Updated: 23 August 2023
Published: 3 March 2023
ISD’s fourth and final round of the #wirstattDesinformation video campaign is now available in German, Arabic and Russian. The campaign, which consisted in four video rounds aimed at countering pro-Kremlin mis- and disinformation targeting Ukrainian refugees in Germany. The first video was released in early March (German, Arabic and Russian). In July, we released the second round in German, Arabic and Russian. And earlier in August, the third became available (German, Arabic and Russian). More information below.
Dis- and misinformation, and war propaganda, have reached unprecedented levels over the last 12 months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Using the latest online technologies and strategically crafted narratives, Russian president Vladimir Putin has expanded the battlefield into the virtual space, with a seemingly special focus on German-speaking populations. Despite EU sanctions against Russian state-controlled media including RT DE (RT Deutsch) and SNA (Sputnik), those in Germany are being targeted in what seems to be an effort to divide, agitate and unsettle public opinion.
The Kremlin’s propaganda and its toxic narratives are targeting those who may already by sceptical about democracy or hostile toward immigration. False reports created from details taken out of context are not only being spread in German, but also in Russian and Arabic. Some of the disinformation has been targeted against Ukrainian refugees, who are portrayed as a danger to society. Completely fabricated reports being amplified online have accused refugees of committing various crimes or spreading diseases. The aim being to stir up fear against Ukrainians, and create a general feeling of threat among the German population, but also Russian and Arabic speaking communities in particular.
Hate and hate speech against refugees can have real-world impact such as attacks on asylum accommodation and targeted discrimination. Between February and October 2022, the Federal Criminal Police Office recorded 4,000 incidents related to the war, including uses of the “Z symbols” to support the Russian invasion or direct attacks on people of Ukrainian or Russian origin. In the political and education space, it is therefore critical to understand which narratives are being used by the Kremlin, how they are disseminated and who they reaching. The second step being fostering education and strategic communication to limit the impact of disinformation and propaganda campaigns, and stem the potential violence that may result.
In a 12-month project, carried out on behalf of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education/bpb, ISD aims to address this issue two-fold. First, ISD researchers have identified and analysed key narratives in German, Russian and Arabic shared by pro-Kremlin actors known to promote dis- and misinformation. Then, ISD will design and target group-specific, counter-content aimed at debunking distorted narratives about Ukrainian refugees in Germany. ISD will do this through four videos in Arabic, German and Russian, disseminated online in a targeted way.
The videos can be accessed on ISD’s YouTube page (available in German, Arabic and Russian).