During the major exercise „Siil 2018“ some attempts at ridiculing events and a proliferation of propaganda demeaning the exercise in the Russian language info space were noted. The purpose of such material was to undermine Estonia’s defences and cast doubts on our defence capability. In addition, this was used in ridiculing the allies involved in this Estonian exercise as well as NATO as a whole.
They tried to distribute a large part of this material through the Twitter community, which is understandable, as it continues to be a venue for automated sharing/ enabling and is exploited by Russia.
Compared to the number of postings in Russian mass media, the number of all types of put downs was remarkably small. There were very few cases and they did not get much press nor posed much an impact.
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A more detailed action was based on exercise’s scenario, according to which the neighbouring country of Murinus attacks Estonia.
Murinus as a real country!
The biggest effort seems to have been the launch of a campaign kicked off on May 3, which ridiculed the exercise’s scenario. The campaign started on the evening of May 3 in the Russian language Social media channel Vkontakt under the account name of Εvdokia Μartynova. Some minutes later news of Siil and images of the Siil scenario attacking Murinus’ passports, flags, crests and coins were uploaded. At this time the account is anonymous and without a profile picture.
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A day later in the social media site cont.ws an article under the name of a contributor, Vladimir Zatirka, used the images published on the previous day in Vkontakt. This is also the only article by this contributor in the cont.ws social media site.
On the same day, an article is published in the English language version of the social media site, totopic.com. The account of the article’s author (Davies) is created on the same day, as are five of Davies tracker accounts.
A Russian language article is also published in the social media site belvpo.com (Военно-политическое обозрение) and warfiles.ru (Военные материалы) and distributed on an individual basis in Russian language social media channels.
The source of the original images on the Εvdokia Μartynova VK account adds on May 8. a number of pictures of a woman, changing the account into a „real account“
There have been no more significant developments in this exercise. Whether it is a Russian undertaking or from Belarus, Germany or Estonia is not clear at the moment.
On May 7th, news came with fake quotes from the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces stating that he had ordered 1000 white flags so he could tactically surrender to Russia and later overcome the enemy with partisans.
Twitter postings share the news via the panorama.pub page link. The page itself is in a blog format news site, where the oldest news is from December 2017.
The news spreads mainly on Twitter, where it has less then a hundred bites as well as the text is picked up and published by individual sites such as mirtesen.ru.
On May 3rd, a humorous posting from the account of Alina_35_2 with the hashtag of # Еж-2018 showing flying Hedgehogs starts to circulate. The humour itself is based on Nikolai Fomenko’s quotation: The Hedgehog is a proud bird! It will not fly until you kick it.“
The humorous picture is downloaded a hundred times.
Rusvesna military hedgehog
The most coverage on the internet was from the photomontage on the Ruskaja Vesna page showing a hedgehog with cannons and tank tracks. The photo is from 2015 but it is widely used in the news on this year’s major exercise.
Hedehog in fog
During the major exercise the twitter user account scrubber 13 gained a lot of attention which has been designed around a hedgehog theme as well as pictures of the cartoon „Hedgehog in fog“ are also used.
Although it might be thought that this account and design were not motivated by the major exercise, it still was shared a number of times in Siil 2018 related postings in Russia.
The efforts from the East remained rather unnoticed and certainly did not spread in the desired manner or in the volume wanted. One of the main news items from the Estonian exercise Siil was that of a local moose calf that became at least for a day an international media cover star.
Photos: screenshots from panorama.pub, cont.ws, bbc.com websites, rusvesna.su, Alina_35_2 and scrubber13 Twitter accounts and the social media site, Vkontakt.