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U-Media summarized important media sector news over the week of September 18-24, 2014 for English speaking audience. You may refer the hyperlinks in the body text for more information about each event; the hyperlink will open Ukrainian-language source. Please read more about media environment during war conflict and before Early Parliament Elections of October 2014.

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  • Автор: Irina
  • Дата: 7-10-2014
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Information higiene: who spreads rumours and fakes

Категорія: Стандарти журналістики, News

Information higiene: who spreads rumours and fakes


Taras Nazaruk (origin http://osvita.mediasapiens.ua/material/34659)


Overview of information sources to be taken skeptically

It is extremely hard to understand what is going on in the war. Not having an opportunity to cover combat actions, under information aggression of Russian media, with the information policy of government institutions and military units far from being perfect, making a grounded picture of the events seems to be hard. The situation has dramatically changed with the so-called liberation of authorship – anyone can make their thoughts public without any limitation. Today one may learn about Illovaisk battles not only from reputable resources but also from FB timeline and second-rate web-sites. The information from the latter two sources is becoming more and more followed by the users. So their popularity cannot be underrated. Previously, rumours and “information discharges”, unconfirmed facts were checked by professional media, and after that the large audience could get the results of their work. But today professional media have to work alongside these ‘dump tanks’ and FB-rumours and have no influence on them. Even if the professional media do not publish the rumours – and this is often not the case – the Internet-user reads the junk elsewhere. The popularity of ‘dump tanks’ and numerous FB-shares guarantees the users a daily dose of disinformation, hearsays, alarmism and, on the other hand, groundless  hurray-patriotism far from reality.

The results of regular consumption of such information are as obvious as unforeseen. Since playing havoc, pseudo-expert conclusions and FB-strategies affect not only the mood but also decisions and actions. Who knows if this urges people to take the weapon? The ability to cope with the information – to find bearings in sources, to know to check and analyze messages – is vital for Internet-users today as never before. And this is no longer a competence of journalists only – users’ media-literacy is getting more and more topical. We would like to contribute to this process and list popular though low-quality sources with the information either to be called in question or being total nonsense published with a certain or without any purpose.

It should be also noted that this overview is compiled based on the sources that we have encountered, and it is not comprehensive and may be completed and extended.



In the first place, the attention is captured by the sources playing upon feelings of readers and capturing with loud and unfounded headlines. Some of them apparently aim at satisfying audience and are based on rumours and fakes: “Yuzhmash gives Russia five days to withdraw troops otherwise it will have no nuclear shield”, “Heletey executed by shooting?”, “The Horde to pay for its gas soon. Litva’s President shut the Gazprom’s valve”, “Russian tank unit sided with Ukraine – Kyivschyna battalion”, “Ukrainian army shoot down a Russian military airplane”. Other headlines rather play havoc: “In 48 hours Putin may bring troops in Ukraine”. If a reputable information medium is about to notify about possible future actions it does not give a prophecy it provides with analysis of conditions and circumstances of such situation.

The information value of this news is solidly supported by their headlines. Who can expect true information from a source publishing ordered texts like this: “Yulia Prytula and Olena Mostova worked Viktor Pinchuk for 200 thousands”?



Some “sensational” news like “Is it? China draws up forces on Russia border” are borrowed by Antikor from another web-site of groundless scoops Elise.com.ua. With such dramatic pseudo-news the site has easily gained 30-thousand audiences daily.

Some of recent examples: “Sensations! Who killed Yanukovych, organized Maidan and why Russia is coming to end”, “To begin with. Criminal action against Putin for slaughter on Maidan”, “The ice has been broken. Putin to be killed!”, “FLASH: TERRORISTS CLAIM YAROSH TO HAVE DEADLY WOUND IN NECK!” Apparently, CapsLock is to compensate that the news is taken from a definitely liar source Ukraina.ru made under the guidance of Dmitri Kiselev. Sometimes the site offers readers prophecy far from being realistic: “Source: Efremov to be jailed or liquidated these days”. The prophecy did not come true. Efremov is still not “jailed” or “liquidated”. But the essence of the article, not represented in the headline, is that a criminal action is going to be brought against Efremov, and it was brought eventually. And it was almost two months after the news had been published but not “these days”. “End to Russian Spring. FSB agents preparing heroic death of Strelkov and end to Donbass war” – this prophecy from Elise at the end of July, obviously, was supposed to give readers some hope. However, the developments of next weeks – Illovaisk pocket and Russian invasion near Novoazovsk – demonstrated that the reader does not need illusions of pseudo-analysts but understanding of the actual state of things.

Sometimes the source publishes sensational fakes “Russian tanks brought to Donetsk (PHOTO, VIDEO)”. The communication published on 16 March 2014 was supposed to horrify the society being much less prepared to the war at that time than now. The attack echelon did pass by Horlivka town. But the tanks there were Ukrainian.

“Security Service of Ukraine: Liashko is traitor! He leaked information about positions of Ukrainian military on the South to his patron (+VIDEO, PHOTO)”. After previous headlines, it is hard to believe that this is not a political game-related leak to gain electorate.



The users may also confuse mass media with news-aggregators or blog-platforms like Freejournal.biz. This is a resource where anyone may create an account and publish their own news. Some communications are rather popular among the readers, however, usually these are rumours having no reference to a source and with fictious details.

For example, on 6 September, the source published a photo of common grave of Russian soldiers with the plate “Died for Putin’s lies”. The photo is commented: “Why?” think many of soldiers and officers, actually being occupants.” Freejournal.biz does not state how they managed to know what the Russian military were talking (or better to say “thinking”) near the plate. Ukrainian media who shared this photo with reference to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine do not give any citations of Russian officers.

Another post: an anonymous author of Freejournal.biz takes a twit of Russian public activist Andrey Martsev and adds his own scenario. Martsev quoting residents of Engels town writes about the mass take-off of aviation: “Engels locals inform that the airfield is left by many planes heading to the West! Could it be the start? #NoWar #War”. An extremely informative twit on Russian troops moving “to the west” with a helping hand of Freejournal.biz author has become a maneuver of Russian military aviation “from airbases in Astrakhan and Nizhniy-Novgorod oblasts to nearby of Rostov”. Moreover, the author managed to find in the twit of Andrey Martsev the testimony of locals who are sure that such a large maneuver has not been taken since the Georgian war in 2008. The information about Russian army moves is important. But the information and not hearsays is important. And this information is, first of all, important for Ukrainian armed forces that shall duly respond to it. Spreading such information among the large public is nothing but fearmongering. And this fearmongering from Freejournal.biz has had 836 shares in social networks. Moreover, it was reposted by a range of other Internet-resources.



Rumours and uncertain communications were also noticed on popular resource Uainfo.org that practically makes overviews of posts from blogosphere, though ignoring their reliability. Recently the site has shared a rumour that China is drawing up the forces to Russian frontier. According to this information 12-15 thousands of men and artillery have allegedly camped in border town of Majiatun not far from Russia. This rumour was published by the already mentioned Elise.com.ua. This attractive “news” was circling in Ukrainian blogosphere and even got to some, though marginal, American and Polish media. However, this information has nothing to do with facts. As a matter of fact, there were joint antiterrorist exercises on the Russia-China border, the scenario was that terrorists had undertaken a terrorist attack in China and were trying to escape to Central Asia via Russia. Elise.com.ua – in this news about the alleged Chinese army on the border – has even used a photo of similar exercises of previous year.

Another popular fake repeatedly shared by Uainfo is about the US ally-status for Ukraine. The blogosphere and social networks were overwhelmed with encouraging messages that the USA will protect us for sure. It was communicated that in case of external aggression this status allows the USA to bring troops to protect the ally. It was alleged that this status was awarded to Ukraine by the Senate. In fact, the Upper House of US Parliament did not take such decision. But, at the beginning of May, Senator Bob Corker registered the draft law “Russian Aggression Prevention Act” brining a proposal to give the MNNA status to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Recent four months have shown no progress in consideration of this draft.

The materials of web-site “Independent Ukrainian Information People’s Agency” (nuina.net) is not worth the reader’s attention, but it also spreads messages harmful for the information space. The headlines deserving no credit: “Moscow bums being moved to Donbas”, the texts are even worse: “Friends, we have got two news. The very good one and the very bad one. Let’s start with the very bad news. We are on the threshold of 3rd WW… The second news is very good. We can stop this insanity. Right now.” And these “the very good one and the very bad one” have had almost 19 K shares in social networks, and a “sensation” about homeless had a thousand of shares. Neither first nor second text has any value.

It is advisable not to pay attention to “portal of world news “Narodny Ogliadach” (People’s Reviewer) reposting doubtful news like: “Lookalike of Poroshenko’s son is having war services, and Oleksii is having a good time at his grand-father’s and visiting concerts.” The sensational headline having stricken readers (1 800 reposts in social networks) has not much to do with the reality. The text author claims to have contacted Oleksii Poroshenko, but she does not give any evidences. It is hard to trust this communication especially given such nonsense as a headline. On the contrary, the President’s wife has confirmed that her son is in the ATO zone.



There are also resources having gained their popularity recently and being the “first button” for many users. These resources may manipulate though do not openly resort to the lies or bare-faced game for the good of Russian propaganda. However understanding who is behind these resources would stimulate to treat their information and analytics cautiously. Rather popular site InfoResist.org has appeared at the same time with the operation reports of Information Resistance analytic group, but they have nothing to do with each other. The Information Resistance is well-known due to Dmytro Tymchuk and a group of officers who were doing their best to fill the information vacuum back in the first days of Russian aggression in Crimea. Initially, Russian propaganda presented them as a part of NATO special operation. Today the Information Resistance initiative has its own resource sprotyv.info. But the users often confuse Tymchuk with InfoResist founded by another person Taras Liubimov. Tymchuk has accused InfoResist of cheating because at first they reposted the information published by Tymchuk and used the name “Information Resistance”. The conflict has arisen when Liubimov’s initiative asked readers for money to support the project. Dmytro Tymchuk found that to be an attempt to make money with the reputation of his analytical group. As a result, the web-site has changed its name to InfoResist. Though some users still confuse it with Tymchuk. There are still messages like this: “I was finally convinced that it was a fake, but why it was published by Tymchuk’s Inforesist?


Today InfoResist has grown to a full-fledged news resource. However, it was noticed publishing fakes and rumours. For example, it still has a text from the popular site of fake news UaReview that one of the ex-leaders of gunmen Viacheslav Ponomariov renamed Sloviansk to Putinsk.


It should be also noted that the analytical group of Dmytro Tymchuk and sprotyv.info site are not mass media either. Information Resistance is often a source of exclusive and important information. It has also other functions as stressed-out by Dmytro Tymchuk who has recently become a politician.


Separatist periodicals

When choosing sources please be aware of information from separatist periodicals that were created to disseminate disinformation and justify terrorists’ actions. The structure of separatist mass media in Donbas was described in details by Roman Shutov. We would mention some of them.

For example, “Russkaya Vesna” (rusvesna.su) even if publishes the true information does that with their own interpretation. Instead, one may find there following headlines: “Poroshenko set Western civil rights advocates against the National Guard and private armies”, “Occupant army brings cisterns with poisons to Slaviansk region, prepares provocations – Donetsk People’s Republic Army head-quarters.”

The site often publishes fake news. For instance, on 10 August, “Russkaya Vesna” posted the news that Hungarian and Trans-Carpathian Rusyns joined their efforts to fight for the federalization of Ukraine. It alleged that this was agreed at a congress in Budapest. Though the local periodical “Holos Karpat” (Voice of Carpathians) contacted the heads of three Trans-Carpathian Rusyn organizations to disprove this information and call the “congress” participants impostors. There was a huge bustle about a photo published on the web-site picturing a man in military uniform holding a human arm with his teeth. The Pro-Russian periodical claimed that a Ukrainian soldier eats the arm of a Russian. But the fact is that the photo was taken when shooting the notorious movie “We are from the Future”.

Video materials of Anna News agency are very often found on the web. The full name of the resource is Abkhazian Network News Agency. It was created in 2011 in the related to Kremlin non-recognized Republic of Abkhazia. The periodical actively covered the civil war in Syria supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and today it declares the support to Donbas gunmen. The report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 15 June 2014 names this agency as the one using the language of hatred in its work.


Ukraina.ru — is the resource created under the guidance of Dmitri Kiselev; this is a source of fakes and manipulations. For instance, on 30 June, the periodical published an assembled video of a document alleging that the Secretary of National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (the periodical calls him the Head of State Security Service) Andriy Parubiy was preparing a provocation against Russia. To fake the published document they used Parubiy’s signature from another document of January 2014. This fake communication was announced by Russia 24 TV-channel with reference to Ukraina.ru. In addition, the periodical actively uses manipulative headlines in its news, and shields the actions of gunmen and Russian army in Donbas. The editor of periodical, Olena Berezovska, is also an author of Ukrainophobic movie imposing an idea that Ukraine does not exist as a state and is just a project of the West. For this contribution, Ms. Berezovska is on the Liar Journalist Shame Board.

Other separatist periodicals publishing disinformation and showing support to gunmen: novorus.info, novorosinform.org,  dnr-news.com, voenkor.info.

Given the context, the practice of Ukrainian media to broadcast the Russian propaganda and then to disprove it seems to be strange. One of the recent examples: the information that the equipment from Luhansk enterprise was moved to Russia. On 27 August Ukrainian periodicals referring to Vesti.ru published information that Luhansk Engineering Plant moved its production to Chuvashia. This communication appeared several days after the RNBO stated that Russia takes the equipment from Ukrainian plants with the trucks of so called humanitarian convoy. Common sense seems to tell us that since the source of information about Ukraine comes from the Russian media, it should be double-checked before publishing. As discovered by Ukrinform agency, the director and workers of private company Luhmash-43 did move to Russia. This company has nothing to do with Luhansk Engineering Plant that stays in Ukraine with its equipment. Striving to be as prompt as possible but forgetting about the veracity the majority of Ukrainian Internet-periodicals have re-transmitted Russian propaganda voluntarily. Even more, this information was disproved by very few of them.

Being first in information broadcasting is more important than being true-to-fact, in a certain sense. It is hard to convince Donbas locals that Sloviansk was not attacked with phosphorous bombs, and a three-year old boy was not crucified, though these communications were repeatedly disproved by different sources.



Neither information nor mobilization role is played by petitions like: “Designate Russia as “State Sponsor of Terrorism””, “Supreme Council of Ukraine: We call you to adopt the new anthem of Ukraine”, “Attention to the Deputies of Supreme Council of Ukraine – Adopt the law on flag with colors as follows: yellow at the top, blue at the foot”, “Attention! Collection of signatures to support the Ukrainian referendum” (Addressee: To everyone who is concerned with Ukraine). Each of us has similar petitions in the inbox. Though some of them may have a good idea, they often provoke nothing but irritation. Some people get annoyed either because these petitions are away from reality and distract from more important information, or because the signed request to have a referendum has never been fulfilled. This activity has already gained a name slacktivism, a compensation for slackness by means of petition and angry comments or other inefficient activity on the web.

You would better not litter the information space of your friends and relatives. Sharing such petitions consumes the mobilization potential of Internet-users, and their efficiency is practically null. For example, since the very beginning of Maidan, there was a very popular petition to US Government to apply sanctions against Viktor Yanukovych. In three days, by 30 November 2013, it gathered the required 100 thousand of votes. Today, the White House official site proudly states that the demand was satisfied and sanctions were applied. But this was done more than three months later – on 17 March 2014. This followed a range of heroic and tragic developments that have changed the country more than any petition would.

Anyway, if you still want to sign a petition and convince your friend to do the same, you should make sure that the demands there are adequate, check the initiator and if it would reach the addressee when the necessary number of signatures is collected. Do you know how many of applications from Avaaz signed and shared by you reached their addressees?

The war makes the perception of the world polar: black and white. Our understanding of mass media could also make a similar division into Ukrainian (good) and Russian (bad). Such simplification is dangerous since the Internet-resources are classified as reliable and unreliable. Unless you realize this border, there is a risk to read only bad information sources regardless of the country.