Moscow’s Information War on Ukraine

It looks as though the campaign of disinformation about the current situation in Ukraine is intensifying. As Natalka Zubar, chair of the Maidan Monitoring Information Centre pointed out two days ago,

During the last two years a great number of fake accounts in social networks were created in facebook, twitter and VKontakte, which were mostly sleeping before the beginning of November. Now these accounts are actively creating  white noise, jamming the communication channels and distributing misinformation.

The disinformation is distributed via the social networks and websites created solely for this purpose solely. Unfortunately, lots of misinformation is broadcast by other, even professional media. Most notable samples of misinformation were – the news about the restriction of cash flow by the National Bank of Ukraine and the news that the big number of European VIPs will not attend the OSCE summit in Kyiv.

Government sites are being under DDoS attacks. The access to legislative database of the Ukrainian Parliament and the current crime reports of Ministry of Interior are inaccessible periodically.

The situation in Kyiv is nearing a military state by the level of tensions. The activists on streets and all the citizens who watch the unaccountable and unprofessional media are kept in a state of permanent arousal expecting provocations, they are trying to check the rumors, which mostly appear to be misinformation.

The latest bout of activity in the information war appears to centre on the rumour, reported by British journalist Edward Lucas on Twitter, that Ukraine President Yanukovych has signed a strategic agreement with Putin that would mean Ukraine joining the Moscow-led Customs Union – news obviously designed to stir maximum trouble, and surely a provocation. The Kremlin is now denying that any such secret agreement exists, but Lucas says

To repeat: Yanuk did deal w Putin at Sochi. It included promise to join customs union later (by 2015). But what’s a Yanuk promise worth?

In an article headed Panic à la Lucas – Use Your Brain, Liudmila Yamschikova, Content Manager at Maidan Monitoring Information Centre, expresses some skepticism about Lucas’s tweets and appeals for a rational approach to the situation, and says:

These tweets are not very typical of a journalist of such a level. The thesis of the “concern of Western governments” alone is worth a smile. After all, governments do not report their concerns to the editor of a news magazine through unnamed sources. Whatever the real reason for these tweets… the reports do not look like a reliable source.

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