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Escalation of accusations targeting Poland as a Russophobic state

At the very beginning of 2021, Poland was presented as a failing state in relations to its foreign policies. Military security and Polish relations with the US and NATO triggered disinformation flow. An immense increase of narratives presented Poland as Russophobic state was noted. National health policies related to coronavirus, though to a lesser extent, were among the most targeted sectors as well.

In January 2021, Debunk EU experts spotted 452 articles with disinformation and 5 with misinformation. Compared to the previous period, this constituted approx. ↑10% increase in total amount of cases observed throughout the month. January is a third month in a row with a regular 2% increase of problematic information flow related to Poland. According to Debunk EU analysts, those articles had a potential reach of 113.6 million contacts.

A noticeable peak of disinformation flow was recognized on January 14th regarding the annual report of Armed Forces. Similar narratives undermining Polish-US and NATO relations were spotted in conjunction to appointment of Joe Biden as the US President as well as publication of scenario of a NATO preventive attack on the Kaliningrad. Poland was presented as a vassal of the US, in particular in the context of military agreements, presenting Polish army as useless and undermining purchase of arms and military vehicles.

Moreover, Polish foreign policy was presented as unreasonable especially in the last week of January. The international events (Davos Week, A. Navalny’s arrest) as well as national events (Holocaust Remembrance Day, report on the safe use of the "Grot" rifle) triggered problematic information flow in this regard.

Sub-narratives by reach
Sub-narratives by reach, DebunkEU data

The increase in number of articles presenting Poland as a Russophobic state with anti-Russian policies was reflected in the achieved reach in the audience (approx. 21.5 million potential contacts). In stark contrast with distribution by mentions, ‘COVID-19’ narrative again presented quite low number of DebunkReach®, indicating a low effect of communication associated with this narrative.

Share of false articles by media sources
Share of false articles by media sources, @DebunkEU data

Starting from January problematic information in Russian language was included into the analysis. Due to this improvement diversification of media outlets was spotted. In December, the leading media source was – in January it fell to the fifth place. Problematic information related to Poland was mostly spread by the Kremlin’s funded information outlets Sputnik (publishing in Russian and Polish languages) and News Front together with a Polish website which shares pro-Kremlin messages

Debunk EU is an independent technology think tank and non-governmental organisation that researches disinformation and runs educational media literacy campaigns. Debunk EU conducts disinformation analysis in the Baltic states, as well as in Poland, the United States and Northern Macedonia together with the partners. Debunk EU was noticed by such media giants as “The Financial Times” and “Deutsche Welle”. The organisation has presented its activities in 17 countries, including the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Serbia, etc.

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