Fake news abounds

Latvia's Defense Ministry on April 25 warned about a variety of 'fake news' stories circulating in Russian-language media concerning the 'Summer Shield' military exercises currently drawing towards a close in Latvia.

In an unusual move, the ministry also provided links to all the stories -- probably greatly increasing the readership of the stories in the process of disproving them.

"The Ministry of Defense draws attention to the fact that false information about the international training "Summer Shield XIV" being from 17 to 30 April held in Adazi, is being disseminated. This false message aims to psychologically affect the general population," said a statement from the ministry.

It then lists several portals and stories, in Russian, alleging a variety of wild conspiracy theories involving the trial of "new physical, biological and other types of techniques that affect the human psyche and behavior" particularly on members of Latvia's Russian minority. 

More predictably, the fake news portals depicted the Summer Shield exercises as aggressive and "anti-Russian" in nature rather than defensive.

The specific examples were followed by a general warning that more of the same is to be expected in future.

"The Ministry of Defense points out that this kind of propaganda is aimed at reducing the credibility of NATO and Allied soldiers, manipulating real facts and attempting to influence people's hearts and minds. Similar false information may also be published in connection with the NATO-led multinational Canadian battle group that will arrive in Latvia this June," the ministry said.

"We urge to the Latvian public to be critical of populist efforts to carry out information operations in Latvian information space," it added, while calling on media to "critically evaluate this type of information and not to become a smear campaign supporters, spreading unverified and inaccurate information from dubious sources."

The warning comes as the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Riga prepares to host a seminar April 27 on Russian information war.

You can watch a livestream of the event via the link below.

 

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