Soviet era nostalgia is a social phenomenon that can be used as a means to spread disinformation, the Debunk EU analysis showed. Creating comparison between nostalgic memories and current times, disinformation actors aim to present negative image of governments in post-Soviet countries, discredit important infrastructure projects, and enhance distrust of European Union.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. December 25th, 1991 is officially the last day of existence of USSR, however, the process of the collapse was long and complex. …

Among the changes that could be observed in the rhetoric of the pro-Kremlin media, the narrative of withdrawal of the Baltic States from the BRELL network being unreasonable increased in its scale. Also in April, there was an iflux of messages about Lithuania’s impotence to resist the pressure of the European Union to close the “safe and profitable” Ignalina NPP and “failure” to contstruct new power plants in Visaginas. Along with this message, a new message about the closed plant in Ignalina potentially turning into an ecological disaster for the whole region appeared and was spread actively by hostile media.

This analysis was carried out with a contribution from Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The pro-Kremlin media continued with the hitherto popular narratives about the economically unreasonable position of Lithuania towards the BelNPP; Throughout April 2021, malign information against the Lithuanian position on the BelNPP accounted for 176 (40.09% out…

As new vaccines are being developed, there seems to be that each jab is followed by a corresponding disinformation story. Throughout April, hostile media sources vigorously reported on side effects and fatalities correlated to vaccination to take advantage of anxieties and spread fear. In a continuous trend, stories on side effects and deaths were also exploited by the pro-Kremlin media as a background to claim the inferiority of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and prove Sputnik V was made to save humanity.

Findings on disinformation about COVID-19, DebunkEU data

The share of disinformation within the false and misleading content on COVID- 19 in April 2021 stood at 96.3%. Measured by DebunkReach®, the share amounted to 97.1%.

Covid-19 pandemic is fertile soil for the spread of conspiracy theories. The fear it causes, uncertainty of the source of the virus, complexity of new mutations and fast development of vaccines — all are a fuel for authors of such theories. Such disinformation is worryingly popular in Poland.

DebunkEU.org experts analysed problematic information flow on April 1–30th. As a result, 142 disinformation articles in Polish language were found, which could be considered as a covid-19 conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theories account for nearly 25% of the disinformation about the coronavirus detected by Debunk EU in April in Polish language.

As March brought a couple of symbolic dates for NATO members, disinformation flow was tied to events such as the anniversaries of the Baltic countries joining the Alliance, and illegitimate referendum in Ukraine which led to annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia. In addition to questioning the validity of the Baltic membership in NATO, pro-Kremlin media also spread accusations that the Alliance is prepared to wage war, and NATO troops bring new COVID-19 strains to member countries.

In March 2021, Debunk EU detected 9612 articles related to NATO, which were posted by hostile media sources. Within the period, Debunk EU analysts reviewed 3430 articles with potentially harmful content, identifying 752 false and misleading articles from 102 media outlets in the Baltic countries and Poland in English, Estonian…

On February 24th, president Kersti Kaljulaid gave a speech celebrating the 103rd anniversary of Estonian independence. Part of the speech addressed the education system in country. Soon after, the pro-Kremlin media started to claim that the president’s speech clearly divides the country, with statements going as far as claiming that the Russian speaking residents are being called inferior part of society.

Pro-Kremlin media regularly finds topics in Estonian local events that they can use to present Estonia as a country violating the right of Russians and that the Russians are severely discriminated. One example is using the education system in Estonia. The latest trigger last month was president Kaljulaid’s speech. There…

The news on suspending vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine and delays in dose supplies caused a spike of false and misleading content claiming that vaccines were developed without rigorous testing. Additionally, the news on side effects and fatalities were tied to the immunisation with Western COVID-19 vaccines by the pro-Kremlin media to showcase the superiority of the Sputnik V. In March, disinformation flow was heavily influenced by increasing tensions between the EU and Russia, and many Kremlin sources claiming that the West was undertaking disinformation campaigns targeting Sputnik V.

COVID-19 related disinformation, DebunkEU data

However, the polarization of views in terms of those supporting strict measures against COVID-19 and opposing it has continued to grow, evidenced in the less sporadic nature of sharing false and misleading content (misinformation) and becoming ever more targeted and systematic attempts to denigrate the magnitude of the pandemic and…

Disinformation based on controversial, problematic elements of history is particularly difficult to assess. In Poland, the topic that was used to spread problematic information about the country throughout the recent years was the Remembrance Day of the Cursed Soldiers (March 1st, 2021).

Debunk EU experts analysed problematic information flow between February 26th and April 6th. As a result, 71 disinformation articles in Russian language were found, which broadly used the topic of Cursed Soldiers. [KU1] This subject was not covered regularly through the period of analysis. The ‘problematic information’ flow had a…

Each country has its history, and sometimes chapters tend to be controversial, especially for those unaware of or unwilling to see the facts. Third countries tend to misuse history for their benefits, selectively employing details, hiding, or even abusing historical context parts. One of Latvia’s most controversial history sections is the Nazi Germany’s mobilisation of Latvian soldiers into legions to fight the Soviet Union on the front line in 1943. Narratives related to those events are often used in Kremlin related media to undermine the image of Latvia.

As noted by Latvia’s War Museum, an institution under the direct supervision of Latvia’s Defence Minister, even though they were characterised as “volunteers”, the absolute majority of the legionnaires were forcibly mobilised. Moreover, as the museum describes, although formally the Latvian Legion was under the subordination of the SS and…

The foreign policy of Lithuania towards Ukraine, accusations of ‘Russophobia’ and issues regarding the BelNPP stood out as the most targeted topics in disinformation concerning the meeting of Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Gitanas Nauseda held on 17th — 19th March 2021.

Throughout March 15th — 22nd 2021, Debunk EU detected 55 articles that were identified as disinformation and 2 content pieces as misinformation related to the meeting of the President of Ukraine and the President of Lithuania. The major peak was noticed on 19th March, stimulated by a speech given by…

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The birth of Debunk EU was a direct response to coordinated, mostly Kremlin sponsored, disinformation and propaganda efforts in the Baltic states.

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