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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, September 18–24, and September 25–30. You can also check out our overview of the ten months since the full-scale Russian invasion and a review of the ridiculous hoaxes during the year of the Great War.
Throughout October 2-7, 2023, Detector Media analysts recorded 26 disinformation publications. During this time, such posts mentioned Ukrainian schoolchildren "suffering" under the yoke of Ukraine because they allegedly did not want to learn the Ukrainian language. Among other things, fakers claimed that Olena Zelenska allegedly had Russian citizenship.
"Militarization of Ukrainians"
At the beginning of the first week of October, propagandists manipulated that Volodymyr Zelenskyy was allegedly forcing peaceful Ukrainians to wear military uniforms so that "the Russians would fear them." Russian propagandists stated that the Ukrainian president seems to be trying to achieve only one goal — to reduce the population to "minimally critical indicators". In other words, the authors hinted that Ukraine wants to send all of its civilians to the frontline.
However, Russians took Volodymyr Zelenskyy's words out of context. During a meeting with student-athletes, he was asked how he maintains his physical fitness and whether it affects his mental stability. While answering this question, the president replied that sports allow you to eliminate excess energy, making it easier for him to negotiate with people and make rational decisions during conversations. He added, "We need to be in shape so the Russians fear us." It is clear from the context that we are talking about physical fitness, health, and vitality, not military uniforms, as the manipulators stated.
"Ukraine is making children suffer"
Propagandists published a message saying that Ukrainian children suffer from "total Ukrainization". The publications wrote that educators seem to force schoolchildren to learn the Ukrainian language deliberately, and they allegedly constantly resist it, not wanting to get "immersed in Ukrainian culture". They have also added statistical figures stating by how many percent the Ukrainian language study among schoolchildren had apparently decreased. However, they referred to the news of the French newspaper Le Monde.
Le Monde journalists did write about the deterioration of the general level of knowledge of Ukrainian children. The news stated that 57% of Ukrainian teachers observe a deterioration in students' Ukrainian language knowledge, up to 45% - a decline in mathematical skills, and up to 52% - in foreign languages. The media referred to a press release by UNICEF, which has provided these data.
However, human rights activists cited Russian aggression, full-scale invasion, and attacks on civilian infrastructure, including shelling of schools, as the main reason for the decline in knowledge. Ukrainian children do not protest against studying the subjects and do not express widespread dissatisfaction. Russia hinders their quality of education, and the proof of it can be found in the research from the Children's Fund for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children.
"Moscow sees Nazism in everything"
On September 29, 2023, Volodymyr Zelenskyy named the 131st separate reconnaissance battalion of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine after Yevhen Konovalets. In response, the propagandists wrote that such actions emphasize Ukraine's true "Nazi" essence, where officials are no longer afraid to "glorify Bandera's henchmen".
There is nothing wrong with the fact that the Ukrainian president named the intelligence battalion after a historical figure. Yevhen Konovalets is one of the most prominent figures of the Ukrainian national movement of the 20th century. In his 47 years, he managed to make his way to the position of colonel of the UNR army (Ukrainian People's Army), commander of the Sich riflemen, and founder and first head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.
Russia systematically speculates on Ukrainian nationalism and exposes nationalism as Nazism. Allegedly, being Ukrainian, taking care of one's state interests is a reason to be accused of Nazism by the Russians. Propagandists also reduce the approval of historical figures to "Nazism" in the Ukrainian context.
Moreover, read how Russia blurs the reality using the term "nationalists" Novomov in our column.
"We have been left without tanks."
Detector Media has documented a fake statement in which Sweden had confirmed the loss of all its tanks provided to Ukraine.
However, the spokesman of the Swedish Armed Forces denied this information. He explained that there was no such statement from Sweden. Moreover, in the Armed Forces of Sweden press release for September 21, 2023, there is no mention of the Swedish tanks. Furthermore, the military described how all ten tanks function successfully in Ukraine. However, a recent article from Forbes International, dated September 23, 2023, states that Russia did manage to damage two pieces of equipment.
The propagandists are trying to show the alleged "low combat capability" of the Ukrainian military, which does not know how to use Western weapons. In contrast, the supply of weapons to Ukraine weakens those who support Ukraine fatally. You can read more about such messages in our study of Russian propaganda in the Global South’s media space.
"Olena Zelenska is already a citizen of Russia"
Propagandists stated that after the so-called "search" of Zelenskyy’s apartment in Yalta, Olena Zelenska's Russian passport was allegedly found. They noted that the First Lady of Ukraine supposedly received a Russian passport on April 9, 2014 — that is, after the occupying country held an illegitimate referendum on the "accession" of the territories of the Crimean Peninsula to Russia. Video evidence was added to the publications.
The passport turned out to be fake and had no relation to Olena Zelenska. For example, the propagandists created a phony document using Zelenska's photo from her social networks. Moreover, the photo was taken in 2023, which makes the thesis that the document was received in 2014 - impossible.
The propaganda authors seek to demonstrate that a whole group of Ukrainians cooperate with Russia. Moreover, they are among the representatives of the authorities of Ukraine. The alleged Russian documents of Olena Zelenska could suggest that the First Lady allegedly supported the occupation of Crimea by Russia because she received a passport after the annexation and the holding of illegitimate referendums there.
In general, property issues are still used as proof of the corruption of the Ukrainian government - this is how agitational propaganda portrays Ukraine as the corrupt cradle to devalue its European integration path. Read our latest publications on the topic: how Zelenskyy's mother-in-law allegedly bought a villa on the coast of Egypt at the expense of Western humanitarian aid to Ukraine, or how Zaluzhnyy allegedly "launders funds" for foreign real estate.
"Glory to urine"
Russian media acknowledgeably lied that during his visit to New York to participate in the UN General Assembly session, Volodymyr Zelenskyy saw a billboard in yellow and blue colors and the inscription "Glory to Urine." The video evidence from a Fox News story accompanied the publications.
Yet, there was no such billboard in Times Square, at the 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue intersection, where such a billboard was allegedly located. This text was added in the video editor, as was the Fox News logo.
Fox News confirmed that they did not make such a story. Erin Watkins, a lawyer from the company that owns and manages part of the billboards in Times Square, explained that the video with the banner and the inscription "Glory to Urine" is inaccurate. They have not displayed such a billboard.
"Doctors and pharmacists are fleeing Ukraine"
The Russian segment of social networks stated that Ukrainian women with a medical education started "fleeing" Ukraine en masse since, from October 1, 2023, doctors and pharmacists must register for the military. In support of such a thesis, propagandists demonstrated alleged data from the State Statistics Service of Ukraine.
Migration statistics on the website of the State Statistics Service have not been updated since January 2022 due to martial law and a full-scale war. Therefore, there is no data on the migration of women with medical education. It means that propagandists invented this information.
Starting October 1, 2023, doctors and pharmacists must register for the military, but registration does not mean mobilization or restrictions on traveling abroad. Moreover, the Ukrainian government envisages that women with appropriate education should register at recruitment centers only by the end of 2026. The Ministry of Health reported that the accounting is necessary only to summarize the data on the available doctors' reserves in the country. This female category's departure from the country is not limited. Russian agitational propaganda systematically spreads messages to intimidate Ukrainian women and describes the Ukrainian army as allegedly incompetent and incapable because "no one knows how to fight there". Read more about the Kremlin's manipulation of the so-called mobilization of women in our recent research.
“Shelling Ukraine is profitable for Zelenskyy”
On October 5, 2023, at 1:24 p.m., the Russian occupiers shelled the village of Hroza in the Kupyanskyy district of the Kharkiv region. The Russians hit a local store and cafe where a memorial service was held for a fellow soldier. The Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Ihor Klymenko, said 60 people were on the territory, and at least 52 died, including a child. Instead, anonymous Telegram channels broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric spread messages that Ukraine struck the village "at the request of Volodymyr Zelenskyy". In addition, they stated that there were Ukrainian fighters in the cafe, and therefore, the Russian army was allegedly targeting the military and its facilities.
Oleh Sinehubov, the head of Kharkiv OVA (Oblast Military Administration), reported that there were civilians and civilian cars at the place of the attack. Later, this was confirmed by the head of the region’s police, Volodymyr Tymoshko. The latter also explained what has already been established: the strike was made by an Iskander ballistic missile. It is a type of missile that only Russia uses and that Ukraine does not have. The place of the memorial service is not a military target. Moreover, any attack on another country, even its military facilities, is a crime.
The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office spokesman explained that the attack could have been carried out because they thought that Ukrainian military personnel were there. He then added that "only civilians were there, mostly women." In any case, this does not justify occupiers’ criminal actions. A former UN investigator says it was a conscious choice made by the Russians to attack civilians.
The missile attack on the village on October 5 became the deadliest in 2023 in Ukraine and the largest in the history of a full-scale invasion in the region.
Since the beginning of the full-scale phase of the war, UN representatives recorded 26,384 casualties among the civilian population in Ukraine, including 9,444 dead and 16,940 wounded.