University professor and director of DCN Global, Nikos Panagiotou, in an interview with The Geopost, talked about Russian disinformation and the ways in which Russia extends its influence to other countries.
He stated that the common element of Russian propaganda is the lies through which they attack the West.
“In all these areas that we have actually analyzed we have seen that the common element were attacks against the West through lies.”, the Greek professor told The Geopost, among other things.
Panagiotou has given some suggestions on how to combat Russian disinformation, so that we can promote real narratives.
Below you can find the full interview of Nikos Panagiotou for The Geopost:
The Geopost: Can you do a little presentation about you and DCN Global?
Panagiotou: Thank you for the invitation. I am really happy to have this discussion and interview with you. I would like to wish all the best for a very interesting news website. I have been following for the last month now and I have seen that you are doing extremely work and I would like to congratulate you and the whole team behind it. It is very fresh, it is very innovative and dealing with issues that are very important for the area.
For us, me as president of DCN Global, it relates a lot with our activities and what we are doing. Digital Communication Network Global is a global organization with 7,000 members all across the world. We have various hubs. We have a hub for Southern-Eastern Europe, we have a hub for Africa, a hub for South-East Asia and in October we will launch the new hub in America and we are extremely happy and honored about it.
The Geopost: How do you see the situation of disinformation in the Balkans?
Panagiotou: The situation of disinformation in general it is quite alarming. We should be aware and it is something that we should have in mind because it relates a lot with the quality of our democracies. Especially in the area, disinformation has proven to be a topic that can initiate hatred, it can initiate a lot of misinformation, a lot of disinformation and a lot of polarization that in an area like ours it would be very dangerous. And this is why I think that there are efforts from countries outside of the area to influence Southern – Eastern Europe and especially to spread disinformation. We as Digital Communication Network Global have organized a lot of webinars about that topic. We have organized a webinar regarding vaccine diplomacy where we have seen that Russia with Sputnik, especially in our area, was trying actually to promote an anti – Western campaign based on facts or alternative facts that they were not true. They were aiming actually to exploit people, anxious about Covid, in order to promote their agenda. And this is something we have worked very intensely into following and also analyzing it.
The Geopost: We as The Geopost and maybe you as DCN Global know that most of disinformation and fake news comes from Russia. Do you have any analysis for which country is more attacked with this fake news from Russia?
Panagiotou: Yes. Us in DCN Global have taken an initiative to conduct analysis of disinformation in several countries: In Grecee, in Rumania, in Armenia, in Georgia, in Italy as well as in some parts of Kosovo as well.
The aim was actually to understand what type of disinformation circulates and actually to analyze what kind of disinformation. We have seen that in all these countries, despite that they are in different places (In Armenia, in Ukraine, in Georgia e.t.c. ) some narratives are extremely the same. What this shows us that the sample tries to exploit the concerns of the people regarding various topics. Even, they have used religion in order to promote an agenda that turns people against West. In all these areas that we have actually analyzed we have seen that the common element were attacks against the West through lies.
The Geopost: In the war in Ukraine there’s more disinformation and propaganda from Russia these days. What’s your opinion on that?
Panagiotou: I think that what we have seen in this case it is actually the model of hybrid war which means that parallels on the real war there were efforts in order to show that Russia did not attack actually Ukraine, that the one to be blamed is not Russia but it is the West because the West provoked Russia e.t.c.
What we have seen they’re not their lies. It is an effort actually in order to put the blame somewhere else. We have even seen that Russia prepares to say that it will provide the necessary grain to countries in Africa. But they don’t actually reveal that this grain, where it comes from, and whether it is grain that has been stolen from Ukraine.
The Geopost: Do you have any suggestions on what we (media, journalists, NGOs) can do to counter this disinformation?
Panagiotou: One suggestion is to follow websites like yours. The second suggestion it is that we need more training. We need actually more training on how to spot a disinformation but mostly we need more cooperation. We need all these elements, NGOs, journalists, media organizations to work together in order to empathize that this is not true, don’t believe in that. Otherwise, the way and the narrative and how disinformation is being built it is very attractive. I think that media must work in order to motivate people to trust them. We have to change, we have to leave back practices of the past that made part of public opinion to move away. So what we actually need against disinformation is a very strong partnership that it will be able to promote the real narratives.