Around 80% of the 600 analyzed social media comments in Austria and Germany are with a pro-Russian tendency, it is said on a press statement by ZDM.
“Russian disinformation can break through easily, where we lack certain knowledge. We need more education on complex issues, not just fact checks for particular events. The goal of Kremlin propaganda is to demonize Ukraine in order to break our solidarity.”, said Dietmar Pichler, ZDM-Co-founder and disinformation analyst.
“Sanctions don’t work, they harm just ourselves”, “the West is to blame”, “Russian war crimes are staged” and “the Ukrainians have banned the Russian language and executed 8 years of genocide in Donbas” are the common pro-Russian narratives on social networks.
Especially the Russian version of the events in Donbas since 2014 and the alleged Russian language ban, were spread by about 90% of Russian diplomats and politicians in interviews on Western media. Russian propaganda takes advantage of the enormous gaps in the knowledge of Western audiences, thus justifying the invasion in 2022. In fact, the aggression in the Donbas was started by Russian warlords, initiated and financed by Russia, and also with the help of the Russian military. A key figure was Igor Girkin, former “defense minister” of the
“Donetsk People’s Republic.” He has been held responsible for several war crimes, including the shooting down of passenger plane MH17 in July 2014. The 2014-2022 fighting in the Donbas claimed 3,404 civilian lives, on both sides of the front line. In the last 3 years, fewer than 100 civilians died, about half of them from mine accidents. Thus, the thesis of “Ukrainian genocide of the population in Donbas” can be clearly debunked; without the expansive Russian intervention, there would have been no military conflict in the first place.
“The Russian Language Ban”
In July 2022, Vitali Klitschko gave an interview in the Russian language to Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Gordon in Kyiv. The popular TV series “Servants of the People” with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is mostly in Russian. In March, Russian singer Andrey Makarevich was a guest on Ukrainian TV and sang in Russian. These are just a few examples, but they do not prevent Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, in from again spreading the false claim that the Russian language is banned in Ukraine and that “it would be dangerous to speak Russian in Kyiv (BBC interview June 2022). Allegations that any visitor of the Ukrainian capital will immediately recognize as absurd, but which are often believed and spread by people with no connection to the country. Russia’s war crime denials are also widely spread and believed on Social Media. A particularly serious case was the missile strike on the shopping center in the city of Kremenchuk, which caused many casualties. The Kremlin’s version of events that the “Amstor Mall” has been closed since March can be refuted in many ways: there are video recordings and cash register receipts from shortly before the impact, and stores were advertising their products in the days before the impact. Nevertheless, this disinformation was persistently shared on social media, the existence of the victims was denied and it was called “a conspiracy against Russia” by many actors online.