CASE NO. 1
The False Fact or Narrative:
During the report period, discussions on the BBC2 film „World War Three: Inside War Room” continued in the Latvian public sphere. The mayors of the Latgale municipalities sent an open letter to condemn the demonstration of this film in Latvian Public TV. Reacting to this letter, the Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs also publicly criticized the BBC film, calling it an absurdity. The local Russian-speakers’ internet site Vesti.lv, in turn, created news about Rinkēvičs’ opinion on the film by quoting him in the headline “Rinkēvičs about the scandalous BBC film: absurdity and hate mongering
The Latvian Foreign Minister indeed criticized the BBC film. Rinkēvičs emphasized that the film is based on a clichés, absurd situations and ignorance toward the local specificity of Latgale. At the same time Rinkēvičs pointed out that Latvia’s public media has rights to provoke critical thinking, int. al. with respect to this film. However, Rinkēvičs did not argue that BBC film contributes to hate mongering, as it appeared in the Vesti.lv headline.
The original quote of the news source was misquoted in the headline.
The central audience of this disinformation is Latvia’s Russian speakers.
This disinformation is based on the interpretive strategy which showed up in the local Russian-speaking media as well as in Russia’s media soon after the premiere of the BBC film. That is to say, it was emphasized that the film incites inter-ethnic hatred between Latvians and Russian speakers. Not only does this interpretation demonize the UK, but also the West. By misquoting Rinkevičs in the headline, Vesti.lv intends to show that even Latvian politicians, who are usually highly critical toward Russia, as is Rinkēvičs, agree with the interpretation of Russian media.
CASE NO. 2
The False Fact or Narrative:
On February 18, the former Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Latvia and politician Jānis Jurkāns gave an interview to the local Russian-speaking radio “Radio Baltcom”. In the interview he ardently criticized NATO and the US for using double standards regarding Russia. Jurkāns argued that Russia has rights to defend national interests, when NATO has come so close to Russia’s border. He asked rhetorically, “why the US could defend national interests during the Caribbean crisis, but Russia is not entitled to do the same
.” Likewise, Jurkāns insisted that NATO has promised Russia not to expand Eastward, however “we all remember what happened after the collapse of the USSR.”
In the interview, Jurkāns’ repeats the Kremlin’s official narrative which demonizes the West in general and the US in particular. Thereby Russia’s aggressive policy toward other countries, particularly post-Soviet countries, is completely overlooked. Jurkāns also exploits the myth that NATO has promised no to expand toward post-communist countries.
A misleading analogy and the victimization of Russia vis-à-vis the West is exploited.
The target audience of this disinformation is Latvia’s Russian speakers for whom Jurkāns is a reliable opinion leader who has always advocated the Russian-speakers’ rights.
The Kremlin narrative, as conveyed by Jurkāns, brings forward seemingly obvious conspiracies toward Russia whereby Russia is framed as a victim of Western hypocrisy, which simultaneously legitimize Russia’s moral rights to annex Crimea as well as defend the so-called national interests in other parts of the world.