Disclaimer: A 2020 report published by the US Department of State stated: “Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem is the collection of official, proxy, and unattributed communication channels and platforms that Russia uses to create and amplify false narratives” (pg 3).
The nature of malign influence necessitates clear definitions and terms; however, this risks unfair application. To be as equitable as possible, we wish to clarify:
- We do not imply that any individuals or outlets mentioned engage in nefarious or criminal acts.
- Inclusion reflects website behavior and the definitions outlined, not guesswork or suspicion, and it does not necessarily indicate an author or website intends to collaborate with the Russian state.
📌 Pro-Kremlin media used the firing of an official to discredit Ukrainian rape victims, even though this official was not the only source of information. Two pieces of content that cited the same article were republished on many other websites. Russian intelligence controls at least one of the republishing websites.
📌After articles from RT and Moon of Alabama came out on May 31, 2022, English-language websites started to publish content claiming Ukrainian reports of rape were not valid. Outlets backlinking to this story included those that Miburo, a malign influence research group, and the federal government have identified as part of the Russian propaganda and disinformation ecosystem. The Moon of Alabama article was linked to and mentioned significantly more often than the one from RT.
📌 The dismissive stories came out after the Ukrainian government fired Lyudmila Denisova, a human rights official. Denisova “did not set up humanitarian corridors and the exchange of prisoners,” the Ukrainian government said. Instead, she focused on sharing stories about sexual assaults, for which she could not share evidence. This performance was unacceptable to the Ukrainian government.
📌In sexual assault crimes, officials, and law enforcement often cannot share more information without exposing the victim to further trauma. The Epstein trial is an example of this. Evidence of rape as a weapon in this war did not come from the dismissed official alone. The most compelling evidence is physical. Medical examiners found evidence of rape among victims of mass killings in Bucha.
📌On June 6, at the 9056th meeting of the UN Security Council, Carolyn Abena Anima Oppong-Ntiri of Ghana, Ronaldo Costa Filho of Brazil, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Antje Leendertse of Germany condemned the behavior of Russian soldiers in response to reports of them weaponizing rape against Ukrainian civilians.