News

2019.10.23 15:00

Russian media launch coordinated smear campaign against former Lithuanian president

LRT.lt2019.10.23 15:00

Digital Forensic Research Lab at the US think tank Atlantic Council published an analysis on Monday, revealing how the pro-Kremlin Russian media initiated a coordinated smear campaign against the former Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaitė.

Grybauskaitė has recently taken up positions at the influential EU think tank, Friends of Europe, and was offered a position to serve at UN Women, a body dealing with gender equality issues.

However, the pro-Kremlin Russian media belittled Grybauskaitė's career progression, breaking from the generally favourable or neutral perception in the local Baltic and regional media.

According to DFRLab, Sputnik, Baltnews and Rubaltic.ru coordinated their stories and social media output, and also republished the same stories with adjusted headlines on their websites in the three Baltic states.

“This case is part of a wider attempt to smear former leaders of the Baltic states who held clear anti-Kremlin positions, including former Latvian president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves,” wrote Nika Aleksejeva for DFRLab. “These stories deliver a concerted message – for Baltic politicians, ‘Russophobia’ can wreck careers.”

In 2018, leaked Skype conversations between the editor of Baltnews and a representatitive from the Russian state-owned media organisation, Rossiya Segodnya, revealed how pro-Russian regional media coordinate actions with the Kremlin.

According to DFRLab, “a similar exchange of content assets could have taken place in regards to the negative video about Grybauskaitė’s career”.

Read the full report here.