Even Russia fell for it: The Anatomy of a Disinfo Campaign

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August 5th, 2016 – Fort Russ News – 
Katehon – 

The announcement that the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, called on Russia to stop bombing Aleppo, literally blew up the Russian media space. It was covered by media on August 1-2 and coincided with a similar statement of the US Secretary of State John Kerry of August 1, which allowed the Russian analysts to conclude that Turkey continues to support the United States on the Syrian issue. There were even statements on the termination of the earlier outlined Russian-Turkish rapprochement. However, a detailed analysis of the statements shows that it as a typical example of the information war against Russia and Turkey.

Purpose of the Fake Story

The information that the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called to stop the attacks on Aleppo first appeared on the RIA agency website on August 1st, in 2016, at 23.37. So the starting point for the Russian media space was a media agency, which has previously disseminated anti-Turkish propaganda to prevent the rapprochement between the two countries.

Russia Today refers to the Turkish news agency Anadolu. On the Russian version of the Anadolu site on August 1st, 2016, at 19.37, a news piece appeared, entitled “All the Attacks on Aleppo, Including Air Strikes, Should be Immediately Stopped”. The message that Turkey had urged an end to the attacks on Aleppo is referring to some diplomatic sources. Thus, the result was that Anadolu has no detailed transcript of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. All information is based on a certain source, which, however, the Russia Today news does not mention, and the reference to Aleppo is presented as the direct words of Çavuşoğlu.

On the Turkish version of Anadolu, the relevant news appears on August 1st, 2016, at 19.23. The Turkish title differs from the Russian on: Çavuşoğlu, Hicab ve Abde’yle görüştü (translation: Çavuşoğlu met with Hicab and Abde). It is not as sensationalistic as the Russian version, a statement on Aleppo is not reflected in the title, but exists in the text.

American footprint

However, the starting point of the Turkish news is not Anadolu, but CNNTurk. This is a Turkish version of the CNN television channel. About 50% of it belongs to the American company Turner Broadcasting System, the second half to Doğan Yayın of businessman Aydin Dogan, who has periodically had conflicts with Erdogan which persist.

Among the Turkish news agencies, indexed by Google, this news appears first on CNNTurk’s site on August 1st, 2016, at 18.46.

In the Anglophonic Internet

As for the English version of the news, it is not even on the English version of the site of the Anadolu Turkish news agency.


World news agencies “missed” it, and it sounds quite unbelievable. If such a statement really exists, they would have used it in the first place. If it was in the interests of Turkey, then at least the Turkish Foreign Ministry would have issued a press release to announce its position through the world’s media. However, it was not done.

In the English Internet, this information is covered in some marginal sites and pro-Russian projects asSouthFront – and Saker.

Coordinated Activity

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The German Internet is notable. This “news” was covered by the German version of TRT Turkish state company(Turkish Radio and Television) and RT and SputnikDeutchland (part of the Russia Today State Holding Company). This RT and Sputnik has a policy of positioning Turkish policy as a pro-American.

Foreign Affair Minister’s Silence

The news about the Çavuşoğlu’s statement on Aleppo and his meeting with the Syrian opposition was absent from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs site. Neither the Turkish, English, French, nor Arabic versions carried the story.



However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a press release on its site, which says that “airstrikes targeting civilian population and infrastructure in Aleppo must cease immediately” on July 28th, 2016. This news was quoted by leading world agencies, but was before Kerry’s statement on August 1st. Obviously, in publishing this rather ordinary statement, the Turks engaged in negotiations with Moscow and continue to quarrel with Washington, and did not intend to support Americans publicly and especially via the ministry, even on as urgent a subject for Turkey as Aleppo is.

Mechanism of manipulation

So, we have the dubious news, started by an American channel in Turkey, the the basis of which is most likely the press release. The Anadolu state agency begins to play along, spreading the disinformation.

The Turkish authorities can not refute the message and counter the recent anti-Syrian public propaganda and the part of the military, some of which previously supported the rebels in Aleppo. Erdogan does not need another revolution. Therefore, the Turkish Foreign Ministry does not publish any information about the meeting, delaying the moment when they have something to write about. The media played up the anticipation, officials from the ministry of foreign affairs can not challenge their version. They have to keep silent or agree: the classic moment when the tail is wagging the dog.

Then this message, which is perceived by the Turkish authorities as news for “internal use”, to reassure the population (that’s why it is not translated into English or published on the Foreign Ministry website), is translated into Russian for some reasons with the title designed to cause resentment on the Russian side. The Russian state agency goes further, deliberately shifting the emphasis and issuing a message of sources as the direct words of Çavuşoğlu. The two points of contact of Russian and Turkish media in the case of Russia (Russia Today and the Russian version of Anadolu) and Germany (RT, TRT, Sputnik) we observe an amazing synchronization of public media agencies who actually act against the interests of their countries. At the same time, the Turkish side have foreign-language medias, which are partly located outside of Turkey.

The silence of the Anglophonic media and the activity of the Russian ones shows the spread of deliberately false information for the Russian audience. In the world media, this would lead to the strengthening of Erdogan’s position at the expense of the Islamists, and would be in discord with Western propaganda, which says that “Erdogan is bad”, and “rebels in Aleppo are good.” The West is now interested in weakening the position of Erdogan.

Outcome of the manipulation

In conclusion we can see we are dealing with deliberate misinformation. This was definitely an impersonation, a false representation, of the Turkish side’s position, from which afterwards it can not distance itself for domestic political reasons. But it is trying to solve the stated problem, without any unnecessary resentment or confusion, through dialogue with Moscow. And this cautious position is falsely presented as fundamentally anti-Russian and pro-American. The rhetoric is strengthened by the fact that the news is thrown together with Kerry’s statement. The fact of linking positions on Aleppo with Çavuşoğlu’s personality also plays a special role. Foreign Ministry anonymous papers and a statement uttered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs are perceived differently by the audience. Plus, instead of one statement of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, now we can see two in the media sphere, creating the impression of dissatisfaction with the Russian side’s activities and the (planned) gap between both countries.

As a result, the opponents of rapprochement between Russia and Turkey, who actually work for Washington, get an additional trump card in their hands. By manipulating information in both countries, as a result of previous phases of information war, by creating anti-Assad sentiments in Turkey and anti-Turkish sentiments in Russia, they create the conditions for maximum disruption or complications of the historic meeting of Putin and Erdogan.

ce: J. Flores

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