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Since February 24, 2022, Detector Media has been monitoring the Ukrainian segment of social networks and Kremlin media and daily documents the chronicle of Russian disinformation about Russia's war against Ukraine. Over time, we started doing regular reviews. Read the latest ones here: July 31 - August 5, August 7-12, August 14-19, August 21-27, August 28 - September 2, September 4-10, September 11-17 and September 18-24, September 25-30, and October 2-7. Additionally, here is our overview of the ten months since the full-scale Russian invasion and a review of the most ridiculous hoaxes of the year since the beginning of the Great War.
Throughout October 9-14, 2023, Detector Media analysts recorded 25 disinformation publications. During this time, propagandists stated that Ukraine was trying to hide corruption cases and the killing of Western auditors. They also claimed that Ukrainian officials are conducting a "general mobilization", but not for everyone – the children of the top management personnel are under protection.
"Ukraine is sponsoring terrorists"
At the beginning of the second week of October, Russian propagandists spread a fake story that Ukraine was selling weapons to Hamas militants. The authors attached the video and explained that it showed the alleged transfer of Western weapons to the Palestinian Islamist movement. They added that Ukrainians allegedly initiated the arms transfer. In the video, a person "thanks the Ukrainian authorities for supplying weapons" in Arabic.
The person speaking is not visible on the video, and we cannot establish the place and time of the filming scene. The video consists of several shots where the weapon is lying on the floor, and one can hear a voice in Arabic in the background. The video was spread only in the Russian segment of social networks. In return, neither Israeli nor other foreign media reported the news about Ukraine's transfer of weapons to the Hamas movement. Most likely, the video was compiled superficially.
An October 7 statement by the American Institute for the Study of War mentioned that the Kremlin uses the Hamas attack on Israel for information operations to weaken support for Ukraine and the thesis regarding the "black market of arms sales".
Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine, said that the Russians gave the weapons to the Hamas group, which they managed to capture in Ukraine.
Propagandists seek to show that Ukrainians resell weapons on the black market and end up in criminals' hands. It is organized to weaken the amount of aid coming to Ukraine.
"Let's hide corruption"
Among other things, Russian propagandists lied that an American auditor monitoring the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine was allegedly killed in Kyiv. The publications referred to the alleged press release by the Kyiv police.
"Lack of freedom of speech"
Propagandists also posted a manipulative post that the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) allegedly arrested a Kharkiv resident simply for "posting on social networks." The messages’ authors messages provided an example of when a resident of Kharkiv was charged "for nothing". According to Russians, it was done because of a simple "post on social networks". They also added that this is "an attempt to silence those who tell the truth."
In particular, the 58-year-old resident from Kharkiv was charged with justifying Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine and discrediting the Armed Forces. It was reported by the spokesman of the regional SBU department, Vladyslav Abdula. In his posts, the man distributed propaganda materials and glorified the occupying army’s actions. He also accused the Armed Forces of the Ukraine of shelling residential areas of Kharkiv.
In March 2022, the Criminal Code of Ukraine was supplemented with Article 436-2, which provides for responsibility for justifying and recognizing as legitimate Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, glorifying its participants. It means that the actions of the SBU against the Kharkiv resident are legal and do not constitute an "attack on freedom of speech." The manipulators are trying to shift responsibility for its crimes to Ukraine, so they call the "shelling of Kharkiv by the Ukrainian Armed Forces" true and the Russian occupiers "valiant."
Read more on how Russia blurs reality with the word "extremism". Using this tactic, the Russian BBC branch described the case when a Russian liked a post in the "Odnoklasniki" social network which mentioned wishing death and shame to Russians who will fight in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. A criminal case was opened against him on the "national hatred" charge.
"Total mobilization, but not for everyone"
Detector Media documented the fake Russian message that the EU allegedly asked to grant Spanish citizenship to the children of Zelenskyy, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, and former Minister of Defense Reznikov. The authors published a "letter of appeal" from the European Union to the King of Spain as evidence.
However, the "letter" was compiled superficially. First of all, it does not meet the standards for preparing this class of documents. Most likely, the fake letter was created based on other documents of the European Council to foreign officials. In addition, the letter to the head of the royal family of Spain is not on the official website of the European Council. However, similar documents are placed in the "press releases" section and are available to the general public.
Propagandists spread such fake messages to discredit the Ukrainian authorities and cause panic among the population about the "comprehensive mobilization".
"Ukraine canceled the legal status of persons with disabilities"
Russian media claimed that Ukraine is allegedly going to "cancel the disability status" to send more people to the front. As evidence, agitational propagandists cited a proposal to remove the "disabled" concept from the legislation.
The Ministry of Health has prepared a draft law proposing replacing the disability status with an assessment of loss of functionality. However, the draft law does not refer to the cancellation of the acquisition of the status of a person with a disability.
The goal of such an initiative is Ukraine's rejection of the post-Soviet model of disability definition, which provides a person with only "benefits and compensation." The state’s task should be "to return a person to their economic abilities." At the same time, benefits and payments will not be canceled. The changes themselves are to be implemented in 2025. The bill has nothing to do with the mobilization. Russian propagandists are speculating on the topic.
At the end of the week, propagandists stated that the militant group Hamas kills civilians, while Russia strikes "exceptionally on the military targets." They mentioned that the West should consolidate its forces against other forces, not Russia, which supposedly only "nobly" defends itself.
This thesis is entirely not realistic. Only recently, Russia shelled the village of Hroza in the Kharkiv region. This missile attack became the largest in the number of victims in 2023 in Ukraine and the largest for the entire time of a full-scale invasion in the Kharkiv region. Massive shelling of energy infrastructure, which Russia began in October 2022, most often affected populated areas hundreds of kilometers from the contact line. The situation is similar to Russian attacks on Ukrainian trade ports and grain elevators, which are used to export Ukrainian grain abroad. Russians choose their targets from the objects and spaces designed to provide food to residents of Asian, African, and American states.
By comparing Russia with Hamas, which is beneficial for the Kremlin, the Russians are trying to whitewash themselves in light of another armed conflict. The Kremlin's remarks about the "attacking of military facilities" are also intended to fuel the thesis that Russia, in its fight against the "imperialist West", strictly adheres to the norms of international law. Therefore, according to Russians, Western politicians need to shift their focus to other criminals, not Russia itself.