Historical Narratives in Disinformation



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What was this project?

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine did not begin on February 24, 2022. It began with the annexation of Crimean peninsula and the initiation of War in Donbas in 2014. The latter events, just like the current invasion, were accompanied by a stream of anti-Ukrainian propaganda, emanating from Russian government officials, state TV, various news outlets, social media, etc. The Russian government used all possible means to justify their actions against Ukraine. Weaponization of history was the most effective instrument in the Russian disinformation toolbox. How and why did the Russian state decide to adopt such measures against Ukraine? What were the major milestones of such weaponization of history? Was (and is) Russian historical disinformation strategy effective? To what extent are Russia’s historical narratives true or false? What are other examples of weaponization of history? What were their implications?

Task Team Leader: Mykhaylo (Misha) Simanovskyy

Faculty Lead: Dr. Tetiana Klynina

Goals for Project
  • Investigating weaponization of history; understanding how historical narratives are used in spreading mis/and disinformation;
  • Finding the main historical narratives prevalent in disinformation (from the past century to the present) in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict;
  • Exploring and deconstructing historical narratives in Soviet and modern Russian propaganda (focus on the events in Ukraine in 2013 – 2022). For example, in order to provide at least some explanation for their “incomprehensible” policies to justify their aggression in front of society, Kremlin leaders use manipulative mechanisms and spread misinformation about the past with a projection for the present. In essence, they tell stories about history, creating a certain historical narrative for each event they need.
  • Reading (and later, researching) academic and non-academic works/articles on weaponization of history in general as well as those that focus on weaponization of historical narratives pertaining to Ukraine by the Russian Federation. Analyze the historical information that debunks Russia’s narratives.

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