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Since February 24, 2022, Detector Media has been monitoring the Kremlin media and the Ukrainian segment of social media and documenting the chronicle of Russian disinformation about Russia’s war against Ukraine on a daily basis. Over time, we started making regular reviews. You can read the latest ones here: May 1-7, May 8-14, May 15-21, May 22-28, May 29-June 4, June 5-11, June 12-18, and the final text for ten months, and a review of the most ridiculous fakes published during the year of the full-scale war.

Between June 19 and June 25, 2023, Detector Media recorded more than 30 disinformation cases. During this time, the Russian propaganda machine claimed that First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska had second citizenship and described how Russians were going to be sent to concentration camps.

Ukrainian Vandalism” 

Earlier this week, Detector Media analysts identified a fake about Ukrainians who allegedly desecrated the Monument to Fighters for the Polishness of Opole Silesia by putting a Ukrainian flag on it. The authors also attached video evidence to the publication.

In fact, the video shows a group of volunteers who organized a charity event to support Ukrainians. There are also Ukrainians among the volunteers. During the event, a Ukrainian flag was placed near one of the local monuments. The monument itself was decorated with a blue and yellow ribbon — the flag of the Opole Voivodeship, not the flag of Ukraine. At the same time, on their social media pages, volunteers noted that the event was held to express support for the victims of the floods in Ukraine caused by the Russians’ destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. 

But even if there is a Ukrainian flag near the monument, this is not a desecration of cultural monuments. The Ukrainian flag does not contradict the spirit of the monument. After all, it also symbolizes freedom and victory. 

Polish Diplomatic Incident” 

Anonymous Telegram channels known for promoting Kremlin-oriented narratives disseminated a manipulation claiming that Poland had “insulted” a delegation from South Africa. The allegation centered around an alleged diplomatic incident in which the Poles reportedly prevented the South African president’s security detail and accompanying press from disembarking their plane in Warsaw. The contention was that this Polish action, supposedly a national embarrassment on the international stage, had disrupted a peace mission that the South African delegation was on their way to execute in Kyiv.

In reality, the delegation members had breached Poland’s entry regulations. Airport authorities identified that the security detail lacked the necessary permissions for 12 weapon containers. The Polish Border Guard Service clarified that while the delegation members were free to disembark, they opted to remain on the plane.

The Government Plenipotentiary for the Security of Information Space of the Republic of Poland reassured that had the delegation complied with all regulations, there would have been no impediments.

Doppelgängers of Zelenskyy, Zaluzhnyi, and now Budanov?” 

During the week, a fake news story was detected being disseminated through Telegram channels that broadcast pro-Kremlin rhetoric. The misleading claim was that Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate, had been injured and replaced with a “double” for a meeting with Japanese Ambassador Matsuda Kuninori. Supposedly, this “double” was identified due to a new haircut, freshly shaven face, and an “unnatural bend” in his right arm.

In truth, these were merely subtle adjustments to his personal appearance. The propagandists failed to provide any compelling proof to support their claim of a Budanov “double”.

This fake is part of a broader propaganda operation exaggerating the “mass deaths” of military officials, including Kyrylo Budanov, aiming to instill fear among Ukrainians and project an illusion of Russian triumph.

First Lady’s New Citizenship”

Russian media and anonymous Telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric have been circulating a photo purported to be a newly-acquired Israeli passport of Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine. They claim she obtained it during her recent visit to the country.

However, this “document” is actually a manipulated image. The displayed passport, allegedly issued on 19/06/2023, is set to expire on 18/06/2023, which defies the logical sequence of issuance and expiration. Additionally, a similar passport template is accessible online, likely used by the authors to fabricate the “passport”.

This is a tactic employed by Russian propagandists to tarnish Olena Zelenska’s reputation, generate disdain toward the Ukrainian government, and undermine international support for Ukraine.

“I Am the Most Pro-Russian President in U.S. History,” Claims Biden

Throughout the week, propagandists spread a manipulation asserting that Joseph Biden had proclaimed himself as the most Russia-friendly president in U.S. history, a title he allegedly took pride in. A video clip from a press conference of the U.S. president was presented as evidence.

However, the video was manipulated with a misleading Russian voice-over that drastically altered the context of the original statement. In the unedited video, recorded on June 17, 2023, Biden is addressing union members in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, proudly declaring his support for labor unions surpassing any previous U.S. president.

Through this disinformation, propagandists aim to belittle the U.S. president, painting him as an inept leader while sowing seeds of distrust toward Western allies among Ukrainians.

“Let’s Send Russians to Concentration Camps!”

Anonymous Telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric posted a video of Czech President Petr Pavel advocating for increased scrutiny of Russians residing in the West. The video was extracted from an interview with Petr Pavel for the Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty. These channels misinterpreted his comments, claiming he recommended the creation of concentration camps for Russians.

However, in the actual interview, President Pavel merely stated that Russians living in Western countries should be subject to more intensive monitoring, given that they are citizens of a country that is waging an aggressive war. His reference to “monitoring” referred to Russians who might pose a danger. The claim of creating concentration camps was purely a fabrication of Russian propagandists.

Restrictions for the citizens of the aggressor country are not a novel concept. As an illustration, Estonia previously canceled gun permits for citizens from non-EU and non-NATO countries. Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets confirmed that these restrictions were indeed a direct fallout of Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine. In response, propagandists wrote that “certain ethnic groups” were banned from carrying weapons in Estonia and that Estonians are followers of Nazi Germany. 

The Failed Counteroffensive”

Midweek, various anonymous Telegram channels and propaganda outlets circulated the narrative that Zelenskyy was “disappointed” with the counteroffensive’s progress. The authors claimed that he expressed this sentiment during an interview with the UK’s BBC.

However, Volodymyr Zelenskyy never made any remarks regarding a “failed” counteroffensive by the Ukrainian Armed Forces or expressed “disappointment” over their military operations. Propagandists had merely skewed the interview’s context and fabricated his statements. Instead, Zelenskyy expressed optimism about the Ukrainian army’s efficiency against the invaders and stressed that the Ukrainian Armed Forces would proceed on the battlefield at their own pace.

The propagandists’ intent behind this message is to demoralize Ukrainians by implying that the Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has given up on victory and does not expect the counteroffensive to succeed.

Kakhovka Power Station – A Year’s Task for Russia”

Towards the week’s end, anonymous Telegram channels known for disseminating pro-Kremlin narratives spread the claim that Russia would “rebuild” the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station. According to these messages, Ukraine was reluctant to rebuild the destroyed Kakhovka HPP, but Russia was capable of restoring it “within a year”. The authors further asserted that all the paperwork required for the construction of a new power plant was in place, requiring only access to Soviet archives.

However, this claim holds no merit. According to Ukrhydroenergo, the power plant was utterly destroyed and beyond repair. Furthermore, building a new power plant would take a minimum of five years, assuming Ukrainian specialists operate around the clock, seven days a week.

As of June 14, 2023, Ukrhydroenergo has initiated a project to construct a bridge for blocking and restoring the Kakhovka reservoir. The construction of the bridge alone is estimated to take a year, thus invalidating the Russian claim of a “one-year restoration”. Furthermore, Ukrainian specialists will leverage modern technology, not obsolete Soviet methods.

Ultimately, the Russian statements are populist claims devoid of any factual basis. This resembles the rhetoric used during the unlawful construction of the Kerch Bridge when Russian propaganda led people to believe that they would build a top-quality bridge in record time. Following its recent collapse, Moscow also attempted to downplay the damage and promised swift reconstruction. The initial construction of the bridge cost Russia approximately 247 billion rubles. To meet the declared opening date (2018), Moscow enacted several laws allowing them to bypass environmental and urban planning regulations. Consequently, the bridge’s long-term durability is questionable.

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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