The Impact of Russian propaganda in the Balkans

Uncategorized - January 23, 2023

The speed at which information spreads nowadays is overwhelming. This is why a large segment of the population is unwittingly exposed to fake news on a daily basis. As for disinformation actions, if we were to refer only to the propaganda with the origins in the Russian Federation and financed by various means by Moscow in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, we can say that the Cold War is not over. Even if states, through the governments that run them, take steps to reduce sources of disinformation, the only way to avoid being influenced by what we see on TV or read on the internet is individual education.

It is well known that although the Sputnik website is currently blocked in most European countries, there are a number of fringe websites or blogs that form real networks. These often join commercial television stations in various Eastern European countries in the search for sensationalism and audience growth, disseminating often unverified information.

It is well known that these networks have not been active since yesterday. They were built about ten years ago with the development of technology.

It is true that the themes have varied according to the local or regional context depending on the interests of the actors managing these networks. It has been found that after the publication of press stories, they are denied by official sources and in too few cases are these so-called rights of reply published as an update to the news. Not enough people go back to the original story to see whether or not an update has been made. Yet the original news story has been shared by hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands social media users.

But one must not forget The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes freedom of opinion and freedom to receive or impart information or ideas without interference by authorities and regardless of frontiers.

Regardless of frontiers. An extremely sensitive term these days when the borders of the internet are limitless.

The exercise of these freedoms which entail duties and responsibilities may be subject to conditions for national security and territorial integrity. Another term that needs to be analysed and explained: duties and responsibilities. A citizen, let alone a journalist, has a duty to inform public opinion and distribute articles on social media in an honest way and without any benefit of any kind. Responsibility for the news must be taken. A radical form that could be taken by European states would be to ban websites and blogs whose owners cannot be identified. Could it be argued that the right to free expression is being infringed? As long as the website or blog provides factual information and informed opinions, we could say that the right to free expression is being curtailed. But once these

websites, blogs and not least TV stations promote untruths they should be punished with fines and in the last case even closed down.

If we were to refer to Romania’s role in the North Atlantic Alliance, Russian propaganda has been very insistent on challenging its role. Just as in the past Romania was seen as a direct threat to the security of the Russian Federation today, with the launch of the idea of Ukraine becoming a member of NATO the target has shifted to the neighbouring state.

Romania has been attacked in different contexts for accepting the construction of the Deveselu shield because different analysts have interpreted the role of this shield within NATO. Russia claimed that this shield has an offensive role, being a threat to the Russian Federation while NATO countered Moscow’s claims by saying that the Deveselu shield has a defensive purpose.

After Romania’s accession to the European Union a decade ago, the main source of Russian propaganda in Romania was Echo of Moscow, a radio station that also broadcasts in Romanian and tried to promote the messages of the Russian Federation in Romania through the radio station. In the meantime, it was closed down. Later Sputnik appeared, based in Chisinau and created for Romania, but the base and most of the journalists there were from Moldova. Basically, the radio station was created to disseminate information in Romania. Nowadays it could be observed that numerous websites have appeared, directly affiliated to the Embassy of the Russian Federation and the official propaganda of the Kremlin.

As far as the Russian Federation’s propaganda is concerned, it is well known that false news is cascading, because it confuses the public and subsequently induces doubt. The more thorough the lie, the harder it is to dismantle and the more resources it requires. The more fake news, the more effective the propaganda is.

Studies have shown very clearly that the segment of society that has in the past believed various conspiracy theories about COVID-19, miracle drugs and treatments, tends to trust the following conspiracy theories.

Now we see that they are vulnerable to the conspiracy that Ukraine is a creation of the globalists and that in fact Vladimir Putin is fighting the globalists. These segments of the population are being fed false information and these conspiracy theories and from the radical right-wing area in the United States. They take the messages from there, translate them into Romanian and promote them intensively on social media. We see that it is a radical promotion, which is based on the old infrastructure of anti- vaccine groups.

Politicians have always taken advantage of the lack of education of citizens and this ruse in itself generated their vote. As long as the citizens allow themselves to be lied to and cast their vote for a few lies spewed on the Internet, this machine works.

There are parties that finance and create networks of news sites that do not even have editorial teams and that launch fake news for electoral purposes. This can be called the recipe for political fake news.

 

Please go to https://ecrparty.eu/2023/01/23/impact-of-russian-propaganda/ for the full report