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Political breakdowns as main topic of Russian propaganda about Ukraine in online media - IMI

08.05.2020, 16:51
Photo credit: Instant CMS
Photo credit: Instant CMS

The "flops" of Ukrainian politicians against the backdrown of Opposition Platform-For Life, the Normandy format and health were the main topics in the most popular Russian online media, as  they covered developments in Ukraine. The coverage of these topics was accompanied by propaganda narratives, fake news and manipulations, which also appeared in Ukraine mass media.

These are the findings of the monitoring conducted by the experts of the NGO "Institute of Mass Information" in April 2020 *.

According to the results of this survey, most often the news with propaganda and manipulative theses about Ukraine was spread on the websites of RIA Novosti,, Moskovsky Komsomolets and TASS. 

The main narratives concerning Ukraine in the Russian online media were:

  • Weakness, failures, altercations and conflicts of Ukrainian politicians. Most of the politicians slammed Zelensky (he accounted for almost a fifth of all mentions of Ukrainian politicians). Support for OPFL, which “is the only force which indeed works in the Ukrainian parliament”, - 26.3% 
  • International news: everythingwhich is foreign, especially US, is evil for Ukraine. Fake news about US biolabs in Ukraine. Requirements for Ukraine to fulfill its "homework" before the international summit on Donbass - 16.2%. 
  • The incidence of coronavirus in Ukraine, the " SOS ", the unknown "Ukrainian publicfigures turned to Russia for help in the fight against COVID ", a request for humanitarian aid - 14.4%.
  • Crime and emergencies, especially recorded in the Ukrainian army, fires in the Chornobyl zone - 10.4%.
  • Gas, Gazprom's transit through the territory of Ukraine, the Ukrainian side's plans for "zero transit" - 7.6%.
  • Conflict in the Eastern Ukraine, shelling from the Ukrainian side, fake news about the "spread of open tuberculosis" among the Ukrainian military, etc. - 6.1%.

* Monitoring took place from April 27 to 30, 2020. 10 popular Russian online media (according to statistics) were reviewed: RIA, Russia Today, "Moskovsky Komsomolets", "Rossiyskaya Gazeta",,, "Izvestia", RBC, "Komsomolskaya Pravda", TASS. The sample consisted of 278 materials related to Ukraine.

** This study was made possible by the support of the American people through the USAID Media Program in Ukraine, implemented by the international organization Internews Network. The contents are the sole responsibility of the Institute for Mass Information and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US Government or the Internews Network.

You can read the study here .

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