“Ukrainian refugees are the target of Russian propaganda” – USCC expert at a briefing on Russian propaganda against Ukrainian refugees

Speakers at the discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Source: USCC.

On 31 August, Ukraine Crisis Media Center hosted a discussion on “Ukrainian refugees are the target of Russian propaganda. How the Kremlin’s campaign to persecute Ukrainians in the world unfolded”. 

The speakers were: 
Dmytro Zhmaylo, co-founder and executive director of the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center;
Marianna Prysyazhnyuk, Head of the Hybrid Threats Analysis Group, Ukraine Crisis Media Centre;

During the conversation, the speakers discussed the Kremlin’s attempts to defame Ukrainian refugees through information campaigns and propaganda, using cases from the Czech Republic, the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Poland as examples. 

Anti-government demonstrations are ongoing in the Czech Republic, and the Roma-Ukrainian conflict is being actively exploited by pro-Russian forces, spreading fake news in their media as well as among the Czech population. This was described in the article “Russian Hydra in Europe: Czech Republic under attack”.

Dmytro Zhmaylo, co-founder and executive director of the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center

“Rallies under social slogans are constantly taking place in the country. People who use Russian symbols participate in those. Recently, some representatives of the Czech Roma minority have joined the campaign. The trigger was the tragedy in Brno, where a group of Roma youth had a quarrel with a Ukrainian citizen in public transport.

Thanks to friends and partners in the Czech Republic, a joint assembly was organized under the leadership of the Roma Union of Czechoslovakia. It honored the memory of the victims and refuted Russian fakes. The leader of the Roma community in the Czech Republic directly stated that some marginalized members of the community, unfortunately, are influenced by Russian propaganda and we attempt  to relieve this social tension,” commented Dmytro Zhmaylo, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center.

In Poland, since the beginning of June, several dozen fakes related to Ukrainian refugees have been recorded, aimed at demonizing Ukrainians and spreading public discontent. In particular, a pro-Russian media published the article “Opening the borders for Ukrainian refugees was a fatal mistake. It’s like opening the gates to hell, where devils are now coming out”, and pro-Kremlin telegram channels spread false news on Independence Day about the alleged beating of a Pole by 12 refugees for refusing to shout “nazi slogans”, namely “Glory to Ukraine!”. 

Similar cases have also been reported in Romania and Moldova, but in these countries, pro-Russian theses are supported by politicians themselves, who often spread the narrative of Ukrainian refugees living in peace and enjoying all their rights, while the Romanian population in Ukraine has long been persecuted and suffered from rights violations. Among these Romanian politicians are Daniel Ghitse and Diana Ciocoaque. In Moldova, the Mayor General of Chisinau, Ion Ceban, said that refugees from Ukraine are a risk to public safety.

Marianna Prysyazhnyuk, Head of the Hybrid Threats Analysis Group, Ukraine Crisis Media Centre;

“All Russian theses are aimed to create a feeling among the residents of the countries that they are losing something by accepting refugees. Russian propaganda acts on the field of disagreements between people, artificially exacerbating and intensifying conflicts,” said Mariana Prysyazhnyuk, head of the UCMC Hybrid Threat Analysis Group. 

Such incidents aimed at weakening the Western coalition will only increase over time. Counteracting and neutralizing threats and Russian influence within countries should be the first task on the European agenda.  

We express our gratitude to the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre for organizing the discussion.

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