Briefs

Poland - 30 May–5 June 2016

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Object of manipulation: Website of radio station RMF FM

Date: 2 June 2016


Author: Przemysław Marzec 

Source of manipulation: Website of Sputnik Latvija

Date: 30 May 2016


Author: Evgeni Leshkovski

The false fact or narrative: Latvia’s Ministry of Justice is preparing to amend the law so that children may receive only Latvian given names and surnames, according to Radio RMF FM. 

The truth: On 24 March 2016, Latvia’s Ministry of Justice indeed received amendments to the “Act on the change of a given name, surname and ethnicity record.” The proposed changes, however, regard only individuals who, at their own request, wish to change their original nationality to Latvian and, consequently, their surname or given name. The amendments describe the procedure under which such a request may be fulfilled—not existing law on naming children.

Technique: A completely false content is attributed to a real event.

Audience: The message is addressed both to Russians and foreign readers.

Analysis: This disinformation aims to create a negative public image of Latvia in Russia and the West by attempting to convince readers that Latvia’s Russian minority suffers discrimination. 



Object of manipulation: Website of Strajk.eu

Date: 30 May 2016


Source of manipulation: Website of Sputnik Polska (“Sputnik Poland”)

Date: 29 May 2016


The false fact or narrative: It is obvious that Russia, as it claims, is not interested in escalating tensions. However, it is ready to take retaliatory actions. The German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, quoted by Sputnik Polska, believes that Sweden is sending a “deterrent signal,” even though Moscow does not intend to threaten anybody. Regardless of the facts, as a result of the legal act adopted by the Swedish Parliament, tensions in Europe have officially ascended to a higher level, reports strajk.eu.

The truth: Research on Swedish public opinion shows that after the outbreak of armed conflict in Ukraine, support for Swedish membership in NATO increased significantly. In fact, more Swedes now support than oppose NATO admission; most Swedish experts attribute this to the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s aggressive role in it. Germany’s Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten has frequently been accused of manipulating and spreading Russian disinformation in Germany. However, this particular report contains no statement that Moscow does not threaten anyone and that Sweden is sending a “deterrent signal.”

Technique: The manipulation consists in removing the event from its context. The logical chain: “aggressive politics of Russia in Ukraine; fear in Swedish society; intensifying cooperation with NATO” is being substituted with “intensifying cooperation with NATO; Russia’s reaction.” In this manner, Sweden—not Russia—is to blame for increasing regional tensions.

Audience: Foreigners, particularly Poles.

Analysis: This disinformation aims to convince people that NATO and its actions to strengthen the sense of security in  Western society is behind the escalation of tensions with Russia, and that Russia—although peaceful—must react to NATO’s provocations.