September 7, 2022 - 11:26am

The Ukrainian Government has revealed to UnHerd the criteria for inclusion on its blacklist of Russian propagandists.

In July, the Centre for Countering Disinformation — a branch of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine — published a list of individuals who they deemed to be “promoting Russian propaganda.” As UnHerd reported at the time, the list included several high-profile Western intellectuals and politicians: Republican Senator Rand Paul, former Democrat Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, military and geopolitical analyst Edward N. Luttwak, realist political scientist John Mearsheimer and heterodox journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Andrii Shapovalov, acting head of the operation, explained in a letter to UnHerd that the aim of the project was to identify individuals promoting narratives “consonant with Russian propaganda,” and that so far the list includes over one hundred “scientists, military personnel, journalists and politicians.”

Considering that for more than 8 years (since 2014) a hybrid war has been going on in Ukraine, which is being fought on the battlefield and in the information segment, all these years Russia has sought to discredit Ukraine in the international arena, using its own propaganda machine and representatives of other states who could promote the narratives needed by the Russian Federation in the information segment.
- Andrii Shapolavov, Acting Head of the Centre for Countering Disinformation, Ukraine Government

The Center outlined the eight main “narratives” that they consider “consonant with Russian propaganda”:

A proxy war between NATO and Russia is taking place on the territory of Ukraine The United States and NATO provoked Putin Events in Bucha are fake There is a civil war in Ukraine Sanctions against Russia are not working NATO bases are located in Ukraine In Europe, states recognise that Crimea has always been part of Russia Ukraine was considering the forceful method of entering Donbas and taking Crimea
An extract from the Center’s letter to UnHerd lists out the ideas

Mr Shapolavov explained the criteria for inclusion on the list: “the persons got on the list due to promoting narratives that are consonant with Russian propaganda, includes speakers [sic] who are met according to the following criteria: they repeat narratives that resonate with Russian propaganda; do it for a long time and systematically; they are actively used by the Kremlin media in their propaganda.”

While some of the narratives listed are uncontroversially considered propaganda — such as the idea that “the events in Bucha are fake” — others are very widespread among Western commentators.

The idea that sanctions against Russia are not working, for example, is openly explored by mainstream publications such as The Guardian, The Economist and TIME Magazine. Writing in The Guardian in July, Simon Jenkins argued “Western sanctions against Russia are the most ill-conceived and counterproductive policy in recent international history.” And The Economist suggested in August that the “knockout blow” sanctions need to deliver “has not materialised.”

Arguing that “a proxy war between NATO and Russia is taking place on the territory of Ukraine” and “The United States and NATO provoked Putin” are similarly contested.

The spokesman confirmed that it is a “flexible and constantly updated” document, and is aimed “first of all at citizens of Ukraine in order to prevent attempts to manipulate public opinion.”

Since the publication of UnHerd’s report on the 25th of July 2022, the list has been removed from the Center for Disinformation’s Website without explanation.

is a reporter for UnHerd.