RT is a state-run Russian information resource. Its real role is to be the Kremlin’s mouthpiece for foreign audiences because the media is broadcast in English, Arabic, Spanish, Russian, and German. Having RT translated into different languages and access to it increases the chances of spreading disinformation by several times. In this way, RT has evolved into the world’s largest spreader of fakes, manipulations, defamatory and propaganda campaigns.
Currently, the RT agenda is mostly focused on the war against Ukraine. RT reproduces direct Kremlin rhetoric on the justification of war, discredits Ukraine on the international scene, convinces of the “ineffectiveness” of sanctions and calls for a halt to military assistance.
However, RT is an information threat not only to Ukraine, but also to the world. Kremlin propaganda used RT as a voice for spreading disinformation long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Messages disseminated by this resource discredited not only the Ukrainian state, but the entire democratic world, fuelled hostility towards Western countries, international organizations, and undermined confidence in the health care system.
In March, the EU imposed sanctions on RT English, RT UK, RT Germany, RT France, RT Spanish TV channels and stopped their broadcasting in EU countries. However, there are still many countries in the world in which RT continues broadcasting and conducts its propaganda campaigns among foreign audiences.
The Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security analyzed the content of Russian and foreign offices of RT and their loudest cases to explain why the Russian state media does not belong among the information resources of the civilized world.
Calls for genocide of Ukraine and the hate speech
● RT Russia, “Antonimy” (Antonyms) programme
“It would be the perfect map without Ukraine. Ukraine, for example, as part of Russia. A strong-willed, proud nation, under the oppression of an evil and dark empire.” — said the former director of the Russian-language RT channel, propagandist Anton Krasovsky.
Later, Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT, also shared this fragment of the video about the “map without Ukraine” in the Telegram channel on February 16, 2021. Thus, continuing to promote a similar message through its own channels and expressing approval of Anton Krasovsky’s words.
● RT Russia, 2022
The approval of the actions of the propagandist Anton Krasovsky by the RT editors only led to an increase in genocidal calls regarding Ukraine. A direct call to genocide of Ukrainian children was made by the very same Anton Krasovsky in October 2022. Live, on the RT Russia, the propagandist called for “drowning and burning of Ukrainian children.”
“And it was necessary to drown those [children] in the Tysyna river. Right where the duck is drifting. [Ukrainian folk song, Plyne kacha po Tysyni, or A duck drifting along Tysyna] To drown these kids, drown them in the Tysyna. […] As soon as they say that moskali occupied [Ukraine], throw them in the river, where the currents are strong.” […] “And there [in the Carpathians] every house is called a smereka [spruce] house. And here right in this smereka house, they should be beaten and burnt there,” he stated.
This case turned out to be so resonant that RT initially decided to “stop cooperation” with Krasovsky in order not to formally have a relation to this statement. However, not a few weeks passed after his dismissal, and RT brought Krasovsky back on air: on November 1, another film from the series “Russia: XXI Century” was broadcast, which was dedicated to Russian sports during the reign of president Putin. The author and host of the film, surprisingly, is the same Anton Krasovsky.
This return of the propagandist on the TV confirms the true intentions of the media company, which are absolutely in tune with the appeals of Anton Krasovsky himself.
● RT Russia, 2022
The calls of the propagandist Anton Krasovsky are not isolated. Prior to this, he expressed his admiration for the massive Russian missile attacks on Ukraine on October 10. Let us remind you, as a result of the shelling on that day, a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the centre of Kyiv, a playground for children, the Shevchenko University, the Philharmonic, and two museums were damaged. Propagandists Anton Krasovsky commented on the events on RT Russia: “I danced on the balcony with joy after reading this news. […] But this is actually what Russia was waiting for. […] We want it like this. We want it like this every day. We want all of Russia, every Russian, to see that we are winning.”
Dissemination of fakes, conspiracy theories
● RT Spanish, interview with “Carlos” regarding MH17, 2014
After the shoot-down of the Malaysian Boeing 777, Russian propaganda tried to shift the blame on Ukraine.
One example of such attempts was the so-called “Carlos” — an alleged Spanish air traffic controller who claimed to have worked at the Kyiv airport during the tragedy. In his interview for RT Spanish, he accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane.
Subsequently, after investigating such allegations, it turned out that Carlos had never worked as a dispatcher and lied about the tragedy for a remuneration of USD 48,000 from Russia.
● RT America, “5G Wireless: A Dangerous Experiment on Humanity,” 2019
RT offices are also major proponents of conspiracy theories. For example, in May 2019, the American office of RT published a message that “5G technology, a technology that should significantly increase the speed and sensitivity of wireless networks, can simply kill you.”
RT America’s “Dangerous Experiment on Humanity” refers to “terrible threats to health” of 5G signals, in particular, an increased risk of a number of diseases, including brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumours, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Undermining trust in the health care system through manipulation on the topic of COVID-19
● RT English, 2021
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, RT gave the floor on its media venues to “experts” who discredited quarantine restrictions and disseminated anti-vaccination views, while further discrediting the West’s policy in restrictive measures due to the pandemic.
● RT France, 2021
In addition, Russian propaganda launched whole defamation campaigns against developed vaccines, which were tested and proved effective to promote their own “Sputnik V.” For example, an article that RT France published on April 23, 2021, was just within the scope of the Russian influence operation against the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
● RT America, 2021
Russian propaganda discredited yet another vaccine — Moderna. An article titled “Moderna’s Covid-19 jab got the “best vaccine” award — from a US-dominated Vaccine Congress stuff with corporate goons,” released in May 2021 on RT America, claimed that the Russian vaccine “Sputnik V” against COVID-19 “demonstrated effectiveness.”
Discrediting democratic elections
With the help of RT, most of the democratic elections were discredited by Russian propaganda. For example:
● RT English, European Parliament election 2019
● RT English, presidential election in Ukraine 2019
The news published after the announcement of the results of the second round of presidential elections in Ukraine in April 2019 is one of the examples of discrediting Ukrainian democratic elections. In the news publication, every statement from the congratulation of the President of the United States, which emphasized democracy, the free and honest expression of the people of Ukraine, is taken in quotation marks as those that should be questioned. At the same time, propagandists add that they “do not recognize the legitimacy of the election results.”
● RT America, US presidential election 2020
In a December 2020 article, RT made unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the 2020 US presidential election, won by Democrat Joe Biden. The article described a surveillance video that Rudy Giuliani, then President Trump’s personal attorney, presented at a US court hearing to demonstrate Trump’s allegations of electoral fraud in the American state of Georgia during the 2020 presidential election.
Incitement to hostility towards the West
● Ruptly TV, “EU Flag Mass Incineration,” 2021
This case is a prime example of how RT is used by propagandists to amplify the message and spread disinformation more widely. The background was that after July 5, 2021, Russian narratives accused the West of escalating the situation in Georgia and causing civil unrest. The rhetoric of Georgian pro-Kremlin media, such as Alt-Info and Georgia and World, has become more assertive, targeting Western diplomats as well as the EU and the US in general, threatening more violent attacks.
One of the hosts of the far-right “Alt-Info” directly called on his supporters to vandalize, inciting them to burn the EU flag and upload a video on Facebook. As a result, a supporter of the ultra-conservative, pro-Kremlin political figure Levan Vasadze and his party burned the EU flag in protest against the alleged insult of Georgian saints.Russian state media, such as RT, immediately picked up on this trend and showed people burning the EU flag in different European countries at different times, giving the impression that anti-EU sentiment was widespread.
In addition to the above cases, Russian propaganda used foreign offices of RT to manipulate events in Syria, cases of Navalny, Skripals, protest movements of “yellow vests” in France, etc.
There is also a constant discrediting of the EU, NATO, and other international institutions and organizations. Unhealthy fabrications of “fascism,” “Nazism,” “terrorism,” “Russophobia” in Ukraine and in partner countries are being spread.
More examples of outright RT fakes can be found in the EUvsDisinfo database, as well as in the NewsGuard report, which collected defamatory and disinformation statements, articles, and videos distributed, in particular, through RT America.
All cases in this material indicate far from erroneous and not isolated disinformation cases. These are all purposeful propaganda campaigns of the Kremlin, the goals of which can be any country, political force, or even an individual. RT media company, which was created from the beginning to deliberately disorient the world community, will not stop doing this voluntarily. The only way to stop its harmful information influence is to forcibly stop the consumption of RT propaganda information due to the cancellation of its broadcasts.
Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security