"Special disinformation in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, period 15 April-15 May, carried out by the DIS, with the contributions of AISE, AISI and MAECI". The full document The persistence of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict shows a transversal diffusion of the narrative between the various platforms, but with different levels of involvement and ability to propagate the message due to the peculiarities of each media channel. The significant spread of the phenomenon on Telegram is confirmed, through which disinformation – at national level – is conveyed by groups and channels with an average adhesion detected among 50 thousand users (for the most visible and structured), up to a minimum of 10 thousand. These groups are characterized by the profiles of contiguity with the anti-system movements no-vax/no-greenpass, as well as with local associative forms that expose a clear pro-Russian and Eurasian ideological position, overlapping with narratives of sovereignist and nationalist matrix. Through the same instrument, the activities carried out by the media Russia Today and Sputnik, which are committed to circumventing the interdiction measures adopted against them at European level, also find continuity. A similar behavioral pattern is also recorded on the Facebook platform, where numerous groups – both public and private – collect on average the interest of 10 thousand users each, mainly conveying messages of pro-Russian propaganda and widespread sympathetic support for Russia and its political summit, often idolized and placed in positive opposition to the Italian Government. The content disseminated on Facebook also finds elements of continuity with the misinformation about the Covid-1 9 pandemic, as well as with the strand of conspiracy theories. Even the social media Twitter is confirmed as a sounding board for fake news and propaganda, with the dual purpose of increasing the propagation of the message – especially if originated from official channels – or to increase the background noise, thus hindering the search and verification of the source of the information itself. Among the most significant moments observed in the period under review stands out the interview given by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs LAVROV to "ZonaBianca", which has long catalyzed the debate on the main social platforms / (and not only on these), in which several passages of the intervention have been taken up and instrumentalized in a disinformation key. Among the most recent trends, we note: • a reversal of the trend of Russian disinformation, which has suffered a sharp slowdown in its intensity and the adoption of a defensive posture. On the merits; the Kremlin in recent weeks has mainly implemented activities aimed at a counter-deduction of Western narratives and the expansion of internal and external consensus, through the engagement of high-level figures with social profiles characterized by a large following, together with the involvement of valuable personalities abroad; • a general slowdown also in Chinese influence activities.
PRO-KREMLIN NARRATIVES SPREAD VIA SOCIAL MEDIA Since the second half of April, the narratives spread on online channels by Russian propaganda have continued to concern the presence of Western biolaboratory in Ukraine, the use of chemical weapons by the latter as a pretext for false flag operations, the denazification of that nation, Russophobia, the brutality of the Kiev army as opposed to the alleged heroic deeds of Russian soldiers, as well as the instrumentalization of polls related to the war and the constant attacks on Zelensky's image. In this context, the following unpublished narratives were recorded: • criticism of the work of Prime Minister Mario DRAGHI, held responsible – with the line of action adopted by his Government – for the increase in food and energy prices, the closure of numerous companies, as well as for having hit the Italian people with unnecessary health measures and dragging the country into war. In this perspective, we highlight the contrast, emphasized in a divisive key by some social accounts, between Germany's choice not to give up Russian gas, thus protecting the German people, and that of Prime Minister DRAGHI, described as aligned with American decisions and disinterested in the fate of his people; • the conviction of an imminent entry into the war of the Atlantic Alliance, which would be deploying military equipment and personnel on the borders with Ukraine, thus suggesting a wider development of the conflict; • the preparation, on the Ukrainian side, of offensives involving the use of chemical substances, including those based on chlorine, for which to place the responsibility on the Russian military (so-called false flag operation); • the delegitimization of the information activity of the Western media about the ongoing conflict. In this sense, the Russian Embassy in Italy shared the statement of Dmitry POLYANSKIY, Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN, accusing the Western and Ukrainian media of engaging in an "information war" in favor of the Kiev Government, citing an alleged Western and Ukrainian "fake news factory", together with a series of events described as "Ukrainian provocations" in which the Western media would have had the consensual role of filming and disseminating events created in art; • the press statements of the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria ZAKHAROVA, who said that 'I want Italian citizens to know the truth. Because Italian politicians are deceiving their audience [...]. The initiative to conduct interviews did not come from the Russian Foreign Ministry, but from Italian journalists" defined by the same as "insistent" in requesting the interview; • the discontent and distrust of captive Ukrainian soldiers towards their army, accused by them, during alleged interviews with Russian propaganda media, of using civilians as human shields, or of planning mass executions in the Kharkiv region, for which the Russian army should be blamed; • the planning of the conflict by the United States, which would have sent Switchblade drones to the Kiev army, after having trained, months before the beginning of the conflict and on American territory, the Ukrainian operators responsible for their use; • Russian support for Marine Le Pen's election campaign for the presidential elections in France, while continuing to stigmatize the effects of sanctions, propagating, with a view to overturning, news on the heavy consequences they would have on the members of the European Union. • the frequent use of decontextualized audiovisual information and products and artifacts, often re-proposed in the original language, with the intention of polluting and overloading the internal debate, deconstructing the narrative of the national and Western media in general, hindering the process of verifying the information itself – aware of the difficulty in finding the evidence on the ground – leaving ample room for doubt and uncertainty, i.e. preparing public opinion to welcome the narrative favorable to Moscow; • the attempt to discredit the work of international organizations including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine, engaged in identifying potential violations of international humanitarian law by both armed forces engaged in the conflict. In particular, following the publication of a report produced by the OSCE from which no humanitarian violations attributable to the Ukrainian armed forces would emerge, the diffusion, both on the main counter-information blogs and on social networks in Italian, of content relating to: the use by Ukrainian armed formations of armoured vehicles forcibly removed from the OSCE Mission', an event hidden by that leadership; the admission, by an OSCE employee detained in the "Luhansk People's Republic", about the transmission of confidential information to Ukrainian and foreign intelligence services; the prolific production by foreign NGOs' of millions of fake information content about the Russian special operation in Ukraine; the alleged discovery, in the garage of the OSCE headquarters building in Mariupol, of several Italian-made mortar launch charges, then sold to one of the parties to the conflict; the seizure by the troops of the "Donetsk People's Republic" of the OSCE archive in Mariupol, which allegedly contained evidence of the 2014 Kiev crimes, covered up by the OSCE, which would not have reported it in its reports; • the viralization of the interview given by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergei LAVROV, to the program "White Zone", broadcast on Rete4, during which that Minister declared that "the fact that Zelensky is Jewish does not mean anything, Hilter was too , the worst anti-Semites are the Jews- . This statement was then relaunched by various national journalistic sources (Il Fatto Quotidiano, Giornale, Corriere della Sera and by numerous sources of disinformation on the subject ("maurizioblondet.it" and the well-known anti-diplomat"); • the killing on Ukrainian territory of numerous war journalists; according to Alberto FAZOLO, economist enrolled in the register of journalists of Lazio as a publicist and intervened during the program "DiMartedì" (broadcast on La7), the number of reporters killed in Ukraine in the last eight years would amount to about eighty, thus introducing a consequential link between the high number of deaths of journalists and the presence on that territory of para-military formations of neo-Nazi matrix (such as the Azov Battalion)/;
MAIN NARRATIVES SPREAD VIA TELEGRAM The @Sptnkita channel, probably attributable to the Sputnik Italia newspaper and created after the blackout on European territory of the government media of that country, has recently distinguished itself for the assiduous sharing of content in Italian to support the pro-Russian narrative. However, that activity did not go unnoticed, incurring the closure of the same channel by Telegram itself. In its replacement, the backup channel "BAOSPTNK" (@Baosptk) was promptly opened. The Russian Cultural Center in Rome has intensified its activity on its Telegram channel, aimed at amplifying the official propaganda related to the conflict in Ukraine. Equally noteworthy is the pro-Russian demonstration promoted by the 'Ukrainian Anti-Fascist Committee (Red Star)', a non-profit organization active in solidarity works for Ukraine and the Donbass, held on April 25 in Piazza Venezia in Milan to "celebrate the liberation from Nazi-fascism" and ask for "peace in Donbass and Democracy in Ukraine". The Facebook group connected to this event is administered by Rolando DUBINI, one of the most active users in publishing content on pro-Russian Italian channels dedicated to the support of the "special military operation" in Ukraine, which includes users belonging to the no-vax galaxy. Particularly relevant is the creation of a group called "United Information Front", apparently used to coordinate the joint actions of the "Cyber Front Z" group, born with the aim of countering the anti-Russian propaganda of Western countries. the Italian declination of this group has taken the name of "Committee for the anti-Nazi Donbass", active in unmasking Ukrainian disinformation and countering the so-called "anti-Russian hysteria". Significant, moreover, the diffusion, on channels in Italian, of numerous documentaries in support of pro-Russia propaganda, including: – 'Donbass yesterday today and tomorrow', documentary on the disputed region, subtitled in English; or a 2018 documentary made by the Arab satellite television channel Al Mayadeens and focused on the main biolaboratory active worldwide, gold instrumentalized to corroborate the current disinformation narratives in this regard; -a documentary on the theme of Russophobia, broadcast on russia Today with an Italian translation, in which direct reference is made to MEP Francesca DONATO, described as the one who voted against the sending of weapons to Ukraine; -a documentary, shared by the Russian Embassy in Italy, which denounces the political situation in Ukraine following the 2014 "coup" (in the West qualified as the "Maidan revolution"), the alleged war crimes committed by Ukrainians in the Donbass, violations of international law for the treatment of Russian prisoners of war and Ukrainian fake news about the conflict. Unpublished narratives have been recorded relating to the introduction of huge Russian incentives for the opening of new commercial and industrial companies, operating for example in the metalworking sector, in contrast to what happens instead in Italy, where the ventilated energy cuts approved by the Draghi Government would determine, instead, a heavy penalization of the country's industrial system. The channel "Giubbe Rosse" (@rossobruni), known for its Eurasian ideological matrix, has strongly criticized the work of Senator Alfonso URSO (in truth Urso is called Adolfo, ed) and his party (Fratelli d'Italia), after the latter announced with a tweet the opening of an investigation of COPASIR and the hearings of the Agcom and Rai summits, following the statements of LAVROV's spokesperson, Maria ZAKHAROVA. Some of the contents produced by "Giubbe Rosse" were then relaunched by the channel referable to Giorgio BIANCHI, a well-known Italian freelancer present in Ukrainian territory with the purpose of pro-Russian political-propaganda activism. The channel of the Italian disinformation website "VisioneTV" has, instead, exploited the Pontiff's statement in relation to the alleged responsibility for the conflict on the part of the Atlantic Alliance, calling it a "brutal criticism of NATO by Pope Francis". This content was then also relaunched by the Russian digital newspaper "gazeta.ru", in turn taken up by the "Roberto Nuzzo" channel, previously emerged in relation to the No-Vax and No-GreenPass movements. Finally, the channel "RA — Russia Amica", particularly active in the dissemination of content within the main no-vax online communities, is carrying out a disinformation campaign within Italian and French communities. The contents, mainly related to conspiracy theories and anti-government, report both true news, commented on in a pro-Russia key, and tendentious, or otherwise unverified, presented as if they were true. In particular, this channel relaunches information extrapolated from Twitter accounts attributable to the Kremlin, mainly related to the discrediting of NATO, the presence of US biotechnology laboratories in Ukraine, the justification of the military operation in defense of the Russian-speaking populations oppressed by the Ukrainian "Nazis". MAIN NARRATIVES SPREAD VIA TWITTER "The Russian Embassy in Italy said in a post that it had suffered an act of vandalism at the gate of its headquarters, smeared with red paint; the author of the gesture would have been stopped by the soldiers of the Army present to guard the perimeter of the institutional headquarters. On the merits, it is worth underlining how the "red paint" used in demonstration gestures of this type, within the social debate, would metaphorically represent the "blood" shed in Ukraine. The account of that Embassy then gave wide visibility to the numerous interviews given by Russian institutional representatives on Italian television stations. Above all, it is worth mentioning those of the spokeswoman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria ZAKHAROVA, as well as that of Minister LAVROV to "ZonaBianca". Following the latter, the hashtogs #Rete4 and #ZonaBianca immediately acquired importance , in association with which there are both positions in favor and against what was claimed by that Minister. In parallel, the hashtag #Draghi, following the press conference on May 2, was included in over 38,000 tweets in multiple languages, including Italian, and in relation to which there are both posts in support of the positions expressed by the President of the Council of Ministers regarding the interview with LAVROV, and several posts where it is believed that the Premier himself does not protect the interests of Italy and has a dictatorial approach. Also part of this frame is the interview with the Russian Ambassador to Italy Sergey RAZOV released to the program "Staseraitalia", also on Rete4, in which the same diplomat recalled the commitment and proactivity of Moscow in identifying and "replacing" Italian companies in Russia (about 4001 with companies of other nationality, with the likely intention of exacerbating the sense of concern of public opinion in relation to the future of national companies and the economy. the presence on Twitter of various Russian institutional figures, such as those mentioned, was also perceived by users most similar to Moscow's positions, as an opening to dialogue demonstrated by the Federation with the main European counterparts, including Italy. With particular reference to our country, narratives have also emerged that tend to put in antithesis the figures of foreign minister DI MAIO and LAVROV, praising the high diplomatic qualities of the latter, allegedly not fully grasped by the Italian public. Equally relevant is the anti-Atlanticist narrative gravitating around the figure of the President of the Council of Ministers Mario DRAGHI, in relation to which we note an interview with Rosangela MATTEI, granddaughter of Enrico MATTEI, released on April 25 to "La Verità" and relaunched on social media by well-known anti-government and pro-Russian influencers. In this context, mattei's death is exploited and interpreted in an anti-government and anti-NATO key; Premier DRAGHI is described as "too friendly with the Americans", while NATO is accused of colluding with the aim of eliminating the Italian entrepreneur. The interview ends with claims that Algeria supplies gas to Italy only thanks to Mattei's work and that, after his death, Russia would be the only country to help the Algerian nation. A steady stream of stock images of DRAGHI wearing a jacket pin with the NATO emblem has also emerged, once again instrumentalized to justify an alleged personal aspiration of the Prime Minister to become Secretary General of the Alliance, for which he would put the security of his own nation at risk. MAIN NARRATIVES SPREAD VIA FACEBOOK Sergey MARKOV, political scientist, journalist and former adviser to the Russian President, shared on his profile the image of the alleged bunker under the Azovstal steel mill, actually extrapolated from the board game Blackout. the image, then shared by the TV broadcasts "Piazzapulita" and "Controcorrente", and the whole affair were exploited by pro-Russian social accounts and national disinformation for criticize the work of the Western media and, in particular, of the aforementioned broadcasts and their broadcasters. The narrative according to which the media attention developed after LAVROV's observation on Hitler's alleged Jewish origin actually represents a trick of the mainstream media to distract Italian public opinion from the actual contents of the interview is becoming increasingly important on pages attributable to the sovereigntist matrix. In this sense, numerous Facebook profiles interpret the media event as a striking example of press freedom — as opposed to alleged political censorship and national journalism considered biased and controlled — as well as an authoritative point of view on the reality of war and political events. The same profiles also accuse Premier DRAGHI of having participated in similar television programs in the past with the intention of spreading fake news. Among the trends detected more recently by the observation of the phenomenon, the following emerge: • There would be a slowdown in Russia's online activism in favor of a defensive position based on the counter-deduction, in a pro-Kremlin key, of news from Ukraine and the West, defined as foke news. For example, in view of the prominence given in Europe and the rest of the world to the news that Russia does not rule out a nuclear intervention, the Russian Federation reacted by spreading the news of the acquisition by Ukraine of drones equipped with chemical and bacteriological weapons; • the Kremlin is reportedly recruiting the main members of the intelligentsia to build consensus among the Russian population. This is done by hiring public figures characterized by a medium-high cultural level, such as professors and researchers, as well as online, where the well-known Cyber Front Z group would have started a recruitment campaign of Telegram channel managers or other partners / with a significant following; • It is interesting to note that the same technique has also been used by Ukraine, through the legion "freedom to Russia" – Ukrainian military unit, formed by political opponents, former prisoners of war and Russian deserters – which would be involving young Russians acculturated to spread Putin-anointed messages and to organize demonstration actions. In addition to this, Ukraine is reportedly launching a recruitment campaign within Russia to carry out small sabotage actions, for example in the railway network; • Russian interference and manipulation of information continue to decline into two technical-communicative directions: one oriented inwards, which leverages national pride to awaken the nationalist sentiment of the population. the other towards I external characterized by sophisticated, adoptive activities, also aiming at the use of valuable intellectual resources, in the form of Russian citizens residing abroad; • during the same period there was also a general slowdown in the activity of influenza of Sinic origin.
EXCERPT FROM THE CORRIERE DELLA SERA ARTICLE ON COPASIR, SECRET SERVICES AND PRO-PUTIN The network is complex and varied. It involves social networks, TV, newspapers and has as its main objective the conditioning of public opinion. It is active in key moments of the conflict, attacking politicians aligned with Kiev and supporting those who advance the pro-Russia theses. The pro-Putin network is now a well-established reality in Italy, which alarms the security apparatus because it tries to orient, or worse boycott, the government's choices. And it does so by relying on parliamentarians and managers, lobbyists and journalists. The investigation launched by Copasir has entered the crucial phase. The material collected by intelligence identifies the channels used for propaganda, reconstructs the contacts between groups and individual characters and above all the choice of the moments in which the network, using multiple social platforms together — from the best known ones such as Telegram, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, Vk, Instagram, to niche ones such as Gab, Parler, Bitchute, ExitNews — initiates counter-information. In early May, when the Russian army appears to be in trouble on the ground, the privileged topic is the sending of Italian weapons to Ukraine. The campaign of instrumentalization via social media focuses on the image of the shipping slips of military devices, emphasizing the date of March 11: a week before the approval of the decree in Parliament that will take place on March 18. Leading the attacks is Maria Dubovikova, a Russian journalist who lives in Moscow and has over 40 thousand followers on Twitter with the account @politblogme. Pietro Benassi, Italy's diplomatic representative to the EU and Conte's former diplomatic adviser at Palazzo Chigi, is in the crosshairs. But the real target of the ambushes via social media is Draghi, whose majority has three leaders, Salvini, Berlusconi and Conte, who have not sided without ifs and buts with Ukraine, the country attacked by Putin. "Not in my name" is the motto relaunched on dozens of pro-Russian profiles of the extreme right, who often cross paths with Covid deniers and no vax, to challenge Palazzo Chigi for having sent weapons "without the consent of the Italian people". The recurring accusations against Draghi range from "sending us to war" putting the nation's security at risk "for the ambition to become secretary general of NATO", to "having caused the increase in the cost of food and energy and the closure of numerous companies". On May 3, when Draghi harshly criticizes at a press conference the interview given by Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov to Rete4, on Twitter – which according to the report often acts as a "sounding board for fake news" – the posts are unleashed. "It does not protect Italian interests and has a dictatorial approach", is the accusation against the premier, which bounces on social media in harmony with Lavrov's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, who accuses "Italian politicians of deceiving their audience". The bombardment of anti-government and pro-Putin messages increases at the politically decisive steps. So it was when the first vote was taken on the sending of weapons and so it will be on June 21, when the resolution on the war invoked by Conte's M5S will be voted. In this vein, Giorgio Bianchi is noted, defined by the periodic reports that the security apparatus sends to the government "a well-known Italian freelancer present in Ukrainian territory with the purpose of pro-Russian political-propaganda activism". Bianchi manages the Telegram channel Giubbe Rosse (@rossobruni), which has at least 100 thousand members and has repeatedly targeted the president of Copasir, Adolfo Urso. That of ukrainians branded as "neo-Nazis" is a trend much beaten by Putin's supporters and often relaunched by Alberto Fazolo. He is an economist and publicist who on TV and facebook claimed that "the journalists killed in Ukraine in the last 8 years are 80 and this high number is related to the presence of paramilitary formations of neo-Nazi matrix". In fact, the analysts point out, "the journalists killed since 2014 are about half, but Fazolo's post has recorded many shares both on pro-Russian Facebook profiles and on Telegram channels". Manlio Dinucci is 84 years old, he is a geographer and writer promoter of the committee "No War No Nato". An article of his claiming that "the Anglo-American attack on Russia and Ukraine was planned in 2019" has become a kind of manifesto "of Russian state media and utilities supporting the invasion of Ukraine." Passages from his book La guerra – È in gioco la nostra vita, published by ByoBlu Edizioni – publisher of a digital channel and TV repeatedly accused of "disinformation" – were cited by Putin in his speech on May 9 for the Celebrations of Victory Day. Dinucci's theses were taken up by Bianchi himself, Alessandro Orsini – the professor fired from Luiss University after the uproar aroused by his television appearances – and Maurizio Vezzosi: 32 years old, he is a freelance reporter who tells the conflict from Ukraine and invites readers and viewers "to inform themselves by not remaining to the news on the surface because many Ukrainians think that Zelensky is responsible for the situation, many consider him a 'traitor'". The network moves in public, but also confidentially. In early May, when anti-government grillino Vito Petrocelli refused to leave the presidency of the Foreign Affairs Committee despite Conte's explicit ultimatums, pro-Putin activists mobilized for an email bombing campaign against Senate email addresses. At the forefront are no vax and pro-Russia Telegram channels such as @robertonuzzocanale, @G4m3OV3R and @lantidiplomatico, a site that collects documentation to support Petrocelli's choice to remain nailed to the chair, against the indications of the party. On Antidiplomatico, which in the years when Grillo looked with sympathy at Putin was close to the positions of Manlio Di Stefano and Alessandro Di Battista, the freelance Laura Ru is also active. Her name is Laura Ruggeri who lives in Hong Kong and writes for the Strategic Culture Foundation, considered by analysts to be an "online magazine traced back to the Russian external intelligence service SVR" and which, together with Russia Today, is the author of a massive campaign against sanctions. The thesis of the spokeswoman Zakharova – "the EU is the real victim of the measures against Russia" – is periodically relaunched by the "well-known journalist and spreader of disinformation" Cesare Sacchetti, who on his Telegram channel has over 60 thousand subscribers: "The EU is forced to retrace its steps and pay for gas in rubles". On these issues move, under the radar, even characters close to those parties that break away from the line of Draghi. The iron Putinian Claudio Giordanengo, who in 2019 ran for the League in the municipality of Saluzzo, on social media attacks Draghi, Speranza, Biden. This is his message via chat of June 2: "NOTICE TO TERRORISTS – It informs that Ukraine is selling various stocks of weapons of all kinds. Visit the sites!! (Dark Net). Below cost original US Javelin anti-tank missiles at 30 thousand euros per piece. Great deal, the original price is 250 thousand dollars each. But what does they care? Western imbeciles give them to him." And since the network of Putinians in Italy goes beyond the boundaries of party and alignment, Giordanengo relaunches the attacks on Draghi by the founder of Italexit: "Gianluigi Paragone nails the prime minister on the war: "He moves like an associate of Biden". Italy submissive on the war"». To swell the army of italy's pro-Putins, there are movements acting through Russian-language sites. On VKontakte (VK) we find the Network of Patriots, which posts (in Italian) messages against Salvini, perhaps with the aim of "stealing" proselytes from the League.