anything.
Russian propaganda actively uses current political and military events. The main lines of disinformation are trying to convince the audience about the military defeat of Ukraine. This results from the recent progress made by the Russian army – it has captured Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.
At the same time, it is worth noting that the Ukrainian forces have prepared three lines of defence, and the adopted strategy seems to be inflicting maximum losses on the attacker. Due to the potential further retreats of Ukrainian forces, it should be expected that this narrative will continue. It also seems that Ukrainian soldiers will continue to be portrayed as Nazis and accused of committing war crimes. The aim of this type of action will be to increase the mental exhaustion of war and undermine the morale of the defenders, and to discourage the international community and public opinion around the world from supporting Ukrainians.
Blockade of Kaliningrad and an attempt to blackmail the Lithuanian authorities
In the period under discussion, the issue of the blockade of rail transit to the Kaliningrad Oblast was not raised by pro-Russian commentators. This topic was only observed in the Lithuanian information space. It was used to alert the local community and discredit local authorities who allegedly want to drag Lithuania directly into the war.
Disinformation researchers suspected that some diplomatic steps had been taken to resolve the blockade. At the time of writing this report, it is clear that the European Commission has intervened. It has issued additional guidelines that allow Russia to import goods into the Kaliningrad Oblast, even if they are on the sanctions list.
Russian disinformation: the unsinkable Russian economy
The main message conveyed by pro-Russia narrators about economic sanctions was that they have a devastating impact on the economies of Western countries. In addition, information on the zero impact of the sanctions on the Russian economy continued.
Strenuous efforts to weaken solidarity with refugees
There are ongoing attempts to undermine the support and sympathy for Ukrainian refugees in countries where they found a safe haven from the war. It is worth noting that any narratives mentioning privileges allegedly granted to Ukrainians or showing them as a threat are not effective and do not produce the effects desired by the narrators. Local communities still seem to sympathise with Ukrainians living among them.
Russian propaganda claims that the West is steering all actions aimed at Russia
Western countries, especially the U.S., are commonly accused of steering all actions of Ukraine and its supporters. They were supposed to force Russia to attack Ukraine, they fight against it with the help of the Ukrainian army. An interesting example of such a narrative are the words of the spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Bulgaria, with which they commented on the expulsion of 70 diplomats from this country. The former stated that these activities were ordered by “external forces”. The latter said, however, that “it was an unprecedented and utterly hostile move” commissioned by the United States and Great Britain.
Corruption among the Ukrainian authorities, actions aimed against the LGBTQIA + community
The Ukrainian government and high-ranking military officers are portrayed as incompetent, corrupt and waging political games among themselves that are to lead to the collapse of Ukraine. This narrative is intended to discourage public opinion from the Ukrainian authorities, and to show that the humanitarian and military aid provided to them has been unnecessary, wasted or stolen. There are also visible activities aimed at discrediting Ukraine’s efforts to join the European Union. In particular, such activities can be observed in Georgia.
It is also worth paying attention to the attacks on the LGBTIAQ+ community in the above-mentioned country. Such actions are intended to present Russia as the mainstay of Christian civilization and highlight the alleged decay and corruption of Western states. Disinformation channels – as in the case of North Macedonia – are used to broadcast threats from top Russian officials.
Russian propaganda seems to be limited in the described period to a few basic narratives of disinformation. These are:
- Effects of economic sanctions imposed on Russia,
- The disastrous situation of the Ukrainian forces at the front,
- Attempts to discredit refugees,
- Humanitarian and military aid provided to Ukraine.
The disinformation content is definitely subdued in its pronunciation and it emphasises the military power of Russia to a much lesser extent. What is noteworthy, however, is the attempt to undermine pro-European sentiment in countries such as Georgia or North Macedonia, and attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community. References to conspiracy theories, such as the Heavenly Jerusalem, are still present in pro-Russian propaganda, which is also worth noting.
It is suspected that Russian disinformation will continue to emphasise Ukraine’s weakness, corruption among its authorities, and the hopeless situation of defenders at the front. In the near future, one should also expect narratives discouraging the international community from helping refugees. Undoubtedly, the message emphasising the indestructibility of the Russian economy and its resilience to sanctions will be continued.
Russian propaganda will certainly continue to use the current political events and present them in a light favourable to the actions of the Russian Federation.
This report is a result of cooperation between 11 NGOs, think-tanks and researchers associated in the Ukraine War Disinfo Working Group. The group members monitor the narratives that appear on pro-Kremlin websites and in social media in eleven countries of Central and Eastern Europe on a daily basis. During monitoring, particular emphasis is placed on the narratives related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Group was founded in cooperation with Open Information Partnership.
Partners: Civic Resilience Initiative (Lithuania), Analyses and Alternatives (Bulgaria), Prague Security Studies Initiative (Czechia), GRASS (Georgia), Atlatszo (Hungary), MOCT (North Macedonia), Fakenews.pl (Poland), Slovak Security Policy Institute (Slovakia), Detector Media (Ukraine), DebunkEu.org (Lithuania).