Monday

17th Jan 2022

Dutch-Polish 'content factory' to counter Russian propaganda

  • Fake Russian news story on German tanks in Ukraine (Photo: vesti.ru)

The Netherlands and Poland are to launch a Russian-language news agency in order to counter Russian propaganda.

Bert Koenders, the Dutch foreign minister, told press in Brussels on Monday (20 July) the project will “give the tools and the capacities for Russian language [media] and Russian social media to work on the basis of objective information … with the exchange of different viewpoints”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Grzegorz Schetyna, his Polish counterpart, said it will be “something which doesn’t use the language of propaganda, of aggression, but which has real, reliable information”.

He said it will provide TV, radio, and online content for use by Russian-language media in eastern Europe and in Russia itself.

He noted that Warsaw will host a donors’ conference in September to raise funds and that The Hague will host a follow-up conference later on.

He also said the news agency is to be up-and-running next year and that he hopes other EU states will join the project.

Koenders added there was “broad support” for the initiative when the two men unveiled it at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Monday.

The news agency is born out of a Dutch-funded study on counter-propaganda by the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), an EU-linked institute in Brussels.

An EED contact described it as a “content factory” and as “a kind of European BBC”, by reference to the British state broadcaster.

East StratCom

The EU foreign service is also taking action after EU leaders, in March, tasked it with finding ways to “challenge Russia's … disinformation campaigns”.

It has hired five experts, from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, and the UK, to lead a new communications cell called East StratComTeam.

They are yet to start work.

Part of their job will be to debunk fake stories in Russian media and to circulate “dedicated communication material on priority issues” to “the EU's political leadership, press services, EU delegations, and EU member states”.

The Netherlands commissioned the EED study following the MH17 disaster last July.

The plane was shot down in east Ukraine, killing hundreds of Dutch nationals, and prompting accusations that Russia-controlled forces did it by mistake.

Russian media reacted by publishing conspiracy theories blaming Ukraine.

Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Ukraine are conducting a criminal investigation, led by the Dutch Safety Board, into what happened, with findings due in October.

They have also called for the UN Security Council (UNSC) to set up a tribunal to prosecute those responsible.

UN dispute

But Russia has dismissed the tribunal as a “political show” which goes beyond the UNSC’s core work.

On Monday in New York, it proposed a UN resolution calling for an “independent international investigation" supervised by the UNSC, where it holds a veto.

Its draft text, according to Reuters, also criticises the Dutch Safety Board enquiry because it "does not ensure due transparency in its organisation and work methods, which may have a negative impact on its outcome”.

“We don't support the Russian draft”, Matthew Rycroft, the UN ambassador of the UK, which also holds a UNSC veto, said.

Opinion

No freedom to lie

Our naivety, in the West, on the nature of Russian propaganda is preventing appropriate action.

Stakeholder

Kremlin lies: EU's response to disinformation

Russia's disinformation campaigns have become a homeland security issue inside the EU. Pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns are not only targeted at Ukraine or the Baltic states.

News in Brief

  1. French parliament agrees stricter vaccine-pass system
  2. US speaks to energy firms about EU gas cut-off scenario
  3. Anti-vax protests held in the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria
  4. German MEP spends €690,000 on office renovation
  5. Microsoft identified destructive malware in Ukraine agencies
  6. Danish intelligence crisis deepens
  7. Hackers expose Polish military secrets
  8. Swedish soldiers might leave Sahel due to Russian fighters

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Latest News

  1. James Kanter, Shada Islam are new editors at EUobserver
  2. The loopholes and low bar in Macron's push for a global tax
  3. No love for Russia in latest EU strategy
  4. New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK
  5. Lead MEP now wants ETS opt-out for homes and private cars
  6. MEPs seek probe into EU commissioner over Bosnia
  7. EU's Borrell contradicts Germany on Russia gas pipeline
  8. It's time for a more geopolitical EU-Turkey cooperation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us