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Polish-Belarusian war of memory – topic of Cursed Soldiers in disinformation against Poland

Disinformation based on controversial, problematic elements of history is particularly difficult to assess. In Poland, the topic that was used to spread problematic information about the country throughout the recent years was the Remembrance Day of the Cursed Soldiers (March 1st, 2021).

Debunk EU experts analysed problematic information flow between February 26th and April 6th. As a result, 71 disinformation articles in Russian language were found, which broadly used the topic of Cursed Soldiers. This subject was not covered regularly through the period of analysis. The ‘problematic information’ flow had a reactive character to political decisions made by several countries. The highest increase of disinformation directly related to Poland was identified during the period of March 8-12. It was related mostly to the decision of Minsk to expel Polish diplomats and begin the criminal proceeding due to alleged “incitement to national hatred" and "rehabilitation of Nazism” by Polish activists who organised the Remembrance Day of the Cursed Soldiers in Belarusian city of Brest.

Topic of the Cursed Soldiers was used to spread 6 different disinformation narratives against Poland. Almost two-thirds of the articles on this issue (49) stated that Fascism or neo-Nazism is resurfacing in Poland. Cursed Soldiers were presented as war criminals (43) and people who celebrate them as followers of Nazi ideology. Commonly, the topic was also used to state that Poland interferes in internal affairs of Belarus (29), tries to destabilize situation in Belarus (5) or is unable to conduct a rational foreign policy with Belarus (oppose constructive dialogue, 13 articles).

Top narratives and sub-narratives,
Top narratives and sub-narratives, @DebunkEU data

Disinformation content about the Cursed Soldiers and historical context was full of one-sided, selective “facts”, especially the case of Romuald Rajs is being used to prove that all Cursed Soldiers were war criminals. Thus, to present this specific topic technique of selection (presentation of selective but true information) was used more often compared to general disinformation flow.

Top sources by share of articles
Top sources by share of articles, @DebunkEU data

The most prevailing three pro-Kremlin media outlets were, and – which are discussing Cursed Soldiers topic and misleadingly presenting information about Poland on other topics. Moreover, on the fourth position is the Belarusian press agency – - which regularly published 'problematic information' in this regard. analysts use multiple tools to deliver reports:

  • analysis platform

  • CrowdTangle - Facebook tool that tracks interactions on public content from Facebook pages and groups, verified profiles, Instagram.

  • Truly Media - collaboration platform developed to support primarily journalists in the verification of digital content.

  • TruthNest - Twitter data analysis platform.

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