MEPs defend Putin in Executive Digest – pro-Kremlin European propaganda channel

“If this is a war of civilizations, I believe that civilization will lose in Ukraine,” said far-right Dutch MEP Marcel de Graaf in a TV studio at the European Parliament last October. Maximilian Kra, a far-right politician from Germany, argued that “Ukraine should become a militarized buffer zone” to four other participants in a debate organized by the media 'Voice of Europe', which was last told by Czech officials and Belgians. March is a front for Russian propaganda and disinformation.

Czech authorities let in two 'Voice of Europe' officials, one of whom is Ukrainian oligarch and long-time friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Viktor Medvetchuk.

According to the newspaper 'POLITICO', an analysis of all 50 videos on 'YouTube' by 'Voice of Europe' revealed that 16 MEPs were linked to the suspected media company: MEPs and politicians from Central and Eastern European governments gave video interviews. The channel has just 351 YouTube subscribers and about 60,000 views since last summer. However, the reach of 'Voice of Europe' was very high on social networks 'X' and 'Facebook'.

There are 13 MEPs in question who neither receive nor pay for debates: who are they? Grae and Joachim Gus (Germany), Patricia Chagnon, Thierry Mariani and Hervé Juvin (France), Marcel de Graaf (Netherlands), Matteo Cassini and Francesca Donato (Italy), Miroslav Radakowski and Milan Uhrik (Slovakia), Zakya Maddison (Eston) , Hermann Tertsch and Jorge Buxadé (Spain), Ladislav Ilcic (Croatia), Anders Vistisen (Denmark) and Tom Vandendriessche (Belgium) according to the analysis of the publication.

In their respective online channels, several MEPs rejected the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU, blamed Kiev for the start of the war, the level of Ukrainian corruption, perceived difficulties on the front line and pressure for urgent peace talks. At the same time, it was against sending more weapons to Ukraine and called on Kiev to make concessions. All talking points against the EU standard and the tough pro-Ukraine position the EU has adopted.

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The majority of MEPs contacted said they did not remember who invited them to the debate, how they were contacted or who interviewed them in person at their parliamentary offices.

The extent of Russian influence in EU institutions, months before the June European elections, is a problem. “The risk for the upcoming European elections is that foreign actors, and bad actors like Russia, will try to meddle in people's online spaces if their security is compromised,” said Geor Craig, senior digital integrity researcher at the Institute for Digital Integrity. Diálogo Estratégico, an NGO that works with misinformation.

So far, only a Munich court specializing in bribery and corruption has opened a preliminary investigation into one of the German party's main election candidates, Petr Bystron, following allegations of bribery.

A 'pro-Kremlin disinformation machine' was created in the Netherlands in 2016 and was already accused of serving Russia's interests in 2018: it disappeared until May 2023 when it made headlines with Russian headlines. According to one expert, the MEPs' interventions were “a copy of the pro-Kremlin disinformation machine”, said Jakub Kalenski from the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats.

Check out some of the phrases used:

“The best way to achieve peace is to surrender the Ukrainians” (Marcel de Graaff)

“Some countries want to destroy Russia, which is impossible in the first place and not in the interests of our countries” (Thierry Mariani)

The more Western countries supply Ukraine with weapons, the more Putin will have to push west” (Hervé Juvin)

'Voice of Europe': Czech news website shut down after allegations Russia used it to bribe European politicians

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