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RussiaJuly 11 2022, 15:59 pm

Russian Web Giant Yandex Named as Key Tool of Kremlin Propaganda

Lat­vian online news agency Meduza is report­ing that the Russ­ian web giant Yan­dex has played an impor­tant role in dis­sem­i­nat­ing Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da about the war in Ukraine by with­hold­ing cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion from its users. Accord­ing to the report:

May 6, 2022 In late April, Russ­ian Inter­net giant Yan­dex announced it was sell­ing its news ser­vice, Yandex.News, and its per­son­al rec­om­men­da­tions ser­vice, Yandex.Zen, to the social net­work­ing com­pa­ny VKon­tak­te (VK). […] Since Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine began, these prod­ucts (just like Yan­dex over­all) have faced a bar­rage of crit­i­cism for mis­lead­ing mil­lions of users by with­hold­ing cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion about the war while leav­ing up inac­cu­rate infor­ma­tion from pro-Krem­lin sources.

Read the rest here.

Accord­ing to the report, the “top news” sec­tion on the Yan­dex home­page has been draw­ing exclu­sive­ly from a whitelist com­pris­ing 15 gov­ern­ment-approved news out­lets for sev­er­al years. Accord­ing to Meduza, Yandex’s pic­ture search also mis­led users by dis­play­ing pleas­ant pic­tures of tourist sites when search­ing for “Bucha,” leav­ing out any info on the mass atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by Russ­ian sol­diers there.

In March 2022, a Lon­don-based NGO seek­ing to dis­rupt and down-rank dis­in­for­ma­tion sites report­ed that Yan­dex was among a group of Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion web­sites still allowed to mon­e­tize Google ads. Although the EU and the US have banned sev­er­al Russ­ian state-backed media out­lets over their dis­in­for­ma­tion on Ukraine, Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da still reach­es glob­al audi­ences through var­i­ous chan­nels.

In March 2022, Russia’s par­lia­ment passed a law mak­ing ille­gal pub­lic actions aimed at “dis­cred­it­ing” Russia’s army. The law also bans the “pub­lic dis­sem­i­na­tion of delib­er­ate­ly false infor­ma­tion about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion,” where­by devi­a­tions from the Kremlin’s offi­cial state­ments are already clas­si­fied as “false infor­ma­tion.” For now, the Kremlin’s media cam­paign appears to have ral­lied pub­lic opin­ion behind Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Putin among the Russ­ian population.

In April 2022, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed that Russ­ian influ­ence oper­a­tions are suc­ceed­ing out­side West­ern infor­ma­tion spaces where antipa­thy for the West is deep and sym­pa­thy for Rus­sia real. We have also exten­sive­ly report­ed on China’s ampli­fi­ca­tion of Russ­ian disinformation.

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