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Since February 24, 2022, Detector Media has been monitoring the Ukrainian segment of social media, as well as the Kremlin media, documenting the chronicle of Russian disinformation about Russia's war against Ukraine on a daily basis. Over time, we started making regular reviews. Read the latest ones here: May 29-June 4, June 5-11, June 12-18, June 19-25, June 26-July 2, July 3-9, July 10-16, July 17-23, July 24-30, July 31-August 5, August 7-12, August 14-19, and August 21-27. In addition, we invite you to read the final text for the first ten months after the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion and a review of the most ridiculous fakes published during the first year of the full-scale war.

Between August 28 and September 2, 2023, Detector Media analysts recorded 26 instances of disinformation. During this time, propagandists claimed that the EU was allegedly forming military battalions of Ukrainian refugees to be extradited and mobilized for war. The propagandists also tried to frighten their audiences with an "unknown disease" that was allegedly spreading through Ukraine through members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

"The Merciless West" 

Early in the last summer week, we documented a fake alleging that Europe was in the process of forming battalions for the Ukrainian Armed Forces out of Ukrainian refugees. This false claim insinuated that Western nations had opted to "dispose of" Ukrainian refugees, hence officials were supposedly developing a procedure for their return to Ukraine. The creators of this fake stated that the measure mainly focused on all males who are of service age.

In truth, the "deportation of men eligible for military service" is fundamentally unfeasible, as there is no legal groundwork to back it up. Ukrainian diplomatic missions have no authority to repatriate Ukrainians for enlistment forcibly, nor are EU entities permitted to establish any military units consisting of Ukrainians within their borders. In simpler terms, no legal pathway or past instance permits the military mobilization of Ukrainians by EU nations.

Ukrainian law enforcement has the capacity to examine and validate in court the occurrences of illegal boundary crossings during martial law. Nevertheless, for extradition from abroad to occur, it is essential to establish the guilt of each individual obligated for military service as per the laws of the host country in a local court.

"Accordingly, for each case, it is necessary to contact and provide relevant documents that the person is hiding from the pre-trial investigation authorities, the court, and only then can the extradition procedure be initiated," said Fedir Venislavsky, a member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security and Defense and the presidential representative in the Parliament, in a comment to Radio Liberty.

European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, indicated that all Ukrainians who migrated to the EU post the commencement of the full-scale invasion are protected by the Temporary Protection Directive.

“Nazi Book About Zelenskyy” 

Russian media disseminated a fake claim that Polish online stores are purportedly selling a book featuring speeches by Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the same category as books discussing Nazis. The creators of the fake post enhanced it with a screenshot from a web store, insinuating that purchasing a book on Zelenskyy automatically suggests books about the Volyn tragedy and Mein Kampf. Essentially, the anonymous Telegram contributors are suggesting that Polish publishers are comparing the Ukrainian president to Hitler, or at the very least, linking him with significant historical events that remain controversial.

It's highly probable that the screenshot from the web store was fabricated using photo editing software. The depicted book about Zelenskyy is genuine, titled Zelenskyy. Biography, and is issued by Wielka Litera, available on numerous Polish websites. These propagandists utilized the Tania Książka online bookstore's platform for their deception, manipulating the screenshot to include books about the Volyn tragedy and Mein Kampf. Several discrepancies signal the forged nature of the image. For instance, the site contains the phrase "Może i się spodobać", which translates to "I may like it", whereas the correct Polish expression would be "Może si się spodobać", or "You may like it". Furthermore, the Tania Książka bookstore does not offer Adolf Hitler's book, and the price listings for other books are inconsistent with those presented in the fabricated screenshot.

Through such fabrications, the propagandists aim to convince the propaganda consumers that even in Europe, Zelenskyy is perceived as a "Nazi".

To explore more on how Russia labels the Ukrainian president and utilizes portrayals of him as a "drug addict, terrorist, and sadist", check our segment discussing propaganda techniques, including the usage of "derogatory epithets".

“Ukraine Has Become a Threat to the World”

Propagandists have circulated a manipulation claiming that the UN announced Ukraine as a threat to global nuclear security. The authors of the manipulation assert that the acquisition of F-16 fighter jets by Ukraine, “capable of bearing missiles equipped with nuclear warheads,” was the trigger for this statement.

Contrarily, in a UN assembly, Hungary's delegate, Csaba Kőrösi, said that it is Russia that recurrently brandishes the prospect of utilizing nuclear weapons against Ukraine. He noted that Russia is a belligerent nation frequently engaging in nuclear threats and blackmail. In essence, Ukraine was never the subject of discussion, and the propagandists have merely mirrored the accusations originally directed at Russia.

Russia has been incessantly twisting the narrative around the nuclear topic. Last fall, both propagandists and Russian officials claimed that Ukraine was developing a dirty bomb, planning to employ this weapon, supposedly containing nuclear waste in the form of depleted uranium.

For an in-depth analysis of why these propagandists utilize threats of nuclear disasters, click here. Briefly, this strategy is a tactic used by anonymous users on Telegram to instill fear in Ukrainians, depicting Ukraine as the true aggressor that is willing to experiment with nuclear weaponry.

“Unknown Disease”

Detector Media experts examined a manipulation claiming that the Ukrainian military supposedly transmitted an "unknown disease" to a Polish soldier part of the International Legion. The distorted narrative further stated that the afflicted soldier was dispatched to the Polish city of Rzeszów, where he purportedly spread the disease among the Polish residents. These reports cited an article from the Associated Press as a reference.

However, the mentioned article actually discussed an investigation concerning an outbreak in Rzeszów that resulted in 7 fatalities and over 100 people infected. Contrary to the false claim, the disease in question was identified as legionellosis, not an "unknown disease". Since weapons destined for Ukraine are routed through Rzeszów, Stanisław Żaryn, acting deputy of the Minister Coordinator of Special Services of Poland, noted that they would investigate potential Russian involvement in the disease outbreak. Therefore, the propagandists twisted the original content from the Polish media, injecting false details into the narrative.

It's important to note that there have been no reported instances of legionellosis in Ukraine in the previous year. The Kremlin persistently disseminates misinformation regarding outbreaks of diseases in Ukraine, utilizing fear of various illnesses to depict Ukrainian authorities as indifferent to the country's sanitary and epidemiological conditions, leaving citizens to fend for themselves.

"The Wrong Wagner"

At the end of the week, we identified a fake news piece claiming that Ukrainian individuals had defaced a commemorative plaque dedicated to composer Richard Wagner in Dresden with the word "orc". The creators of this message accused the "ungrateful" Ukrainian refugees, going as far as to concoct "photographic proof" using images from a stock photo repository. This forged evidence was exclusively circulated in the Russian social media segment, remaining unchanged in aspects such as angles and lighting conditions throughout its circulation. Notably, the German media did not report any such acts of vandalism perpetrated by Ukrainians.

To verify the facts, the Ukrinform news agency reached out to Dresden's local authorities to obtain a genuine photograph of the memorial, which confirmed that there had been no acts of vandalism.

Through such fabricated stories, the propagandists aim to discredit Ukrainian refugees, portraying them as criminals, vandals, and a threat to the cultural and economic stability of the EU, with the objective of diminishing international support for Ukraine.

NGO “Detector Media” has been working for our readers for over 20 years. In times of elections, revolutions, pandemics and war, we continue to fight for quality journalism. Our experts develop media literacy of the audience, advocate for the rights of journalists, and refute Russian disinformation.

“Detector Media” resumes the work of our Community and invites those who believe that the media should be better: more professional, truthful and transparent.


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