The video showing a girl singing the anthem of Serbia Boze pravde, with Putin playing it on the piano at the background, was published originally by IN4S portal on September 7

IN4S posted this video with the intention of highlighting the fraternity and the affinity of the two nations – the Serbs and the Russians. The same day, the news with headline LOOK: „Boze pravde“ played by Putin and Nina Pesic (VIDEO) appeared on Sloboda CG portal, as well as on a Facebook page Polucija. Even though the video exists, but only dubbed, on a YouTube channel named Truman Seeker since February 23, 2019, the abovementioned Facebook page disclosed the deception.

Polucija, well-known troll page, published a video as original in which Putin may be heard playing a well-known tune Cesarica by Oliver Dragojevic, while waiting to meet President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

An open-source search shows that neither does the Russian President play Boze pravde nor Cesarica. The original video dating back from May 2017 shows Putin playing two Russian songs – unofficial anthems of Moscow and St. Petersburg while (as a participant of the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation) waiting to meet President Xi Jinping in Beijing

The abovementioned example, unfortunately, shows that not even children are spared of the daily political and populist propaganda, particularly because portals and Facebook pages allow certain individuals/groups to manipulate information while creating false contents.

It is questionable what brings the future in that sense, for today it is a great challenge to protect not only our children but other individuals from misuse on social networks and portals. Journalism codex and ethics do not bind those who spread their unsound ideas in the air, having one goal only: to reach as many views as possible and to get the support of those similar to them!

Guca event in Budva, announced at the beginning, did not take place after all.

There are many events in Budva this summer, newspaper columns are swarming with controversial statements of members of the leading (coalition) parties who cannot agree on many matters. Everything is heated up by who said, wrote, and signed what, just as these August days are. Still, it seems that the big guns in the media were brought out after the announcement that the Assembly of Trumpet Players from Guca will be held in Budva at the end of August.

Portals Alo, Srbija Danas and Telegraf paid special attention to a statement of Dragan Ivancevic, an official of Crnogorska. According to their reporting, he said:

Events such as the Assembly of Trumpet Players from Guca which can bring iconography and entertainment promoting the disappearance of Montenegrin state in 1918 and alike are taking place in Budva. 

Evidence supporting such statement do not exist.

This was followed by attention-grabbing headlines of Alo and Srbija Danas portals, including: Echo of modern fascism in Montenegro-extreme paranoia, Budva has risen against the Serbs, repression has begun, etc. which further add fuel to the fire and inflame national passions, which certainly speaks of the increasingly prominent phenomenon of the Montenegrin society polarization.

The thing that bothered DFC magazine the most in the story about Guca in Budva, apart from spreading disinformation in the public by publishing untrue statements, is exaggerated rhetoric of the narratives, which can be a trigger of conflict. However, it appears that circumstances in Budva are best described by a well-known maxim divide and conquer!

According to the latest report of the Borba portal, Montenegrin seafarers were once again the actors of seizure, this time 300 kilos of cocaine from a European company’s ship in the Philippines’ capital, Manila.

Article under the headline 300 kilos of cocaine seized in Philippines: Among the arrested are seafarers from Montenegro! , published by Borba portal on August 21st 2019 states that the arrested seafarers are from Montenegro, while in the article itself portal denies the very headline by the following sentence: Authorities have not announced the identity of detainees, and ten crew members were deprived of their liberty. Therefore, we can classify the title itself as clickbait, since it is quite clear that it was used for the purpose of arousing curiosity, attracting attention and ultimately, getting a review.

Screenshot of the headline from the Borba portal

On the other hand, the fact that no media from the region transmitted the text of the Borba portal, just like with the false announcement of seizure in Chile, prompted the DFC to launch a research and determine whether this time it was fake news as well.

A more thorough survey of credible Philippines’ media outlets, including the Manila Bulletin, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The Manila Times, showed that no cocaine seizures or arrests were mentioned, and that there were no articles stating that something similar has recently happened in Manila. The only thing to be found was information related to the seizure in Philadelphia, which actually happened. A Google search also doesn’t provide results for this topic.

Unfortunately, the frequent tendentious announcements of the Borba portal clearly aim to, through their propaganda activities, portray Montenegrins as bad guys.  Relying solely on its own sources, never on publicly available official information, the announcements of the Borba portal are a threat to professional journalism and impartial and truthful informing.

Social networks broke the news on death of a Greek who during 1999 NATO intervention on ex-Yugoslavia expressed his resistance towards that action.

Stefano Panajotis died, a man who during 1999 Serbia and Montenegro bombing organized protests, shut down airports, and stopped NATO aircrafts taking off in order not to bomb our country. GLORY TO HIM, was written on many social media posts.

The death of Stefanos Panajotis is not an issue, but is the fact that he may have never existed. Open source searches provide no results on any Stefanos Panajotis who once organized protests, shut down airports and stopped NATO aircrafts taking off from Greece.

What only exists is a man from the photo that has circulated social networks for a short period of time. It is about an Albanian MP, Vangjel Dule, who was two times a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Thus, the living man was buried under the name of a man who does not exist.

A man, who found himself in the photos as a part of the posts about Stefan Panajotis, is actually Vangjel Dule, member of the Albanian Parliament and the President of Human Rights Unity Party that protects rights of Greek minorities in Albania. 

He was born in 1968 in the Albanian town of Gjirokastra. Since 2002 he has been acting as the President of Human Rights Unity Party. He graduated English language at the University in Tirana. From 2002 to 2006, as well as from 2007 to 2010, he was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

This fake news was, among others, shared by Serbian extreme far-right parties and movements, as well as by the Montenegrin movement Alternativa Crna Gora.

Even though a fabricated information is in question, the fact is that up until now, more than 8,000 people have already shared the original post from a Facebook account of Саша Петровић (Sasa Petrovic).

The original post from Facebook that triggered numeorus reactions on the social media

A movement Alternativa Crna Gora shared (on July 27) with its Facebook followers a photo of a fiscal receipt from Iberostar Heritage Grand Perast Hotel, which provoked many negative comments. In this way, this political party joined a quite big number of those who try very hard to present Montenegro as an undesirable tourist destination.

Screenshot taken from Alternativa‘s Facebook page

Just recently, a pricelist of room service which turned out to be from Splendid Hotel was criticized. The latest news refers to the fiscal receipt of Iberostar Heritage Grand Perast Hotel, also categorized as 5-star hotel, which is a part of Iberostar, renowned Spanish hotel group.

Followers of the abovementioned party, those inclined to criticize the internal state in the country, have left ironic comments, resentful because of high prices, which, according to them, are exactly the reason of bad tourist season. Rare were the ones who noticed that the renowned hotel brand was in question, expressing their surprise that this post came into public and attracted that much attention. This makes the post, intending to put blame on high prices for the collapse of the tourist season, completely senseless.

Even though the mentioned publication is not fake news (as was Splendid case), because the author was familiar with the fact that it is about Iberostar Heritage Grand Perast Hotel, such doings of Alternativa are interpreted as one way of attracting supporters. Giving the fact that most of complaints come from the interior where the social and economic situation is objectively worse, it is clear that such tendentious posts easily draw support of that part of the public.

However, completely advocating for the constructive criticism, we wonder whether it is justifiable to put that what is the most beautiful and the most valuable in Montenegro in a negative context without any grounds, even more so in order to obtain petty political points.

According to the European Travel Commission Report from July 2019, Montenegro has reached the highest level of tourist growth during this year, compared to other European countries for which data are available.

The National Tourism Organization stated on August 12 that the record breaking revenue from fees was recorded since the beginning of the year, and that 12% more tourists visited Montenegro this year compared to the same period last year. According to the data of the mentioned relevant institutions, it could be said that this-year’s tourist season is to be successful, contrary to sceptics who forecast its collapse.

Georgia’s society known for its culture of protests from the 19th century annexation by the Russian empire, through the revolutionary period, to the Soviet period in the fifties and eighties, has reacted over the past few months to the Moscow provocations again.

Back in the days of Shevardnadze’s mandate from 1995 to 2003, and more resolutely after the 2003 Rose Revolution, Georgia has clearly outlined its path towards the Euro-Atlantic integration, that followed strong protests and obstructions on the part of Kremlin which still considers Georgia their backyard, together with the whole Transcaucasia including Armenia and Azerbaijan. That is why Russia played the ethnic tensions card since the beginning of the war and used fear and emotions of ethnic Abkhazians and Ossetians to occupy about twenty percent of Georgia’s territory

Feeling of a military threat constantly present

During the August war in 2008, Russians demonstrated their force, and since then they have been constantly harassing the Georgian citizens in the border areas by frequently arresting and sometimes murdering civilians of the Georgian nationality. Normal everyday life in Georgia, economic growth, strengthening of democracy and reforms often fall into the shadow of the fact that only 40 kilometers from the capital Tbilisi is located the Russian military base, established without the consent of the Georgian government. Unlike Georgia, the Armenian fear of the Turkish and Azerbaijani aggression keeps the base in Gyumri present in the tri-border area between Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia. That is the reason why Georgia is naturally in the state of a constant military threat from the increasingly aggressive neighbor.

On the other side, sharing a common religion with Russians, having numerous Georgian diaspora situated in Moscow, and cultural and other ties, often lead to attempting to relativize the fact that Russia occupied a part of Georgia’s territory. Georgia used to be the major summer resort of the Soviet Union, the access to the warm sea. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia went through a period of painful transition, but after its recovery in 2004, it has become again the main foreign tourist destination of the Russians. Numerous Russian opposition parties’ members were in hiding there during the Saakashvili rule in Georgia

Change of course

After the change of power in 2012 and 2013 and the arrival of the party of a businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, the course towards Moscow has been dramatically changed; economic and even political relations have been thriving. An example of this was this year’s Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) based in Athens, which was established in 1994 and in which work is engaged Montenegro with Strahinja Bulajic from the DF party, as its current member. The Assembly met in Tbilisi and paradoxically, it was chaired by a Russian communist Sergei Gavrilov, member of the Russian Parliament. The very presence of Gavrilov in Tbilisi, as someone who aggressively supported the occupation of Georgia’s territories in 2008, caused unrest among the public.

Gavrilov in the chair of the speaker of the Georgian Parliament

The photo of Gavrilov sitting in the chair of the speaker of the Georgian Parliament, as well as the photo of the Russian Duma’s branded folder next to the chair’s microphone in the main hall of the Parliament which were published on social networks, were enough for the opposition MPs from Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) to make a scandal in the Assembly and provoke disorder. Then, gathered protestors almost lynched Gavrilov on his road to the airport.

Eye patch – the symbol of protests

Increasingly active Russian interference in Georgian politics, Sputnik’s presence in Tbilisi, the Russian support to the extreme right movement, as well as spreading disinformation on the U.S. Army running a biochemical weapons laboratory in one of the suburbs of Tbilisi, resulted in the progressive Georgians losing patience and going out to protest.

After several cases of police brutality, the protests spread and numerous NGO activists supported the revolt. One demonstrator losing eye made an eye patch the symbol of the protest, demanding resignation of the interior minister and end of the tolerant policy towards Russian politicians who support the occupation of Georgia’s territory.

The symbol of the protests, Photo: Reuterss

The Russian media immediately launched the campaign of characterizing protests as an outbreak of Russophobia and ethnic hatred, while the staged attack on the crew of the government’s TV channel Rossiya reached front pages of the Russian pro-government media. However, at the protests, many Russians could be seen on social networks joining the protestors, following many Russian opposition media reporters such as Dozhd, who freely reported in Russian from the central point of the protest, without anyone threatening their security, but on the contrary.

Official Kremlin’s reaction – boycott

Soon after the beginning of the protest, the first official reaction of Kremlin followed. All commercial flights to Georgia were banned, right before the beginning of the tourist season. In this way, Moscow sought to harm the Georgian economy. Very soon, the Georgian wine became not acceptable for the Russian standards, just like our Vranac during the Montenegrin NATO accession in 2017.

Interesting is the way in which the neighboring Armenia and Belarus took advantage of the situation. The Yerevan airport was offered as an alternative, while on social networks was posted an unofficial advertisement of the Belarus airline Belavia with the slogan: We take you to the countries your President is arguing with, following the connecting flights from Moscow via Minsk to Tbilisi, Kyiv, and Kharkov.

In addition, the Georgian activists launched the #spendyoursummeringeorgia campaign, which is still active and which is an excellent platform for exchanging impressions from their earlier trips to Georgia, with photos of incredibly beautiful landscapes, cuisine, and culture in general of the country.

Reckless or planned act?

Soon after the mass protests, the opposition Rustavi2 television saw the Georgian journalist Giorgi Gabunia, author of the political show P.S. (Postscriptum), starting without any reason his show in Russian and talking about the Russian President and deceased members of his family with lot of obscenities. The reaction of the Georgian society, which according to some was staged, was surprising for many. Although Putin is considered an occupier, such level of public discourse even when it is directed to an enemy, has no place in Georgian culture.

Nika Gavarami, director of Rustavi 2, Photo: RFERL

It is questionable whether something like this was expected, but it is unusual that protestors appeared in front of Rustavi2 television demanding the discharge of the journalist and the resignation of Nika Gvaramia, Rustavi2 TV director. Reckless, and according to some maybe planned, this act of Giorgi Gabunia led the Prime Minister and the President of Georgia to the situation of apologizing to someone who does not deserve it at all.

The journalist was fired almost immediately, and in July the court in Strasbourg reached the immediate verdict by which the Rustavi2 was returned to its previous owner, who announced the dismissal of Gvaramia. Many doubted that Gvaramia, knowing about the inevitability of such court decision, designed the strategy in advance to maintain his position in the TV station. If so, it is inapprehensible why the man was ready, because of his personal interests, to undermine his country’s position in a very complicated relation with the aggressive neighbor he often criticized.

IN4S portal, known for its sensationalistic reporting, published on July 21 alleged statement of a renowned American actor and producer, Tom Hanks, about Kosovo.

It is generally known that politics is directly involved in all aspects of social life, thus in the culture itself, in the broadest sense. But, when the domestic (read Serbian) politicized and dual cultural scene is not enough to change the political discourse, the international one comes up on stage.

IN4S portal, known for its sensationalistic reporting, published on July 21 alleged statement of a renowned American actor and producer, Tom Hanks, about Kosovo. Appearing as a guest on the American E! TV, on the occasion of making a movie about the history of establishment of the Israeli country, the famous Oscar-winner compared the holocaust of Jews in World War II with the situation in Kosovo, where once used to live Serbs, but then came the Albanians and exiled them.

In the IN4S interpretation, Hanks concludes that at the end of the 20th century, Serbs were bombed by NATO, but that they still do not want to recognize Kosovo independence. They keep saying that Kosovo is Serbia, just like Jews once, who returned to their land in the end, so maybe the same will happen to Serbs.

By reminding readers that Hanks converted to Orthodoxy as early as 1988, the portal actually wanted to emphasize the credibility of his claims, as well as the compassion which such a giant of Hollywood cinematography has for the Serbian people.

Almost the same news was posted on February 17 and 18, 2013 on the Serbian portals Vecernje Novosti and Politika. Then, the Kosovar portal Koha Ditore wrote about Leslee Dart, Hanks’ publicist from Los Angeles, who gave her denials of any actor’s statement given in such a context.

By the end of the same year, on December 4, Telegraf reported on the Serbian public service (RTS) falling for the fake news, stating that it was quickly deleted from the portal’s front page after having determined it was not true.

DFC researched the debatable information and found out the following data.

First, the website of the above-mentioned E! TV, which mostly broadcasts the Kardashian family reality program and short news about the lives of famous Hollywood stars, do not have any such statement of Tom Hanks.

Second, until this day, Google does not provide any news about the alleged filming of the establishment of the Israeli country in the production of Steven Spielberg. Nor IMDb, a worldwide popular website about movies, famous persons, TV shows and so on, provide in its biographies of renowned director S. Spielberg and actor T. Hanks, any information on a movie about the establishment of Israeli country even being filmed.

Third, it is obvious that the disputable Tom Hanks’ statement is being launched year after year, so the same news with a slightly different headline is found on IN4S portal on July 5, 2014: Tom Hanks: Kosovo will be Serbian again. The same information has also been periodically published on other Serbian portals (Informer, Srbija Danas, Nacionalist, Espreso, Pravda, Kurir…) but with some different headlines: Statement of a famous actor made Albanians furious; World-renowned actor DELIGHTED Serbs again with THIS statement!; TOM HANKS: Serbs will return Kosovo someday!

Just as is the case we have analyzed, there are numerous examples of fake news serving as a populist method of political mobilization of the broadest levels of nations to arouse the national zeal. This particularly is contributed by unprofessional media, or better say spokespersons of interest groups, whose first and the utmost goal is the fabrication of fake news of different content.

Other Hollywood actors against Kosovo’s independence

That this example is not alone proves news from 2008 with similar content. Back then, Blic wrote about announcements of Hollywood actors such as George Clooney, Sharon Stone, Richard Gere, and Sean Connery, to organize a protest against Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. On the other hand, Foreign Policy wrote then that the superstars denied the published statements.

However, until this day neither have the Serbian media reported on these denials nor have they confuted the information. On the contrary, year after year they have been fabricating same or similar claims, adding to the list of Hollywood actors persons like Johnny Depp and Robert De Niro, who allegedly oppose to Kosovo’s independence as well.

These days, foreign and some domestic media have been writing about the hacking of a major contractor of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and the stealing of 7.5 terabytes of data.

The news on SyTech, system breach was broken on July 19 on the Russian BBC portal, and later it was taken by other foreign and domestic media. According to the writing, a group of hackers under the name 0v1ru$ breached the SyTech’s system on July 13, leaving a Yoba Face[1] on the site – emoji frequently used in trolling.

Screenshot of the hacked Twitter account

On the day of hacking, the group posted on its Twitter account of the same name (@0v1ruS) several screenshots showing the whole hacking process. Besides exposing e-mails and names of the SyTech’s employers, hackers unveiled several projects such as Арион, Реляция, Гривна. Soon after, the Twitter account was deleted.

According to the Russian BBC, 0v1ru$ group shared all the data with the largest hacking group the Digital Revolution, which then forwarded the data to the media. It is strange that the Digital Revolution has begun posting screenshots of the data it possesses on July 18, since it is known that the breach occurred on July 13.

Thus, the Russian BBC came to possession of several SyTech’s projects, among which there are projects related to de-anonymization of the users of the Tor browser (project named Наутилус-C and ordered by the Russian Research Institute Kvant), the social media scraping[2] such as Facebook, Myspace and LinkedIn (project named Наутилус, but it is unknown who ordered it), as well as to the creation of a program that accumulates and visualizes information on how the Russian segment of the Internet is connected to the global network (project named Надежда ordered by the military unit No. 71330).

Recall April this year when members of the Russian State Duma voted for the Sovereign Internet Bill enabling the Russian Internet (Runet) to operate independently from the World Wide Web in the event of an emergency or foreign threat. The bill amends the laws On Communications and On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection, and it should enter into force in November this year. Until today, we have not seen any statements from either FSB or SyTech on this hackers’ attack.

[1] Stands for Youth Oriented, Bydlo-Approved Face

[2] The term indicates the process of taking down the content from the Internet. This software technique mostly focuses on converting unstructured data on the network (usually in HTML form) into structured data that can be saved and analyzed in a central data base or a spreadsheet.

The news providing a photo of a price list displaying outrageously high price in a bar in Budva, has seen these days the upsurge of interest on numerous regional and domestic portals.

According to the claims of Borba portal, it came to possession of this disputable information by means of its own source on July 18, while other media portals (Srbija Danas, Alo, Blic, Montenegro Click, Volim Podgoricu and Standard) relied upon social media posts.

Twitter users, @edgewater707 and @FikoR87 tweeted the identical photo of a price list from a bar in Budva, not mentioning its name. The user @edgewater707 expressed his consternation by the skyrocketing prices, commenting that they are higher than those in a luxury restaurant in Miami he works at.

Inappropriate and provocative headlines followed the story – Budva is not Monte Carlo, Arrogance as never seen before!, You’ve gone too far this time, Montenegrins gone crazy. This contributed to highlighting the negative criticism on the expense of Montenegrin tourism, which is part of the existing propaganda launched at the beginning of summer.

And what is the truth? THE TRUTH is that it is about a photo of the in-room dining price list from Hotel Splendid, one of the most exclusive bar and accommodation facilities on the Montenegrin coast. Therefore, giving the fact that is about a 5-star accommodation facility and not about an anonymous bar in Budva, the prices should not cause a surprise, should they?!

What remains to us is to refer to another in the series of false reports, all of which support our claims about more and more visible unprofessionalism of some media portals, unfortunately calling themselves credible.

Giving the fact that posts on social media and by other accounts represent mostly opinions or impressions of individuals on a specific topic, it does not mean at the same time that their judgements, views, comments are objective or true. Moreover, they are very often impassioned, coloured by their own prejudice, tendentious, insulting, false and alike.

Besides, the last word on this topic will have the NTO and the local tourist organizations at the end of the summer season. Their job is to assess and estimate objectively this year’s revenue from tourism – this very important economic resource for Montenegro.

Debate on data security while using mobile application FaceApp has taken over social networks and media around the world.

FaceApp was created in 2017 by Yaroslav Goncharov in Russia. The application works on the principle that users select an image they want to modify, upload it, then select a filter they want (most commonly a filter that makes the user older) and get the completely modified image.

Joshua Nozzi, an app developer, posted a tweet about FaceApp on July 15 and warned that the application automatically uploads all photos from the camera roll, regardless of whether the user approved it or not. Nozzi made a public apology on the following day, saying that he had hastily posted the tweet without prior testing the application. However, he claimed that it is strange for an application to require access to all photos when it is not necessary.

That tweet and the fact that the application was made in Russia caused panic across the world and launched an avalanche of online discussions about allegations that Russian troll farm makes the database using the uploaded photos. There is a justified fear that photo might be used for launching fake accounts in future disinformation campaigns or in creating deepfake. The thing went too far when the UNILAD journalist, Emma Rosemurgey, wrote in her article that Joshua was working for the Russians. He denied these allegations and soon after the disputable part was removed from the text on the UNILAD website.

With regard to the topic that has shaken the public recently, Yaroslav Goncharov gave a statement denying the claims that the application uploads all photos from the camera roll, it uploads only the one that was selected. He stated that data is not transferred to Russia – it is kept on US-controlled servers Amazon and Google. Also, he pointed out that, at the request of the users, photos can be removed from the server, as well as that most photos are being deleted from the server within 48 hours from the moment of uploading. He named performance and traffic as the main reasons for storing uploaded photos, since the company wants to be sure that the user does not upload a photo several times for every editing. Goncharov emphasized that the company neither sells nor shares users’ data with third parties. However, can we rely on his word?

Terms of service – are we aware of what we accept?!

Another interesting issue is the terms of service of all popular applications, that users accept without previous reading. A lawyer Elizabeth Pots Weinstein posted a tweet stating that everyone who installs the application and accepts FaceApp terms of service give perpetual, irrevocable, free, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works. That was a trigger for new discussion and comparison of the terms of service of applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Lance Ulanoff, Editor-in-Chief of a website Lifewire posted a tweet on terms of service of Twitter, stating: By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, licence to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods. It is obvious that FaceApp terms of service are as disputable as terms of service of other applications we use on a daily basis.

Furthermore, FaceApp is similar to Guess my age, an application made by Microsoft in 2005, which has specific characteristics as its Russian counterpart. The reason for not bringing the issue of security of that application back then might be because it was not made in Russia, which, following the events in previous years automatically became a synonym for danger.