Українською читайте тут.
Since February 24, Detector Media has been monitoring the Ukrainian social media segment and the Kremlin media and documenting the chronicle of Russian disinformation about Russia’s war against Ukraine on a daily basis. Over time, we started to make regular reviews. You can find the latest ones here: March 1-14, March 14-21, March 23-30, March 31-April 7, April 8-15, the ten-month summary, and a review of the most absurd fakes during the year of the full-scale war.
Between April 16 and April 23, 2023, Detector Media identified over 30 instances of disinformation. During this period, the Russian propaganda machine alleged that residents were being coerced into blood donations in Lviv and described how online draft summons are being issued in Ukraine.
“The Orthodox Church of Ukraine Opposes the Rites of the UOC-MP”
This week, analysts documented disinformation stating that the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine supposedly “refuses to acknowledge” the rituals of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP). The claims suggest that even UOC-MP funerals are no longer acknowledged. The authors of these posts use a photograph of a notice displayed at a cemetery entrance as evidence, stating that the expenses related to reburial in accordance with the church’s “new regulations” must be covered by the deceased’s relatives.
In reality, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has not officially declared that it rejects the rites of the UOC-MP or the requirement for reburials. As a result, the instructions in the “notice” are fraudulent. Fact-checkers discovered no evidence of photo manipulation, suggesting that unidentified individuals genuinely created the “notice” and photographed it with a cemetery in the background. The image was identified as being taken on the outskirts of Mykolaiv. This particular cemetery is not affiliated with any church and is unguarded, making it easier to take a photo undetected.
In general, it is the UOC-MP that denies the sacraments of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Metropolitan of the Russian church even advises individuals who “were not baptized in the ‘authentic’ Orthodox Church” to be re-baptized.
“Another Blunder by Joe Biden”
Propagandists circulated a fake news story claiming that US President Joe Biden failed to recognize British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at an airport. According to the story, Biden visited Ireland and the United Kingdom but ignored the prime minister, dismissing Sunak as a servant or a receptionist and instead greeting a general. As evidence, the authors of these reports referenced an actual “video of the encounter”. However, this is inaccurate.
Rummana Hussein, a journalist for the Chicago Sun-Times, pointed out in one of her articles that the video had been manipulated. The original footage shows Joe Biden briefly conversing with Rishi Sunak, shaking his hand, and then proceeding to greet other high-ranking officials.
As the journalist reports, American society did react to the fake, with “the right suddenly crying out about racism, infuriated that a Democrat like Biden had the gall to disrespect a man of Indian heritage. People on the left were similarly perplexed”. By disseminating such fabricated news, propagandists aim to discredit the US president once more, accuse him of racism, and convince everyone that he is “behaving inappropriately”.
Are Online Summonses Being Issued in Ukraine or Russia?
Amid the implementation of “partial mobilization” in Russia, men are being extensively conscripted for the frontlines. As martial law has not been officially declared, mobilization adopts an alternative form. Mobilization without martial law is possible, but even a mere announcement of mobilization entails more than just a call for military service. It brings about changes in government, industry, and the overall economy. Several modifications were made to the Russian Criminal Code, including the criminalization of contract soldiers’ refusal to serve. According to the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), covert mobilization continues in Russia, even though “partial mobilization” was supposedly completed in October 2022. GUR also reports that, since January 9, 2023, Russia has imposed travel restrictions on those liable for military service, including individuals partially fit for service.
Detector Media analysts examined a Russian legislative initiative, specifically a comprehensive package of amendments to the federal law “On Military Duty and Military Service”. The previous version of the law permitted military enlistment offices to issue summonses through registered mail. An amendment has now been passed allowing electronic summonses to be served via the Russian State Services (Gosuslugi) website. Consequently, Russian media received “recommendations” on covering the bill. The “recommendations” come from the Russian Ministry of Defense, which allegedly “promptly rectified the deficiencies in the military registration system identified in 2022”. The propaganda machine is supposed to convey to recruits that the new system is people-oriented, user-friendly, and reduces direct interaction with military enlistment offices and the possibility of errors. The guidelines also instruct journalists to address alleged draft dodgers and emphasize that they will face consequences.
Meanwhile, pro-Kremlin Telegram channels claim that not only Russia but also Ukraine sends online summonses – via SMS. The authors shared a screenshot of an SMS message citing the Law of Ukraine “On Military Duty and Military Service”. They claimed that the Ukrainian authorities had allegedly initiated testing of a system for issuing summonses through mobile phones. Supposedly, ignoring these text messages is considered an evasion of military service. However, this is false. Fedir Venislavskyi, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Defense, and Intelligence, informed Kyiv TV Channel that the concept of mobilization notifications in messaging apps is still under discussion. If developed, alerts will be sent via Telegram or Viber, not SMS, contrary to Russian propaganda claims.
Additionally, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, pointed out that it is technically unfeasible to introduce summons in messaging apps until a high-quality register of persons liable for military service exists, with a verified phone number linked to the register identifier.
Fashion House “Urges” Ukrainians to “Learn Geography”
Anonymous Telegram channels promoting pro-Kremlin narratives circulated information alleging that Louis Vuitton posted an Instagram story in Ukrainian, stating “learn geography”. The fashion house was supposedly incensed by the comments of Ukrainians who disapproved of Louis Vuitton’s alleged use of “DPR symbols”. As evidence, the authors of the posts included a screenshot from Louis Vuitton’s Instagram account.
In reality, the fashion house’s #LVFW23 advertising campaign featured a flag in the colors of the French national flag (blue, white, and red), along with black, which is present in the brand’s signature letter “V”. Russian propagandists quickly claimed that this represented France’s support for Russia and the so-called “DPR”, since the flag of the Russian proxy entity also contains black, blue, and red colors. The French brand’s Instagram post did indeed receive comments from Ukrainian-language accounts expressing confusion about the concept.
However, the screenshot of Louis Vuitton’s supposed “indignation” was edited using graphic software and can only be found in the Russian segment of social media. The fashion house did not comment on the reactions of Ukrainians to the advertising campaign.
Propagandists have been spreading misinformation claiming that visiting the graves of Ukrainian army soldiers in Drohobych, Lviv region, has become a paid service and that people are not permitted to enter cemeteries without paying a fee. Supposedly, by preventing people from accessing the cemeteries, Ukraine is attempting to conceal the true number of casualties. This manipulation was based on a video shared on social media, in which the relatives of a deceased soldier attempt to enter the cemetery without paying, and the guard responds that he can only admit military personnel.
The Drohobych City Council provided clarification on the situation, explaining that the paid entrance to the city cemetery was implemented several years before the full-scale war to restrict excessive traffic and maintain order within the grounds. The funds collected are utilized to maintain the cemetery.
By disseminating such manipulations, Russia aims to discredit the Ukrainian government and foster distrust in Ukrainian society. They argue that the “Kyiv regime” does not respect its heroes. However, the disrespectful treatment of military personnel is predominantly a Russian issue, as demonstrated by the widespread practice of anonymous and secret burials among the Russian armed forces.
“Compulsory Blood Donation”
This week, anonymous Telegram channels circulated false news alleging that the Lviv Regional State Administration “ordered” employees of public institutions to donate blood for the Ukrainian army’s needs. They claimed that those who did not donate blood would be “denied a bonus”. As evidence, the authors of the messages included an official notice, supposedly posted for employees in public institutions. Additionally, the propagandists attached a screenshot of a Telegram message in which a user comments on a local Telegram channel’s post, asserting that “Lviv residents are being forced to donate blood”.
In reality, the authors of the reports fabricated the content of the “compulsory” order. The actual document indicated that blood donation was voluntary, not compulsory. Under Ukrainian law, blood donation is strictly voluntary. An individual cannot be coerced into donating blood, as the donor must provide written consent before the procedure. In most instances, the patient must complete the consent form in the presence of a physician.
As for the message from a user on one of the local Telegram channels, we were unable to locate the original comment in the screenshot. However, a single comment is insufficient to demonstrate that “Lviv residents are being forced to donate blood”. It is likely that the comment was fabricated, distributed in the Ukrainian segment of Telegram, and subsequently deleted.
There is no significant blood shortage in Ukraine, and thus no need to force people to donate. The Ukrainian Ministry of Health states that occasionally, there is a demand for a rare blood type, but no critical shortages exist. In April, the ministry also announced that thanks to blood donors, the daily supply of red blood cells has increased, although there remains a shortage of donors with an Rh-negative blood type.