The Kremlin’s Global Spinnings

More reports are shining light on the Kremlin global disinformation ecosystem, which does not shy away from putting human lives in danger for petty power plays. More reports are shining light on the Kremlin global disinformation ecosystem, which does not shy away from putting human lives in danger for petty power plays. Experts at the French VIGINUM agency,[1] known also for their earlier work related to the ‘Reliable Recent News’ or ‘Doppelgänger’ network, uncovered in their most recent report a pro-Kremlin disinformation network that they dubbed as ‘Portal Kombat’. This exposed network is comprised of ‘information portals’ that broadcast pro-Kremlin takes on Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, it denigrates the Ukrainian government in order to influence public opinion, particularly in France.

By EUvsDisinfo | February 15, 2024 —

According to the VIGINUM report, the Kremlin-spun network consists of at least 193 websites that initially targeted Russian and Ukrainian audiences, but then re-oriented themselves to target Western countries after Russia launched a full-scale invasion. This network was also eventually used to target audiences in temporarily occupied territories in Ukraine.

The Kremlin’s global spinnings — EUvsDiSiNFO

Notably, the network does not produce original content, but massively amplifies Russian or pro-Kremlin sources, including Russian press agencies and official sites.

An old, but not a fond, acquaintance

A notable element of the network targeting French audiences is the site, which spreads ideologically oriented, misleading, manipulative, and polarising pro-Kremlin narratives.

We at EUvsDisinfo are no strangers to these modern day Pravdas, not to be mistaken with the original one. Their different language versions include, among others, English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Polish versions in addition to the previously mentioned French version. It is worth noting here that French and Spanish language platforms operated by pro-Kremlin networks are designed to reach audiences in countries across Africa and Latin America.

Our disinformation database has currently well over 100 reported disinformation cases across all language versions, with the Polish language Pravda-pl leading the pack.

Dangerous Kremlin disinformation plays in Africa

A recent revelation by the US Department of State’s Global Engagement Center brought to light a concerted effort by Russia’s intelligence services to bolster disinformation campaigns in Africa. Russian activities on the African continent is a topic that we also have covered in the past, for example in this video(opens in a new tab).

Under the disguise of a deceitfully named ‘African Initiative,’ a seemingly independent information agency focusing on Africa-Russia relations, Russia has been actively involved in spreading disinformation targeting the United States and European nations.

This operation not only involves Russian personnel, such as Chief Editor Artem Sergeyevich Kureyev, but has also enlisted journalists, bloggers, and local public figures in African countries to disseminate narratives aimed at improving Russia’s image while at the same time targeting Western efforts, particularly in the domain of public health.

Petty power plays cost real human lives

Worrisomely, the ‘African Initiative’ has launched campaigns to discredit US and Western health initiatives, spreading dangerous disinformation about mosquito-borne diseases and spreading conspiratorial material about Western pharmaceutical companies and philanthropical health organisations, thereby risking public health security across the continent.

As despicable it may be, the Russian information manipulation ecosystem does not shy away from weaponising public health, even if it may end result in innocent people losing their lives.

In our database, we have more than 1,000 reported cases linked to the health topic, and we have covered extensively how the Russian disinformation machinery has been mobilised to spread disinformation related to global Covid-19 pandemics and vaccines.

As a result of this coverage, we at EUvsDisinfo issued number of special reports, wrote several articles, and even issued a guide to support approaching people believing in dangerous anti-vaccine theories. All this to stop Kremlin reckless disinformation plays turning into many human lives lost.


Also blinking on our disinformation radar this week:

See Also : Le réseau mondial de propagande du Kremlin


[1] VIGINUM : « Vigilance and protection service against foreign digital interference: VIGINUM ». The decision to provide France with a specialised structure responsible for protection against the information threat was taken at the beginning of 2021. A prefiguration mission, succeeding the ‘Honfleur’ taskforce, was then set up. Following preparatory work involving numerous political and parliamentary consultations, Decree 2021-922 of 13 July 2021 supplemented the existing provisions of the Defence Code to give the Secretary General for Defence and National Security new powers to combat information manipulation, and more specifically foreign digital interference.

To assist the Secretary General in the exercise of his new powers, the decree created a national department called the « Vigilance and Protection Department against Foreign Digital Interference », commonly known as VIGINUM.

This new technical and operational service is responsible for detecting and characterising, on behalf of the SGDSN and the authorities responsible for ensuring the smooth running of national elections phenomena that meet criteria for defining foreign digital interference, as set out in decree set out in Decree no. 2021- 922 of 13 July 2021 :

  • Involvement of foreign actor(s)
  • Content that is manifestly inaccurate or misleading
  • Inauthentic amplification
  • Harm to the fundamental interests of the Nation

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