US Global Engagement Center's Report on Russian Disinformation & Propaganda

A new report from the US State Department, entitled 'Russia’s Pillars of Disinformation and Propaganda,' accuses Russia of conducting a disinformation and propaganda campaign that uses a variety of approaches including Kremlin-aligned news sites to promote their agenda.

Wednesday's report focuses in particular on the Russian government's use of this network to push disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic as it spread across the globe.

The publication found that "between February and April 2020, the seven Kremlin-aligned disinformation proxy sites and organizations profiled in this report amplified narratives critical of the United States and favorable to Russian positions, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak."

The report also discusses a Crimea-based new agency News Front which was registered by Russian state regulator Roskomnadzor.

"News Front’s parent company is Media Group News Front, co-founded by Konstantin Knyrik, the head of News Front. According to Knyrik, News Front was originally called Crimean Front and was established to provide informational support for Russia’s attempted annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. Following the events of 2014, Crimean Front became South-Eastern Front and eventually evolved into News Front.

"News Front operates a multi-lingual website, publishing content in Slovak, Georgian, Hungarian, French, Serbian, Spanish, German, Bulgarian, English, and Russian and claiming to have editorial branches in Bulgaria, Serbia, Germany, France, the UK, Georgia, and Hungary", - reads the report.

The Global Engagement Center points out that News Front publishes disinformation articles about the conflict in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, US elections, NATO and coronavirus pandemic.

The report also notes that Facebook removed News Front's account for violating the company's policy in 2020. In 2020 May, News Front's Youtube channels were also removed. In addition, News Front also had its Twitter account blocked for "violating the rules"

The report reads that Georgia-based civil society organization ISFED concluded: "News Front’s Facebook activity in the country included theft of platform users’ identities".

"It detailed News Front’s efforts “instigating antagonism and aggression among Georgian Facebook users, dividing the society... creating political polarization” and “employing a range of tactics to spread anti-Western, pro-Russian messages", reads the report.

By Ana Dumbadze 

07 August 2020 12:47