Poland: 11 December 2016

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If a criminal, then necessarily an immigrant: Polish TV repeats the arguments of Russian media.

Event: On 8 November, the web portal of Polish TV station Republika published an article titled “Shocking behavior of immigrants in Germany! They push a woman down a flight of stairs!” The article describes a violent attack that took place on the Berlin Metro during the night of 26-27 October. A man identified by the TV station as an immigrant pushed a woman down the stairs for no apparent reason. Earlier, Russian media—including the web portal of the television network REN-tv—described the same event.

False fact or narrative: The video shows an immigrant kicking a young woman descending a staircase to the platform. She falls headfirst down the stairs. Other men, apparently Middle Eastern in origin, approach the man; together they watch the woman from the top of the staircase and then walk away. “German police are looking for those immigrants,” reports the TV station.

Reality on the ground: German media offers no information about the perpetrator’s origin. Nor does the news item put out by German police, since his identity has not yet been determined. The Berlin district of Neukölln, where the attack took place, is known for its high concentration of immigrants. However, it is impossible to draw unequivocal conclusions about his origins based on the video alone. Interestingly, the victim wearing a shawl over her head, which means she may have been Muslim.

Technique: There is no evidence the attacker is an immigrant. Republika claims he is, though it does not quote any sources.

Audience: Polish public opinion.

Analysis: Violence by immigrants in the European Union is one of the Russian propaganda machine’s favorite themes. It frequently and prominently publicizes real or invented cases of crimes committed by immigrants against EU citizens, blaming them on Europe’s own governments, who opened their country’s borders to immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. Russian media explains Europe’s helplessness in the face of such violent attacks as indicative of the harmful political correctness tendencies of liberal democracy. is in contrast to “strong and healthy” authoritarian regimes, which do not allow their citizens to be harmed. In this manner, pro-Kremlin media attempts to spread the view that democracy is in crisis and that it is natural for countries in trouble to support authoritarian, populist movements.