Briefs

Lithuania - 1-7 June 2016

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Object of manipulation: www.rubaltic.ru—a pro-Kremlin, Russian-language news website for the Baltic states based in Kaliningrad

Date: 1 June 2016

Title:  “Baltic states ‘partkom’ scolded Juncker for trip to Russia”  (Юнкера ‘пропесочили’ на прибалтийском ‘парткоме’ за поездку в Россию)

Author: Aleksandr Nosovich 

Source of manipulation: www.politico.eu, the Brussels bureau of a U.S. media outlet

Date: 30 May 2016


Author: Jacopo Barigazzi  

The false fact or narrative: Rubaltic.ru,na pro-Kremlin, a Russian-language website for the Baltic states based in Kaliningrad, published an article by Aleksandr Nosovich mocking the reaction by the Baltic states, Eastern Europe and the United States to the decision by Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, to attend the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg on 16-18 June. Nosovich is known for his pro-Kremlin writings.  During the visit, Juncker will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nosovich reported that Linas Linkevicius, Lithuania’s minister of foreign affairs, publicly denounced Juncker, who tried to assure his critics that he would not collude with the Kremlin in its efforts to lift sanctions against Russia. In his article, Nosovich used old Soviet Communist Party jargon, stating that “comrades of the United States, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states” remained adamant there would be no deviation from the “party line” and that “no dialogue with Russia could be resumed under any circumstances.” 

Nosovich noted in his article that Juncker would become the first EU official to visit Russia since the introduction of EU sanctions against Russia in March 2014. He said the talks would focus on the EU’s integration with the Eurasian Economic Union, calling the process the “integration of integrations.” Nosovich said those talks would show that the EU recognized the importance of integrating former Soviet republics, and that such a process represented neither a relapse of Putin’s imperial thinking nor a challenge to the free world nor the revival of imperial aggression.

Nosovich explained that such an “integration of integrations” would lead to the construction of a “Greater Eurasia” in which all independent states could participate. Only then, according to Nosovich, would the myth that the Soviet Union was “a prison of nations” be broken. With the loss of Eastern Europe as a buffer zone, U.S. dominance in Europe would suffer terribly.  Nosovich pointed that Washington behaves just like the old Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee in relation to the lower party cells: it does not tolerate any dissent from  the official party line.

The truth: Juncker indeed plans on attending the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin’s version of the World Economic Forum in Davos. He would become the first leader of an EU institution to visit Russia since the March 2014 imposition of sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Juncker faces growing U.S. and European resistance—and even from among his own staff—over the planned to Russia. A group of center-right members of the European Parliament has also asked Juncker to reconsider the visit. “Meetings for the sake of meetings as such do not bring added value to EU-Russia relations,” said Lithuania’s Linkevicius, as quoted by Politico. “The Kremlin uses meetings to create the impression of business as usual, and usually reports this impression to their own public.”

The EU is likely to extend its anti-Russia sanctions when they come up for renewal in July, even though some EU countries have wavered in their support for the measures on the argument that they hurt domestic agricultural and industrial sectors. According to an article in politico.eu, several countries have privately expressed unease that Juncker’s participation in an event clearly designed to burnish Putin’s credentials as a statesman could only bolster the Russian position at a delicate moment in the sanctions debate.

The idea of a Greater Eurasia has been popular among Russian politicians for a decade. The Eurasian Economic Union—which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia—is designed as a counterweight to the EU. The Kremlin also has used military force in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to slow these countries’ cooperation with the West.  

Technique: Testimonial, signaling and testing the reaction. The use of Soviet Communist party terms—such as comrade, party line and partkom (party committee)—help draw a parallel between the communists who ran the USSR and today’s EU, which Nosovich claims is dominated by the United States.

Audience: Russian-speaking segments of society in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the West and in Russia itself. The Russian-speaking audience in Lithuania is a mixed one, with many ethnic minorities including Russians, Poles, Tartars, Jews and Belarussians, as well as Lithuanians whose second language is Russian.

Analysis: The article demonstrates a high level of manipulation. The writer uses the fact that the some EU member states do not approve Juncker’s visit to Russia to develop a pro-Moscow narrative: that there is no solidarity within the EU regarding Russia, that the Baltic states and Poland are paranoid, and that the United States seeks to dominate Europe.

The article omits the fact that the Kremlin has not fulfilled the Minsk agreement, or that the EU sanctioned Russia because of its occupation of Crimea and the war with Ukraine. It prefers another narrative: that the United States is an enemy, an aggressor; that Russia is opposed to war; that Russia supports the integration of independent states and the building of Greater Eurasia; that such integration will oust the Americans from Europe. The article develops the idea of Greater Eurasia—the union of the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union.