April 8, 2020
Postinformation Society blog starts to publish materials of the “White book of the special information operations against Ukraine in 2014-2018“, that was created by the Ministry of information policy of Ukraine experts and edited by the deputy minister for information policy Dmytro Zolotukhin.
The “White book” consists of the 10 big chapters – “series” of Kremlin fakes. Each chapter describes one big fake narrative, made by Kremlin and Russian special services, aimed to destabilize situation in Ukraine and destroy the trust of foreign partners to Ukraine.
Ukrainian language version of the book was published in Ukraine in 2018th. English version has never seen the world, because of the new president and new authorities came to power in Kyiv.
We hope these publication will help to understand Russian propaganda and disinformation much deeper and prevent new special operations by Russian special services.
Since 2013, the Kremlin actively promoted in the global information space the myth about the association of Ukraine and ISIL. In the world information space, the ISIL is regarded as an absolute evil, a source of threat and danger to all mankind, an organization that aspires to destroy everything that could be reached. At the beginning of his cadence the President of the USA Donald Trump called ISIL the “threat number one”.
It is not difficult to unravel the motives of the Russian security services and political elites, who over the years have been trying to prove to the world community that there is something in common between Ukraine and ISIL. By launching the relevant messages into the information space, provoking them, carrying out special information operations for this purpose, the Russian special services and the media controlled by them created from our country an image of the country, which allegedly helps jihadists to organize terrorist attacks on the territory of Europe.
The purpose is to destroy the confidence in Ukraine in the world community and to provide the legitimate reasons for Russian aggression, the expansion of their powers of intelligence services and law enforcement agencies, the attack on human rights (including the restriction of web freedoms).
To consolidate in the information space and in the minds of people the idea of a connection between Ukraine and ISIL, for several years the Kremlin has been trying to support the promotion of four key sub-narratives (seasons):
- There are “camps” functioning on the territory of Ukraine, where Islamists are trained, military training and “brainwashing” are carried out with the purpose of subsequent participation in terrorist activities on the side of ISIL;
- Volunteer battalions and units of the Ukrainian army actually have a close relationship with Islamic radicals and the framework of ISIL. Including, those one working in the territory of Ukraine;
- Ukraine carries out the supply or smuggling of weapons and ammunition to the terrorist group, which is part of ISIL in different countries;
- At any time citizens of Ukraine and foreigners on the territory of Ukraine could become victims of terrorist attacks planned by militants of ISIL against Ukraine.
Season 1. “The groups of ISIL acting in Ukraine”
The key audience of the “season” about the ISIL groups in Ukraine is primarily the political elite of the European Union and EU citizens. The purpose is to prove them that Ukraine is, first of all, a source of danger, referring to the traumatic experience of terrorist attacks in European cities during recent years.
In addition, this season has an impact on the domestic Russian audience. Dehumanization of Ukrainians, representing them as terrorists, is an attempt to convince the Russian citizens that Ukraine is a source of threats and dangers that must be destroyed. Russian special services are also actively spreading stories that radical Islamists who could previously fight on the side of ISIL, were or are on the territory of Ukraine and fought or are fighting in Donbas in volunteer battalions.
Very often such a narrative is used to justify to the Russian audience, as well as to the residents of the Crimea annexed and the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas, the facts of repressions (murders and kidnappings) against the Crimean Tatars and illegal detention of Ukrainian citizens on charges of terrorism.
The scenario and message of this season is as follows:
- The ISIL units that threaten the world community are located on the territory of Ukraine;
- The Islamic radicals or people illegally or for the connivance of the Ukrainian authorities are preparing to travel to the middle East to participate in hostilities or are already taking part in hostilities in Eastern Ukraine, fighting on the side of the Ukrainian army or volunteer battalions;
- The cause of human rights violations in the Crimea and the Caucasus is the fight against terrorists and ISIL;
- Ukraine is connected with ISIL, that is, Ukraine is also a threat to the EU;
- Islamic radicals are planning terrorist attacks in Russia. That is why it is necessary to expand the powers of the security forces;
- Russia seeks to destroy terrorists together, which will be possible when Ukraine returns to the so-called Russian sphere of influence.
Season 1. Episode 1. “Jihadists of ISIL settled in Ukraine”
The Kremlin launched into the information space the story of the creation of the so-called “training camps for ISIL in Ukraine” in 2015. From the very beginning, Russian special services actively used this narrative to form a myth about Ukraine’s involvement in the activation of militants in Europe. This means to encourage European leaders to cooperate with Putin in the name of the fight against terrorism and to turn away from Ukraine.
However, in August 2017 the most large-scale information special operation of the Kremlin was organized in order to consolidate a fake about the jihadist camps in Ukraine in the foreign media. This was not a one-time action, but a set of measures taken by the Russian authorities, which began with the announcement by the occupation authorities of the Crimea of the formation and deployment of a program to counter extremism on December 24, 2015.
As it was noted by Igor Barynov, the head of the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs of Russia (FANA) (retired FSB Colonel, who is suspected of close connection with the Russian special services) the reason for this, , was, allegedly, “stay of radical groups on the territory of the Kherson region” This message was supported by the comment of the representative of occupation administration, the so-called Vice prime minister of the Crimea Ruslan Balbek.
On July 30, 2016 he noted: “We know about training camps where supporters of ISIL are trained in Kherson region of Ukraine,.”
The relevant information on the establishment of ISIL camps in the Kherson region was based solely on these statements; the Russian party did not provide any facts or evidences. Attempts of the Kremlin to create from the Ukrainian city of Odesa an image of transhipment point for ISIL were also identified. Information special operation has pursued a number of purposes such as:
- to expand the capabilities of the Centre for counteraction to extremism of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in Crimea and legitimize the pressure on the Crimean Tatars;
- to frighten the local population with a possible attack or terrorist attacks of radical Islamists from the territory of Ukraine, to strengthen the fear of Ukraine among the residents of Crimea and Russia;
- to accuse Turkey (after the downing the Russian military aircraft) of connivance with the Islamists;
- to draw parallels between the formation of the so-called bases for the preparation of militants and terrorist attacks in European countries.
On November 1, 2015, the propaganda TV channel “Zvezda” (owned by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation) distributed a message of Iehor Kvasniuk – a member of the expert group of the Russian Institute for strategic studies (RISS) on Ukraine issues. In his message, he repeated again the developed narrative about the participation of militants from ISIL in the war in Donbas on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
However, the main message sounded as: “according to this expert, a large number of terrorists are now in Odesa”.
Other objectives of the narrative were:
- to show that fighters get to Ukraine through Odesa and then to the East or to the countries of Europe;
- to emphasize that jihadists participate in the war on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine;
- to represent Odesa as “gate” for radical Islamists to Europe.
Season 1. Episode 2. “Ukraine and 500 jihadists”
Since 2016, having prepared Russian information space for this, the Kremlin began an operation to spread fake messages about the so-called training camps of ISIL on the territory of Ukraine through foreign media. For this purpose, both journalists with Russian citizenship and supporters of the Russian regime abroad were used.
On April 1, 2016, an interview with French Senator Nathalie Goulet of the “France Inter” radio station appeared, where she reported that a camp with training of jihadists operates on the territory of Ukraine. Later in the comment to the Ukrainian edition “Tyzhden” she would specify that the camp functions in the Dnepropetrovsk region, and this information was provided to her personally by Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of Security Service of Ukraine (SSU).
After the incident, the SSU was reported that the meeting between the Senator and the head of the Ukrainian Special Services had been held, however, the conversation did not concern the ISIL.
Herewith in the SSU it was said that in Ukraine there are no such camps, but in 2015, the Department has been able to discover the terrorists haven of refuge in Dnipropetrovsk (referred to as Dnipro since 2016). There were two Russians, Uzbek, Kazakh and Tajik among the five militants. Also there was indicated that four transit centres of the militants were found and suspended.
Note that the statement of the French Senator was made immediately after the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016. The corresponding message was focused on the French-speaking audience (partly on the Belgian). Later it became known that starting from the end of 2015, the Senator kept talking about the fictitious camp to ISIL on the territory of Ukraine.
Later, Goulet issued an appeal to the head of the SSU, which indicated that her statement was distorted, accusing the journalist of the edition “Tyzhden”. However, the reporter Alla Lazarieva showed correspondence with the Senator, which showed that the Senator reported the fake information officially.
It would be appropriate to say that Goulet criticized the absence of the former French President, Francois Hollande, at the parade on May 9 in Moscow and organized a conference concerning the future of democracy in Ukraine, inviting only the Pro-Russian deputies from Ukraine to participate.
In generally, no evidence that was provided to Goulet was confirmed. Moreover, she herself denied the relevant information. However, it should be noted that these data were actively used by Russian propagandists and special services.
In April 2017 on the Russian website “Islam-today” there was information about the functioning of training camps of ISIL on the territory of Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv and Kherson regions. These data, as reported by the publication, were given directly by “a source in the SSU.” It was also announced that “just recently a group of 15 militants of ISIL, who planned to carry out terrorist attacks in European countries, wanted to pass through Ukraine.”
This information turned out to be fake, but it became a harbinger of a significant information attack on the British TV channel “Sky News” – dated as of 22nd and 29th of August 2017.
In this article the author, the Moscow correspondent of the edition John Sparks, affirmatively tells about those “training centers” for fighters. He also calls the same figure that later – before the Champions League final – will indicate the tabloid “The Sun” – 500 jihadists.
Later persons who commented on the situation in Ukraine for John Sparks (like Ekaterina Sergatskova) in private conversations with the deputy minister of information policy Dmytro Zolotukhin, said that their words could be distorted or misinterpreted by a journalist from Moscow.
The political elite and citizens of the European Union definitely were the key target audience of these messages for the Kremlin. Thus, the Russian special services tried to consolidate the image of Ukraine, which supports terrorism, and therefore the Kremlin have full power and authority to fight against Ukraine. The provision of false evidence on the non-existent jihadist camps in Ukraine and the manipulation of figures led to the refusal of a number of influential foreign editions to verify information about Ukraine’s mythical connections with ISIL, which resulted in other distorted stories. With this purpose, the Russian party cynically used the complaint of Europeans after the terrorist attacks that occurred in a number of European countries.
Season 1. Episode 3. The Kremlin: “ISIL is supplying oil to Ukraine”
Long-lasting and boring series about, allegedly, connections of Ukraine with ISIL continued distribution of fakes about deliveries to Ukraine of the Syrian oil by terrorists of ISIL. Earlier, the Ukrainian city of Odesa already appeared in Russian myths as a transit point for terrorists. In this case, the propagandists tried to represent it as a transit point for contraband Syrian oil, which enriches the terrorists.
On November 29, 2015 on the website of “Zvezda”, controlled by the Ministry of Defence of Russian Federation, with reference to the Pro-Russian propaganda edition “PolitNavigator” published material, which said that despite the fall in the turnover, the oil and petroleum products imports through the port of Odesa has increased significantly.
The Russian special services had the purpose to show that oil illegally got by terrorist groups arrives to the Odesa port from Bosporus. And that, allegedly, it is Turkey buys oil from terrorists, and then sells it in Ukraine. Thus, the aim was to create an image of the state living of the money of terrorists.
The Kremlin, talking about Ukraine as an ally of ISIL, is trying to undermine the confidence in the Ukrainian defence industry, and thus hit a competitor in the global arms market; bind our country to the scandal with the financing of terrorism; sown distrust and loathing among Western partners and the states of the middle East region.
Season 1. Episode 4. Persecution of the Crimean Tatars and “Hizb ut-Tahrir” as vassals of ISIL
After the occupation of Crimea, the Kremlin begins to use Syrian officials, Russian special services and media controlled by them to spread false information about the indigenous people of Crimea, the Crimean Tatars, in the context of their alleged participation in the Islamic political organization “Hizb ut-Tahrir”.
Representatives of the organization have publicly renounced any violent instruments in their political activities and dissociated themselves from those who allow their use. But the comparison with ISIL helps the Kremlin to repress those who doesn’t not agree with the policy of the occupation authorities.
The first provocations of Russian special services against representatives of the “Islamic liberation party” (so-called “Hizb ut-Tahrir”) began in early 2013. The persecution of those who belong to the party continues to this day.
On October 4, 2013, on the eve of the “Hizb-ut-Tahrir” Congress in Simferopol on the Ukrainian-Russian border, Ukrainian border guards found a citizen of the Russian Federation, of North Caucasian origin, who was detained for additional inspection at the Bachivsk crossing point. During his stay in the passport control room, he undermined himself up without arriving at his destination point. It is interesting that at first he managed to pass freely the border control from the Russian side. The episode – “Radical Islam conquers the Crimea” was shown on the TV channel “Russia 1”.
In mid-October 2013, Russian website “Vesti.Ru” published notes with stories about cellars in Simferopol which are used by representatives of “Hizb ut-Tahrir” for recruitment of ordinary Muslims for further participation in military operations in Syria.
The propagandist Iurii Pershykov wrote: “the situation can be catastrophic for Ukraine, if they return here with combat experience, channels and access to the world’s terrorist groups. These people can implement various programs, including bloody ones, on the territory of Crimea.”
In the second half of the year of 2015, the Russian special services launched through the media information the so-called statement of representatives of “Hizb ut-Tahrir” regarding their readiness to work together with ISIL. In October 20 in Moscow, the Russian security agencies eliminated the focus of the party. All this is actively distributed through Russian channels – including in the Crimea.
In January 2015 there is a first dummy Bakhchysaray case – the arrest of the builder, who was working near Sevastopol, Ruslan Zaitullaiev as well as Nuri Prymova and Rustem Vaitov. In the evening in the kitchen, the guys discussed the annexation of the peninsula. There also was an agent provocateur from the FSB.
In the future, on the territory of Crimea (in Simferopol, Bakhchysaray, Sevastopol, Yalta) searches and detentions always would be conducted. All this continues up to this day. And all such things will take place against the backdrop of the arrests of the so-called terrorists of “Hizb ut-Tahrir” in Russia.
After the first mass arrests of the representatives of “Hizb ut-Tahrir” in Crimea, Russian propaganda resumed the use of messages launched at the end of 2013 – accused the leaders of the Crimean Tatar people of conniving the ISIL.
On July 26, 2015, the so-called Vice Prime Minister of Crimea Ruslan Balbek accused people’s Deputy of Ukraine Mustafa Dzhemiliev in organizing the process of recruiting militants for jihadists who are fighting in Syria.
In October 2015, Balbek introduced the similar information: he called Dzhemiliev involved in the recruitment of ISIL terrorists, but he also said that the leaders of the Mejlis – is the core around which the radicals of different nationalities, different religious ideology are mobilized.
On October 27 of the same year, the SSU reports about the fact of participation in fighting in Syria of 50 people with the Ukrainian citizenship. This fact is used by Russian propagandists to accuse Crimean Tatars of conniving ISIL, as well as to justify Moscow’s repressions against the Crimean Tatar population living in Crimea.
At the same time, the SSU actually noted that “on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, about 50 residents of the Crimea, mainly natives of the North Caucasus and Central Asia, who had Ukrainian citizenship at the time of the occupation of the Peninsula, take part in the hostilities.” That is, the case is not even about the Crimean Tatars, but about people who, perhaps not without the help of the Russian party, have got Ukrainian citizenship in Crimea and then were sent by Russia to war in Syria – with the only purpose: to create conditions for the fabrication of the case against the Crimean Tatars.
In addition, after the declarations, the numbers that have already been provided by the Russian party, is constantly changing. Firstly, in February 2016, the Ombudsman of Russia in the Crimea Liudmyla Lubina will talk about 78 Crimean Tatars who are fighting on the side of ISIL. Then, on March 24, 2016, the FSB will report about 100 people among the Crimean Tatar people who allegedly are fighting on the side of jihadists in Syria.
Hereafter, there will be a message that there is a training camp for ISIL in the Kherson region, which allegedly interact with representatives of the Mejlis. After that, as stated above, on December 24, 2015, the occupation authorities of Crimea announced the beginning of the formation of a program to counter extremism. The reason is the stay of radical groups in the territory of the Kherson region. It is important that subsequently the SSU will detain in the Kherson region not radicals of ISIL but the Russian terrorists who were preparing an attack at the time of the events to mark the 71st anniversary of the Victory Day.
On July 31, 2016, during a meeting with French deputies, the illegitimate head of the Crimea, Serhii Aksionov, said that the missing Crimean Tatars are not in Russian prisons, there no repression against them conducted, and that they went to war in Syria on the side of ISIL.
The article of the Pro-Russian website “Ukraine.ru” dated November 23, 2015, during the energy blockade of the Crimea is also indicative in this process. It said that thus the Crimean Tatar leaders – Dzhemiliev and Chubarov – dealt a significant blow to the aerospace tracking station and seaport in Sevastopol – complicated the work of the Russian aerospace forces. It is interesting that the next day, November 24, 2015, the Turkish militarists were forced after several warnings to shoot down a Russian combat aircraft SU-24, which illegally entered the Turkish airspace.
This narrative aims to represent the Crimean Tatar People as an enemy of the Russian and Crimean audiences; to point out the radical views of the representatives of the Ukrainian unit “Hizb ut-Tahrir”; to accuse the Mejlis and its leaders of supporting jihadists in Syria; to emphasize that Turkey is using the indigenous people of Ukraine for the war in Syria; and to prepare formal grounds for the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russian troops – in case the Ukrainian side signs an Association Agreement with the EU.
Season 2. The association of the volunteer battalions and the Ukrainian army with ISIL
Ukrainian volunteer Service and volunteer movements continue to be unexplored and incomprehensible phenomena that in 2014 saved the Ukrainian State from capture and stopped the second largest army in the world, at the time of hybrid aggression.
That is why the discrediting the volunteer battalions and volunteers was and remains a priority task for Vladimir Putin and Russian special services. To achieve this goal, Russian propagandists did not stop at nothing, regarding from the distribution of fake articles in the international information space, to staged videos that depicted Ukrainian patriots of brutal plunderers and ruthless terrorists, intimidating Europeans.
Key target audiences of the Russian special services were, first of all, citizens of the Russian Federation (especially those who decided to go to Donbas to earn on murder of Ukrainians described to them as “fascists”), inhabitants of occupied territories, the international partners of Ukraine and volunteers and humanitarians.
Propaganda, which was produced and is produced for domestic consumption, has long fixed the image of the so-called “punishers” in the minds of Russians. The same to a certain extent applies to the residents of the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. They had to be convinced that the volunteers and the Ukrainian army were in fact terrorists and xenophobes who wanted them dead.
As for the Western audiences, against the background of terrorist attacks in European cities (which, according to some experts, could be organized with the support and assistance of Russian special services), the Kremlin has set a goal to represent the voluntary movement of Ukraine as representatives of radical groups that could have connections with those who murdered in European cities. If the Europeans believed this, such important Western support and assistance for Ukraine during the period of hot aggression would inevitably be reduced.
Season 2. Episode 1. ISIL of the occupant Basurin
In May 2015, Moscow launched a second wave of mud-slinging against Ukraine, linking the volunteer squadron named after Dzhokhar Dudaiev and ISIL. Now the main task is to form the final message about the Islamist militants on the territory of Donbas and hide information about the Russia as the actual supplier of weapons to the ISIL terrorists.
On May 31, 2015, Eduard Basurin, the so-called Deputy commander of the military Department of the DPR, said that ISIL representatives fighting on the side of Ukrainian soldiers in the Donetsk region: “The volunteers from Arab countries were identified on the territory of a psychiatric hospital in Yasnobrodivtsi. It is possible that this unit is directly related to the terrorist organization the “Islamic state”.
As we go forward the connection between Basurin’s statement and messages published in the American edition “The Intercept” was unobtrusively made in Russian ignorant media segment (in particular in the edition Forum.msk.org).
Thus, it was said that Moscow often becomes a transit point for anti-Russian Islamists, as well as for Ukrainian “punishers” (this is the word used in the material).
In the statement Basurin also pointed to the volunteers of the squadron “Ichkeria” (direct reference to the squadron named after Dzhokhar Dudaiev), who are also fighting in Donbas. Over again it is ulteriorly focused on the possible participation of ISIL militants in the ranks of this unit;
Here’s the story of the OMON commanding officer, disappeared without a trace in Dushanbe, is reproduced as an example. The Russian propaganda website gives data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan, suggesting that the officer flew to Moscow, and then went to Turkey, which in turn, as indicated in the media, is a transit point for Islamists, going to fight in Syria.
Eventually, it is said that the OMON commanding officer is now somewhere fighting against former Soviet compatriots.
Later, on January 17, 2016, Basurin again repeated his message about the militants of ISIL, who are fighting as part of the volunteer Arab squadrons on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He also specified that these divisions which are deployed near Mariupol, are ready to move to the settlement of Shyrokyne at any moment.
It should be noted that the soldiers of the squadrons named after Dzhokhar Dudaiev took part in the battles for Shyrokyne, lasted from September 4, 2014 to July 3, 2015. Moreover, they also defended the routes of approaches to Mariupol. That is the aggressor onwards uses the same signal, impulse in the information environment to promote fake data. The Russians attempt to change the information emphasis after the publication of data proving that it is Russia supplies weapons to terrorists from ISIL through the occupied territories.
Consequently, on January 14, 2016 the volunteer Kostyantyn Mashovets on the page in Facebook provided information on blasting on a mine of the truck in the enemy rear. The vehicle moved from the occupied territory of Donetsk region towards the Russian city of Rostov. The volunteer also provides photos of what was placed in the truck, namely – components for weapons and instructions in Arabic.
It is also known that one of the leading Russian enterprises in the field of nuclear energy – Kovrovskyi mechanical plant produces “Hrad-P”. The instruction, issued in Arabic, proves that the weapons were sent to the territory of Syria; after all, there is a military airfield, through which various kinds of assistance to Islamic terrorists are often received is located in Rostov Region.
On December 14, 2015, the news agency “UKRINFORM” published the material “Occupied Donbas as a weapon smithy of ISIL“. In this article, the author points out that in the temporarily occupied territory of the Donetsk region, in Komsomolske village of Starobeshivskyi district, the production of portable rocket launchers (PRL) 9P132 «Hrad-P» («Partyzan») was set with the help of Russian experts.
The shops of capital construction management and repair of PJSC “Komsomolske rudoupravlinnya” are used as direct production capacities for production of this weapon.
The journalist notes that established in the shops of PJSC “Komsomolske rudoupravlinnya” capacities do not correspond to the scope of the use of PRL 9P132 «Hrad-P» («Partyzan») by Russian-terrorist troops in the area of the ATO. Hence he concludes that the products of “defence industry” of DPR is designated for export to ISIL.
However, on February 8, 2016, Basurin finally formulated a fake message, directly pointing out that the presence of representatives of the peacekeeping squadron named after Dzhokhar Dudaiev in the East of Ukraine is a direct proof of the presence of militants of the “Islamic state” in the combat zone. He once again said that the ISIL militants fighting on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Season 2. Episode 2. ISIL and the “Right sector”
Since 2013, Russian special services have been trying to link the “Right sector”(Pravyi sector) with the phenomenon of radicalism. However, already during the war in Donbas and the appearance of ISIL, Moscow is making every effort to accuse volunteers in cooperation with jihadists.
On July 7, 2015, Russian online resources used the publication of the American journalist living in Moscow, Andrew Kramer, published in the edition of “the New York Times”, to launch an information campaign against volunteer Ukrainian battalions.
Kremer wrote about the fighting representatives of Chechnya on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in no way indicating ISIL. However, Russian propagandists (in particular, the website of PolitRussia) noted that the terrorists of ISIL aid the “Right Sector” in the East of Ukraine. The article of Anna Nemtsova, mentioned above, also became an auxiliary element in the next series of the promotion of such a narrative.
In particular, the article provides the following message without evidence: “During the past year, dozens of Chechen fighters crossed the Ukrainian border. Some of them came legally and some illegally and began to interact with the Right Sector in Donbas. These two forces have almost nothing in common except of a common enemy and base.”
Further, on October 29, 2015 in the blog on the website “Correspondent” the person who is represented simply as kozak pravdorub (Cossak the truthteller), wrote, referring to a fake decision of the National Security Council that fighters of the “Right sector” are going to be sent to Syria for rendering military aid of ISIL. He also points out that jihadists were noticed in Odesa and in Mariupol, in places of dislocation of battalions such as “Dnipro – 1”, “Donbas”, “Aydar”.
Moscow, therefore, wanted to demonstrate that Ukraine has a weak army, that is why it uses radical Islamists. The emphasis was also made on the fact that the Armed forces of Ukraine are helped by the Chechens – the same ones who fought against the Russians during the two Chechen wars, that these fighters were trained as part of ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Eventually, the Kremlin showed that it is easy to obtain citizenship on the territory of Ukraine, after registration of which radicals are trying to get to Russia, but there is only buffer – the occupied parts of Donbas.
Later, on November 27, 2015, a number of Russian websites published information about the stay of jihadists from ISIL in Eastern Ukraine, saying that they are part of the “Right sector”. Even specified units that use weapons and infrastructure of the “Right Sector”.
Subsequently, on March 26, 2016, on the Russian propaganda website “Life News” there was a report of Serhii Makarenko that “Right sector” storms a checkpoint near Yasynovata (Donetsk region). In the message of the Pro-Russian propaganda web-site “Ukraina.ru” a message (again on March 26, 2016) of the so-called Plenipotentiary representative of the LPR Vladyslav Deynego was added. It states that the “Right sector” uses groups of mercenaries of ISIL when storming the checkpoint.
On April 27, 2018, the information that the fighters of the “Right sector” use “drones of ISIL” to attack the positions of militants on the Russian media resource “Tsargrad” appeared on the Russian media-resource. The formal reason was the post of leader of the “Right Sector” Dmytro Yarosh.
In the same material, the authors, without referring to specific people, say generally – “Ukrainian nationalists” and stipulate that they allegedly confirmed that “their drones are made on the same model that terrorists of ISIL use in Syria. Homemade mines and bombs are used as shells.”
Nothing mentioned about the belonging of unmanned devices to ISIL as to the video, which is really in the social network posted by Dmytro Yarosh. Moreover, the video does not show any person – only the work of drones. The subscription to the post also does not contain information that would indicate ISIL.
Season 2. Episode 3. Fakes about volunteer battalions
One of the tasks that the Russian special services set for themselves was to identify the fighters being the militants of the volunteer battalion “Azov” with the terrorists of ISIL.
On January 4, 2016 the edition Vesti.Ru published information that the militants of ISIL were included in the volunteer battalion of “Azov”.
At the same time, the propagandists again refer to the website of “CyberBerkut” – the same hacker group that told about the so-called agreements on the supply of Ukrainian “Pechora” complexes to the Qatari side. Hackers allegedly managed to get access to the smartphone of one of the militants. The photos and video of the unknown in camouflage uniforms with bars of the “Azov” were found on the memory card. At the same time their faces were covered with scarves with Arabic script and traditional symbols of ISIL.
A lot of Russian online media, such as “Vesti.Ru”, “Ridus”, “Islam-Today.ru” included fake in their newswire. Russian Agency “Sputnik”, which works in foreign languages, several times illustrated articles with fake picture about ISIL.
Journalists of the Russian service BBC managed to find the place of shooting with the help of the geographical service Wikimapia. It turned out to be the fund of “Isolation” in Donetsk. In the past it was the plant and the largest cultural centre of Donetsk, and in the future is the labor camp “Ministry of state security of the DPR.” At the request of journalists, the Fund staff studied the fake and also came to the conclusion that the shooting was done here.
So, all the 18 photography and two videos, where militants clanking with weapon on the background of flags of ISIL and “Azov”, made in this shop, previously was owned by the company “Prima”. There were produced polystyrene plates, the remains of which are visible in the background of staged photos. “Mummers” unloaded the weapon form the car; the weapon was mainly produced in the European Union; provisions, equipment and hookah, smoking of which is strictly prohibited in real Islamic communities. Then they pulled scarves-Arafat and shoot the fake video.
The Kremlin has always aimed to undermine the authority of volunteer battalions among Ukrainians. Also Moscow preferred to demonstrate to Europeans that such divisions as “Azov” – is a cover for Islamic terrorists; to equate this battalion to ISIL. The occupier also showed the conflict in the Ukrainian volunteer movement through the national and religious prism, and connected it with ISIL.
On May 7, 2017, Eduard Basurin, referring to the data of the “intelligence” of the so-called DPR, reported that a conflict arose between the soldiers of the Ukrainian battalion “Azov” and representatives of the battalion named after Dzhokhar Dudaiev, and as a result of this conflict the soldiers shot each other. He also noted that the incident occurred in the Ukrainian-controlled settlement of Talivka.
It was reported that the conflict occurred on the basis of national enmity and has been initiated by representatives of the Ukrainian battalion “Azov”, being in a state of alcoholic intoxication.
Basurin adds that according to his data, the conflict between the two battalions began in 2014 – saying that the soldiers of “Azov” did not like the fact of hiring Muslims for the war in Donbas.
The next day, on May 8, 2017, the representatives of the battalion named after Dzhokhar Dudaiev reported that the unit “never had any conflicts with representatives of the “Azov” battalion.”
Another volunteer battalion “Aydar” draw attention of propagandists. On November 12, 2014, a number of Russian and international media, referring to edition of REGNUM, reported to so-called LPR about the murder of international terrorist Samantha Lewthwaite, known under the pseudonym of “White widow”, being the wife of one of the terrorists who organized the bombings in the London underground in 2005. The edition noted that she fought for Donbas battalion “Aydar” and was eliminated by sniper-volunteer from Russia in Debaltseve.
It was a lie at least because at that time “Aydar” was located near Luhansk at a distance of 200 km from Debaltseve. Also, the author of the article on REGNUM referred only to anonymous sources and a scan of the Lewthwaite’s passport, which was freely available on the network. And in July 2018, “Komsomolskaya Pravda” with reference to “The Cyprus Mail” wrote about the possible terrorist attacks of the “White widow” in the Mediterranean region.
Season 2. Episode 4. Is the Ukrainian army on the side of ISIL?
Fabricating data on the so-called terrorists with ISIL in the war in Eastern Ukraine (on the side of the Armed Forces of Ukraine), Russian intelligence and propaganda resources of the Kremlin built the structure of the future attack against the Ukrainian army. Moscow uses the myth of ISIL in Ukraine to create a further logical chain. And the ultimate goal is to strike at the prestige of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
On September 28, 2017, Syria Today published information provided by the Free Syrian Army (SAA) on its Twitter page. In the message it was said that at survey of one of houses in which the fighters of ISIL earlier were, allegedly, “a flag of Ukraine, the weapon, cigarettes of the Russian production and the magazine with crosswords” were found. This information was immediately used to disseminate information in the Russian Internet edition Lenta.Ru.
It is significant that this information appeared against the background of several events. Firstly, extinguishing the fire has been continued in Kalynivka. Secondly, the so-called “representation of the self-proclaimed DPR” with the participation of Pro-Russian politicians from France opened in French Marseille. Thirdly, on this day, President Petro Poroshenko endorsed the law “On education”, as well as the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine decree on the state management in a state of emergency.
Later, the Kremlin in the media space developed the myth of “identical style of war”, which are fighters of the armed forces and terrorists with ISIL are fight. Basurin told on the Russian platform “News-Front” that the Ukrainian militants adopted tactics of terror which as he notices, use representatives of ISIL and “Al-Qaeda”.
On January 12, 2018 on the website of the so-called “hotline” of the self-proclaimed DPR the information was published by Semion Piehov, propagandist (so-called war correspondent), that was the information that he published in his Telegram-channel. In his Telegram-channel – WarGonzo he stated “a month ago during the conflict between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and DPR in the “grey zone” on the contact line in the area of Hladosove and Travneve, an improvised explosive device with striking elements was dropped by the Ukrainian side with the drone in the location of personnel of one of the Donetsk brigades under the Horlivka.”
The Russian party aimed to strengthen its narrative about the relationship between Ukraine and ISIL, demonstrating allegedly identical handwriting of the Armed Forces of Ukraine fighting in Donbas and the terrorists of ISIL. The message was as follows: “The Soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine a month before the attack of ISIL with the unmanned drones at the air base of the Russian Air Force in Syria used the same tactics under Horlivka.”
For information, during the attack on the airbase Hmeymim (January 6, 2018), the Russians, trying to hide the attack from their allies tried to blame the US for this incident. Further in the General staff of the Russian Federation it was told that explosive which was used in unmanned drones was produced in Ukraine.
On April 27, 2018, as mentioned above, the information appeared on the Russian media resource “Tsargrad” and it said that the fighters of the “Right sector” use “drones of ISIL” to attack the positions of militants.
Season 3. “Ukraine supplies weapons to ISIL”
The myth that Ukraine is an irresponsible supplier of weapons and military goods appeared long before the deployment of open Russian aggression against Ukraine because of the competition between Ukraine and Russia in the weapon market. Ukraine has been accused of smuggling and illegal weapon supplies to different parts of the world for more than 10 years without any evidence.
For example, after a loud scandal regarding the alleged supply of rocket engines in North Korea, the information submitted by journalists was refuted by an official investigation, but the source of the origin of rocket technologies in North Korea, which may be the Russian Federation, has not been established.
One of the methods that Russian propaganda uses in this area is to promote fake information about supplies from Ukraine to the countries that, according to the Kremlin, support the terrorists of ISIL, or directly to the jihadists. The key audience for this misinformation is representatives of the political elites of the partner countries of Ukraine, as well as large-scale players in the international arms market.
The scenario and message of this season is as follows:
- Ukraine supplies weapons to ISIL or countries that allegedly support this terrorist structure;
- Militants use it against coalition forces and kill civilians;
- Radicals attack Russian forces with the help of Ukrainian weapons;
- Countries that buy or are going to enter a contract for the supply of Ukrainian weapons should understand that Ukraine supports terrorists;
- There is no point to deal with the military-industrial complex of Ukraine.
Season 3. Episode 1. The Kremlin: “Ukrainians supply chemical weapons to militants in Syria»
Since the beginning of 2013, the Kremlin has been trying to create a myth about the participation of Ukrainians in the war in Syria on the side of jihadists. It began a year before the public appearance of the terrorist group ISIL in the international arena and in the information space. After the first recorded chemical attack, the Russians tried to accuse Ukraine of supplying chemical weapons to illegal armed groups in Syria.
In January 2013, after Assad used chemical weapons against civilians, Russian intelligence services forged electronic correspondence between the leadership of the private British company Britam Defence, which at that time guarded oil wells in southern Iraq, and which included a lot of Ukrainians.
Then the Russian special services published fake correspondence, confirmed by copies of the stolen internal documents of the company and passports of Ukrainians. In accordance with these “documents”, Qatar allegedly offered Britam Defence to use “Ukrainian mercenaries” to deliver chemical weapons from Libya to Syria, in order to use it to organize provocations.
The aim of the Russian special services was to build an Association between Ukraine, Qatar and radical Islamists in the information space before the release of ISIL into the arena in 2014. Another task was to hide the production and delivery of chemical weapons to the Assad government. The Kremlin tried to show that Ukrainians are involved in deliveries of the deathful weapon to fighters.
Only four years later (after the Americans released missiles “Tomahawk” on Syrian objects) the world finally convinced that Moscow supplied chemical weapons in Syria. After the attacks on the Syrian military airbase Shayrat, representatives of the Russian propaganda newspaper “RIA Novosti” photographed items that look like Soviet containers for chemical weapons. This information has been further confirmed by a group of investigators from the “Conflict Intelligence Team”.
It is such a weapon, that perhaps was used by the troops of the regime of Bashar al-Assad to attack the city of Khan Shaykhun in Syria. Volunteers from the “Inform Napalm” group at the same time noted that such weapons allegedly were destroyed in the Russian Federation in 2013-2014, according to the dating of publications in the media.
Season 3. Episode 2. Russian Ambassador: “Ukraine supplies ISIL with tons of weapons”
Russian Ambassador in Kuwait reported on the supply of tones of weapon from the territory of Ukraine in ISIL. At the same time, he used a fake, published in a Russian magazine, trying to show to the Kuwaiti people that their country is used for illegal operations.
In June 2015, Aleksey Salamatin, Russian Ambassador to Kuwait visited the foreign Ministry of the host country to convince the Kuwaiti authorities in the fact of Ukraine’s supply of tons of weapons and ammunition through Saudi Arabia to ISIL.
Russian special services, wishing to strengthen their control in the region and to convince the Kuwait authorities that they are trying to “substitute” arms smuggling militants of ISIL. The Russian Ambassador tried to show that Ukraine is a supplier of weapon to terrorists.
As evidence Salamatin used the publication of the English-language web-site “South Front” (of Russian origin) dated June 20, 2015. In this publication the anonymous author claimed that in the period from May 22 to May 25, Ukrainian companies delivered 15 thousand units of small-weapon (AK-74) to the Saudi company “TMAS Marketing” on the basis of a fake Kuwaiti end-user certificate. And then announced that the Ukrainian weapons have been allegedly supplied to the Turkish, Lebanese and Jordanian camps for training militants of ISIL. There, as the Russian Ambassador noted, large groups of 5 thousand people are concentrated for further transfer to the territory of Syria.
Later, the Kuwaiti authorities found that the Plenipotentiary representative of Russian Federation brought to the diplomatic reception the usual reprint from the Russian edition “Military observer” (Viyskovyi ohlyadach) dated June 18.
Season 3. Episode 3. Ukraine sells Chinese man-portable air defence system to ISIL
On November 19, 2016, the authoritative news Agency “Agency France-Press” published information allegedly received from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kuwait that Ukraine supplied Chinese man-portable air defence system FN-6 to ISIL militants. The source of these data were the terrorists detained by the Kuwaiti police.
This news was picked up by Russian online editions that reported the detention of a Lebanese U. Hayat in Kuwait, who allegedly made transactions for the purchase of weapons in Ukraine, in particular, portable air defence systems (FN-6) of Chinese production, and sent it through Turkey for the Syrian opposition militants. Thus, the Russian media once again wanted to show that Ukraine supplies weapons to ISIL.
After the publication of this material, the Concern of “Ukroboronprom” claimed that it is in no way involved in the supply of portable air defence systems or other equipment from Ukraine to the “Islamic state”. It was reported that Ukraine has never purchased portable air defence systems FN-6 from China. The corresponding statement was made also by the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.
Besides, the main detainee in the case, a Lebanese citizen, only said that weapons could go “somewhere” from the territory of Ukraine. However, he did not specify the kind of weapons and was it supplied from the territories that are occupied by Russia or not. Then in the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine it was noted that sets in similar to portable air defence systems could be transported by trucks as a part of the Russian “humanitarian” convoy which, in violation of the international rules, crossed the Ukrainian border from the Russian Federation to separate areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Detained by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Internal Affairs Lebanese, as well as five of his accomplices, never crossed the borders of Ukraine; the State export control service (DSEC) as of November 20, 2015 did not receive appeals and did not provide permits for international transfers, including for export/import/transit through the territory of Ukraine of portable air defence systems FN6 of Chinese production. Moreover, there is no information, if any portable air defence systems of Chinese production ever got on the territory of Ukraine.
Further, the French news Agency “Agency France Press”, which became the primary source of this information, removed this news from its resources. Advisor to the Minister of information policy of Ukraine Dmytro Zolotukhin conducted his own online investigation of the information contained in the primary sources. It was found that a similar story with the same illustrations to it was published by photo journalists of the same “Agency France-Press” on the pages of the newspaper “Daily Mail” a year before the accusations of Ukraine.
Season 4. Ukraine is the object of terrorist attacks
Simultaneously with the image of Ukraine as a partner of ISIL, where it is profitable, the Kremlin spreads information that ISIL is ready to attack the capital of Ukraine and carry out terrorist acts on the territory of Ukraine.
Such information is distributed in order to depict Ukraine as a dangerous zone, as a territory where radical Islamists are active. The Kremlin does not give up trying to form the image of “failed state” for Ukraine, an image of a country that is unable to provide security for its citizens and foreigners who are here.
The key target audience of the Russian special services is the political elite of European countries, but even more – football fans all around the world who wanted to see the real holiday of football – the final of the “Champions League”, which was held in Kyiv in May 2018.
The main message that the Kremlin manipulators would like to convey consisted of the following elements:
- Representatives of terrorist groups announced that the final match of the “Champions League” in Kyiv would be the subject of terrorist attacks;
- Ukraine cannot ensure the safe conduct of global events due to the weakness of national security and low confidence in the state authorities providing it;
- You should not rely on the Ukraine and under such conditions it is better to refuse to visit Ukraine, despite the frustration about missing an interesting match.
Season 4. Episode 1. Jihad against “Champions League”
Russian special services tried to disrupt the final of the “Champions League” in the capital of Ukraine. For this purpose, fake messages were distributed in social networks allegedly with appeals of jihadists to their supporters – to kill fans who will come to Kyiv in May 2018 for the final match of the “Champions League”.
At the same time, some media in this context tried once again in recent years to emphasize that Ukraine is a source of threats, and to support the myth of the functioning of ISIL camps in Ukraine.
On May 19, 2018, on the eve of the final match of the “Champions League”, in the online version of the British tabloid “The Sun” there was information about the appeal of militants of the terrorist group the “Islamic state” to its supporters to carry out a series of terrorist attacks in Kyiv.
However, the first public mention of this information was published on May 16 in the Peruvian edition of “Libero“. Then it actively published data on the World Cup, which had to take place in Russia. Journalists of “Libero” also published similar materials about possible attacks of ISIL during the World Cup in Russia. Posters were actively used by Russian propaganda to escalate the situation and demonstrate Russia as victim. This, among other things, also played the role of some kind of “alibi” for Russia, as media resources said that ISIL plans attacks not only in Kyiv during the events of the “Champions League”, but also in Russia – during the World Cup.
Peruvian media, as well as British media in future, made the appropriate conclusions on the basis of messages on multiple accounts created on the Twitter platform (Archive copy). These accounts contained relevant information with reference to the media structure of ISIL – according to “al-Burhan Media Foundation”. After the study the web-site it was able to establish that there weren’t published any materials that would have concerned with the attacks in Kyiv. That is, we are talking about messages that were initially false.
On May 22, 2018, the Security Service of Ukraine officially reported that the publications are misinformation and noticed that the messages themselves could appear in the foreign and Ukrainian information space not without the participation of Russian special services. Profile-free accounts and accounts and pages in social networks and messengers that have no direct connection with ISIL were the initial sources.
An additional marker, which may indirectly indicate the participation of Russian special services in this information special operation, is the message about the centres (camps) of militants of ISIL, which is published in the article “The Sun”. The information distributed by the British tabloid was published by Russian media both in Russian Federation and abroad. However, more emphasis was made on the message about the functioning of the so-called training camps of ISIL in Ukraine, that have been mentioned at the beginning of this series.
Institute for Postinformation Society