Weekly report on Russian narratives deriving from the Russian aggression on Ukraine

Period: 11 July - 17 July, 2022

Promotion of narratives on the Slavic-Orthodox brotherhood, Russian military supremacy and Putin as the savior of Macedonia were the main features of the Russian information operations in North Macedonia in the period 11 July - 17 July, 2022. The appearances and statements of Lukashenko, Lavrov and Putin dominated the broadcast of the websites and social media infrastructure in the Macedonian online space.

  • This week, Alyaksandar Lukashenka’s messages were covered in the Macedonian online space with the highest number of articles. His three appearances within the week were used to broadcast several anti-Western messages: NATO as a “new crusaders … driving east”; the West is responsible for dissolution of Yugoslavia; NATO and the West are threatening Russia/Belarus, and the whole Slavic world.

  • Last week’s narrative steaming from Putin’s statement “we haven’t started in full yet” still circulated; with this regard, exaggerated expectations were cultivated around the Duma extraordinary session.

  • Statements from Dmitriy Medvedev were referred to in order to highlight the strength of the Russian economy and its resilience to sanctions. The 2022 BRICS summit got huge coverage with domination of Russian narratives, mostly aiming to portray a picture of the strong Russian economy, but at the same time claiming that Turkey will join BRICS, thus hurting NATO.

  • A trend of publishing several articles deriving from one event or statement by Russian officials was observed. Namely, the same information, including the same text is being published by the same portals 2 times with different messages in the headline.

  • “Putin is not giving up Macedonia”. Russian propagandists proclaim again that Russia has begun implementation of the “B4 plan” for creating a military-neutral Alliance of the 4 Balkan states. This narrative dates back to 2016, but regularly appears in social media.

 For comparison, the most interacted with individual Ukraine-related article across all North Macedonian media this week received 11,400 interactions

The Ukraine War Disinfo Working Group is participated by a total of 10 organizations, think-tanks and research groups from the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The working group is conducting a continuous monitoring of the Kremlin disinformation, propaganda and influence operations in 11 countries. Our partners: Civic Resilience Innitiative and Debunk.eu (Lithuania), Analyses and Alternatives (Bulgaria), Prague Security Studies Initiative (Czechia), GRASS (Georgia), Atlatszo (Hungary), Fakenews.pl (Poland), Slovak Security Policy Institute (Slovakia), Detector Media (Ukraine).

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This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.


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