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Kremlin Watch Monitor April 25, 2016

Weekly update on Kremlin disinformation efforts in Europe.

  • Finally, there is an official EU paper on this issue. Only words on paper do not do the trick, but now we all have binding words and definitions formulated by the EU and we can push it to deliver. So: Federica Mogherini in cooperation with the European Commission and the European Defence Agency presented a Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats.
    • o According to the document, the aim of hybrid threats is “to exploit a country’s vulnerabilities” and “to undermine fundamental democratic values and liberties”.
    • o It proposes an establishment of an EU Hybrid Fusion Cell which should be capable of receiving and analysing classified and open source information on hybrid threats. Member States could establish National Contact Points on hybrid threats to ensure cooperation and secure communication.
    • o It also focuses on hybrid threat financing and suggests that the efforts of the EU against crime and terrorist financing should be expanded to tackle hybrid threats and that restrictive measures in the context of CFSP instruments should be explored.
  • Slovak marketing agency NetSuccess launched a new website They created a public database of websites with unreliable, misleading, fraudulent, conspiracy or propaganda content with the aim to prevent companies from damaging their reputation by advertising there.
  • Estonian Internal Security Services emphasize the danger of Russian propaganda efforts for stability and democracy in the European Union in the Annual Review of internal threats. The report says that “in the context of Russian aggression, the security threat arising from a weakening of the European Union is many times greater than that arising from the refugees settling in Estonia”.
  • German security services accuse Russian media of starting “information war” against The Federal Republic by distorting the truth about the refugee crisis in their media coverage. German deputy interior minister told Reuters that “Russian propaganda is a danger to the cohesion of our society.
  • The annual GLOBSEC security forum was held in Bratislava.
    • o Slovak President Andrej Kiska warned about the rise of domestic radicalism influenced by foreign propaganda. According to him, our values are under pressure of Russian propaganda.
    • o The Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski considers Russia more dangerous than the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and says that its activity could destroy countries.
  • The CIA and the US were among the top targets of the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign in the recent period, according to the latest EEAS StratCom Disinformation Review.

Kremlin Watch reading suggestions

Russia and the European Far Left by Péter Krekó and Lórant Györi; Political Capital Institute

Péter Krekó and Lórant Györi point out in their study that the radical right groupings are not the only ones that tend to support current Russian regime. Despite the Russian promotion of conservative and traditional values, the far left political parties in Europe often defend Russian foreign policy and the decisions of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The authors make several suggestions on how to tackle this phenomenon. According to them it is necessary for the investigative journalists, policy leaders, and intelligence services to acknowledge that the “comrade networks” have both a diplomatic and a secret service dimension. They also argue that “it is important for politicians to point to the pro-Russian connections of radical left parties where they are, and challenge the credibility and self-definition of these parties via political debates and campaigns”.

Isolation and Propaganda: The Roots and Instruments of Russia’s Disinformation Campaign by Stefan Meister; Transatlantic Academy

Although the possibilities are limited, the European Union and its Member States need to react to the challenges posed by the Kremlin disinformation campaign. It is important to maintain contact with Russian society and to promote platforms for exchange. One way to do that might be visa facilitation for Russian citizens in order to provide positive agenda. It is also important to prepare for the possibility that the president that comes after Vladimir Putin might be even more nationalist and aggressive and to focus on a more long-term agenda. Another crucial step is to keep up the policy of sanctions against Russia. EU member states must stand firm in order to preserve their credibility. An appropriate response also includes making Russian propaganda consistently visible by promoting responsible media and unmasking fakes. Last but not least, the EU needs to come up with a serious offer for its neighbours in the east including a membership perspective. If reform efforts succeed in Ukraine, the impact could spread to Russia and other post-Soviet states.

Euroatlantic Experts on Disinformation Warfare

  • Mirko Moser-Abt from the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung discusses the effectiveness of the European efforts to tackle Russian disinformation campaign with a special focus on Ukraine.
  • provides a brief analysis of the disinformation campaign successes in Georgia.
  • Helle Dale wrote for CNSNews about the similarities of current Russian propaganda and Soviet disinformation campaigns and suggests that the Soviet Union provides an example of how to defeat the onslaught.

Current state of pro-Kremlin scene in the Czech Republic

  • The Czech Television (main public TV broadcaster in the Czech Republic) has been targeted with an extensive and detailed complaint accusing it of unbalanced reporting about the Ukraine crisis and Russia. The complaint is roughly 500 pages long and pretty precise. To our knowledge it is unlikely that it had been written by usual Czech anti-Western suspects. Czech TV Chief of Foreign Desk Michal Kubal said last year that “it seems that someone is deliberately trying to search for the slightest mistakes made by the Czech Television and acts entirely in accordance with the doctrine of the Russian propaganda that says: you do not have to trust the Kremlin but we would like it if you did not believe anyone at all.
  • The main trend on the pro-Kremlin scene during the last week was to criticize Ukraine. One of the websites wrote that Ukraine was currently the biggest threat to security of European countries because of its limitless corruption.
  • Some of the websites also provided their own viewpoint on the incident concerning the Russian Su-24 getting dangerously close to the US guided-missile destroyer Donald Cook. One of the articles says that the Russians merely defended themselves against the US aggressive manoeuvre and after paralysing the boat they offered to help the crew with towing.

Infographic of the week

This week’s infographic captures the evolution of the level of support of the European integration amongst Ukrainians, based on the data provided by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, the Sociological service of the Razumkov Center and a survey conducted by GFK, put together by the Euromaidan Press.

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