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Disinformation Crisis News

Coda: RT Network Now Official Russian ‘Agent’ in the US

The RT television channel has formally declared itself as a Russian government agent in the United States. It follows an American request for the Kremlin-backed network to register itself as a “foreign agent” under a law aimed at combatting propaganda from abroad. Read More

Coda: Anti-Semitic Graffiti Triggers Moscow-Bulgaria Row over WWII

The governments of Russia and Bulgaria have been trading insults about each other’s actions during World War II, after anti-semitic graffiti was daubed on a monument to the Soviet Red Army in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. Read More

Coda: Kremlin TV Channels Agree with Fox News on US Election Probe

The indictment of three former Trump campaign staff in the Russia investigation is “a nothing burger.” It was one of President Trump’s most vocal supporters in the US who actually said that — Fox News host Laura Ingraham. But her catchy line pretty much sums up the response of Russia’s powerful state media to the news of the first indictments issued by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller, in his continuing investigation into allegations of Kremlin interference in last year’s elections. Read More

NYT: Italian Students Learn ‘Ten Commandments’ for Spotting Fake News

Among the lessons being introduced for at least 8,000 high schools will be a kind of Ten Commandments on how to treat online content, according to The New York Times. Examples include: Thou shalt not share unverified news; thou shall ask for sources and evidence; thou shall remember that the internet and social networks can be manipulated. Read More

Coda: Putin Unveils First National Monument to Victims of Soviet Repressions

In response to President Vladimir Putin’s unveiling on Monday of Moscow’s first national monument to victims of Soviet repression, 40 former Soviet political prisoners signed an open letter condemning the ceremony as “untimely and cynical.” Read More

Coda: Russian Independent Newsrooms on High Alert After Stabbing of Moscow Journalist

Independent media outlets in Russia are on high alert after the stabbing of journalist Tanya Felgenhauer in a Moscow newsroom last week, with one editor-in-chief planning to arm reporters and another editor encouraging one of his reporters to flee Russia altogether. Read More

Coda: Russian Journalist Stabbing Came After State Media Attack

Journalists and opposition leaders in Russia are linking the stabbing of a prominent Russian radio editor in Moscow to disparaging comments made about her and other journalists on state television. Read More

RFE / RL: Tajikistan Launches ‘Morality Campaign’ Against LGBTQ Community

The Tajik Interior Ministry has compiled a register of LGBTQ people as part of what it calls a country-wide “morality campaign”, according to RFE.Nearly 370 men and women it identified as gay or lesbian have been put on the list, first announced in a state newspaper, in the latest example of former Soviet states singling out the LGBTQ community for what appear to be political reasons. Read More

WaPo: Texas Independence Campaign Was Russian Fake

A Facebook campaign for Texas to secede from the United States which attracted hundreds of thousands of followers in the run-up to last year’s American presidential election was actually a fake created by a Kremlin-linked “troll factory,” according to a report in the Washington Post. Read More

Dozhd: Russian Trolls Targeted Clinton Before She Was Candidate

Russian internet trolls were told to attack U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even before she announced she was running for last year’s election, according to a former employee of a Kremlin-linked “troll factory.” Read More

Izvestia: New Laboratory for Russia’s Internet Censors

Russia’s internet censor is building its own digital laboratory to test and develop its own methods for blocking websites and other online activity, according to Izvestia. A new subdivision of the communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, will run the laboratory, as well as organize online exercise drills to prepare staff to enforce new internet regulations coming into force next month. Read More

Meduza: Russia Targets Internet ‘Undesirables’

Russia’s internet censor may soon have additional powers to target people trying to circumvent its restrictions. Under a new law being discussed in the Duma, Russia’s parliament, the communications watchdog Rozkomnadzor (RKN) will be allowed to block any content classified as “undesirable” without court approval, according to the website Meduza. Read More

Coda: Now Facebook is Feeling Election Heat in Russia

Russia’s media and communications watchdog has threatened to block access to Facebook if it does not comply with demands to store data from Russian users on local servers by next year, Read More

Coda: Ukraine’s ‘Anti-Russian Language’ Bill Becomes Law

The president of Ukraine has signed a controversial bill into law that requires all state schools to use the Ukrainian language for teaching students from the fifth grade onwards. Read More

RT: RT America told to admit it is Kremlin propaganda

The American arm of the Kremlin-funded RT network has been told to declare itself a foreign agent in the United States, effectively marking all its output as Russian propaganda. Read More

Meduza: Russia bans 19th century book on discrimination against Jews in medieval Europe

The Russian authorities have banned a 19th century book about the forced conversion of Jews to Christianity in medieval Europe, following a court ruling, according to news website Meduza. Read More

Facebook: Pro-Kremlin “Troll Farm” Bought Facebook Ads During US Campaign

Facebook has admitted that some of the ads it sold during last year’s US presidential election campaign were bought by a shadowy Russian company that was trying to influence individual voters. Read More

The Guardian: Two Major Trump Critics Spread Sensational Stories About the President From a Hoax Source

Two prominent critics of President Donald Trump spread false allegations about him on Twitter, according to the Guardian. Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor tweeted and retweeted sensational allegations that were lies fed to them by a hoaxer claiming to work in law enforcement. The hoaxer said that she “acted out of frustration over the ‘dissemination of fake news’ by Taylor and Mensch,” reported the Guardian. Read More

Sky News: Covert Photos ‘Prove’ that Russian Military Intelligence Behind Montenegro Assassination Plot and Failed Coup

Covert surveillance photographs obtained by Sky News appear to confirm that Russian military intelligence was behind last year’s attempt to assassinate Montenegro’s prime minister, reported Sky News. Read More

The Guardian: Surge in Fake News Now Being Spread by Mirror Sites Imitating the Guardian, al-Jazeera and the Atlantic

A collection of fake news websites imitating al-Jazeera, the Atlantic, the Belgian newspaper Le Soir and others have recently cropped up online, according to the Guardian (also included in the list of fake sites.) The “doppleganger” websites have domain names extremely similar to the news organizations they imitate however the fake articles are pushed out over social media and other websites that are often Russian, the Guardian writes. Read More

Politico: Former Sputnik Journalist Writes First-Hand Account of Working in Russian State Media

Sputnik’s former White House correspondent Andrew Feinberg wrote a first-hand account of working inside the Russian-state news network in Washington D.C. for Politico. Read More

TASS: Ukrainian Separatists Disagree Over Creation of a New State

The leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist-controlled region in Eastern Ukraine, announced the establishment of a new state which he claims will be a successor to Ukraine itself. Read More

BBC: Social Networking Sites to Remove Incendiary Comments or Face Hefty Fines Under New Russian Legal Proposals

A bill has been submitted to the Russian Parliament which would require social networks and messenger services to remove defamatory statements or comments deemed to promote “war or national, racial and religious strife. Read More

RIA Novosti: Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches Mull Restoration of Monarchy

Two branches of the Orthodox Church have ignited debate in Georgia and Russia about the possibility of restoring each country’s royal family. In the middle of a recent sermon, the head of Georgia’s Orthodox church said that a constitutional monarchy would bring “peace” to Georgia, an idea that was soon after echoed by a high-ranking church official in Moscow who said that the Russian Orthodox Church would play an “active role” in any discussion about restoring Russia’s royal family. Read More

Moscow Times: Moscow Times: Russian Pokemon Go Blogger Has Sentence Reduced

22-year-old Russian blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky has had his sentence reduced after being found guilty for offending the religious feelings of believers for posting a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in an Orthodox Cathedral, the Moscow Times reports. Read More

CBC: Anti-Canada Propaganda Greets Troops in Latvia

As the first wave of Canadian troops leading large-scale NATO exercises in the Baltics arrived in Latvia, Russian-language media warned Latvians that the Canadian military is filled with homosexuals and that Canadians cannot be trusted, reports CBC. Read More

RFE/RL: Russian Artist Arrested for Wearing Virtual Reality Glasses in Public

Russian media and RFE/RL report one of the strangest arrests Russia has ever seen: an artist detained for wearing virtual reality glasses in public. Artist Katrin Nenasheva was detained and taken to a psychiatric hospital after police stopped her from walking around in virtual reality goggles, which coincidentally showed her project about the lives of psychiatric patients in Russia. Read More

Meduza: Putin Accidentally Showed Oliver Stone Footage of Americans Fighting in Afghanistan Instead of Russians Attacking Terrorists in Syria

When President Vladimir Putin flaunted military footage on an iPhone in Oliver Stone’s Showtime documentary “The Putin Interviews,” he described the video as Russian “aviation at work” fighting ISIS in Syria. It turns out that the video showed American forces in Afghanistan. Read More

NYTimes: Hundreds Detained After Anti-Government Protests Sweep Across More Than 100 Russian Cities

Anti-corruption protests erupted in more than 100 cities in Russia on June 12, with close to a thousand protesters detained in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The rally was this year’s second show of seemingly growing popular discontent over corruption in the Russian government. Read More

CNN: Russian Hackers May Be Behind Planted Fake News that Sparked Qatar Crisis

CNN reports that Russian hackers may have breached Qatar’s state news agency and published a fake news story which attributed false quotations to the nation’s ruler, stirring up the fall out between Qatar and several Gulf states. Read More

RAPSI: Student Sentenced to Eight and a Half Years for Murder of Gay St. Petersburg Journalist

A court in St Petersburg has sentenced 22-year-old student Sergey Kosyrev to eight-and-a-half years in a penal colony for the murder of Russian journalist Dimitry Tsilikin on the night of March 27, 2016. Read More

OCCRP: Leaked Intelligence Documents Reveal Russian, Serbian Disinformation Strategy in Macedonia

Russian spies and diplomats ran an organized campaign to provoke political and ethnic discord in Macedonia in an effort to prevent the Balkan country and its neighbors from joining NATO, reported the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). Leaked Macedonian counterintelligence documents provided the OCCRP with “one of the clearest views yet of Russia’s ongoing efforts to increase influence in the former Yugoslavia and pry the region away from the West.” Read More

NYTimes: ‘Patriotically-Minded’ Russian Hackers May Have Meddled in U.S. Election, Putin Says

President Vladimir Putin said that “patriotically minded” Russian hackers may have been behind the cyberattacks during the 2016 U.S. election, the New York Times reported. While Putin denied any direct involvement from state agencies, his words reverse previous blanket denials that Russia was at all involved in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee or other election meddling. Read More

Hromadske: Russian Anti-Gay Vigilantes Find New Home in Ukraine

A series of arrests in Ukraine revealed a growing wave of violence against the country’s gay community by anti-gay, and often also far-right, vigilante groups who have links to Russia, reported Hromadske. Russia’s crackdown on its far-right groups which largely acted with impunity before 2014 has led some to resettle in Ukraine and even seek citizenship. Read More

Coda: Director of Moscow’s Ukrainian Library Faces a Suspended Five Year Sentence for Extremism

Russian Librarian Natalya Sharina was arrested in October 2015, at the height of the Russian conflict with Ukraine. The 59-year-old Russian who ran a Ukrainian literature library in Moscow was accused of “inciting hatred” for distributing “extremist” books that are “anti-Russian propaganda,” charges that could lead to up to 10 years in prison. But now, after a two-year house arrest, the prosecution has asked for a suspended five-year sentence. Read More

RIA Novosti: Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Compared the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage with Nazi-Era Legislation

The head of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill compared same-sex marriage laws adopted by a number of Western countries to Nazi-era legislation in Germany, RIA Novosti reported. In France and other Western European countries, he said, people have protested against these laws just as people did “against fascist legislation and against apartheid legislation, laws that violated morality.” Read More

WaPo: New Report Identifies Over 200 Individuals Targeted Internationally by Alleged Russian Phishing Campaign

A report from the University of Toronto’s School of International Affairs identifies over 200 people from 39 countries who were targeted by phishing emails and leaks. This disinformation campaign is “a step forward in Russia’s use of hacking as a weapon of political subversion,” said Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. Read More

Meduza: Proposed Legislation Would Ban Anonymous Messenger Services in Russia

A proposed law in Russia would block mobile messenger services which allow users to register anonymously, reported Meduza. The law, if passed, would force messenger apps to verify users through their phone numbers and to also send out compulsory text messages from government agencies on request. This spring the Russian government already banned some messaging services like Zello, Line, Blackberry Messenger and Vchat for not registering with the government’s regulatory body. Read More

: New York Times: Czech President’s Call to Putin to ‘Liquidate’ Journalists Was a Joke, His Office Says

A recording of Czech president Milos Zeman making what appeared to be a joke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about “a need to liquidate” journalists surfaced after a global economics conference this Sunday in Beijing, reported the New York Times. Read More

Kyiv Post: Ukraine Will Block Access to Popular Russian Social Networks and Search Engine

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko signed a decree blocking access to Russian social networks like Vkontakte (VK) and Odnoklassniki as well as to the search engine giant Yandex, reports the Kyiv Post. VK is Ukraine’s most popular social network and Poroshenko has an official account on VK where he posted an announcement of the new law, noting that he will soon be deleting his account. Read More

Meduza: ‘Homosexuality a Disease’ — St. Petersburg Psychiatric Center Refuses Care to a Gay Patient, Outs Him on Social Media

A St. Petersburg Psychiatric Center refused care to a patient after learning that he was gay and the director of the center Alexander Bronshtein later posted the personal details of the patient on social media with a message that homosexuality is a disease, reported Meduza. Read More

NewsRU: Russia distributes WWII Victory Ribbons in Damascus

The Kremlin’s media arm Russia Today and local student groups at Damascus University distributed 1,500 orange and black striped ribbons at the university in preparation for the upcoming anniversary of the end of WWII, reports NewsRu. St. George’s Ribbon is Russia’s main symbol of victory over Hitler’s Germany that has more recently also been embraced by “traditional-value” and “anti-Maidan” groups in Russia and by Russian-backed forces in Eastern Ukraine as a symbol of the “Russian World.” Read More

Moscow Times : Russian TV Passes Off Corrupt Petersburg Entrepreneur as ‘American Journalist’

Russian state television has repeatedly featured a St. Petersburg businessman on programs that falsely portrayed him as an American journalist “Greg Vainer,” reported the Moscow Times. The entrepreneur Gregory Vinnikov was outed by Russian-American journalist Gennady Katsov after he and a fellow Russian reporter recognized Vinnikov on television. Read More

Novaya Gazeta: Russia’s Chechnya Has at Least Six Secret Prisons for Gays

There are at least six secret prisons in Chechnya used for detaining and torturing men suspected of being gay, according to Russia’s Novaya Gazeta, who broke the story of mass arrests, torture and killings of gay men in the Russian republic. Read More

Kremlin: Russia Must Resist the Manipulation of WWII History, Says Putin

During an annual session of the Kremlin’s “Victory” committee, Russian President Vladimir Putin cautioned the international community against falsifying and manipulating historical facts, especially concerning World War II. The meeting on Thursday comes three weeks before the seventy-second anniversary of the end of World War II. Read More

Afisha: Gays Banned from Shopping at St. Petersburg Store

Gays are banned from shopping at “Water and Salt,” a natural food store opened by German Sterligov, a prominent conservative Orthodox activist in St. Petersburg, Russia. A carved wooden sign that says “Entrance Barred for Faggots” sits at the front of the store, reports Russia’s Afisha. Read More

Novaya Gazeta: Newspaper Staff that Investigated Chechnya’s Vicious Anti-Gay Crackdown Threatened by Russian Republic’s Political Elite, Targeted With Cyber Attack

A cyber attack shut down the website of Russia’s Novaya Gazeta shortly after the independent newspaper announced today that specific journalists and the staff as a whole have been threatened by members of Chechnya’s political elite. Read More

Foreign Policy: Europe and U.S. Move to Fight Russian Hybrid Warfare

On Tuesday, Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania signed a memorandum of understanding to establish the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, a sign of just how seriously world leaders are taking Moscow’s attempts at destabilizing Europe, reported Foreign Policy. Read More

Duma: A Proposed Law in Russia Would Require All Social Media Users to Register With Their Passports

Russian parliament deputy Vitaly Milonov introduced a new law today that would require all Russian internet users to register with their passport in order to use social media. Read More

: RE:Baltica Investigation Reveals Secret Links Between a Network of Websites and the Kremlin’s Global Propaganda Network

An investigation by Re:Baltica revealed that the Kremlin-funded multimedia conglomerate Rossiya Segodnia (Russia Today) secretly owns several Russian-language sites including Baltnews, which describes itself as an “informative analytical news portal” and has teams in all three Baltic countries. Re:Baltica journalists say that the fact “is obscured by a chain of owners, seemingly designed to make it appear as though Baltnews arose from local organizations.” Read More