Russia Staging Anti-Ukrainian Protests Throughout Europe
Russia’s secret service is staging and infiltrating protests in major European cities in order to spread the Kremlin’s talking points throughout the Continent. On May 7, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that Russian agents had staged demonstrations and posted propaganda messages on social media to stir up anti-Ukrainian sentiment in Europe.
The report was based on information from Russian intelligence documents originally leaked to research organization and Russian opposition media outlet Dossier Center. The information’s authenticity has not been fully verified; however, incidents detailed in the documents have occurred.
‘Send no weapons’: On May 8, Scandinavian broadcaster DR published a report detailing evidence that Russia’s intelligence service was behind at least 10 fake demonstrations in Europe against Ukrainian arms aid. DR also identified two residents of St. Petersburg who have spread information about the false demonstrations through posts on social media.
- One of the posts has a photo of a man at a climate-change protest in The Hague on January 28, holding a sign that said, “Send no weapons to Ukraine! Zelenskyy bombs Donetsk and Luhansk!”
- The man was seen holding the same sign a few days later at a demonstration against care-worker conditions.
- Another man holding a sign with the same message was part of the pension reform protests in Paris, France, on February 11. He stood next to a man holding a sign that said “EU, U.S.A., stop financing the wars in Ukraine.”
‘Stop Erdoğan’: On March 5, Russian agents also posed as members of Paris’s Ukrainian community and staged a protest against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The protesters held signs that said, “Stop Erdoğan,” and “Erdoğan, the earthquake is your revenge for the Russian tourists,” mocking victims of Turkey’s February earthquakes. Videos and images of the protesters were then rapidly spread on YouTube, Facebook, Telegram and TikTok.
According to the leaked Russian intelligence documents, the images were deliberately shared on media to cause tension between the European Union and Turkey, as well as make Ukrainians look radical and anti-Islamic.
The same man who held the “EU, U.S.A., stop financing the wars in Ukraine” sign during the pension reform protest was captured on video performing the Nazi salute at this March 5 demonstration.
Russia has a track record of using radical lies and social media to divide and polarize people within a foreign nation. It does this by pitting people with opposing views against each other and using propaganda to amplify false and extremist beliefs.
Learn more: Read “Wake Up! Russia Is Turning Americans Against Americans.”