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Since February 24, 2022, Detector Media has monitored the Ukrainian social networks segment and Kremlin media, daily documenting the chronicle of Russian disinformation about Russia's war against Ukraine. Over time, we began to complete such reports regularly. Here are the latest of them: June 26 - July 2, July 3-9, July 10-16, July 17-23, July 24-30, July 31 - August 5, August 7-12, August 14-19, August 21-27 and August 28-September 2. Additionally, here is the ten-month recap since the full-scale Russian invasion and a review of the most ridiculous hoaxes during the first year of the Great War.
From September 4 to 9, 2023, Detector Media analysts recorded 26 disinformation messages. During this time, propagandists discussed the alleged testing of "unknown" vaccines on soldiers of the Ukrainian Defense Forces of Ukraine. They also mentioned that Ukrainian people are encouraged not to study to go to war sooner.
Mass morbidity in the Armed Forces of Ukraine
At the beginning of the first week of September, we analyzed a propagandistic message concerning allegedly Ukrainian soldiers being massively ill with HIV. It was explained due to the "fact" that they are offered to test their blood free of charge to check for the presence of infection. The authors of the fake message came to such a conclusion: free tests in Ukraine mean an "observed" infection outbreak among the military personnel.
HIV testing in Ukraine is carried out free of charge. All Ukrainians have the right to use this opportunity. These provisions are specified in the new law on combating HIV. Therefore, this propagandistic message is groundless. The Defense Forces of Ukraine are not a particular category of people allowed to undergo free testing. At the same time, the Ministry of Health did not come out with any statements about an alleged HIV outbreak caused by Ukrainian fighters.
As a result, Russian agitprop tries to convince people that it has become dangerous to live in Ukraine because of various ailments. For this, they instrumentalize multiple diseases. However, HIV infection is non-transferable and airborne during hugs, handshakes, kisses, sneezing, and coughing.
The Russians manipulate the topic of health care to show that Ukraine does not care about providing basic needs for its citizens, so it allegedly poses a danger to Ukrainians who are "left out on their own." These are the most critical fakes that agitprop used to blur the picture: an infectious disease called leptospirosis is being allegedly spread among the Ukrainian military; an outbreak of cholera has been recorded in Odesa; this propaganda story also targeted Kyiv and Mykolaiv. However, in the end, one should pay extra attention to the message that cholera in Ukraine is the work of the USA and its "biolaboratories".
Another car was resold
Anonymous Telegram channels, broadcasting pro-Kremlin rhetoric, spread a fake message that the Defense Forces of Ukraine announced a fundraiser for a car and then put it [the car] up for sale. The reports said that this was done by one of the educators who had been previously mobilized to the Armed Forces. A screenshot of the car on the car sales website was added to the publications.
It is a story about a teacher from the Poltava region, Ruslan Kolyak, who announced the fundraiser. He first published a post about fundraising and its results on his social network pages, particularly Facebook. The fighter managed to fundraise enough funds to buy a Mitsubishi Outlander.
Later, it turned out that there were no ads on the sites for the sale of a Mitsubishi Outlander car in the same color as the car bought by Ruslan Kolyak. It was discovered using a reverse Google search. Hence, the propagandist authors simply created the situation with the car’s "resale".
The Kremlin speculates on the alleged misuse of human donations to foster society's distrust of the Ukrainian military. They spread the message that there is no point in helping the army if the Defense Forces of Ukraine allow for the "stealing" of resources.
As part of our disinformation chronicle project, we mainly analyzed such messages. Here are the most interesting ones: Ukrainians allegedly resell Japanese tactical humanitarian aid kits, or Ukrainian military equipment is being sold on the Polish car market.
Don't study — fight
Russian media spread a fake that Ukraine launched a communications campaign that sounds like "Education will not save the country". Publications reported that leaflets with the same name and a call to join the Armed Forces were distributed in Kharkiv. They explained that this is an alleged initiative of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Propagandists added video and photo evidence to the messages.
In fact, the flyers turned out to be fake, as information about them was published only in the Russian segment of social networks. There were no such images in Ukrainian or the local Kharkiv social networks/groups. In addition, the fake flyers contained incorrect hotline numbers. Moreover, the design style of the Kharkiv Territorial Center of Procurement and Social Support differs from the one on the phony leaflet.
Furthermore, in one of our previous reviews of Russian disinformation, Detector Media discussed the opposite case of using education in propaganda. At that time, propagandists spread information that the Ukrainian authorities allegedly forced schoolchildren to study, and those who failed exams were sent to defend Bakhmut.
The President is shelling Ukraine himself
Detector Media researchers analyzed a fake message containing information that Volodymyr Zelensky ordered to shell Kostyantynivka (a city in the Donetsk region) to scare Western officials. At that time, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was visiting Ukraine. The fake’s authors reported that the Armed Forces allegedly launched a missile attack on the city at the request of the Ukrainian president. The purpose of the shelling was to receive more American weapons.
It was precisely the Russian military that fired at Kostyantynivka on September 6, 2023. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, 16 people were killed and 33 injured due to a Russian missile attack on a local market.
Moscow uses mirroring as a propaganda tactic: attributing one's crimes to the opponent. Such reports of Russian propagandists testify to their desire to demonize Ukraine in the eyes of its partners. Additionally, it shows that the Ukrainian leadership allegedly commits crimes to obtain additional weapons.
Propagandists have also been spreading a message about an alleged "unknown origin" vaccine testing on the soldiers of the Defense Forces of Ukraine. Propagandists added that Russian troops found relevant "documents" confirming such testing in the temporarily occupied Luhansk region. Interviews with Ukrainian prisoners of war have also been added to such publications.
However, the Russians did not provide evidence or documents in their publications that would confirm these theses. Moreover, it was impossible to identify the video’s heroes, whom the propagandists presented as Ukrainian military prisoners. Furthermore, the videos could have been compiled out of nowhere and the characters could have just pretended to be Ukrainian prisoners; or the occupiers forced the Ukrainian military to lie, blackmailing them to do so. After all, Russia often uses prisoners of war for political and propaganda purposes. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine condemned such Russians' actions last year.
More about the terror and intimidation of the Ukrainian military in Russian prisons can be found in the Media Initiative for Human Rights report.
LGBT propaganda has seeped into schools
At the end of the week, Russian propagandists spread the message that by creating special "LGBT enlightenment" social groups, the "LGBT propaganda" is being spread in Ukrainian schools. Such announcement’s screenshot, allegedly from the website of the Ivano-Frankivsk Lyceum, praising the benefits of attending such a group, was added to the Russians’ publication. Among the mentioned advantages is a high probability of "successful employment" in European companies.
However, such information is false. The leadership of the Carpathian educational institution confirmed that such groups do not exist. According to Lyceum's official website, it did not announce the enrollment of children in extracurricular groups and sections. It means fakers created a fake screenshot of the site and published false information.
Authors of anonymous Telegram channels still depict the creation of such groups as a threat to Ukraine. However, one should not call the development of children's acceptance of society’s diversity a threat. A terrorist country uses any attempt of the Ukrainian side to create a tolerant environment as a threat to the young generation. Allegedly, children suffer from being subjected to sodomy, which, according to the Kremlin, is turning Ukrainians into homosexuals.
Moreover, in our column "Novomova," Detector Media explains why Russia is horrified by diversity and nurtures exclusively "traditional values" in its citizens. In short, Moscow shows how belonging to the LGBTQIA community is considered unacceptable and something that discredits a person or because of which a person is recognized as "broken". Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality.