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Since February 24, 2022, Detector Media (DM) 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: August 28 - September 2, September 4-10, September 11-17 and September 18-24, September 25-30, October 2-7, and October 9-14. 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.
From October 16 to 22, Detector Media analysts recorded 25 disinformation publications. During this time, propagandists stated that Ukraine was beginning to mobilize its citizens into Israel’s "volunteer battalions". They also claimed that by the end of October, Ukraine will change the curfew hours.
"Zelenskyy on the gallows"
At the beginning of last week, Russian propagandists spread a fake story that the Israeli confectioner Avi Melamedson allegedly baked a cake with a picture of Zelenskyy hanged on the gallows. According to the author's conclusions, the confectioner did this as a sign of "protest" against the Ukrainian president, who allegedly resells Western weapons to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas. Russians added the Jerusalem Post "story" about the cake to this publication.
It turned out that the online publication did not create such material, so the news was compiled superficially. We could not find the news on the official website of the Jerusalem Post or their official pages on social networks. Avi Melamedson recorded the video and later shared it on the Internet, and propagandists used this video to create a fake story. In his video, the confectioner from Israel did not talk about Volodymyr Zelenskyy and did not accuse the Ukrainian leadership of reselling weapons. Instead, the pastry chef spoke about the hate speech that some bloggers use against Jews.
DM's Russian disinformation review for October 9-14 described why Russian agitational propaganda (agitprop) speculates on the "black market for arms sales." Previously, the propagandists lied that the representatives of the Islamist movement recorded a video message to the Ukrainians, thanking them for the provided weapons.
A shot from a propaganda video
"Ukraine is against Ukrainians"
The propagandists lied that Ukraine forbids its citizens to communicate with Ukrainians in the temporarily occupied territories. Supposedly, it is Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s initiative that is introducing sanctions against people. The authors add: Zelenskyy is afraid that the people of [free] Ukraine will realize that Ukrainians live a better life in the temporarily occupied [by Russia] territories than in the rest of Ukraine.
Ukraine has no bans on communication with residents of territories temporarily occupied by Russia. Information about the ban is Russian agitational propaganda’s fiction. In fact, the true-to-life obstacles in communication are poor network connection and lack of security guarantees. Russian occupiers are constantly searching homes and can check people's phones. Everything related to Ukraine can be regarded as hostility to the occupation regime. The inability to maintain contact with people is a consequence of the Russian invasion, not the actions of Ukraine.
For example, the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine has published rules for life under occupation, among which Ukrainians are advised not to lose contact with family and friends in the free territories as much as possible under the conditions of occupation. Therefore, the state's position on this matter remains unchanged.
In our "Novomov" column, we explained how Ukrainians in the temporarily occupied territories are forced to believe in the righteousness of Russia's actions, convincing them that the Ukrainian lands captured by the Russian occupiers are already "Russia’s new regions."
"Support Ukraine, not Israel"
Russian propagandists claimed that a street advertisement in New York called to "support Ukraine, not Israel". Supposedly, its initiators were disgruntled Ukrainians who wanted to collect all the Western money for them. The publications have been accompanied by a video with an image of a billboard with the inscription "helping Jews = burning money."
However, such advertising was not placed in New York. Meanwhile, the video used by the Russian agitational propaganda appeared a month ago on the YouTube channel The NYC Walking Show, where the author conducted a virtual tour of the New York streets. There was no such advertisement on that video. The propagandists created it with the help of graphic editing programs and used it on the video.
Screenshot of fabricated advertising banner
"Polish people started hating Ukrainians again"
We documented the Russian manipulation that Polish people supposedly "don't want to see" Ukrainian refugees in their country anymore. In support of this thesis, the publications referred to CNN’s material.
In general, the journalistic piece covered the events of the election campaign in Poland, namely, the rally of the "Confederation" party in Lublin on the eve of the elections to the Polish Seim [Parliament]. It is a far-right political force that proclaims nationalist views, anti-migrant sentiments, and radical Euroscepticism. Accordingly, the events and characters covered in the CNN report naturally express their attitude towards various phenomena. After all, these are sympathizers of the far-right party.
For example, a fifteen-year-old boy told the media of an American television and radio company that he was helping to organize the event because "he is against LGBT, against the European Union, and abortion." Another person at the mass event claimed that "some Ukrainians feel too much at home [in Poland]."
Unsurprisingly, supporters of a party that expresses right-wing rhetoric have rebroadcasted it. It is precisely what CNN journalists have shown. However, they did not lead the audience to a conclusion and did not create their judgments around the thesis that Poles "don't want to see" Ukrainian refugees. The media clearly indicated whose rhetoric it was and whether it coincided with the state's official position.
"The West is driving Ukraine into debt"
Russian propagandists claimed that the Minister of Finance of Ukraine, Serhiy Marchenko, said the West was "tired of driving Ukraine into debt." Allegedly, he said this during the meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Marrakesh (Morocco). The authors refer to the Reuters news agency material based on the meeting’s results.
Yet the quote about the "debt pit" is entirely fictional. The head of the Ministry of Finance did not make such statements. According to Reuters, during the meeting, Serhiy Marchenko said that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Ukraine to receive financial support as the attention of donor countries is currently focused on their upcoming elections.
On October 17, 2023, in an interview with Ukrinform, Marchenko said that Ukraine truly depends on international support because of Russian aggression — since it is the war started by Russia that hinders the country's economic development.
"So what are the curfew schedules?"
The Ukrainian segment of TikTok started spreading information that from October 25, 2023, the curfew schedule will allegedly be changed in Ukraine. The authors refer to the statement of the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Ruslan Stefanchuk. In the video, they are convinced that such a decision is due to the need for the "population’s control" during winter. The video's authors encourage people to follow a specific link to learn about a particular region's curfew.
There are no new curfew schedules. The links added by fakers lead to anonymous Telegram channels and third-party sites. Therefore, Russian fraudsters are trying to artificially increase the audience on their social network pages, particularly the Ukrainian Telegram. Lastly, Ruslan Stefanchuk did not make any statements on this matter; it is just fiction.
The decision on the curfew schedule belongs to the competence of the heads of regional military administrations. Depending on the region, the schedule may change.
"Mobilization not only to the Ukrainian front"
At the end of the week, propagandists stated that Ukrainians were being mobilized into Israel’s "volunteer battalions". The messages were accompanied by a video where the hero shows the "summons for conscription for military service " issued allegedly by the local territorial center of recruitment and social support (TCC SS). The summons states that according to Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine, "On Refugees and People in Need of Additional or Temporary Protection", the man was allegedly drafted into the "volunteer battalion" of Israel.
Fake summons for conscription for military service
An example of an actual summons for conscription for military service
In fact, the subpoena shown in the video is fake. After all, the document’s design does not correspond to the current official version of it. In addition, numerous mistakes were made during this "summons" creation. For example, in the place where the text with the name of the TCC SS was supposed to be — the fake post’s authors put the Security Service of Ukraine in Odesa. However, mobilization measures are not within the SBU's competence. Moreover, when a summons is issued to a person, the lower part of the document is torn off - the fakers did not consider this when creating the video.
As per the law referred to by propagandists, it has nothing to do with military service. Article 2 generally refers to the legal framework for refugees and persons needing additional or temporary protection.
Follow Detector Media's chronicle of Russian disinformation about Russia's war against Ukraine here.
Photo collage credits: Detector Media