Thursday

20th Sep 2018

Ukraine debunks YouTube terror threat on Dutch referendum

  • Ukrainian nationalists, such as Azov or Right Sector, feature heavily in Russian propaganda (Photo: Christopher Bobyn)

The Azov Regiment, a squad of irregular, nationalist fighters in Ukraine, has debunked a YouTube clip threatening terrorist attacks if Dutch people vote No in a referendum on the EU-Ukraine trade treaty.

Andriy Diachenko, Azov’s deputy commander, said in a video statement on Tuesday (19 January) that they did not create the clip, adding that it’s “laughable” because Azov is, in any case, anti-EU integration.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“Azov members, as befits Ukrainian nationalists, have always perceived the idea of ​​Ukraine joining the European Union negatively, instead supporting the idea of a Baltic-Black Sea alternative union,” he said.

He noted that the clip uses replica AK47s instead of real ones.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry also told the Dutch ambassador in Kiev that the clip is fake.

For his part, Kees Verhoeven, a Dutch MP with the social-liberal D66 party, has called for a government investigation into Russian attempts to influence the vote.

The fake clip was published on Monday on a previously unused YouTube account entitled “Patriot” in Ukrainian.

It shows balaclava-clad men with Azov insignia burning a Dutch flag.

Propaganda

Recalling the Paris attacks, one man says: “Dear Dutchmen, don't you dare go against Ukraine.”

“We’ll find you everywhere. In a movie … in your bedroom, on public transport. We have our guys in the Netherlands and they’re ready to obey any order."

For Ukrainian journalists and civil society activists, the clip bears the hallmarks of Russian propaganda.

But it caused a stir in Dutch online circles. The popular news blog geenstijl.nl said that even if the clip is fake the risk of an attack by Ukrainian terrorists could be real.

Roman Sohn, a columnist for the Ukrainska Pravda website, told EUobserver: “The video is being used as a ‘foot in the door’ manoeuvre to start a public debate on Nazi fascists in Ukraine to disparage the integration aspirations of Ukrainians.”

“Russian propagandists are very effective,” he added.

“Even when people distrust the authenticity of their message, the message still does harm because people subconsciously embrace the underlying emotional connotations.”

The Ukraine referendum, on 6 April, comes after a petition organised by Dutch NGOs.

It’s non-binding and the EU-Ukraine treaty has already entered into force.

But European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker recently warned that a No could “open the door to a big continental crisis”.

Fake stories

For its part, the Dutch government has said it will campaign for a Yes because the treaty is good for Dutch trade and for European security.

But it’s keeping the campaign low profile in the hope that turnout falls below the threshold of 30 percent.

Meanwhile, the EU foreign service, last year, created a small unit, called East StratCom, to also debunk Russian propaganda.

It publishes a regular review called Disinformation Weekly, which says the latest trend is fake stories purportedly taken from Western media.

One story, shortly after New Year's Eve, said the BBC had reported that Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko had been hospitalised after his wife found him drunk under their Christmas tree.

The BBC never published such a report.

Opinion

Open letter to president Juncker on the Dutch Ukraine vote

On 6 April Netherlands will hold a referendum on the EU-Ukraine association agreement. Because many voters feel that it could lead to Ukraine membership of the EU, the EU should rule that out, argues Dutch politician Sammy van Tuyll.

Dutch PM takes back seat on Ukraine vote

Dutch leader Rutte will not defend Yes vote "with flyers and flags and the like", despite polls showing the No camp could sink the Ukraine pact, in echoes of 2005.

News in Brief

  1. Austria ex-chancellor hints at running for Juncker's job
  2. Greece to move asylum-seekers from overcrowded Lesbos camp
  3. Transatlantic soya trade soars due to trade wars
  4. EU tables strategy for connecting Europe and Asia
  5. Bulgaria backs Hungary in dispute with EU
  6. Trump urged Spain to build Sahara wall to stop migrants
  7. EU-Arab League summit proposed for February in Egypt
  8. Stop 'migration blame-game', Tusk tells EU leaders

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Latest News

  1. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner
  2. EU mulls action to prevent cattle suffering at Turkish border
  3. Safeguarding Schengen at Salzburg
  4. Denmark's image 'damaged' by bank scandal
  5. Real Brexit progress needed by October, Barnier says
  6. Poland to face EU top court on rule of law
  7. Austria's EU presidency: a bridge over troubled water?
  8. EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  4. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  5. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  8. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  10. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us