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Truth, lies and disinformation — beyond Russia and Ukraine

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European Parliamentary Research Service Blog

Written by Martin Russell and Naja Bentzen

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

— George Orwell, 1984

‘This is war. You’re part of it’. The appeal on the euromaidanSOS website – originally a Facebook group devoted to helping ‘people who suffered during the revolution in Ukraine’ – warns international journalists against using official Russian media outlets as factual sources. The warning highlights that communication and media have become key tools in Russia’s ‘hybrid warfare’ against Ukraine. It also shows the reach of Russia’s communication efforts.

The race for control of the media message is a battle over the definition of ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ in a crisis where Russia’s and Ukraine’s competing versions of events are mutually exclusive. According to Russia’s World War II-inspired narrative on Ukraine, the Maidan revolution in February 2015 was a ‘Nazi’ putsch, and the democratically elected government in Kyiv…

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