Fake: Ukraine To Accept 20,000 Refugees Instead Of Germany

StopFake.org - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 10:17

Citing a Bavarian newspaper, last week scores of pro-Kremlin media claimed that Ukraine would accept 20,000 refugees instead of Germany with headlines such as Why does Poroshenko need militants from Asia and Africa?

Citing a German publication called Kraichgau News, Russian media claim that by the end of 2018 Ukraine will accept no less than 20,000 refugees most likely those who are currently in Bavaria. This deal allegedly resulted from an agreement with Ukraine’s Interior Ministry and its German counterpart and Ukraine is actively preparing for the reception of such a large number of people.

Website screenshot RIA

This fake began to be widely republished in Russian media during the recent EU Eastern Partnership summit at the end of November. The Eastern Partnership is a European Union program launched in 2009 in the framework of European Neighborhood Policy and addressed to six countries in Eastern Europe: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Kraichgau News is neither Bavarian nor is it a newspaper. It is an internet portal where anyone can post their information based in the Baden-Württemberg area. A user calling themselves Kerstin Neumann who wrote the article that Russian media cite registered with the Kraichgau News portal one day before publishing her fake story on November 1.

Replying to StopFake’s inquiry about these claims, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry confirmed that German diplomat  Dorothea Metschkowski. who specializes in human rights, recently presented a human rights project in Kyiv aimed at fostering tolerance towards refugees in Ukraine. All other claims about refuges are patently false, the ministry said.

While Ukraine is actively cooperating with Germany on human rights issues, there is no agreement between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding refugees.

Categories: World News

Lavrov: West is blocking chemical weapons inspections in Syria — Not True

StopFake.org - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 23:54

NETHERLANDS — The logo of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is seen during a special session in the Hague, Netherlands June 26, 2018

By Polygraph

Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister

Commenting on the chemical attack that allegedly took place on Syrian territory, Lavrov noted that ‘such situations have happened in the past — 2016, Khan-Sheikhoun, 2017, East Ghouta.’ As the minister recalled, in the first case Russia insisted on an OPCW inspection, but ‘Western colleagues blocked the inspectors’ way’.”

Source: TV Zvezda

FALSE

It is Russia and the Syrian regime who block OPCW inspectors from investigating chemical attacks in Syria, not the West.

On August 29, TV Zvezda, the Russian Defense Ministry’s news channel, published a story on its website which quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commenting on the situation in Syria. In it, Lavrov referred to several past cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, including in Eastern Ghouta and Khan Sheikhoun. He claimed that Russia called for inspections by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), but that Russia’s “Western colleagues” moved to block these inspections.

This is false: Western countries like the United States did not try to block OPCW inspections in Syria. In fact, Russia and its Syrian government ally have impeded the OPCW’s work several times.

SYRIA — UN vehicles carrying Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrive at the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, April 14, 2018

One of the first major chemical attacks in Syria occurred on August 21, 2013, in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus. The Syrian government allowed OPCW inspectors to visit the site on August 25. Although British authorities warned that evidence could have been tampered with or destroyed during the time between when the attack was reported and the inspectors arrived, Western authorities did not try to impede the inspections. A subsequent U.N. report confirmed that the nerve agent sarin had been used in the attack.

After that incident, the U.S. agreed to a proposal by Russia to cooperate in destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles under the supervision of the OPCW.

Since then, however, additional chemical attacks have taken place, some involving sarin and others using chlorine. This past April, an apartment block in Douma was hit with a chlorine canister dropped from a regime helicopter.

Polygraph.info has done several fact checks about Russia’s attempt to distort the incident, and documented how OPCW inspectors were initially barred from the site of the attack.

SYRIA — Unidentified volunteers give aid to children at a hospital following an alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held town, April 8, 2018

While claiming to support inspections and investigations concerning these chemical attacks, Russia has actively moved to prevent such inspections from happening. In April, Polygraph.info documented six occasions when Russia used its veto power on the U.N. Security Council to block resolutions relating to chemical weapons use in Syria. Most notably, Russia vetoed the renewal of the U.N.-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) in 2017. In October 2017, the JIM released a report blaming the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun.

Also, while Russian authorities routinely call for “objective investigations” into chemical attacks, Russian state media have reacted negatively when investigators have implicated the Syrian regime. For example, Polygraph.info reported in May on a case in which Russian state media claimed that the OPCW received its samples from “jihadists.” No evidence was presented to support this claim.

Russian officials have recently claimed that “staged” chemical attacks were being prepared by rebels in Idlib, where the Syrian regime is preparing to launch an offensive. No evidence has been presented for these claims. In fact, Polygraph.info caught Russian state media and official Russian Foreign Ministry social media accounts using misleading photos to support allegations that chemical attacks in Syria have been staged by the opposition.

By Polygraph

Categories: World News

Countering information influence activities: A handbook for communicators

StopFake.org - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 21:25

By RIB-Meny

The handbook aims to assist and support communication specialists in public administration to identify, analyse and counter information influence activities in order to mitigate their impact on society. A central principle for all activities described in this handbook is that they always comply with Swedish laws and principles on freedom of expression and freedom of the press, on which our democracy is founded. This publication is also available in Swedish Att möta informationspåverkan – Handbok för kommunikatörer Order. No: MSB1260 – juli 2018 ISBN: 978-91-7383-864-1

PDF is available here.

By RIB-Meny

Categories: World News

Is there really data that heavy Facebook use caused…erm, is correlated with…erm, is linked to real-life hate crimes?

StopFake.org - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 21:17

Illustration from L.M Glackens’ The Yellow Press (1910) via The Public Domain Review

Plus: Does all our yammering about fake news make people think real news is fake?

By Shan Wang, for NiemanLab

The growing stream of reporting on and data about fake news, misinformation, partisan content, and news literacy is hard to keep up with. This weekly roundup offers the highlights of what you might have missed.

Study says heavy Facebook use is linked to more hate crimes against asylum seekers in Germany. Wait, is that what it says? The New York Times on Monday published a story, datelined from a “pro-refugee” German town, exploring the terrifying trajectory of actual German Facebook superusers who become radicalized through their intense activity in anti-refugee bubbles on social media, and commit real-life acts of violence. The piece, by Amanda Taub and Max Fisher of the Interpreter column, leaned on a previously covered working paper from researchers at the University of Warwick, and described the paper’s key finding as follows:

Towns where Facebook use was higher than average, like Altena, reliably experienced more attacks on refugees. That held true in virtually any sort of community — big city or small town; affluent or struggling; liberal haven or far-right stronghold — suggesting that the link applies universally.

Their reams of data converged on a breathtaking statistic: Wherever per-person Facebook use rose to one standard deviation above the national average, attacks on refugees increased by about 50 percent.

Shortly thereafter, academics began tussling over both the study’s quality and how it was portrayed in the Times piece.

Without access to comprehensive user behavior data from Facebook, the researchers chose what they considered next best approximations. They looked at, for instance, 39,632 posters on the public Facebook page for the newish right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland as a proxy for how much towns were exposed to nationwide anti-refugee content on social media. They looked at 21,915 Facebook users on the Nutella Facebook page (which the paper says is one of the most followed pages in Germany, though it cites a global number rather than a German one) for whom they could pinpoint location as a proxy for how active the not specifically right-wing, general populations of these towns are on Facebook. Are these good proxies? Critics weren’t so sure. But I’m not sure it’s a totally terrible proxy, either.

This is 100% true, and perhaps the more important take away here. Researcha shouldn’t have to scrape Nutella pages for social data of upmost importance https://t.co/n8e066e2RJ

— hal (@halhod) August 22, 2018

The paper also finds when there were internet and Facebook outages in heavy Facebook-use towns in the time period studied, there were fewer total attacks against refugees. Critics were wary of this, too. Causation? Correlation? And are we sure we know what is causing what, as the Times story is so forcefully arguing?

It’s a narrative that feels right — there’s a lot of hateful shit posted on Facebook, and that avalanche of content eventually whips up very engaged users into a hateful frenzy that pushes them over the edge in real life. The Times story has real anecdotes of people going through this transformation, and others witnessing these transformations in their communities. But it leans on this working paper to neaten the narrative, and reality is anything but neat.

We should probably be careful with just how much coverage we’re centering around fake news. There’s evidence that when people who are perceived to be “elites” — such as politicians, journalists, or certain activists — bring up fake news, that talk itself can subsequently lead to people being unsure about the veracity of real news stories, according to a new study by Emily Van Duyn and Jessica Collier of the University of Texas at Austin.

In the study, participants recruited via Mechanical Turk were first asked to classify the subject matter of tweets that were either about fake news or the federal budget. The tweets weren’t taken from actual Twitter but generated by the researchers, hinted at real organizations like NPR or the Sierra Club, and came from verified accounts with white, male names and avatars. Participants were then asked to read several news articles, some of which were fake, and asked to determine whether they thought the articles were real, fake (or that they weren’t sure which). The results indicated that seeing tweets about fake news had messed with people’s ability to identify real news articles as real, regardless of whether the participant identified as conservative or liberal.

Individuals primed with elite discourse about fake news identified real news with less accuracy than those who were not primed. As expected, political knowledge related to accurate identification of real news, where the more knowledgeable were more accurate than the less knowledgeable. Neither of these findings were true for the identification of fake news. Individuals primed with discourse about fake news were not more accurate in their identification of fake news than those who were not primed, and political knowledge also appeared to have no effect.

“Overall, these results point to a troubling effect,” the researchers conclude. “A similar ability to identify fake news between those in the prime and control conditions means that efforts to call attention to the differences between fake and real news may be instead making the distinction less clear.”

Here’s a theory that WhatsApp could moderate content if it wanted to.WhatsApp has always said end-to-end encryption makes flagging hoaxes on its end impossible. But if they do retain message metadata for some period of time, could they do some content moderation on their end? It would get to the root of the problem faster than many of these noble, WhatsApp-focused fact-checking initiatives popping up around the world.

That’s the approach Himanshu Gupta and Harsh Taneja put forward in a piece for CJR. They write:

[E]ven if WhatsApp can’t actually read the contents of a message, it [may be able to] access the unique cryptographic hash of that message (which it uses to enable instant forwarding), the time the message was sent, and other metadata. It can also potentially determine who sent a particular file to whom. In short, it can track a message’s journey on its platform (and thereby, fake news) and identify the originator of that message.

If WhatsApp can identify a particular a message’s metadata precisely, it can tag that message as “fake news” after appropriate content moderation. It can be argued that WhatsApp can also, with some tweaks to its algorithm, identify the original sender of a fake news image, video, or text and potentially also stop that content from further spreading on its network.

So are they suggesting a chat app get into the business of deleting content? Yep. “While WhatsApp may insist that it does not want to get into content moderation, or that building traceability of fake news messages would undermine end-to-end encryption, we suggest the authorities should ask them to do so going forward, considering the increasing severity of the fake news problem,” they write.

To be clear, WhatsApp didn’t actually confirm any of this metadata stuff to the authors. 

Categories: World News

#PackOfLies: How Moldova protects itself against disinformation

StopFake.org - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 20:47

By Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis

Though Moldova is daily bombarded by huge amounts of disinformation, there are active groups in the country working on disclosing and countering propaganda. They not only seek to expose to the society a range of different lies spread but also teach how to fight disinformation. Three main initiatives, working on disclosing and fighting propaganda, operate in the country.

One of the best-known initiatives is ‘Stop Fals!’. The goal of this project is to expand the capabilities to recognize disinformation for independent media. A campaign against spreading propaganda has also been launched. In order to achieve these goals, members of the initiative conduct research about the types of disinformation, analyze specific disinformation examples and present their rebuttals. The campaign is active not only on the internet: the local newspapers that can more easily reach a wider group of readers also discuss the phenomenon of fake news. The project’s success is marked by the launch of an imitative portal ‘Stopfals.com’ which started to post false stories about disclosed disinformation.

But the major problem is that this campaign limits itself by analyzing only the local content. It misses opportunities to combat pro-Kremlin narratives whose primary sources are Russian or sometimes even Western. That is why ‘Stop Fals!’ could be best described as a tool for observing local media and developing citizens’ awareness of fake news in local outlets.

Meanwhile, the ‘Sic.md’ project seeks to recognize the lies, inaccuracies and manipulations in influential public speeches. The project also observes the promises of politicians and notifies of the breaches of ethics in the media and public declarations. The website has a user-friendly interface and its creators post about the breaches and their analyses everyday. The portal also allows the readers to report lies. The ‘Sic.md’ project could be regarded as a tool to foster political responsibility and accountability, especially when taking a closer look at pro-Kremlin politicians.

‘Sic.md’ has some flaws as it is limited to one website only, whereas ‘StopFals!’ posts its articles in other sources too. Moreover, due to the lack of resources the initiative does not have a well-developed communication process.

The ‘TROLLESS’ project operates as a browser extension which identifies sources of manipulation in the social media and helps to follow fake profiles which spread disinformation. Users can report profiles which advertise specific campaigns, ideas, misinformation and manipulations. Although it does not delete the fake profiles, the users can see whether the profile is registered as fake. The Trolless community has around 800 members so far in the Chrome browser but they plan to add this extension to Mozilla and Safari browsers too.

The shortage of groups and initiatives which fight lies in Moldova is mainly caused by the lack of resources. As all active initiatives right now depend on financial support from abroad, they can only operate when the funding is guaranteed. The creators of these projects have noticed that the government of Moldova is not particularly interested in their work and often ignore their findings.

The text is part of the project which is aimed at strengthening democracy and civil society as well as fostering closer ties with the EU Eastern Partnership countries (Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia) by spreading independent information with the help of contemporary solutions. The project is implemented by Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis. It is financed as part of Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs‘ Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Programme.

Categories: World News

Fake: Ukrainian Children Forced To Play with Stuffed Hitler Toy

StopFake.org - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 14:45

At the end of July the Kremlin propaganda machine came up with a new fake that even surprised the seasoned StopFake team. Ukrainian children are forced to play with a stuffed Hitler toy. Lviv children’s toy companion – a knit Adolf Hitler, hailed Ukraina.ru, Lenta.ru, RIAfan, Izvestia, Pravda, Vzglyad, LifeNews and others.  Several Bulgarian and Uzbek news sites followed suit and reprinted the fake.

Website screenshot Ukraina.ru

Website screenshot Lenta.ru

Website screenshot RIAFAN.ru

One of the first to run with this fake was the Kremlin stalwart Ukraina.ru, which claims that the Ukrainian site Olx.ua is selling a “stuffed toy of the great German leader Adolf Hitler”. The story features a screenshot of a Hitler like knit figure, complete with a tiny black moustache and swastika. The hyperlink featured in the story does not take you to the Hitler figurine, but rather to the Olx general site. A search of the site using Ukraina.ru’s description of the toy comes up with the response “nothing found to match your description”. Lenta.ru claims the Olx site deleted the announcement for the toy on July 25, but it can still be found in Google cache. Google however draws a blank.

Vasyl Rybnikov, a journalist from the Censor.Net website decided to get to the bottom of this story and discovered that the bottom lies in Russia.

Rybnikov punched in Hitler on the Russian classified advertisements website Avito.ru and found 1500 references. Typing in Hitler toy he found the picture of the tiny knit Hitler used by Ukraina.ru, Lenta.ru, Izvestia and others to illustrate their fake story.

Website screenshot Avito

The Hitler doll is the knitted creation of a Russian woman living in Moscow who advertises her wares on the Avito site. The Hitler doll is not Nazi propaganda, her advertisement assures and features photos of other tiny crochet dictator dolls, Stalin, Mussolini and even Che Guevara.  She throws in a knit Churchill for good measure and promises to crochet any celebrity you want and even deliver the goods to a Moscow metro station or send your chosen doll through the post. All for 1500 rubles, at today’s exchange that’s 22 dollars and 39 cents.

On another Russian web site called Livemaster, the same knit Hitler doll with the same disclaimer of ‘this doll is not Nazi propaganda’ sells for $52.34.

Website screenshot Yarmarka Masterov/ Livemaster

Website screenshot Yarmarka Masterov/ Livemaster

The 42 centimeter cotton and wool Fuhrer is handmade, the item description reads and he is not the only Nazi toy one can purchase on the Livemaster website, there’s also a Mein Kampf marionette dressed in an SS type uniform with mad eyes and a Hitler mustache. There’s a Hitler bust, a Hitler portrait and other assorted Nazi paraphernalia.

Why look for nonexistent Hitler dolls in Ukraine when there are so many to choose from in Russia?

Categories: World News

Kremlin Watch Briefing: US and European elections – how to protect them?

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 15:19

Topics of the Week

Ilya Zaslavskiy: Israel should acknowledge the threat of the Kremlin’s hostile influence and act accordingly.

Are the US midterms already in jeopardy?

RT is fond of Trump, but not so much the United States.

Robotrolling: Russian-language messages about the Baltics and Poland mainly produced by humans for the first time

Good Old Soviet Joke

A foreign correspondent asks a Czech citizen: “What’s the situation after Prague Spring? Are the Russians your brothers or friends now?”

“Brothers of course. You can choose your own friends!”

Policy & Research News Israel and Russia: Friends or foes?

We typically focus on the threat the Kremlin’s disinformation and influence operations pose to Europe and the United States. In a recent interview for the Times of Israel, Ilya Zaslavskiy, Head of Research at the Free Russia Foundation, warns against similar activities targeting the State of Israel and its citizens and describes them in remarkable detail. He also proposes several recommended steps for Israeli institutions:

  • Acknowledgment of the problem, which should be followed by investigations and exposure of the threat
  • Robust policy of containment
  • Halting money flows
  • Expelling Russian oligarchs
  • Stricter anti-money laundering measures
  • Consulting security services with regard to strategic purchases related to security, defence, or the national interest
  • More funding for independent investigative reporters
Cyber security of election technology

In 2019, the European Parliamentary elections will take place in 27 EU member states (excluding the UK), with each using unique voting procedures and systems. An incident or a threat affecting the legitimacy of an election in one Member State will inevitably affect the legitimacy of the entire election across the European Union. This is why ensuring electoral security and legitimacy is of paramount importance across the EU.

To this end, over 20 EU member states have contributed to the creation of a compendium on the cyber security of election technology, an effort led by Estonia and the Czech Republic. The compendium brings out methods to increase cyber security of election technology through universal practices in regard to voting technology, comprehensive risk assessment and management, testing and auditing of voting systems, concrete technical measures to protect elections, security measures in all stages of an election, and protecting different stakeholders participating in the elections.

Russian influence on the European “power ministries”

In his recent article for the American Interest, Neil Barnett compares the current phenomenon of populist political parties in Europe, like the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the Lega Nord in Italy, which both formally cooperate with the ruling United Russia Party, taking control of their national interior ministries. He compares the situation with the 1940s, when the Soviet Union used so-called “power ministries” for undermining democratic systems in Central Europe, preparing the ground for further subversive activities.

The state of play in Austria has already decreased the level of security cooperation and intelligence sharing with European countries, with Germany publicly questioning the reliability of Austrian allies. The author therefore calls for these developments to be monitored closely and warns that this could be one of the “most effective, and overlooked, tools in the subversion kit.”

US Developments 2018 US midterms already in jeopardy?

The vulnerability of the US electoral system remains concerning ahead of the 2018 midterms as Russia continues to pull the strings of its digital marionettes, with Facebook’s ex-security chief Alex Stamos warning that it is now “too late” to preempt foreign interference. Mr. Stamos’ assessment, delivered just after Facebook removed652 disinformation accounts linked to Russia and Iran, follows Microsoft’s revelation into emergent Russian-linked disruption operations. In a statement released by Microsoft’s president, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit identified and interdicted six domains created by the hacking group ‘Fancy Bear’ (affiliated with Russian military intelligence) in an attempt to spoof addresses linked to conservative think tanks and even the US Senate.

While the damage from this attack was ultimately limited, Russia’s boldness and perseverance continues to augur little confidence in US electoral security. Equally alarming are the claims that vital CIA sources within or close to the Kremlin have increasingly and abruptly become recluse. Lost sources, in addition to the earlier expulsion of 60 US diplomats and closure of the St Petersburg consulate, compounds the already challenging task of divining Russia’s long-term strategy ahead of the midterms. Whether through Kremlin-branded cloak or dagger, the November elections remain fraught with uncertainty.

US Senators demand answers over Helsinki

Following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s puzzling defense of the frenzied Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, Senate Democrats are now requesting Pompeo to release all materials pertaining to their private two-hour discussion. Under dubious and extraordinary circumstances, the world leaders initially held their July rendezvous without any members of their delegation, making Trump’s interpreter, Marina Gross, the only other American behind closed doors.  Despite Russia’s Ministry of Defense going on to announce that they were “ready for practical implementation of the agreements reached”, no communique regarding Trump’s one-on-one has been issued, leaving US state officials, lawmakers and the general public clueless as to what promises and agreements their President may have made.

“We continue to hear more information – accurate or not – from the Russian government than from our own”, Senator Bob Menendez added. Now Menendez, along with Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who was targeted last month by phishing attacks, are demanding answers, formally requesting access to all classified and unclassified cable traffic, memoranda of conversations, interpreter’s notes and policy directives related to the meeting.

The Russian trolls behind the anti-vaccine debate

Researchers argue that Russian-linked Twitter accounts were ‘weaponized’ in a failedattempt to probe the cultural fault lines of the anti-vaccine debate in the US. After sampling a set of over 1.7 million tweets from July 2014 to September 2017, researchers examined the nature and frequency of vaccine-related tweets. Their conclusion? Russian-linked ‘troll’ accounts and sophisticated bots tweeted about vaccines “significantly more often than average users”, targeting and attempting to control both sides of the narrative following a tactic “consistent with a strategy of promoting discord across a range of controversial topics”. Moreover, the report uniquely identified “#VaccinateUS” tweets with troll accounts linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (aka the Russian troll factory).

The Kremlin’s Current Narrative U.S. bad, Trump good

RT appears to be mirroring the position that the Kremlin is taking towards American political elites: criticize the U.S. but defend Trump.

RT cites Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s triumphant speech, “the US will not change Russia’s political course with restrictions”. She declared, All charges voiced by the US side are ephemeral but the restrictions introduced today are very real, even though they are largely a copy of the already existing ones… And the exclusion of supplies related to space research programs and aircraft safety from the sanctions regime  only confirm the hypocrisy and bias of the American authorities.” Zakharova added: “Unlike the US, Russia remains true to its obligations – its chemical arsenals have been completely destroyed and this was confirmed by international experts, including American ones”.

So the U.S. political elite and so-called ‘deep state’ is hypocritical and irresponsible, we get it. But apparently there is a ray of light in American politics, and who should that be but Donald Trump. RT cites long-time Trump supporter and contrarian Peter Thiel, a co-founder of a PayPal.

“I got to meet a lot of people running for president on the US Republican side in 2016 and they all felt like zombies,” Thiel said. “They couldn’t say anything different other than programmed ideological soundbites. Trump was a very healthy corrective to that.I fully understand why people think of President Trump as a rude, mean person. But I think that’s often better than telling beautiful lies about the way the country is working. I believe it was incredibly important to articulate certain things about how our political institutions and our society were not working as well as before”.

The Kremlin and the pro-Kremlin media don’t want their biggest asset in the U.S. to get sacked, and will do their best to whitewash Trump and demonize mainstream American leadership in order to continue mobilizing the anti-establishment base.

Kremlin Watch Reading Suggestion Robotrolling Issue 3

In the latest issue of Robotrolling, experts from the NATO Stratcom CoE analyze social media posts related to NATO, Poland, and the Baltic states from May to July 2018. Just over a third of English-language and Russian-language activity on Twitter was from anonymous or low-quality accounts, which are a suspected product of the Russian troll farm, the Internet Research Agency.

Influxes of messages on Twitter related to NATO, the Baltic states, and Poland coincided with military exercises, statements by the Polish Ministry of Defence, and President Trump’s European tour. Interestingly, messages in English and Russian diverged. The Russian online space was dominated by commentaries on events surrounding military exercises, Russian international relations, the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Crimea, and internal Russian politics. Bot activity first spiked in late May when the Polish Ministry of Defence proposed to fund a permanent US base in Poland. The authors observed that for the first time Russian-language messages about the Baltics and Poland were mainly concocted by humans, rather than automated bots. This is likely a result of Twitter’s effort to restrict automated users, although automated bots still produce half of Russian-language content online.

In contrast, the English Twitter conversation was dominated by dissenting opinions of US politics, US elections, Black Lives Matter/police brutality, and Syria/international terrorism. Compared to Russian posts, English posts were twice as likely to be directed to other users, and three times as likely to contain hashtags. Further, English posts are tailored to specific groups as content tended to be specialised and focused on a particular topic.

Kremlin Watch is a strategic program of the European Values Think-Tank, which aims to expose and confront instruments of Russian influence and disinformation operations focused against liberal-democratic system.

Categories: World News

Russian analyst belittles American LNG potential in a ‘gas war’ over Europe

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 14:40

Poland — The LNG tanker “Clean Ocean” is pictured during the first U.S. delivery of liquefied natural gas to LNG terminal in Swinoujscie, June 8, 2017

By Polygraph

Sergei Savchuk

RIA Novosti Contributor

“As of today, the number of all liquefied natural gas plants in the United States is precisely…one. It’s located in the state of Louisiana, its name is Sabine Pass and the American company ExxonMobil is a shareholder.”

Source: RIA Novosti

FALSE

There are two operational liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in the United States, with more coming on stream soon.

Cheniere Energy’s LNG plant, with 27 million tons per year nameplate capacity at the Sabine Pass River on the Louisiana-Texas border, was commissioned in 2016 and was the first of its kind in the U.S. Dominion Energy’s Cove Point plant on the Chesapeake Bay, which can produce 5.25 million tons of LNG per year, started to stream last month. At least four more natural gas liquidation facilities are set to start operating in the coming months, and dozens of companies have submitted long-term application forms for LNG exports with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that the country’s liquefied natural gas exports had increased to 2.8 billion cubic feet per day as of November 2017. That followed the completion of the fourth liquefaction unit at the Sabine Pass terminal, which has the largest capacity in the lower 48 states.

Brussels’s and Washington’s efforts to open and diversify the natural gas market in Europe are perceived by some Russian observers as a “gas war” being waged by the U.S. against Moscow.

GERMANY — Steel pipes for the North Stream 2 pipeline are uploaded in Mukran harbor in Sassnitz, May 8, 2017

However, the demand for de-monopolization and diversification of the market is a requirement of the European Union’s Third Energy Package, which stipulates separation of companies’ production and sale operations from their transport networks.

Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom has consistently pushed to increase the volumes of its natural gas deliveries to Europe, by building the Turkish Stream pipeline in southern Europe through the Black Sea and by pressing affected countries to permit the construction of Nord Stream 2, the second edition of the disputed pipeline under the Baltic Sea. All of this violates the Third Energy Package.

The first edition of Nord Stream, both lines of which were completed in 2011, was actually built to circumvent any land transit for Russian gas through the Baltic states and Poland, therefore directly influencing the supply of gas to Western Europe. Currently, at least a third of Europe’s gas comes from Russia, and Gazprom’s shipments to the continent reached a record high last year and are only expected to grow.

In 2011, the energy package was already in force, and merely inaugurating the Nord Stream pipeline violated EU laws. Gazprom, the majority owner of North Stream AG, the operator of the pipeline, is actually the sole producer, seller and transporter of the gas.

RUSSIA — The new Lakhta Center, which will serve as Gazprom’s headquarters, is pictured in St. Petersburg, July 8, 2018

However, while the launch of Nord Stream violated EU law, protests by officials in Poland and the Baltic countries were futile at that time, given that Moscow was playing energy geopolitics, with Gazprom signing one-on-one gas deals with many EU member states.

Over the course of natural gas payment disputes with Kyiv, Russia interrupted the supply of gas to Ukraine and Ukraine’s EU neighbors on at least three occasions between 2009 and 2011. The Russian government-owned media outlet RT also twisted the facts surrounding Russia’s energy supply pressure, which Polygraph.info fact-checked in March.

Each of these gas cuts interrupted the market, leaving several European countries without natural gas supplies during the winter. On the heels of skyrocketing oil prices – gas prices follow oil prices with a delay of several months – Russia found a new tool to influence the domestic policies of the affected countries. Playing geopolitics with energy followed Vladimir Putin’s infamous anti-Western speech in Munich in 2007.

Fast-forwarding to the present day, Europeans are still depend on cheap Russian gas. The Russian media and government continue to portray Washington as the aggressor, spinning the recent visit of Jean-Claude Junker, the president of the European Commission, as a way for U.S. President Donald Trump to persuade Europe to build more terminals for American LNG.

Russia has dominated the European energy market for decades and even RIA Novosti has said Russia’s gas cannot be simply replaced by American LNG, which is a small supply compared to the continent’s overall gas consumption. Polygraph.info’s January fact check detailed the fact that the U.S. LNG supplies do not “reduce the energy security in Europe” as RT claimed, but actually contribute to energy stability in Europe.

By Polygraph

Categories: World News

Figure of the week: 93

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 14:18

By EU vs Disinfo

As many as 93 percent of messages about vaccines posted on Twitter between 2014 and 2017 came from malicious accounts, including accounts operated by Russian trolls.

The findings were published by researchers at George Washington University as part of a new study titled “Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate.”

Researchers examined a random sample of almost 1.8 million tweets collected between July 2014 and September 2017 – before and during the U.S. presidential campaign, which different Russian actors are accused of seeking to influence.

The study initially aimed at improving social media communications for U.S. public health workers.

Instead, researchers found that public health issues were being targeted by what the study describes as “attempts to spread misinformation and disinformation by foreign powers.”

They identified several accounts belonging to the Internet research Agency, the infamous Russian troll factory based in St. Petersburg. The agency has been indicted in the United States for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

According to the study, Russian trolls tweeted both pro-and anti-vaccine messages, a strategy often used by trolls to confuse audiences and undermine established facts or institutions.

Mark Dredze, one of the researchers who took part in the study, said Russian trolls played both sides to “erode public trust in vaccination, exposing us all to the risk of infectious diseases.”

Trolls, Dredze said, are using vaccination as “a wedge issue, promoting discord in American society.”

By EU vs Disinfo

Categories: World News

Russian Embassy tweets misleading photo about Syria

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 11:24

SYRIA — Policemen and civilians stand in front of damaged buildings in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, April 16, 2018

By Polygraph

Twitter Account of Russia’s Embassy in South Africa

Official Russian Foreign Ministry social media account

“Russian Defence Ministry: English-speaking ‘foreign specialists’ have arrived in #Syria to attempt staging chlorine chemical attack early this week. Latest intel indicates the hoax is planned to take place in the village of Kafr Zita (Hama province) #HoaxAlert”

Source: Twitter

FALSE

The photo is of the set of a Syrian government film.

On August 27, the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in South Africa tweeted a photo of what appears to be actors on a film set. This image accompanied a claim that “English-speaking foreign specialists” had arrived in Syria to stage a chlorine chemical attack in Hama province.

Russian Defence Ministry: English-speaking “foreign specialists” have arrived in #Syria to attempt staging chlorine chemical attack early this week. Latest intel indicates the hoax is planned to take place in the village of Kafr Zita (Hama province) #HoaxAlert pic.twitter.com/JfK5eveca7

— Russia in RSA

Categories: World News

Kremlin’s distortions of history keep Russians in the dark

StopFake.org - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 11:26

By Sarah Hurst (@XSovietNews). for StopFake

The Kremlin not only writes its own version of current events such as the downing of MH17 and Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but also strives actively to promote a very different – and extremely distorted – version of history. Most disturbingly, Stalin has been rehabilitated as a great war leader, while his reign of tyranny is downplayed. Another one of the foundation stones propping up Vladimir Putin’s aging regime is the insistence that Russia and Ukraine are one country.

Claims on Ukraine

On Ukraine’s Independence Day, August 24, Petro Poroshenko watched as the country’s defence minister gave the new official military greeting to troops, “Glory to Ukraine!”, which enrages the Kremlin, and the president then said in his speech that Ukraine needed to break off permanently with the Russian empire and the Russian Orthodox Church, which backs Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The speech was denounced by Russian media, including, for example, the business newspaper Vzglyad, which ran an opinion piece by Petr Akopov explaining why Ukraine’s efforts to join Europe are doomed to failure. “Ukraine is part of Russia, inalienable and inseparable, essential and historical – without Ukraine there is no Russia either as an empire, or as Russia at all,” Akopov wrote. When the Soviet Union broke up almost 30 years ago the countries of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were created, he went on, but “Russians put so much effort into bringing their lands together, opposing their enemies, building their state, that appealing to three decades of separation is simply funny. This is an instant in the thousand-year Russian history, and we’ll see it disappear into eternity,” he predicted. “Ukraine as part of Europe isn’t only unnatural, but impossible,” Akopov claimed.

Pro-Kremlin think-tanker Nikita Isayev had a more realistic view of the Independence Day events, pointing out on a Russian TV talk show that Ukraine has many allies whose troops participated in the parade, while Putin could only muster the unpopular president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, as a guest on Victory Day. When Isayev commented that next year’s presidential election in Ukraine would be interesting, the talk show host immediately interrupted to add that it would be held “under the barrel of NATO guns”. If Russians start to see that Ukrainians themselves want freedom and are proud of it, their fragile belief that Putin is battling a Western conspiracy could be undermined.

Czechoslovakia protest

One day after Ukraine’s independence celebration, several activists gathered in Red Square for the 50th anniversary of the famous Soviet protest against the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in which eight dissidents held a banner that said “For our freedom and yours.” Pavel Litvinov, who participated 50 years ago and was sentenced to exile, returned to the same spot and demanded the release of Oleg Sentsov and the return of Crimea to Ukraine. Three of the demonstrators were detained – two of them again holding a banner with the original slogan on it.

While people all over the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Czechoslovakia, which put an end to democracy there for another 20 years, RT’s Bryan MacDonald tweeted: “It’s interesting how the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia is being recast as a ‘Russian invasion’ these days. The troops were ordered in by two Ukrainians (Brezhnev and Podgorny) and under the authority of another Ukrainian (Grechko) and commanded by a Belarusian (Yakubovsky).”

Meanwhile the Russian embassy in the Netherlands was upset by a tweet from analyst Jakub Janda, who captioned a photograph, “Young Russian occupant is confronted by Czechoslovak citizen.” The embassy responded, “Russian occupant? Russian? We got used to the ‘fighters’ against [Russian flag] ‘propaganda’ spreading fake news. But calling USSR – Russia and omitting the fact of involvement of other Warsaw Treaty Organization countries reveals the real level of some ‘experts’.”

Rehabilitating Stalin

The reality is that Moscow was the capital of the Soviet empire and all decisions were made in Moscow. All independence movements within the Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact countries were put down by force, and that has continued in the Putin era. And today it is only Russia that is still making excuses for these events. On August 17 RT published an article titled “More than a quarter of Russians supportive of Prague Spring suppression by Soviets.”

The article linked to one from July 2017 quoting a poll that found that most Russians support the idea of Stalin monuments.

According to RT, “When researchers asked Russians if they consider it reasonable to install memorials that would remind future generations of Stalin’s wrongdoing and errors, 65 percent said no and only 28 percent voiced their support for the idea.”

In January this year Russian authorities banned Armando Iannucci’s film “The Death of Stalin”. A Moscow cinema that briefly defied the ban was fined. Although the tone of the film is satirical, the real events it depicts are very serious: members of the Politburo panic when they find Stalin incapacitated in a pool of his own urine, and a power struggle ensues that results in the execution of the mass murderer and rapist Beria, and ultimately Khrushchev’s ascension to the leadership of the Soviet Union. The film has evidently been banned not for giving the wrong impression of history, but for the right one.

62-year-old historian Yuri Dmitriev, who is also head of the Karelia branch of the Memorial human rights group, has spent decades researching the thousands of Stalin’s victims who were executed in the Sandarmokh forest. The FSB fabricated a criminal case against him, accusing him of making pornographic images of his adopted daughter. Even Russian experts agreed that this was in fact a health journal of photographs of her that he kept in order to prove that she wasn’t being abused after leaving a children’s home. He was subjected to forced psychiatric treatment, and found to be of sound mind. Dmitriev was acquitted in April last year, very unusually, but authorities were not satisfied with this outcome and have now thrown him into prison ahead of a new trial on new invented charges. Dmitriev has received support from campaigners within Russia and around the world.

Baltic occupation denied

Instead of acknowledging Soviet crimes, Putin compounds them by punishing those who remember them and who compare today’s repressions with those of the past. On August 23 Russia’s Foreign Ministry tweeted a comment by their spokeswoman Maria Zakharova: “Our official position remains unchanged. We reject the allegations of the Baltic states’ ‘occupation’ by the USSR as well as the absurd and totally ungrounded legal and historic arguments that make up the essence of the claims on Russia.”

Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves responded, “HaHaHa. We really wanted to join that murderous miasma voluntarily.” As members of the European Union and NATO, the Baltic states are now the most successful democracies of the former Soviet republics and have not been invaded by Russia like Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine.

The Soviet Union annexed the Baltics during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and also invaded Finland. Unsurprisingly this is one of the most sensitive aspects of history for Putin. Instead of expressing any regret for wrongdoing, the Kremlin resorts to its usual tactic of claiming that other countries were just as bad. On August 26 the Russian embassy in Canada tweeted sarcastically, “Following numerous requests of online experts on Soviet-German relations in 1930s here’s the list of non-aggression pacts concluded with #Germany while Hitler was in power. Nota bene #Poland/Baltic states did the same before #USSR. Small hint – the Soviet one is at the very bottom.” The list includes Germany’s pacts with Japan, Hungary, Italy and Spain – its wartime allies.

Poet prosecuted

Russian poet Alexander Byvshev was informed a few days ago that his book of poems about World War II, “Bloody Memory”, will be included as evidence in the sixth criminal case against him for “extremism”. Byvshev has already been convicted twice for his poems in support of Ukraine, and has been banned from teaching or having a bank account. He lives with his elderly parents in the small town of Kromy in Oryol Oblast. Byvshev thinks that a charge of “rehabilitating Nazism” could be added to the charge of extremism, since many of his World War II poems accuse Stalin and the Soviet leadership of war crimes. This is one of the poems in the book:

WE CAN!

Father of the peoples sits on show

In that jacket we know so well.

Attack head on, full flow!

Our defence can go to hell.

Days left until the celebration.

Forward! And don’t lose an hour!

The little soldiers of the nation –

Are fodder for the cannon’s power.

Such casualties, what to say!

(Fritz isn’t even a fan…)

How can you toss people away?!

But the leader waves, “We can!”

(February 12, 2014)

When “Bloody Memory” was first published, it was praised by the Communist Party. Even during Byvshev’s trials for his Ukraine poems, schoolchildren in Russia have recited his World War II poems at competitions. But the Kremlin is becoming more and more reactionary, and trials more absurd. Byvshev continues to defy Putin, publishing his poems on Facebook. One of the latest ones, titled “To War Criminal Georgy Zhukov” says that Zhukov deserved to be hanged for sending 45,000 Soviet troops to march through the epicentre of a nuclear test in 1954. The Kremlin certainly doesn’t need fearless people like Yuri Dmitriev or Alexander Byvshev writing about such episodes.

Philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” No country proves this more conclusively than Russia. Until Russians reclaim their bloody memories, they will have to wonder why things are going so badly wrong.

 

Categories: World News

Picture Does Not Lie — Russian Claim to Have Captured Javelin Missile System is Wrong

StopFake.org - Fri, 08/24/2018 - 11:23

Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, fire a Javelin weapons systems at Fort Stewart, Ga., August 23, 2017. The Javelin weapons system is a medium anti-tank, portable missile launcher

By Polygraph

Vedomosti

Russian newspaper

“At an exhibition of trophy weapons captured in Syria, held in the Moscow region near Kubinka as part of the forum “Army-2018,” the Russian Ministry of Defense showed the US anti-tank missile system (ATGM) “Javelin.”

Source: Vedomosti, August 22, 2018

FALSE

The weapon shown is not a Javelin.

On August 22, the Russian news outlet Vedomosti reported on an exhibit of the Russian Ministry of Defense at the forum “Army 2018.” The exhibit features several anti-tank rockets and launchers supposedly captured by Russian forces in Syria. The Russian trophies allegedly include the highly advanced American FGM-148 Javelin system.

Vedomosti cites a “source close to the Ministry of Defense” who claimed that the Javelin was most likely captured from Islamic State fighters in Syria, “acquired by ISIS after the U.S. forces lost it.” There is just one problem – the missile on display is not a Javelin.

Screenshot of Vedomosti story

Eagle-eyed experts on Twitter quickly recognized the alleged “Javelin” launcher on the right side of the photo to be the French APILAS anti-tank rocket launcher, developed by GIAT Industries.

(They claim that the one on the far right is a Javelin. I have no idea if it really is or not, but hey, it’s not like we ever have reason to doubt the Russian MoD…)

— Aric Toler (@AricToler) August 22, 2018

There is scant evidence that the Javelin was ever provided to any faction in Syria. Only one photo and a video show the weapon system in that country, in the hands of fighters from the Kurdish YPG/YPJ backed by the U.S. and coalition. However, the State Department denied that the weapons were provided to the Kurdish forces and that U.S. and other NATO special operations personnel were operating with the Kurds at the time the photo and video surfaced. This means it is possible that any Javelins might have been controlled by those special forces personnel rather than the local forces they were assisting.

Interestingly, Syrian government forces announced that they had captured several APILAS launchers in July 2018.

By Polygraph

Categories: World News

Russian Foreign Ministry: Islamic State “gone” – even as Defense Ministry says attacks in Syria “escalated”

StopFake.org - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 22:17

SYRIA – A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows coffins lined up during a mass funeral of yesterday’s suicide attacks victims in the southern city of Suwayda on July 26, 2018

By Polygraph

Maria Zakharova

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson

“MEDIA: “THE STATE DEPARTMENT CONFIRMED THAT IT WILL DIRECT $230 MILLION FOR STABILIZATION IN SYRIA TO OTHER GOALS.” Right: ISIS is no longer there, the irreconcilable militants are gone, the White Helmets also have been evacuated. Who would need money in Syria? Well, the State Department isn’t going to sponsor a peaceful life.”

Source: Facebook, August 17, 2018

FALSE

he Islamic State is still active in Syria.

On August 17, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented on the announcement that the U.S. State Department would be redirecting approximately $230 million in funds to stabilize and rebuild Syria. She rhetorically asked who the money could have been intended for, claiming that the Islamic State no longer exists in Syria.

Vladimir Putin made a similar announcement about the Islamic State in December of last year. In reality however, the Islamic State is still active in Syria. This was apparent in late July when a contingent of ISIS fighters launched a devastating attack on the Syrian town of Suwayda. Attackers went from house to house executing occupants before running out of ammunition and detonating their suicide bomb vests. In total, around 200 people were killed and another 180 wounded in the attack. A Defense Department report estimates that the Islamic State may currently control five percent of Syria’s territory.

A U.S. Defense Department report estimates that the Islamic State may currently control five percent of Syria’s territory.

SYRIA — In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrians inspect the site of a suicide attack in Suwayda, Syria, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Not only the U.S. military and the Western media contradict Russian Foreign Ministry claim that there is no IS fighters left in Syria – the Russian Defense Ministry reported on August 9, an “escalation” of the attacks by the IS groups in certain areas in Syria.That was only a week before Zakharova’s statement. Even the Russia state media — RT — put video of the Suwayda attack on YouTube (below), calling in the “worst violence” in the area in seven years.

The funds to be redirected were aimed at rebuilding areas of Syria liberated from IS by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a movement organized by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed factions, the YPG/YPJ (People’s Protection Units/Women’s Protection Units). These forces received air and artillery support from the U.S. and its coalition allies during the campaign to capture Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State, in the fall of 2017.

U.S. officials in the Trump administration said that contributions from Saudi Arabia and other coalition allies would more than compensate for the $230 million, and that the U.S. remained committed to the goal of eradicating the Islamic State from Syria and Iraq.

Zakharova’s words suggest that the U.S. is not interested in sponsoring peaceful life in Syria. This claim is also false. According to the UN, the United States is the world’s single largest aid donor to Syria, having provided more than $7.4 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of Syrian people, and the effort is ongoing.

According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. government has provided $73 million aid to Syria since the beginning of 2018. It provided $729 million in 2017, $916 million in 2016, $914 million in 2015, $796 million in 2014, $776 million in 2013, $124 million in 2012 and $26 million in 2011.​

#ISIS “financial reserves have declined but not dried up…reserves to be in the low hundreds of millions of United States dollars” per new @UN intel on the terror group in #Iraq #Syriahttps://t.co/EquOeQW5hU

— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) August 16, 2018


Zakharova’s statement recalls earlier Russian statements accusing the U.S. of funding or backing the Islamic State or other “irreconcilable militants” in Syria. In December, the Russian Defense Ministry accused the U.S. of “arming and training former Islamic State and al Nusra” fighters.We found this false. Any similar allegations or implications in Zakharova’s August 17th statement, of course, are nonsensical given the role the U.S. has played in assisting the Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against the Islamic State since 2015. In addition to the SDF, the U.S. has also trained other groups to fight against the Islamic State, such as the Revolutionary Commando Army in southern Syria.

By Polygraph

Categories: World News

Malaysia cancels „lex anti-fake”

StopFake.org - Thu, 08/23/2018 - 19:56

Much is being said about more countries planning or already introducing laws meant to fight against false information in media. Meanwhile new Malaysian government did the opposite. On Thursday (16th of August) they repealed the widely criticized “anti-fake news” bill.

The law was introduced the last year in April by the government of the previous prime minister Najib Razak. “The spreaders of the fake news” were threatened to spend six years in prison and/or pay 500,000 ringgit of fee (about 120,000 USD).

As “The Guardian” reported, the first person sentenced for spreading fake news were Saleh Sulaiman, a Danish living in Malaysia. He stated in the video posted online, that the police needed an hour to get to a local shooting scene. The officers, however, proved that they had spent only eight minutes. Sulaiman for his lie faced the court and was given a fee – 2,500 USD. He claimed himself unable to pay and asked to serve a month of the prison instead.

The law was widely criticized. People were afraid the law were going to be used to suppress the freedom of speech and to mute the opposition and media not favourable towards the authorities.

The subject returned after the elections – in their consequence Najib Razak and his political party lost the power in Malaysia. Now, after few hours long debate, also „anti-fake” law is a part of the history.

It is worth noticing, that also in Poland introducing of similar laws was considered. Already in the December 2017 Anna Streżyńska, then the minister of digital affairs said: In the digital world which starts to overwhelm all our reality, there can be far more manipulation. It can be manipulation of definitions, of message, of encyclopaedical information. Finally, it can be an organized attack causing the misshaping of mass transmission and mass reception of public opinion. For now, there is no Anna Streżyńska (in the government) nor the law (at all).

WM

Categories: World News

#PackOfLies: To disentangle from Kremlin’s cobweb of lies. The case of Georgia

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 18:40

By Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis, for StopFake

Kremlin’s propaganda is spreading lies in Georgia that September 11 attacks were perpetrated by the US government itself, and that liberalism is linked to the ancient Roman God Liber, famous for alcoholism and sexual perversion. These lies are meant to discredit Western democracies and liberalism as an ideology of freedom. As this is not the first time that Kremlin and its sources are spreading these kind of lies, it is necessary to expose the cases of fake news and adverse propaganda as well as to acquire a deeper understanding of methods applied in order to find an effective antidote to them.

Georgia’s “Media Development Foundation” investigated 65 specific cases of propaganda dissemination in Georgia and determined that the media itself became the source of disinformation in 37 cases, while the rest of the cases were of other sources, supposedly private individuals.

It is important to note that disseminators of disinformation did not even bother to specify their sources of information in most cases. Also, there were some cases where humouristic-satyrical English or Russian sources were referred to as primary. Thus, it is important to question the source of any information encountered. If there are no sources mentioned, that is already a good reason not to trust the information. If the source is mentioned, it is helpful to check its nature, owners, editors, etc. It is also advisable to check the authors and interviewees, to question whether they are fictitious or not, are they competent to talk about specific questions, is their reputation intact, etc. If you find something questionable, it is worth publicizing.

The “Media Development Foundation” experts note that primary Russian sources are often kept secret in Georgia. Also, anti-Western disinformation is mostly published in specific platforms designated for such purpose. Therefore, it is important to have a list of such platforms, media and journalists that consciously deceive their audience by disguising the primary sources, spread disinformation, and violate journalistic ethics. According to the experts, refutation of disinformation has to be communicated not only on the internet, but on other media platforms as well. Also, it is necessary to help develop the competences of professionals working in the media in order to make them capable to spot the attempts to mislead and manipulate them.

The aforementioned investigation by “Media Development Foundation” has revealed the main propaganda methods used in Georgia:
• Disinformation (e.g., the portal “Georgia&World” declared that the September 11 attacks were organized by the US government);
• Conspiracy theories (Georgian businessman L. Vasadze explained that the term “liberal” originates from the Roman god Liber, famous for alcoholism and sexual perversion);
• Demonization (“Georgia&World” proclaimed that “the US are attempting to breed a human and monkey’s hybrid for labor”.)

  • Republication of satirical-humoristic stories in order to present them as real (an organization called “Rights Defenders’ Union” declared that the US candidate to vice-president’s position threatened to exile the Catholic Church if it does not support same sex marriage)
    • Misleading fake headlines (e.g., PIA announced that „Erdogan blames the US for the military takeover in Turkey“)
    • Manipulating photos and video footage (Asaval-Dasavali announced that NATO have introduced military uniforms for LGBT community)
  • The rehabilitation and dissemination of Soviet myths by applying them to new contexts.

By Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis, for StopFake

The text is part of the project which is aimed at strengthening democracy and civil society as well as fostering closer ties with the EU Eastern Partnership countries (Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia) by spreading independent information with the help of contemporary solutions. The project is implemented by Vilnius Institute for Policy Analysis. It is financed as part of Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs‘ Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Programme.

Categories: World News

Kremlin Watch Briefing: New ranking of countermeasures by the EU28 to the Kremlin’s Subversion Operations

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 18:05

NEW PUBLICATION

2018 Ranking of Countermeasures by the EU28 to the Kremlin’s Subversion Operations.

This report, which builds on the Overview of Countermeasures by the EU28 to the Kremlin’s Subversion Operations (published in May 2017), summarizes all the new initiatives, developments, and policies implemented in the last year, analyses the major trends, and provides a current ranking of the EU28 on the basis of their resistance against the Kremlin’s subversion efforts, from collaborators to full-scale defenders. Over the last several months, we have witnessed a number of both positive and negative changes, with countries like Austria and the Netherlands stepping down the ladder, while other countries Spain and the United Kingdom becoming more active in their counterefforts against the Kremlin’s disinformation and hostile influence. The report is available in full here.

You can find the study on our new website http://www.kremlinwatch.eu/, where you can browse an interactive map which includes references to 740 projects, activities, and initiatives from 47 countries, as well as the European Union and NATO.

Topics of the Week

From The Washington Post: Have the sanctions against Russia had the desired impact?

Newly approved NDAA suggests countering Russia and China will be a priority for the US in 2019.

Read about the reaction of pro-Kremlin media to the new wave of US sanctions.

Read about the Cyber-Digital Task Force’s take on the electoral process.

Good Old Soviet Joke

This is Armenian Radio; our listeners asked us: “What is permitted and what is prohibited?”

We’re answering: “In England, what is permitted, is permitted, and what is prohibited, is prohibited.

“In America everything is permitted except for what is prohibited.

“In Germany everything is prohibited except for what is permitted.

“In France everything is permitted, even what is prohibited.

“In the USSR everything is prohibited, even what is permitted.”

Policy & Research News Volunteers expand the research of the “troll factory” tweets

Last week, almost 3 million tweets produced by the Russian “troll factory”, otherwise known as the Internet Research Agency, were published on FiveThirtyEight. Since then, this vast amount of data has been further processed and analysed by many researchers all over the world. Oliver Roeder mentions some of them.

Andrew Cook from Johns Hopkins University identified types of topics covered by the trolls. “Large swaths of the Right Troll network are devoted to topics such as media outlets, free speech, American jobs and discrediting the FBI. The Left Troll network skewed more towards topics such as racism, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

New platforms emerged for storage and easy searching of the data. Others revealed that, unsurprisingly, the United States was not the only target of the tweets. According to Roberto Rocha from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, almost 8,000 of them targeted Canada. Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Israel may have been included as well.

Why does it make sense to keep the sanctions in place?

In light of the new US sanctions against Russia in response to the Novichok attacks in Britain, Maria Snegovaya reviews the impact of the ongoing Russia sanctions in the Washington Post. She reports the following:

  1. The sanctions limit the Russian Federation from boosting economic growth.
  2. The Kremlin has fewer resources to reward its supporters and therefore loses backing in many constituencies.
  3. Russian elites lost many opportunities to make money in the West and are now fighting for them at home, which sometimes results in different branches of the security forces to arrest their rivals.
  4. The Kremlin changes its approach due to the circumstances and uses more repression instead of rewards to coerce the elites.

Ms. Snegovaya also notes that Russian officials have changed their rhetoric about the sanctions, admitting that they have been harmful, which may suggest that the Kremlin might become more cooperative on some foreign policy issues in the future.

The story of Czech courtship towards China

Much has been written, by us and others, about the pro-Kremlin stances of the Czech President Miloš Zeman. Now, the New York Times has chosen to focus on the evolution of Zeman’s inclinations towards China and what this means for the Czech Republic.

During Zeman’s visit to Beijing in 2014, a business deal was made between a Czech financial firm and the Chinese energy company CEFC, which is headed by Ye Jianming, who has rumoured connections to the Chinese president. Several acquisitions were subsequently made by CEFC in the Czech Republic, including stakes in the big office complex Florentinum, the Czech national airline, two hotels, two Renaissance-era buildings, a brewery, and a football team. CEFC also hired a former minister of defence to run its operations.

The benefits of Chinese business deals in the Czech Republic are still unclear. In addition, Mr. Ye has been recently detained in China for officially unknown reasons. Nonetheless, the Czech president plans to visit Beijing once again this year.

US Developments The US announces new sanctions on Russia

The US has declared the imposition of new sanctions against Russia in response to the Novichok poisonings in Britain and Russia’s continued efforts to meddle in the US electoral process. The news of the sanctions – which the Kremlin has called “draconian” and a “declaration of economic war” – sent the rouble tumbling and triggered an asset sell-off. Russia’s finance minister said the country would reduce its investment in the US economy to the bare minimum.

The State Department says the new sanctions will be enacted by the end of August, and come in two parts: the first, which targets American exports of national-security related products (e.g., gas turbine engines, electronics, integrated circuits and testing and calibration equipment), has deep exemptions and many of the items it covers have already been banned by previous restrictions. The second is more serious, and will be activated after 90 days if the Kremlin fails to provide sufficient assurances that it will no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the UN or other international observer groups: it includes downgrading diplomatic relations, suspending Russian state airline Aeroflot’s ability to fly to the US, and cutting off almost all exports and imports.

Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, notes the dichotomy between Trump’s personal policy towards Russia and that of the government: “Yet again, these new rounds of sanctions underscore that the Trump administration has one policy toward Russia, while Trump himself has his own personal policy.” More expert reactions to the sanctions are available here.

US strategic focus shifts from terrorism to countering Russia and China

Recently, the United States adopted the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2019 fiscal year, which indicates a shift in US military focus from combatting terrorism to  countering the military development of Russia and China. The approval of the NDAA is an important step for safeguarding American interests by counteracting both the immediate aggression and the long-term imperialistic ambitions of Russia and China, respectively. The NDAA was approved by big majorities in both the House and Senate, calling for the addition of over 15,600 troops to the US armed forces, and the administration of $716 billion in spending – $16 billion more than the previous fiscal year.

In addition, the NDAA is set to tighten security reviews of American exports consisting of sensitive technology to China and is aimed at bolstering the defenses of European nations bordering Russia. In regard to the ongoing threat of Russian aggression and disinformation, the NDAA calls for an assessment of the possibility of permanently stationing a US army brigade in Poland, as well as improving the security initiatives of the US Cyber Command and strengthening the ban on funding anything that recognizes Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. The bill also outlined the policy to be taken by the US military in other geopolitically fragile nations – such as Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan – calling for a strengthened commitment to US allies and partners and the deterrence of any efforts aimed at undermining US national security interests.

Growing threat of Russian cyberattacks in US midterms

Although the 2018 US midterm elections are still three months away, security experts are already warning that the threat of Russian interference is urgent and that not nearly enough is being done by the Trump administration to mitigate the risk. Indeed, at least three congressional candidates have already been targeted by online phishing attacks that strongly resembling the Russian sabotage efforts during the 2016 presidential elections. Worse still, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has recently noted that Russian hackers have successfully penetrated some of Florida’s election systems ahead of the upcoming midterms, warning that the hackers now have “free rein to move about”.

The news is a predictable (if unnerving) revelation about the Kremlin’s ongoing machinations to undermine American democracy, sow discord and confusion within the electorate, and further inflame existing tensions. To this end, Russian hackers are also utilizing social media and the insubstantial nature of certain US election systems as effective tools to “throw fuel on already divisive fires that are burning”, said Michael Sulmeyer, the director of the Cyber Security Project at Harvard’s Belfer Center. It is imperative that the Trump administration acknowledges these alarming developments and that the federal government adopts necessary precautions to pre-empt further Russian interference.

The Kremlin’s Current Narrative As the rouble tumbles, propaganda is on the rise

In light of the new Russia sanctions that have made the Kremlin very angry, let’s look at how the Russian media is covering the latest round of American sanctions, which are already hurting the Russian economy. In particular, note the difference in narrative for American vs. Russian audiences.

First, the reaction of the Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Upper House Committee for International Relations: “If these sanctions are implemented in their full announced volume this would mean that the United States is yet another time using the behavior of a police state that extracts evidence from suspects through torture and threats and eventually executes punishment for non-existent crimes, in the worst tradition of the infamous Lynch Law.”

In another article, RT divides guilt between Trump and his administration and suggests the sanctions are the result of political chaos and the machinations of the “Deep State” – a pejorative, conspiracist term preferred by Trump himself to describe the essential US government, legal, and intelligence bureaucracy. “US President Donald Trump is not in control of his own administration, as evidenced by the latest round of sanctions imposed against Russia for the alleged involvement in the poisoning of the Skripals in the UK in March. For that reason, the timing appears to be suspect, suggesting strongly that Trump has his own foreign policy while the Trump administration, comprised mainly of bureaucrats referred to as the Deep State, have their own. Right now, they appear to be in control, not President Trump, over his own administration, and it is having the adverse effect of further alienating Washington and Moscow”. Russian propagandists have taken a page out of Trump’s playbook in appealing to the feverish conspiracy beliefs of the American right.

Vzglyad, meanwhile, adopts a notably different tone and analysis for its Russian audience: “The Russian economy won’t be hurt further because there will be no second round of sanctions […] This is a move aimed at the American electorate on the eve of the autumn elections […] We shouldn’t distract Trump from winning the elections, we will be able to talk to him later under calmer circumstances […] Sanctions won’t influence Russia’s direction in building a new, post-American world order.

Kremlin Watch Reading Suggestion Report of the Attorney General’s Cyber Digital Task Force

The Cyber-Digital Task Force, established by the US Attorney General within the Department of Justice in February 2018, has recently published its first report in which it deals with how the Department is responding to cyber threats. We recommend especially the first chapter which focuses on countering malign foreign influence operations and defending the country’s electoral process. The Department considers this issue to be of high importance, as the Intelligence Community has recently assessed that Russia, which it considers to be the most capable and aggressive source of this threat, views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for continued influence operations. In the report, you can read not only about the various threats the US faces but also about the specific responses employed by the Department.

Following chapters deal with other significant cyber threats, such as data theft, fraud schemes, attacks on critical infrastructure and many others. Space is also devoted to the FBI’s response to cyber incidents, and discusses how the Bureau manages and trains its workforce on cyber matters.

Kremlin Watch is a strategic program of the European Values Think-Tank, which aims to expose and confront instruments of Russian influence and disinformation operations focused against liberal-democratic system.

Categories: World News

We researched Russian trolls and figured out exactly how they neutralise certain news

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 17:33
BeeBright/Shutterstock

Xymena Kurowska, Aberystwyth University et Anatoly Reshetnikov, Central European University

Russian “troll factories” have been making headlines for some time. First, as the Kremlin’s digital guardians in the Russian blogosphere. Then, as subversive cyber-squads meddling with US elections.

While there has been much sensationalist talk about troll brigades, there have also been thorough investigations of first party sources and genuine leaks. Indeed, some (mostly former) Russian trolls have been willing to talk.

We now know that at least some of those who have come out from the shadows were not taking the political agenda they were tasked with promoting all that seriously. We also know, in some detail, the internal organisation and work schedule of the so-called “troll farmInternet Research Agency – where most whistleblowers used to work. As well as quantity-oriented commenters and bloggers, the agency employed skilled researchers who spoke foreign languages and undertook high-quality investigative work.

A few statistical analyses of large samples of trolling posts also show that institutionalised political trolling and the use of bots have become a consolidated practice that significantly affect the online public sphere.

What has been shrouded in mystery so far, however, is how institutionalised, industrialised political trolling works on a daily basis. We have also lacked a proper understanding of how it affects the state’s relations with society generally, and security processes in particular.

Neutralising trolls

For our recently published research, we wanted to understand what pro-Kremlin trolling does and how it works in the Russian blogosphere. We analysed how investigative journalism of trolling gets trolled, worked our way through the trolling trails generated after the assassination of Boris Nemtsov – Russia’s unofficial opposition leader – and interviewed a former employee of Internet Research Agency in a series of online chats.

Connected but not in concert.
Map Design/Shutterstock

During this research we found a distinct phenomenon which we called “neutrollization”. This authoritarian practice co-opts trolling as an, in principle, anti-establishment (if inflammatory) activity, and turns it into a method of regime consolidation.

Neutrollization prevents civil society’s attempts to expose the regime as a security threat by creating conditions where political mobilisation becomes absurd, so any risk to the regime is neutralised. Meaningful political engagement only “feeds the troll” – that is, it gets sucked into the trolling spiral of ironising the public sphere.

Trolls in action

Unlike conventional operations of propaganda, neutrollization does not advocate a distinct political agenda. Pro-Kremlin trolls generate a stupefying noise through internet activism which seems to originate from citizens. They spread various conspiratorial theories and create a quasi-political, yet completely hollow, public space with a multitude of diverse but prefabricated opinions that jam the web.

This is precisely how some sections of the Russian blogosphere were neutralised after the assassination of Boris Nemtsov. In March 2015, newspapers Moy Rayon and Novaya Gazeta leaked a list of more than 500 troll accounts, together with instructions that the trolls had been given on how to approach the event. The papers also published lists of corresponding key words that the trolls were told to use in order to facilitate searchability.

The instructions included proliferating the view that the murder of Nemtsov was a provocation and that it was not beneficial to the official authorities. Trolls were also told to broadcast the alleged PR benefit to the opposition of the death of their comrade, and the involvement of Ukrainian persons in the assassination. In addition, they were told to criticise Westerners’ interference in Russian internal affairs, and to suggest that the murder was being used as an excuse to put pressure on the Russian Federation.

The objective, in other words, was not to put the blame on any concrete political opponent. The interest was not in finding an actual assassin. The logic was to imbue the discussions with such contradiction and filth that any bona fide user felt disillusioned and despondent. This flooding effect deters the audience from taking anything seriously.

Vitally, neutrollization plays on citizens’ own critical faculties by first drawing them in and then confusing them. It is not about merely pulling the wool over their eyes, and it has little to do with coercion or silencing. Instead, it exploits and twists the idea of self-expression and citizenry action in a way that leads to withdrawal from politics.

Unlike the more common forms of propaganda – which see mass media encouraging support for the political system – neutrollization encourages cynicism. All the while trolls preserve the semblance of sincerity and authenticity by following instructions. They cannot be “convinced” as their task is to implode any meaningful conversation.

This position makes it near impossible to blow a whistle on a troll. But exposing trolls as professionals of nihilism is insufficient anyway. They are but precarious labour in a powerful political strategy.

Neutrollization isn’t limited to within Russia’s borders. It is increasing internationally, too. The deployment of bots to disrupt political dialogue is just one example of the spillover. And while this does not have the same power as an operation backed by the trolled nation’s own government, this strategy can wreak havoc.

Xymena Kurowska, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, Aberystwyth University et Anatoly Reshetnikov, PhD Researcher, Central European University

La version originale de cet article a été publiée sur The Conversation.

Categories: World News

Manipulation: Ukraine Supplying Weapons to China behind America’s Back

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 11:27

Ukraine is cooperating with China in the military sector ignoring its strategic partnership with the United States – that is the gist of a story carried by the Washington Times on August 15. The article by Bill Gertz deals with the supply of twenty engines for twelve Chinese Jl-10 jet trainer planes by the Ukrainian aircraft engine company Motor Sich. Gertz cites critics of the deal who claim that Washington should pressure Kyiv to stop delivering the engines to “America’s rival”.

Website screenshot The Washington Times

Citing official Chinese media, the Washington Times says the JLO-10 jet trainers will be used by navy pilots for carrier landing training. Unable to produce good-quality aircraft jet engines for at least a decade, China has purchased both Ukrainian and Russian jet engines to power its warplanes. The article does not cite any Ukrainian officials or Motor Sich representatives, but it does feature a critic of the deal, one William C. Triplett, who says the Trump administration should pressure Ukraine to halt the engine sales.

Website screenshot The Washington Times

The Washington Times story was immediately picked up by Russian media and manipulated.  Sputnik’s French version added that the Ukraine-China deal was for 250 jet engines for 380 million dollars. The online newspaper Fond Strategicheskoy Kultury called the deal “a Ukrainian knife in America’s back” while Vesti completely misrepresents the original article and adds quotes that are nowhere to be found in the Washington Times story.

Website screenshot Vesti.ru

Website screenshot Sputnik France

Motor Sich confirmed the engine deal. In an official statement published on a Zaporizhzhia web site Motor Sich points out that such manipulative articles further Russia’s interests and that Moscow wants to squeeze its main competitor out of any dealings with the Chinese military market.

Website screenshot 061.ua

In the event of China breaking its contract with Motor Sich, Russia will supply Beijing the aircraft engines. All the hype created by the Washington Times article is directed at squeezing Ukraine out of the Chinese market and positioning Russia to occupy that niche, the statement reads.

Putting their own spins on the original somewhat innocuous Washington Times story, Vesti and others repeated a 2017 fake, that the Ukrainian rocket factory Yuzhmash was involved in transferring RD-250 rocket engine parts to North Korea. Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council chairman Oleksander Turchynov dismissed the Russian allegations as groundless.

Russian media also regularly accuse Ukraine of selling weapons to Syria and other sanctioned countries. StopFake has debunked several such claims.

Categories: World News

„Sputnik’s” manipulation: Are Ukrainians in Poland slaves?

StopFake.org - Wed, 08/22/2018 - 11:25

Manipulation is not only a 100% false information. It includes also ambiguities, half-truths and selective quotes or showing them in the wrong context.

In such way a Russian portal “Sputnik” showed the words of Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of Ukrainian political party Fatherland (“Batkivshchyna”).

An article with an alarming title “Ukraine cannot >>rise because of Poland<<” was published by “Sputnik” on Tuesday (14 of August). In the first words we read that „Tymoshenko told on Facebook about the dramatic situation of Ukrainians in Poland, comparing it to the slaves in the ancient Egypt”. That is what Facebook users got from “Sputnik’s” revelations in this service.

https://pl.sputniknews.com

Do Polish take advantage of Ukrainians to the point that they are unable to take care of their own country? Not at all. If someone click a link and force himself to read the text, he will learn that Tymoshenko did not criticise Poland. In fact, she “considers Ukrainians working in Poland the economical factor that’s permits the survival of those who stayed in Ukraine”.

Although, in order to know it, one needs determination and will to use “Sputnik”. Someone who sees only the preview of the article will be sure that the ungrateful leader of Ukrainian opposition wants to drive a wedge between Kyiv and Warsaw. And that is what “Sputnik” aims to do.

However, as this hotbed of Russian manipulation states later, Tymoshenko said also:

“Ukrainian citizens (…) are people who should carry national economy of Ukraine and, because of the impasse they have found them in, they carry a foreign economy”. Well, it is also only a statement of a fact, without any pretension, at least not towards Poland. At the end, Tymoshenko added:

„The only solution is to create here (in Ukraine – red.) conditions in which we would like to work and live at home, not somewhere else. It requires though, special long-term motivational program [that allows] to limit the emigration for work abroad. A normal and successful state is a one whose citizen go abroad for leisure, not in search of happiness.”

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Українські громадяни, які працюють у Польщі, надіслали за три місяці в Україну 800 мільйонів доларів – майже…

Posted by Юлія Тимошенко on Monday, August 13, 2018

This part was not quoted by “Sputnik”, though.

Tymoshenko’s statement is probably related to economical crisis in Ukraine and upcoming electoral campaign. The fact that “Sputnik” decided to manipulate it shows that Russians do not stop their actions to evoke the enmity between our countries.

WM

Categories: World News

Fake: Turkey Crisis, IMF and Ukraine’s National Bank Collapse Ukrainian Currency

StopFake.org - Tue, 08/21/2018 - 19:09

The imminent collapse of Ukraine’s national currency the hryvnia and everlasting Ukrainian financial instability are two favorite themes for Russian media fakes and manipulation. The latest incarnation of this narrative is an August 16 story in the pro-Kremlin publication Ukraina.ru claiming that Turkey’s current economic crisis has impacted negatively on Ukraine’s currency and badly hit the country’s economy.

Website screenshot Ukraina.ru

The hryvnia is falling and can’t stop, Ukraine’s National Bank can’t keep its currency afloat, Ukraina.ru’s headlines have been blaring for the last two weeks, foretelling the country’s financial collapse. The Turkish lira crisis, lack of funds from the IMF and the National Bank’s “inactivity” are the culprits of choice for Ukraine’s alleged financial woes.

Website screenshot Ukraina.ru

Website screenshot Ukraina.ru

The crisis currently unfolding in Turkey which has brought on the devaluation of the Turkish lira has no effect on the value of Ukraine’s hryvnia currency. Ukrainian National Bank deputy chairman Oleh Churyi says Ukraine is not so deeply integrated into the world economy that the lira’s troubles would affect the hryvnia anytime soon.

Churyi told the Interfax news agency it is unlikely that capital flight from Turkey and its accompanying reduced investment in developing countries will impact Ukraine significantly in the short term. In the long run however, Ukraine’s economy can feel some negative impact from the Turkey crisis as Turkey is a large market for Ukrainian products. With the fall of the Turkish lira demand for Ukrainian products could decrease, Churyi said.

The current US dollar hryvnia exchange rate is 27.74. According to Ukraine’s National Bank, the hryvnia undergoes seasonal fluctuations vis-à-vis the dollar. Currently Ukraine’s agricultural sector is preparing for the harvest and buying vast amounts of fuel for its combine  harvesters and other machinery with hard currency. Ukrainian demand for consumer electronics and foreign vacations is also on the rise, these goods require hard currency, which Ukrainians are actively purchasing, driving up the price of the US dollar.

Ukraine’s Finance Minister Oleksander Danyliuk says Ukraine’s budget planned for a realistic dollar-hryvnia exchange, allowing for a fluctuation of up to 30 hryvnia to the dollar. Today’s exchange of 27.74 hryvnia to the dollar is well within that fluctuation corridor.

Categories: World News