A coordinated campaign against Montenegro, which has been spreading negative and bizarre disinformation over the last 3 months, continues unabated

Another narrative has emerged in the last few days: NATO requires from the President of Montenegro to introduce a state of emergency, as a response to current litanies, that are being held twice a week. This fake news was initially published on the Serbian portal Srpsko ujedinjenje, and later on transmitted by other Serbian portals Alo, Vidovdan and Opcija.

All of the articles promoting this narrative have a couple of inconsistencies in common:

  1. They claim, without any credible evidence, that dozens of NATO special units have arrived in Montenegro, have rented villas in Podgorica and Budva and have largely been working on a project of breaking the Serbian Orthodox Church back.
  2. Allegedly, NATO special forces are under the command of Stuart Peach, located outside Montenegro. Marshal Stuart Peach is a chairman of the NATO Military Committee and has no mandate to command over NATO forces, but to advise, from a military aspect, the North Atlantic Council, as the most important NATO body
  3. Contents of the articles state, without any sources and evidence provided, that President Đukanović was informed during his recent trip to the US that any compromise with the Serbian Orthodox Church would be a slap to NATO and it would be unacceptable.
  4. The mentioned portals cite Montenegrin media as sources. The fact is that no Montenegrin media has written about a potential state of the emergency. This topic was discussed only in a letter of the Democratic Front addressed to Aivo Orav and to the EU mission in Montenegro.

The Ministry of Defense of Montenegro also responded to these writings, announcing that the Ministry denies allegations in some Serbian media outlets about engaging NATO special forces in Montenegro. They are absolutely false and, once again, with tendency of flagrantly disinforming and deceiving the public.

The arrival of NATO counter-hybrid support team in Montenegro drew a lot of attention, particularly of the media inclined to sensationalistic narratives.

Even though the goal of the experts’ visit to our country is to improve our services’ defense against cyber-attacks, as confirmed from the Alliance, some media wrote about the visit in a them-characteristic manner.

Thus, the Borba portal reports on November 21 that the NATO special team has arrived in our country to control the work of the Internet portals, primarily the work of Borba, IN4S, and Sputnik. The text further explains that the team uses modern equipment that serves to hacker breaches and shutting down of websites and portals when estimated as necessary.

Even Bosko Vukicevic, a member of the movement Sloboda narodu (Eng. Freedom to people), wrote in his column for the same portal: I am not surprised at all by the information that the American counter-hybrid support team, which resides these days in Podgorica, assumes certain responsibilities from the Montenegrin ANB (the National Security Agency). Above all, it is about responsibilities related to the field of monitoring of anti-regime and anti-NATO activists on social media, then free portals and the media, as well as the taking of certain measures against them.

The statement of Marko Milacic for Sputnik Serbia, highlighting that the NATO team has come to our country to spy on citizens (December 1), reads in the same manner.

The mentioned media reporting is followed by a text of the Serbian portal Alo on December 10, headlined: HYBRID WAR IN SERBIA IN THE OFFING – Two world powers will collide. The text suggests that the counter-hybrid team from Montenegro plans to spread its actions on the whole Balkan region, aiming at shutting down pro-Russian media portals, and, as stated, the list has been already formed. Such portals will not be able to be launched again in Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania, and the plan is to do the same in Serbia.

The issue with such and similar claims is that they are not based on credible proofs, and the editorials often refer to well-informed diplomacy sources and internal services’ findings as to the sources of information. Although the credibility of such claims and information is easy to establish, some levels of society still can believe it, which can result in long-term harmful consequences.

DFC Magazine Issue 15

The portal RIA Novosti (Rus. РИА Новости) published on October 20, 2019, a text entitled Swedish economist: In 2024, Russia will fall apart or ruin the world.

The text, in an ironical manner, analyses a book The Crash of 2024 by Stefan Fölster, a renowned Swedish economist. The author of the book predicts a hybrid war, that will allegedly start Russia against the West. It is interesting that the war will start in Montenegro. The book was published at the beginning of September this year. According to RIA Novosti portal, Russia will initially take control over the financial system in order to lift the sanctions imposed on it, and then begin to conquer other countries.

Book The Crash of 2024

According to the book, Russia will start its aggressive actions in Montenegro, where the bikers known as Night Wolves, armed to the teeth, will organize a coup. Then Russia will shift to Serbia and Bulgaria, after which the Kremlin will start the invasion of southern Ukraine from Crimea, etc. Finally, Stockholm will become a victim torn apart by Russia only to intimidate the West, and with Sweden not being a NATO member the Western allies will not stand up for it.

The portal RIA Novosti further states that, according to the book, Russia will occupy Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Serbia, annex southern Ukraine and destroy Stockholm by a rocket, calling this thriller another sci-fi book published in the West. And all would be fine, but they try to impose this plot on the local man as a realistic forecast of probable events – the Russians have already begun to implement this scenario. The creation, which contains obvious signs of slander, is actively promoted in the Swedish press and is positioned as a wise warning to naive Sweden, states the comment of the mentioned text on the RIA Novosti portal.

The portal emphasizes the date as well – 2024. Many people predicted that Russia will fall apart in 2017. However, 2017 has passed and all those who prophesied the catastrophe began to come up with a new date. Now at least they have some explanation for the following milestone: in 2024 the next presidential election in Russia is planned. What is characteristic: the names of real politicians and public figures of today’s Russia are woven into this book. Only Putin is mentioned 89 times. The saddest thing is that the author of this fantasy is a well-known person in his country. Stefan Fölster is a Swedish economist, winner of the Best Book of the Year award from a number of financial newspapers, concludes the author of the text on the mentioned portal.

Taking into regard the text of RIA Novosti, a book The Crash of 2024 has apparently provoked tempestuous reactions in Russia.

Stefan Fölster said at the Investor Meeting, held on September 1st that the events introduced in the book are based on fairly realistic conditions when it comes to finances and economics, and he also warned that the thriller is not only entertainment but also a thinker for anyone who is thinking about Sweden’s future, or for that matter their own finances.

Körber Policy Game is a small group of politicians, senior officials and experts who analyze fictitious scenarios and their potential consequences globally.

The group is engaged in projecting current foreign and security policy trends into a future scenario, seeking to develop a deeper understanding of the interests and priorities of different countries and possible challenges.

In September this year, in collaboration with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, they published an analysis entitled European Security in a Crisis. The document states that the US exit from NATO in 2021 is set as a fictitious scenario. The decision of the strongest member to leave NATO, as it is pointed out, would provoke conflict in the Balkans as early as May 2021. Conflicts would be triggered in a NATO member state with ports in the Mediterranean and would be started by pro-Russian forces violently seizing the power and kidnapping the Prime Minister.

The conflict erupts in a NATO member state in the Western Balkans. An armed group aided by pro-Russian opposition parties is occupying parliament and demanding the exit of NATO and parliamentary re-elections. After that, protests spread across the country, and the Prime Minister, who is under house arrest, calls on the European Union and NATO to intervene. Several dozens of Russian intelligence officers enter the country and head for the capital to support the protests. Strategic seaports in the Mediterranean are blocked by Russian warships. Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking this opportunity to establish a system of equal and indivisible security on the continent and to propose a new European security treaty, the analysis states, inter alia.

Alarming headlines and false interpretations on portals

The Alo portal published an article on October 15th entitled US LEAVING NATO, THIS IS THE WORST SCENARIO! It all starts in Montenegro! Milo will summon forces to intervene, and Russian intelligence services enter the country and head for the capital! Pravda and Informer were following these writings, claiming that World War III would begin in 2021 in Montenegro. However, the Alo portal does not stop there. Just two days later, it publishes a text on the same topic, entitled DARK PROGNOSIS! World War III begins! Everything will happen on the border with Serbia! The same confirms once again the beginning of a new global conflict in Montenegro. In the mentioned analysis, there is no explicit mention of Montenegro, but only a NATO member from the Western Balkans.

The four texts had a total of 434 reactions on Facebook (sum of likes, comments and shares), which is 108.5 reactions on average. On the other hand, the content was not noticed on Twitter, with only 7 mentions.

The aim of the analysis, according to the authors, was to launch a debate on the obligation of Europeans to show greater responsibility for their own security.

Recently, the attention of the world and the domestic public has been captured by the 5G network and its capabilities.

Does the next generation network of higher capacity and reach represent a major advancement in technology or …

The expert public agrees that this is a project aimed at faster data transfer technology with larger number of connected users and devices. However, as disinformation has become ubiquitous in all areas, it is not surprising that the issue of 5G has also caught the eye of conspiracy theorists and manipulators.

The fifth generation of the network, known as 5G, will, apart from mobile phones, expand its influence to other devices such as security cameras, drones, autonomous cars, home appliances, and the robotics industry.

What is the 5G network?

5G is the next generation of mobile internet, which aims to download and transfer data much faster, but also to expand coverage and provide a more stable connection. 5G technology also allows downloading files whose size is no longer a problem for users. The 3G network transfers data in 24 hours, while the 5G network will be able to perform the same operation in just 3.6 seconds. When asked whether these actions will cause changes in our organisms, experts answer negatively.

In technology, just like in other spheres, every innovation raises many questions and provokes different reactions from people. The advent of a new mobile device, app, operating system and the like, triggers an avalanche of comments and divided opinions. Such a development does not bypass the 5G technology either.

When implementing new, advanced technologies, concerns about potential adverse consequences are always present. From the moment it was announced, the 5G network has been characterized as suspicious and dangerous to human health, which is why 5G technology practically became the conspiracy theory.

The number of 5G opponents grows

Currently, there is a growing number in the world of those who oppose the 5G network, not wanting it to become functional. They cite high risks to human and animal health as reasons for their indignation. With the help of media, social networks and propaganda, they are increasingly trying to influence those who do not share their opinions.

On the other hand, professionals and technology geeks miss no opportunity to showcase the benefits and capabilities of the 5G network. Many scientists, technology professionals, doctors, conspiracy theorists, as well as technology lovers discuss the debate on 5G technology around the world. The trend has not bypassed the Western Balkans. There are numerous texts, videos and comments on the pros and cons of the 5G network.

What do the Montenegrin media say?

The media outlets in Montenegro do not belong to a media group that makes negative comments about the 5G network. Montenegrin media, as well as mobile operators, inform the public what a 5G network is, what are its main features and capabilities and when it can be expected on the Montenegrin market. Mobile operators are suggesting that Montenegro is trying to keep up with the current technological trends in the world, so it is also the case with the 5G network.

Montenegrin portals antenam.net, investor.me, standard.com.me, cdm.me, mina.news, mondo.me have written that the 5G network delivers higher Internet bandwidth, and will positively affect many areas, such as traffic or health services. Mobile operators’ companies have announced that as early as 2020, Montenegrin users may be able to test the 5G network and all the benefits of a new generation of mobile communications.

The detrimental effect of electromagnetic waves?

However, not everyone believes that the new standard for mobile telecommunications services is useful, but they believe that 5G technology can cause serious consequences for the environment, humans, and animals. Opponents of the fifth mobile network generation think that a detrimental effect is caused by electromagnetic waves emitted by devices that use the most advanced technology.

Dejan Lucic, a publicist, geopolitician and conspiracy theorist, was a guest at the show Jutro on TV Prva and presented the network’s noxiousness of the scientists who could not appear on television for fear, he said. In that conversation, he pointed out that scientists have discovered that a 5G network is like a microwave and these microwaves influence on DNA and on changes in humans that are unknown. On the other hand, in the same show, IT expert Vojislav Rodic emphasized the fact that the 5G network is not being introduced because of people and human communication but because of devices (Internet of things) that are already or will be connected to the Internet. He also highlighted the time savings the 5G network provides and the fact that a large number of devices can be connected to the Internet using this network. Dejan Lucic, a publicist, geopolitician and conspiracy theorist, was a guest at the show Jutro on TV Prva and presented the network’s noxiousness of the scientists who could not appear on television for fear, he said. In that conversation, he pointed out that scientists have discovered that a 5G network is like a microwave and these microwaves influence on DNA and on changes in humans that are unknown. On the other hand, in the same show, IT expert Vojislav Rodic emphasized the fact that the 5G network is not being introduced because of people and human communication but because of devices (Internet of things) that are already or will be connected to the Internet. He also highlighted the time savings the 5G network provides and the fact that a large number of devices can be connected to the Internet using this network.

Numerous confrontations

The Facebook page Pravo na izbor, already known for advocating for the anti-vaccine campaign, shared a clip of the Jutarnji program on RTS television, where the topic of How dangerous is the 5G network? was introduced. Guests were a professor at the Faculty of Computer Science, Petar Kocovic, and epidemiologist Zoran Radovanovic. An IT professor points out that this technology will not only be used for mobile phones, but for a series of devices called the Internet of Things, and the current estimate is that there are between 50 and 100 billion of these devices.

To the statement that 5G is a death network, epidemiologist Zoran Radovanovic replies that this is an exaggeration and that not all radiation is the same. Radovanovic points out that it is necessary to monitor the effects of 5G or any other new technology, and only afterward to identify the advantages and disadvantages. Dr. Zoran Radovanovic was previously targeted by anti-vaccine activists, which we have already written about.

What will happen in the foreseeable future, whether a scientific study will emerge that will stop the spread of the 5G network or we will download the two-hour-long movie in just 3.6 seconds with the help of 5G technology, remains to be seen.

The significance of anti-Fascist sentiment in Montenegro and Montenegro’s contribution to the People’s Liberation War, in terms of overall victory over fascism, is immeasurable.

Montenegro celebrates the Statehood day to commemorate the day of July 13, 1878, when it was recognized as an independent country at the Berlin Congress, and of July 13, 1941, when the Montenegrin people called for uprising as a revolt against fascism.

In September this year, Poland celebrated the 80th anniversary of the greatest breakout of war, per reach and casualties, in the history of humanity. The Russian representatives were not present among more than 200 officials from 40 countries invited to participate in the commemoration. This provoked swift reactions of the Kremlin.

On the other hand, the Montenegrin President attended the ceremony, and he was the only one who pointed out that the whole event would be complete if Russia had been a part of it, given the role and the casualties the Soviet Union had and suffered.

Warsaw justified its decision by the actions of the Russian Federation, starting from its occupation of the Ukrainian territories, the elections meddling across the world, to impairing sovereignty and territorial integrity of other countries, and by Skripal case.

The Russian state media did not take long to direct, via TV shows such as the one of Dmitry Kiselev, its aimed and severe disinformation campaign against Poland. Our colleagues from DFRLab identified a series of anti-Polish narratives spread by Kremlin-owned media, anti-West politicians, and representatives of the Russian diplomatic missions abroad.

Following the model of the mentioned research, we decided to address the media outlets and players in the region dealing with the topic and to discover whether there were similarities in our media space.

Keywords Poland and war appeared in the online space of the region, in the period from August 25 to September 9 this year.

Was Poland a threat to the USSR?

As early as 2008, Vladimir Putin stated that the Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact was unacceptable from the moral pint of view, and useless and dangerous from the practical one. However, not only does the authority of the Russian Federation still deny the Soviet Union’s role in partitioning Poland and dividing Europe into the Nazi and Soviet sphere of influence but, according to the claims, also justifies the Pact.

As Sputnik Serbia wrote, and based on the alleged secret documents justifying certain decisions of the then military and political situation, notably the Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact, the most possible threat to the USSR at the time was not only the military alliance of Germany and Italy, but Poland, which was in orbit of the fascist block.

On the other hand, Belgrade’s Vecernje novosti stated that the document, Russians have access to, showed clearly that the backbone of the Polish doctrine and politics in 1938 was to dissolve Russia.

As proof of the Polish aggression, the IN4S portal recalled the Polish occupation of the Cieszyn Silesia in Czechoslovakia.

Russian and pro-Russian officials accusing the West of the beginning of the war

Precisely, the representatives of the diplomatic mission of the Russian Federation in Great Britain highlighted in September that before the breakout of World War II, the British politics approved the aggressive Nazi policy and consistently sabotaged the USSR’s ideas to create an effective anti-Hitler alliance, particularly to protect Poland.

Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, a Russian Ambassador to Belgrade, said that it is impossible to delete the Western countries’ leniency with the reconstruction of the military power of Reich, their neutral stance on pro-fascism in Spain and their reservations about the Nazi Anschluss – the so-called policy of appeasement, which in turn was a policy of cynical agreement with Nazi Germany to direct its aggressive ambitions towards the East. 

However, during the Great Purge from 1936 to 1939, which comprised of political repression in the Soviet Union, around 110,000 Poles were murdered. The very event, as well as the Ribbentrop – Molotov Pact, made the Western allies see Soviets as non-credible partners.

Historical revisionism backed by NATO 

Maria Zakharova, rejected the Polish explanation for not-inviting Russia and claimed that the decision was directed by NATO. 

Keywords Poland and revision appeared in the online space of the region, in the period from August 25 to September 9 this year. Within this period, as many as 79 media articles were supporting the revisionist stance.

The Serbian Web-tribune portal explained this lack of invitation as a mental disorder. The story was joint by Dveri, the far-right political party. It is linked to Unite Continental, the Serbian-French brigade that participated in the war in Ukraine on the Russian side. The party stated that it is unimaginable for anyone to dare to underestimate the Serbian causalities in World War II and the undoubted contribution of Serbia to crush fascism. The chance that Russia was not invited as well, clearly indicates that NATO continues with its unscrupulous pressures, showing no respect for human right and causalities.

These and similar narratives represent a tendency to characterize Poland as a bad guy. The present authority of the Russian Federation negates the role of the Soviet Union in partitioning Poland and dividing Europe into Nazi and Soviet sphere of influence. Moreover, Kremlin characterizes Poland as an aggressor and a threat. While neglecting the fact that in 1939 Poland was under a joint attack of Germany and the Soviet Union: Germany on August 23 and the Soviet Union seventeen days later. Under the double aggression, the Polish resistance was quickly crushed. Soon after, the Soviet army made one of the greatest crimes against Poland. In Katyn Forest, it murdered 22 thousand Polish officers.

According to another reporting of the Borba portal, the Montenegrin citizens were players of the international cocaine smuggling, this time in Johannesburg. As reported, Mihailo Pavicevic and Matija Kascelan were found on September 29 during a police action, after one arrested fellow citizen gave information on them to the police. According to the portal findings, both men are still in the city, hiding from the police, while around 20 other persons have been arrested.

Allegedly, both men were connected to Gorg Darmanovic, the double agent from ZAR, who was murdered in Novi Beograd and was allegedly connected to the country’s underworld.

The news was reported a day later, on September 30, by the Serbian portal Kurir.

However, it turned out that it was another fake news related to the topic. The denials came from the South African authorities, when the spokesperson of the police, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, highlighted that such arrests did not occur and that it was fake news. He added that neither were the intelligence services informed about these events.

Unfortunately, frequent tendentious reporting of the Borba portal and its propaganda activities aim at presenting the Montenegrins as the bad guys. Referring to their own sources only, and never to publicly available information, the Borba portal posts pose a threat to professional journalism and objective and true informing.

The news on the presence of Russian special forces on the territory of Norway (its mainland and archipelago of Svalbard) was published on September 27, on the Norwegian portal AldriMer.

Citing independent and intelligence sources (gained by American reconnaissance aircrafts U-25 and RC-135V), the portal stated that the goal of the Russian intrusion was to collect the data on key infrastructure and location. The same day, the Embassy of the Russian Federation to Norway published a demanti, assessing the news as provocative.

Screenshot of the demanti of the Russian Embassy

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denied the claims of the Norwegian portal several days later, stating that this actually derived from an anti-Russian sentiment and anti-Russian lobby in Norway, with a view to presenting Russia as an enemy. The Government in Oslo and the Governor of Svalbard made no comment, although according to the source of the portal AldriMer, they had the knowledge of the presence of the Russian special forces on their territory.

What do social media say?

Research of the Russian Novaya Gazeta (Новая газета) from October 1, shows a slightly different situation. Through the searches on Instagram, the portal acquired the evidence showing that Kadyrov’s Flying Squad has been periodically present on the Norwegian territory since 2016.

Likewise, on March 2, 2018, profile account @bes__600 posted a photo of 10 persons in military uniforms standing in front of the airport in Grozny. The comments below the photo revealed that one part of the group was in Norway for business.

A month earlier, in February of the same year, profile account @akhaev_07_95 posted a photo of another member of the Flying Squad. In the background of the photo was captured a fuel tanker with an inscription Svalbard lufthavn, meaning Svalbard Airport.

On January 20, 2019, the same user posted a photo of a rifle with a location – Longyearbyen, a town on archipelago of Svalbard.

According to the Svalbard Treaty, signed in 1920, the archipelago is not only a demilitarized zone but completely under the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Norway.

Until October 3, this year, both accounts were active and public. First followed the deletion of photos that appeared in the media, and then, account @akhaev_07_95 was removed entirely, while account @bes__600 is now private.

Earlier insight into their accounts showed photos of the two users together, as well as their activities within the Russian Special Forces University (Российский Университет Спецназа). The University situated in Chechnya (under the personal supervision of Kadyrov) trains the National Guard of Russia, among other things.

A chance or a match?

A similar situation took place in 2014 when Russia tried to hide in all possible ways its involvement and support to the pro-Russian separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine. Despite the claims of Putin and other officials that the Russian military never stepped foot on the Ukrainian soil, the soldiers’ activities on social media ( the most famous case involved Alexander Sotkin) proved the contrary. That is why, the State Duma adopted a decision forbidding the military to use mobile phones while on duty, or during missions.

Which source to trust? It seems that the conclusion imposes itself.

From regional perspective it is not unusual for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a separate case. Unfortunately, the same applies in the sphere of disinformation. While in countries, such as Serbia, the most of disinformation campaigns are carried out through tabloids, in Bosnia and Herzegovina a substantial mean of disinforming are anonymous portals, encouraged by armies of bots and trolls in online sphere

This was eventually approved by the analysis of citizens’ association Udruženje građana Zašto ne and Raskrinkavanje portal. Their research (published in May this year) showed that the most common source of disinformation, as well as the most efficient channel of distribution, are the anonymous portals. How significant that problem is for true and right public informing show numbers as well: on the sample of 2.500 published articles comprising some type of disinformation, two thirds were published on these very portals.

The analysis also identified and proved what we, as experts of the field, have been pointing out that for a long time. Only one part of those portals is driven by profit – they lure the public with clickbait and other mechanisms of disinforming in order to gain income from Google Ads and similar services. Larger amount of them is clearly connected to certain political agenda, and their purpose is to create narratives that will provoke animosity, polarization or creation of non-existent discussion about the boss’s political opponents.

The exact number of anonymous portals is yet unknown

We see how big the problem is because it is impossible to know the exact number of anonymous portals. Some evaluations showed that there are thousands of them operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that number has been seriously increasing, while the most pessimistic ones speak about hundreds of new portals on a daily basis. For a state counting 3.5 million citizens, such amount of disinformation sources gives an excellent image of why anyone aspiring malign influence does not need bots or trolls.

Anonymous portals know no for responsibility. According to the definition, those are media that are practically impossible to find data on ownership, editor structure or journalists as authors of the texts. Thus, it is not unusual that the analysis of Zašto ne determined that only in 19% of cases the request to publish denial was accepted. The authors and owners of the mentioned anonymous portals are fully aware that they are not subject to any legal liability. At the same time, given the fact that their identity is unknown, moral (ir)responsibility does not pose an obstacle.

Furthermore, the team of Raskrinkavanje, as the most concrete project of analyzing and categorizing disinformation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was a subject to more attacks and threats coming from the owners of the anonymous portals. And not just them – anyone who at least once tried to cope with the analysis of the content on the anonymous portals experienced discrediting, aimed attacks of the individuals in an online domain, as well as life and security threats. In some cases, there was about the protection of lucrative business, in others about protection of the political interests. There are portals whose owners believe to be doing the right thing, and their enemies are, initially, those who constantly point out the facts.

Fearing no consequences

The reasons of popularity of such type of disinforming, partly should be sought in non-existent regulation and insufficient self-regulation. Given the fact that there is no way or mechanism to sanction their doings, anonymous portals have no reason to show any fear of consequences. Online media space in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the rule should be self-regulated by the Press and online media council in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, their function is limited to directing requests for removing content based on the citizens’ complaints, which turned out to be insufficient, even when it comes to mainstream media, let alone anonymous portals.

Another problem is insufficient information literacy, but also how much the citizens are interested to report contents that are of no personal interest for them. This year’s research conducted by Mediacentar about media literacy among the young in Sarajevo, proved what we have been pointing out for a long time. The young in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not know to whom and how to report publications identified as disinformation or malign content, and have no stimulus, considering that is none of their business. The greater issue is that the young do not have aspiration for fact-checking the source of information, the research showed. It is shattering that new generations take for granted and with no critical approach published content, although that very fact-checking would take them only couple of minutes.

Solution – record of the portal ownership

Is there a solution? Albania has recently introduced mandatory record of the portal ownership. It could be a good start if such record would not be used for ruling political actors’ clashes with unwanted, professional online media. In that manner every effort towards the creation of legal limitations for online medias must go hand in hand with more powerful mechanisms for journalist’s protection. However, in a country such as Bosnia and Herzegovina nowadays, it is surreal to expect that.

Perhaps the best long-term solution would be to focus on improving media literacy. Introducing mandatory subjects about media and digital literacy in schools and at the universities we would ensure one part of the population to, in foreseeable future, gain knowledge and abilities to differentiate truth from lies!

Disinformation under the veil of anonymity

Disagreements between the U.S. and other NATO members – Iran and Nord Stream issues, or spending 2% of GDP on army and defense – have been, since the beginning of Trump’s mandate, the frequent topic of the public debate, and particularly on the agenda of disinformation purveyors.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered her speech in Bundestag on September 11. On the agenda was the German federal budget for the 2020 fiscal year. In her speech, the Chancellor referred to the current topics, such as environmental protection, Brexit, the need to strengthen the cooperation and reaffirm the commitment of the Alliance’s member states.

Several days later, certain media portals used her speech to spread disinformation. As soon as September 14, Fakti portal had a heading reading: Merkel: It’s time to stop feeding American soldiers. Shortly after, the disputable content was copied and reported by other portals, like IN4S, Srbija danas, Intermagazin, Web-tribune, and Srpski dnevnik.

The articles reported that while commenting on the relations between U.S. and Germany in her speech in the Parliament, Angela Merkel said that it was time for her country to stop providing for American soldiers and to focus on its own. In line with this, it reports Merkel’s statement that the sole goal of the U.S. was to make its partners raise expenses, so that the money, eventually, ends in its pocket. Allegedly, all this should concern Washington even more.

Transcript of the 111th session of Bundestag, publicly available on the official website, shows the different truth. Merkel did not mention, at any moment in her speech, withdrawal of the German assistance either to American soldiers or to any other member of NATO forces. Moreover, she highlighted the significance of cooperation in the multilateral world and invited all countries to move towards the arranged goal – spending 2% of GDP on defense annually.