Russian-speaking outlets translate articles and posts by sympathetic so-called Western bloggers, and misrepresent their marginal opinions as the mainstream views of West, a new article on the EUvsDisinfo website reports. This trick, often used against Ukraine, is an integral part of a common disinformation technique: creating websites and think tanks that present themselves as objective forums for the analysis of international security issues, while actually pushing pro-Kremlin narratives.
The branches of the Russian state-owned news agency Rossiya Segodnya, Inosmi and Ria Novosti, routinely publish articles by ‘French journalists’ writing for ‘French media’, who are actually blogging on dubious sites, such as Les Mouton enragés, Agoravox and others. Once they appear in an official Russian press agency, such articles are then republished in other Russian media sources as legitimate French journalism, known for its high editorial standards.
“In particular, pro-Kremlin media often republish Agoravox bloggers, a few of whom fought for the separatist regions during the war in Ukraine. Philippe Khalfine was a volunteer soldier in the ‘Continental Unity brigade’ in Donetsk. In 2019, after Inosmi translated and republished a post he wrote about Crimea, several Russian publications, including News Front, described him as ‘a French journalist from Agoravox who admires Russian Crimea’,” EUvsDisinfo explains.
The portal also gives another example. On 7 July 2020, an obscure blog called Donbass Insider published in French a story claiming that Ukrainian officials were obsessed with the idea that a Russian attack on the country was imminent – a disinformation tactic previously revealed by EUvsDisinfo. The blogger claimed, among other things, that only Western countries invade foreign territories, but Russia never does so.
Two days later, this article, implicitly presenting the blogger’s views as representative of broader French opinion, was published in Inosmi and immediately appeared in at least 68 Russian outlets, including the official government gazette Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
EUvsDisinfo is the flagship project of the European External Action Service’s East StratCom Task Force. It was established in 2015 to better forecast, address, and respond to the Russian Federation’s ongoing disinformation campaigns affecting the European Union, its Member States, and countries in the shared neighbourhood.
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