Ukraine has been defending itself against Russian military aggression since 2014. However, it has resisted Russian influence and information warfare for much longer. It is not only military means that Russia is using in an attempt to maintain its sphere of influence, it is a dream of the “Russian world”, which includes Ukraine.
2014 brought an intensification of Russian information operations and active measures aimed at legitimising Russian policy and discrediting Ukraine, the West and the democratic and international institutions that might stand in its way.
To achieve its goals, the Kremlin uses its own actors (embassies, spies, oligarchs), but for them, the key is cooperation with local actors who are willing to spread Russian propaganda for various motivations.
This study looks specifically at local actors in Slovakia and Ukraine who spread Russian propaganda. The aim of this study is to investigate how pro-Kremlin actors in both countries have constructed the image of Ukraine in public discourse since the beginning of the Maidan through a specific narrative of the „profound influence of the far-right in Ukraine„.
Key findings – Slovakia
- The Slovak dataset contained 1,203 analysed posts.
- In Slovakia, the set of actors which dominated the communication activity throughout the period under review consists mainly of disinformation media, which have long shown signs of pro-Russian sentiment.
- The Embassy of Russia in Slovakia has been the most significant contributor to the monitored communication. The 149 posts published by it correspond to more than 12% of the total number of analysed content. The Embassy of Russia in Slovakia mentioned Ukraine in more than 5% of its total content.
- In addition to several alternative media and Facebook pages, politicians dominate the ranking of the most effective actors. The effectiveness of communication is clearly dominated by Ľuboš Blaha. Through 55 posts he generated more than 519 thousand interactions. The greatest increase in activity can be noted in 2022.
- The largest number of relevant and analyzed posts contained a narrative of criminal activities of far-right organizations in Ukraine, mainly discussing groups such as Azov, Right Sector, UPA, etc.
- A significant part of the content consisted of historical revisionism, which was mainly linked to the person of Stepan Bandera and the Banderites, or their activities during World War II.
Key findings – Ukraine
- Almost 28% of Ukrainian publications were related to the Glorification of OUN UPA (58 posts). These publications are a part of a narrative of historical revisionism.
- The most popular keywords were “UPA” (in 122 posts), “OUN” (in 87 posts) and Ukrainian fascists/Ukrainian Nazis/ukro-Nazis/neo-Nazis (62 posts in total).
- These findings prove that main topics in constructing the narrative about “Nazism in Ukraine” are historical revisionism in the context of activity OUN UPA and discrediting Ukrainians and Ukrainian government influenced by Revolution of Dignity in 2014 and EU-integration processes in Ukraine.
- Among active Ukrainian actors, Ukraine’s news (38 posts), Oles Buzyna – Community (31 posts), Pershyy Kozatsʹkyy (21 posts) published the biggest number of posts.
- Historical confrontation, particularly related to the glorification of OUN UPA and UPA anniversary in Ukraine, was the main narrative (107 posts). This narrative consists of messages about the accusation of OUN UPA of Nazism and war crimes during WWII.
For more information, see the study below.
The research was conducted within the framework of the project Content, Development and Dissemination of the Central Legitimizing Narrative of Kremlin Propaganda in Slovakia and Ukraine (Obsah, vývoj a šírenie ústredného legitimizačného naratívu kremeľskej propagandy na Slovensku a Ukrajine), based on the contract No. MVZP/2022/2/1 on the provision of a subsidy in the field of International Relations and Foreign Policy of the Slovak Republic within the competence of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic.
The views and statements expressed in this document do not represent the official position of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. The authors are solely responsible for the content of the document.
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