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Since February 24, 2022, Detector Media has been monitoring the Ukrainian segment of social networks and the Kremlin media and documenting the chronicle of Russian disinformation about Russia's war against Ukraine on a daily basis. Over time, we have 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, a summary for ten months, and a review of the most ridiculous fakes published during the year of the full-scale war.

From July 31 to August 5, 2023, our analysts at Detector Media pinpointed over 30 instances of disinformation narratives. This week's highlights? Claims that Ukrainians desire President Putin at their helm and allegations of Ukraine enticing American students burdened with loans to enlist in the International Legion.

"Ukraine's 'Desired' President"

Early last week, we recorded a narrative suggesting Ukrainians wished for Putin as their president. This notion, it turns out, was fanned by Russian outlets, which cited Maria Zakharova, a spokesperson from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Without providing concrete proof or specifics, Zakharova peddled this narrative. However, empirical data tells a different story. Comprehensive polling by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the Razumkov Center revealed a stark reality. A whopping 82.2% of participants resonated with the viewpoint that "Putin is today's Hitler." Thus, the notion of Ukrainians yearning for Putin as their leader crumbles.

This misleading narrative aims to portray Ukrainians as dissenters of their own government and, curiously, sympathizers of Russian politics, ultimately making them appear supportive of Russian aggression.

"The US Regular Army Joins the Armed Forces of Ukraine"

Anonymous Telegram channels echoing pro-Kremlin sentiments claimed that the US Army is upping its pay for troops involved in the war in Ukraine, referencing an article from Army Times.

In the article, the journalists did report that the US government had approved additional allowances for US military personnel serving in Ukraine. However, the article referred to a small group of US military personnel stationed at the US Embassy in Kyiv to guard it. The article did not say that this category of people would take part in the Russian-Ukrainian war. However, this did not prevent the propagandists from distorting the true message of the source and extracting only the arguments that suited them, completely twisting the main message.

"Joe Biden's Book on Dementia"

During the week, anonymous Telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric spread a fake news story that CBS News had recorded Joe Biden buying books about dementia. The publications were accompanied by a video of Biden in a store allegedly looking through books in the "brain exercises for dementia" section.

It turned out that the video had been edited. The original video was recorded by CBS News back in 2012, so there are no signs mentioning dementia to be seen on it. The video shows then-Vice President Joe Biden visiting a new Costco store in Washington, DC. In the video, you can see that Biden was looking at children's books, not on mental health.

Dementia mostly manifests itself in old age. This is how propagandists hinted that Joseph Biden was allegedly ill and, for example, unfit to serve as president.

"Victory-Flavored Pringles"

Analysts from Detector Media examined the disinformation circulating that Pringles has released a "victory flavor" in Russia. These reports suggest that the international brand expressed its support for Russia by featuring a St. George's ribbon on the chip container, backed up with video evidence. 

Yet, post the full-scale Russian incursion into Ukraine, Kellogg's, the parent company of Pringles, ceased its product distribution in Russia. In fact, by December 2022, Kellogg's had divested its facilities to a local manufacturer; hence the brand's products shouldn't be available in Russian stores. 

The narrative of "victory-flavored" Pringles seems restricted to Russian social media, and these specific products are conspicuously absent from Russian marketplaces. The authenticity of the video is suspect, as it's plausible that the Pringles tube showcasing the St. George's ribbon was digitally fabricated.

"Stop Zelenskyy, Stop the War"

Propaganda media and anonymous Telegram channels propagated a fake that a billboard in Japan carried the message "Stop Zelenskyy, Stop the War," substantiated by a video clip. 

However, close examination reveals that the video was doctored. The original footage, dating back two years, depicted Tokyo's Shibuya district during nighttime. A digital superimposition of the controversial message was added to the actual billboard in the original footage. 

This deceptive narrative aims to undermine international support for Ukraine and to falsely portray Ukraine and its leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as the instigators of the war with Russia.

"Ukrainian Army’s Staged Videos"

Recently, a video gained attention in Russian media purporting to depict Ukrainian soldiers creating staged content tailored for a Western viewership. In this footage, two uniformed soldiers are seen moving a mannequin behind a tree as a woman captures the scene with her camera.

The original video was posted on the Facebook page of the NGO "Training Center 12" based in Kremenchuk. Accompanying the video was the caption: "Basic military training of civilians by NGO NTTs 12". Thus, it's clear that the video documents civilian training exercises, not any orchestrated efforts by the Ukrainian military.

Russian propaganda frequently asserts that Russia is not involved in any war crimes, insinuating that Ukraine fabricates "staged content" to tarnish Russia's image. Such tactics are seemingly aimed at deflecting blame for their own actions.

"Student in Debt? Join the International Legion!"

Towards the week's end, anonymous Telegram channels known for their pro-Kremlin stance spread a fake news story. This account claimed that American students were being lured to join Ukraine's International Legion with promises to alleviate their student debts. The alleged advertisement from US universities stated: "Struggling with student loan repayments? Enlist in the International Legion of Ukraine!"

However, this ad is fake. A detailed search using Google's reverse image tool indicated that this particular advertisement appears solely within the Russian social media segment. It's highly probable that the image was digitally manipulated, possibly through tools like Photoshop.

Consistently, Russian disinformation campaigns have perpetuated the idea that Ukraine is bolstered by foreign fighters, dubbing them "foreign mercenaries". This angle seems to serve as a rationale for any shortcomings of the Russian military. The underlying implication is that they aren't merely confronting "untrained" Ukrainians but rather are up against elite NATO forces or American troops. To bolster this narrative, they even spread misleading information about recruitment drives targeting students and the unemployed, implying desperation on Ukraine's part to enlist "just about anyone."

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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