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02 Jul. 2024

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From media to politicians: How russia spreads its narratives and influences public opinion in the EU

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From media to politicians: How russia spreads its narratives and influences public opinion in the EU

The russian occupation authorities seek to actively spread their propaganda almost all over the world. However, the greatest accumulation of kremlin narratives is in the European Union. Find out what methods russia most often uses to promote propaganda messages

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In recent years, russia has intensified its efforts to disseminate its narratives and influence public opinion in the European Union. This is against the backdrop of an intensified geopolitical struggle. Moscow is trying to sow its influence through a variety of channels, including media, social networks and political organisations. We tell you how russia is using these tools to achieve its goals and the implications for the EU.


Media as the main tool, but not the only one


One of russia's main tools of influence is the media. Russian state media outlets such as RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik, despite the ban, were still active in Europe at the beginning of this year, providing the Kremlin's perspective on world events.


These media outlets often emphasise the shortcomings of Western democracies, raise issues of social inequality and portray russia as a defender of traditional values. They also promote disinformation about Ukraine and criticise Western aid to Kiev.


For these purposes, the russians use not only some media outlets, but also individuals calling themselves journalists. There are quite a lot of such pseudo-journalists, for example, in Germany: Thomas Reper, Sergei Filbert and other similar individuals.


Methods of influence through the media:


Disinformation and propaganda: Creating and disseminating false or distorted information to form a certain opinion.


Selective Facts: Presenting only those facts that support the russian narrative while ignoring or distorting others.


Trolling and commentary: Using trolls and commentators to promote pro-russian views in online discussions.


In addition to the media, the russian authorities actively use their henchmen who are willing to carry out various kinds of "actions" for money or other reasons. For example, recently in France unknown persons scattered coffins with the inscription "French soldiers in Ukraine". This action was clearly aimed at discrediting the proposal of French President Emmanuel Macron to send Western soldiers to Ukraine.




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Political influence


Russia also seeks to directly influence political processes in Europe. This can occur through support for pro-russian political parties and candidates, campaign financing and lobbying.


In particular, it is important to note that most political figures who hold pro-Kremlin views are far-right politicians who are now highly popular among European society and, according to the results of the recent European Parliament elections, are gaining weight in Europe's top political structures.


One prominent example is Frenchwoman Marine Le Pen, who has been credited with friendly relations with russia. Le Pen is currently at almost the peak of her political career and is promoting her views on a large scale in France. It is noteworthy that Le Pen's party won the first round of the French parliamentary elections, beating the left-wing forces and the party of current President Emmanuel Macron.


Pro-russian views are not only observed in the political orbit of France, they can also be spotted with the naked eye in countries like Germany, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and even Poland.


But it is not only the politicians themselves that russia uses to spread its narratives, but also organisations that can contribute to cultural propaganda. As Espresso writes, one such organisation is the russian house in France.


It is noted that the russian House is represented by ther russian Geographical Society in Paris, which awards French travellers with russian awards. Of particular note is the International Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CIPDH), which positions itself as a partner of the UN, but clearly presents itself as a pro-russian agent of influence. One investigation revealed that about 70% of the organisation's leadership consisted of fake profiles.


Incidentally, of the organisations for influence, russia likes to use the church, which are found in almost all countries of the European Union and beyond.


Social networks


Social media has become a new arena for spreading russian propaganda. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are actively used to promote content that can influence public opinion. However, Telegram has become the most popular platform for russian narratives.


Against the background of this problem, the Ukrainian authorities have already repeatedly raised the topic of banning this messenger. 


In Telegram one can very often find russian networks of channels that are actively working to spread propaganda and sensitive information, which is used within the framework of influencing not only the Ukrainian audience, but also European users. 


In addition, russian state media continue to actively broadcast on social networks.


In general, according to the NATO study, more than half of all propaganda is disseminated by russia through Telegram. Next comes social network X. Almost every fifth channel is active in English.


We remind you! Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is known for his pro-russian views, travelled to Ukraine for the first time since the start of the full-scale war. During his visit, he held a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky and proposed a ceasefire at the front. What the talks were memorable for and what the presidential office responded to Orban's proposal, read here.



Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty Images


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