In days when almost the whole world is facing a lack of medical supplies needed to fight coronavirus, the piece of news that Russia is sending medical aid to the USA spread all around the world with almost the same intensity as the pandemic itself.

And while many media outlets, including the American ones, were surprised, it turned out that the shipment was not free.

Russian media outlets were the first to publish the piece of news on March 31, day after the conversation of Trump and Putin, that medical supplies from Moscow are on the way to New York. They also wrote about it on April 1, when the Russian Ilyushin landed to the John Kennedy Airport. Headline is the same in almost all articles in Russian media: Airplane with Russian aid landed to New York.

Versions of this information were spread by numerous local and regional portals with headlines such as Russia sent aid to the USA, Trump accepted Putin’s aid. Only a couple of media outlets made corrections, or, published the information that this is not aid, but the shipment that Washington paid for.

And while numerous U.S. media outlets thought that this way April Fools’ joke, they received the official explanation. Spokeswoman of State Department, Morgan Ortagus, explained that the supplies purchase followed the telephone conversation that the Presidents Trump and Putin had on March 30.

It is not precised in the statements how much the USA paid for supplies that the official Moscow described as aid, just like the majority of local media.

Both countries have provided humanitarian assistance to each other in times of crisis in the past and will no doubt do so again in the future. This is a time to work together to overcome a common enemy that threatens the lives of all of us, says Ortagus.

Numerous experts think that the delivery of Russian supplies represents a part of the Kremlin propaganda campaign which is strengthening Putin’s strong internal position, while Russia is represented as a savior on a global plan. Meanwhile, as American media informed, the analysts warned Trump that Moscow is using this type of activities to strengthen the influence and possibility of having American sanctions abolished (imposed for electoral interference in 2016). Trump did not want to comment the situation in detail but he stated that Russian propaganda does not concern him since the medical supplies which could save many lives are the crucial factor.

On the other hand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation does not deny that Washington paid for the supplies, stating that the USA paid for half of supplies while the other half was paid by Moscow. These claims are denied by an article on Reuters U.S. paying Russia for entire planeload of coronavirus equipment: U.S. official . This agency conveyed the message of a high official in the White House who wanted to stayed anonymous but he stated that his country paid for the planeload of equipment.

The United States is purchasing the supplies and equipment outright, as with deliveries from other countries. We appreciate Russia selling these items to us below market value.” explained high official.

American media did not succeed in finding out the value of the complete delivery but they announced that 60 tons of supplies were received, including respirators, masks and other protective gear.

Russian opposition also criticized Putin for delivering medical supplies to the USA, emphasizing that Russia is also lacking masks and medical supplies for fighting coronavirus.

It is incredible that we are selling the enormous quantity of medical supplies to the USA, but the whole Russia except for Moscow is lacking it, tweeted Leonid Volkov, close associate of Alexei Navalny, leading critic of Putin.

UPDATE: After the article has been posted, the editorial of Novosti updated the original article adding that arrest took place two months ago and not today.


An article headlined: Harvard professor made and sold coronavirus to China? FBI in major bust arrested the expert and two Chinese men (VIDEO), was posted on portal Novosti on April 5. Subsequently, the article was taken by the portals EspresoInformer and IzazovKodexKurirRTV BNMontenegroClick and Pink.

The article claims that a Harvard professor, Charles Lieber (60) and two Chinese men were arrested on that day in the USA, since there are indications that they sold coronavirus to China.

Referring to FBI, they are adding the following:

FBI announced that there are indications that the USA have just found the man that was producing and selling coronavirus to China. Doctor Charles, Head of the Chemistry and Biology Department at the University of Harvard was arrested – said the Heads of FBI during their address to the nation.

However, this is another piece of disinformation. What is this all about?

On January 28, the United States Department of Justice posted a piece of news on the official site that the Harvard professor and two Chinese citizens were charged in three separate China-related cases.

Professor Charles Lieber, Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint for making a materially false and fictitious statement on receipt of financial means from China.

According to court documents, since 2008, Dr. Lieber has received more than $15 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD). These grants, inter alia, require that Lieber is obliged to disclose to these bodies significant foreign donations, or financial support that he may receive from foreign governments or foreign entities.

As it turned out, Lieber was a “Strategic Scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) from 2012 to 2017 through the participation at Thousand Talents Plan.  Under the terms of Lieber’s three-year Thousand Talents contract, he received $50,000 USD per month, his living expenses were covered, he received additional $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT and he was obliged to work not less than 9 months a year for WUT.

The complaint states that in 2018 and 2019, Lieber lied about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and affiliation with WUT during an interview with investigators from National Institutes for Health, i.e. he claimed that he has never participated in this program.

When it comes to two Chinese citizens, they do not have any connection with Dr. Lieber. They are charged for smuggling the research from institutions that they were at and for sending them to China. It should be added that these three cases are completely unrelated, except for the fact that China is mentioned in each of them.

Therefore, a doctor was arrested for telling falsehoods to the American authorities on his financing from abroad and his case has nothing to do with coronavirus.

Many world media outlets wrote about this at the end of January and beginning of February this year.

UPDATE: Following our announcement, the Montenegrin media CDM, RTCG, Portal Analitika, Antena M, Pobjeda, FOS Media and Kolektiv have corrected the information and announced that China has not officially declared the end of the epidemic.


Numerous Montenegrin and regional portals have announced today that China has declared the end of the coronavirus epidemic outbreak. The news, according to the comments, made many citizens happy, but unfortunately it is not true.

Montenegrin portals Analitika, IN4S, CDM, RTCG, Pobjeda, PV informer, Antena M, FOS Media, Kodex, Kolektiv and Standard published the identical news – “China has declared end of epidemic outbreak”, referring to Banja Luka ATV. The information states that the spread of COVID-19 virus in China has stopped completely, and that the number of confirmed cases of infection is less than 3,000.

The portals transmitted a statement by the spokesman of the National Health Commission, Mi Feng.

On the other hand, the world media, including the Reuters, the New York Times, the US News, as well as China’s Sinhua.net portal, have published more complete information in which there were no words of the end of epidemic, but rather the emergence of new imported cases of coronavirus in China. It is also claimed that the risk of a second wave of infection is increased at the moment when transmission among China’s local population has actually stopped because the number of those infected has fallen below 3,000.

Also, these media have published a complete quote of Feng’s statement.

“China had an accumulated total of 693 imported cases entering from 42 countries, which meant the possibility of a new round of infections remains relatively big”.

It is stated that the virus is brought mainly to China by its nationals residing abroad, and that 45 new cases were registered on Saturday, down by 9 on the previous day.

This case only confirms that in these especially sensitive days, when we are all waiting for encouraging news, the media should pay extra attention and verify completely all the information.

This week again, the Digital Forensic Center has noted numerous pieces of disinformation and new conspiracy theories on corona virus. Besides that, we also initiated new live blog where we are posting the most important information on COVID-19 from Montenegro, region and world. Find the most important events that marked this week in this weekly review.

Dangerous video has been circulating on Facebook

A video which was for the first time posted on Facebook page Danak u krvi u Srbiji has been circulating on Facebook. It aims to convey the message that coronavirus is not a threat. The actors of the video are Wolfgang Wodarg, German pulmonologist and longtime MP of Social Democratic Party of Germany in Bundestag, Tom Jefferson from Cochrane Institute in Denmark and Dr. Michael Kentsch. The three of them are discussing the current situation for German television broadcaster Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (2DF) and are pointing out two theses:  

  1. COVID-19 is not more dangerous than the ordinary flu
  2. COVID-19 does not require isolation measures, people are needlessly in quarantine without medical explanation

During pandemic, numerous theories have emerged and are being spread on a daily basis. This kind of content is typically characterized by numerous claims, presented as facts which have cause-effect relations, but with no credible proofs.

We are using this opportunity to appeal to all the citizens that the posts of individuals on social media are not a credible source of information on coronavirus. It is necessary to follow the posts and information coming from official and credible addresses such as the Institute for Public Health, Ministry of Health and World Health Organization.


Absence of help

Jerusalem Post posted the alleged statement of an Israeli doctor living and working in Parma. As it is stated in the article, Dr. Peleg said for Channel 12 that due to lack of capacities, Italy is no longer offering any help to people older than 60. It is not possible to find that statement or a similar one in original version. On the other hand, that post was condemned by numerous Italians on Facebook, claiming that it represents fake news.


Russian citizen arrested for spreading disinformation

Russian citizen was arrested in Montenegro for spreading fake news and disinformation on coronavirus. In fact, A.G. (35) posted on one social media that there are around 1000 people infected with coronavirus, that six of them died and that Montenegro is expecting the Italian scenario as well as that the staff of Avala hotel is infected and hospitalized


Creating panic due to coronavirus

  In his article for portal Pravda, Velimir Erakovic is explaining the critical situation that Montenegro is in, affected by coronavirus. Article mentions alarming situation in quarantines, breaking privacy rights and alleged hoax concerning moratorium on loans as well as Montenegro being on the verge of bankruptcy due to stoppage of criminal activities because of coronavirus (smuggling of drugs, cigarettes and weapon).


Corona „united“ ex Yugoslavia

Corona „united“ ex Yugoslavia. Take a look at how many posts have been noted by DFC team during the period from March 20 – 26, which hashtags and emoticons are the most popular and which regional media are posting the majority of news on COVID19


We initiated COVID19 live blog

We are receiving news on coronavirus through social media, media and notifications. There are incomplete or false information everywhere, despite the efforts of the officials and media to remove them. Many are confused by that turmoil and are looking for answers. Point of DFC blog is to present in a simple manner the proofs of disinformation and narratives being spread in media and on social media but also to present the official information on pandemic


G7 noted Chinese disinformation campaign

We are receiving news on coronavirus through social media, media and notifications. There are incomplete or false information everywhere, despite the efforts of the officials and media to remove them. Many are confused by that turmoil and are looking for answers. Point of DFC blog is to present in a simple manner the proofs of disinformation and narratives being spread in media and on social media but also to present the official information on pandemic.


Infodemic

During coronavirus pandemic, citizens and media are being faced with numerous pieces of disinformation. When it comes to Western Balkans, around 245 thousand articles referring to coronavirus have been noted during last 30 days. Our colleague, Milan Jovanovic, was explaining for RTCG the dangers of fake news in pandemic period.


Man who died in Lazio is not a Montenegrin citizen

Some Montenegrin and Serbian media posted fake news that a man who died in Lazio (33) is a Montenegrin citizen and also the youngest victim of corona virus in that region. It was stated form Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro that the information conveyed by particular Montenegrin media, referring to Italian site and posts on social media is not true.


Deep state, baba Vanga and coronavirus

Week behind us is marked by numerous conspiracy theories. One of the Democratic Front leaders, Nebojsa Medojevic, claims that the whole crisis provoked by COVID-19 is only the artificial project that a deep state lies behind and that the point is to create chaos in Europe, especially in Orthodoxy. Appearing on the YouTube show „Intervju – u Centar“, Medojevic pointed out that the same mighty leaders are lying behind moving of the military formations ISIL to Europe, which media present as „migrant issue.“

On the other hand, in a debatable article published on Serbian portal Telegraf and after that on portal Politika Ekspres, it is claimed that baba Vanga predicted COVID19. These two articles reached more than 30 Facebook groups, which together have more than 2 million people.


Sputnik: It is possible that virus was made in order to reduce Italian population

Sputnik team from Latvia, in the article published on March 15 is presenting numerous non-founded conspiracy theories on coronavirus. Starting from the idea that COVID-19 originates from Latvia, to the one that it is made in order to reduce the number of old persons in Italy. The argument which is supporting their claim is that Italy has a large number of retired people, who are burdening the budget with their incomes.


Conte became Bolsonaro

Viral post on Facebook, allegedly containing the statement of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, is fake.

“We lost control. I don’t understand what else we could do, all the possible solutions on Earth have been used. Our only hope is in Heaven, God save your people.”

Post is displaying the alleged photography of Conte.

It turned out that the quotation is made up. It cannot be found on any credible website through Google search, and the message does not correlate with the recent measures that Italy took. It should be added that the President of Brazil Bolsonaro is on the photo, and not the person whose statement is conveyed.

Even though Facebook marked it as fake, the post has been spread on social media.


Poland banned the transit for Russians airplanes

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Warsaw did not block any plane to Italy, adding that Polish airspace remains open for transit. The responses followed after the tweet of Russian Senator Alexey Pushkov who claimed that the Russian plane to Italy, loaded with goods for fighting coronavirus, was obliged to take a turn after the authorities banned the entrance into the Polish airspace.

After the official démenti, Senator deleted his tweet.


Coordinated „attacks“ on Holy Communion

In the article on portal Srbin.info, it is claimed that media in Serbia and Montenegro are attacking the Serbian Orthodox Church in a coordinate manner, due to religious gatherings and Communion with one teaspoon.

They also state that „making people decide between health and freedom of religion is nothing but a dangerous manipulation which should justify totalitarian order.

The authorities from all around the world are banning and punishing all kinds of gatherings, not as a sign of Totalitarianism but as a way to prevent spreading of virus.

Two pieces of news are the best reflection of a danger that the gatherings of any kind, including the religious, represent in this moment.

The first one is the fact that Milutin, Bishop of Valjevo and two priests of this eparchy were infected with coronavirus this week during liturgy. In the official announcement of the eparchy it is stated that „he, as a faithful shepherd, walked and served his eparchy, the way that he has been serving God and mankind for more than half of a century.“

The other one is the piece of news that Pope Francis began his extraordinary Urbi et orbi on Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican where he prays for the end of coronavirus pandemic and gives his complete forgiveness to believers. In normal circumstances, the Square would be full of people listening to Pope’s message but yesterday – there was no one.

The picture that has made its way to history

A video of two Italians buying the allegedly efficient medicine to treat coronavirus on the Moscow airport has been circulating on social media. Two men entered a pharmacy and bought „Arbidol“, allegedly efficient medicine to treat coronavirus. Moreover, coronavirus is drawn on the packing of the medicine. One of the actors of the video is saying that „there has been so many deaths in Italy since this medicine is not available, while Russians can protect themselves thanks to it.

„Arbidol“ (falsely called Abidol) was developed by a Russian pharmaceutical company „JSC Pharmstandard“ and is not available in Europe and the USA due to the fact that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not include it into their approved flu medicaments. That is the reason why this medicine can be bought in Moscow but not in Europe and the USA.

„Arbidol“ is actually a name for the medicine whose generic term is „umifenovir“ and it was not created in 2019 as it was stated but during the 1970s in the Soviet Union. Patent right expired in 2007 and since then, „Arbidol“ is produced in numerous companies in Russia, Belarus, and China.

A graphic view of tweets on “Abidol” or “Arbidol” on Twitter.

Besides this one, there is another video with the same claims. Unnamed person from our language region claims that it is a sort of anti-virus substance, to fight the epidemic.

He added that a pharmacist ensured him that the virus is nothing new and that it has existed since forever.

„Don’t panic, goodbye friends and all the best from Russia“, he concluded at the end of the video.

WHO’s website dedicated to current pandemic states that to date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus.

Many times have we emphasized that the individuals’ posts on social media are not a credible source of information on coronavirus. When there is the cure, relevant institutions will inform us, but not Facebook or other social media. It is necessary to follow information and posts coming from credible and official addresses, such as the World Health Organization, the Institute for Public Health and the Ministry of Health.

While the world is fighting the coronavirus, there is some encouraging news. A patient from Genoa (79) was cured from coronavirus with the experimental medicine named „Remdesivir“. On the other hand, in China, more precisely in Wuhan, there was not a single case of coronavirus yesterday.

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 stories about the loss of the country’s sovereignty, the freedom that NATO soldiers would enjoy on our territory, and the possible attacks from other states or terrorist organizations holding grudge against NATO, date back to a time of Montenegro’s accession talks with the Alliance. Even back then did the opponents to the Montenegrin North Atlantic Alliance membership air similar narratives in the Montenegrin and Serbian media and political scene.

Hence, an article headlined It doesn’t seem as they aren’t building: NATO properties everywhere, everything that the Alliance controls in Montenegro and published on the IN4S portal on November 5 is nothing new. It reads that since Montenegro joined NATO without a referendum, pro-government media has been constantly launching in the public information about the Alliance membership benefits. It refers to the statement of Dusko Markovic confirming that in the moment of joining this aggressive military alliance, as much as 85% of the citizens were against it.

Such claim of the portal referring to the alleged confirmation of Prime Minister Markovic is false and put tendentiously in such context, with the intention of disinforming the readers and leading them to false conclusions. In an interview for the Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) held on February 6 last year, on the eve of his visit to Pristina, the Montenegrin Prime Minister stated that the Government of Montenegro recognized Kosovo despite the fact that more than 85% of the citizens were against it.

It is true that it is false

That was not the first time IN4S put this statement of Markovic – referring to the opposed citizens (85%) – in the NATO membership context, and not in the Kosovo recognition context. The portal editor Gojko Raicevic attended the first Russian-Balkan summit of public diplomacy held in Voronezh, Russia, on November 12 this year. On that occasion, he again highlighted the news on Montenegro’s membership into NATO, contrary to the alleged 85% of the population who were opposed.

The author also recalled the building of a military training range on the Sinjajevina Mountain. As written, beside regular trainings of the AFM, there were indices that the range would have other purposes too, what has raised great concern. The research center of IN4S found out about a plan to use the range for hazardous waste disposal, without providing any concrete proof for the claims.

In the last months, Sinjajevina has been at the epicenter of the public interest through discussions and debates, because of the fear of the impact on environmental pollution. However, the Ministry and the Government stated many times that the range would exclusively serve for the Armed Forces training, and not for surplus weapons destruction, as frequently stated in the media.

Reading these and similar articles, it is suggested that certain portals sometimes return, in the regular order, to already well-worn and disputed topics when they do not have ideas for the new ones.

Press release of the Government of Montenegro

Given the purpose the location concerned will have, the building of a training range for needs of the Armed Forces of Montenegro will not have an impact on environmental pollution. This is also confirmed by the report on the measurement of radioactivity in the environment (air, water, soil) done by the PHI Institute for Public Health of the Republic of North Macedonia and commissioned by the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of North Macedonia, for the Krivolak military range, after a month-long exercise.

DFC magazin broj 14

Over the last years, and particularly over the last months, we witnessed very intensive negative campaigns on Serbian media portals aimed at deteriorating the image of Montenegro as a preferable tourist destination

The Serbian and pro-Serbian media do not miss an opportunity to point out at all the tourist offer shortcomings on the Montenegrin coast. By spreading panic and giving warning alerts, they tend to present bad situation in the country, with a view to destabilizing the domestic economy by provoking the collapse of tourism.

Dreadful sight in Montenegro: Serbs will never visit you again! Tourists cancel packages on a large scale! Discharge of raw sewage seen at the most beautiful beach in Montenegro! Dangerous shark seen in the Adriatic Sea! Sneaks scared bathers at Buljarica and Mogren beach in Budva!

We singled out only some of the headlines which media such as Espreso, Alo, Telegraf, Srbija Danas, Informer portals, use to spread negative campaign. The headlines are followed by a set of appalling photos of waste in Sutomore, Budva and alike, intending to sabotage tourist season.

However, according to Maja Vukicevic, PR manager of the Montenegro Stars Hotel Group, most of the published photos and texts have been fabricated and re- cycled over the years.

Regardless such a negative campaign, the number of Serbian tourists has not decreased compared to previous years, said Aleksandra Maksimovic, PR of the National Tourism Organization. Judging from the tourism turnover gene- rated from the Serbian market, it is evident that the negative media campaigns do not influence significantly the tourist revenues, she concluded.

The informative portal borba.me published on February 9, 2019 an article entitled “Montenegro goes deeper and deeper: Learning Albanian songs and cutting out Serbian writers” on its site. This is the heading that can easily catch the readers’ attention and make them continue reading the text and find out what the kids in schools learn and which texts they do read.

Screenshot of the article heading on the borba.me portal

As stated in the text, there is an Albanian song Mora Mandolinen in the textbook for the musical culture subject for the third grade of elementary school. The portal points out this information as something unacceptable, stating that the children’s learning the Albanian song results in Montenegro getting deeper and deeper. However, we must point out the fact that the text does not state that this is a folk song, but rather an Albanian song, while under the photos from the textbooks it is written that it is an Albanian folk song, and it is published on the portal. Accordingly, it is important to emphasize that in the musical culture curriculum for the third grade of the elementary school, one of the learning outcomes is singing, individually and in a group, folk and artistic songs, which is a sufficient reason for this song to be found on the list.

Screenshot of the curriculum for the musical culture subject http://www.zzs.gov.me/naslovna/programi/osnovno

Moreover, the text states that there are some new names in Montenegrin textbooks, while some other names have disappeared from it. The author gives mocking comments that everything is different in Montenegro today, and instead of the Serbian renowned writers, the opportunity has been given to some new, literary “giants”. The author characterizes Serbian writers as renowned, while new authors, who are predominantly Montenegrin and Bosnian authors, are mockingly called “giants”.

Having an insight into the curriculum of the Montenegrin – Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian language and Literature subject, which is available on the official website of the Bureau for Educational Services of Montenegro, we have come to the list of the authors in the Montenegrin textbooks. All names listed on the portal borba.me are found in the textbooks, apart from Nazmi Rahmani. In the textbooks from the first to the ninth grade of the elementary school, Montenegrin, Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian writers, as well as some foreign writers, are enlisted. Only one Albanian writer and his piece is found as a text proposal for the ninth grade.

Screenshot of the curriculum for Montenegrin – Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian language and literature
Find out more on : http://www.zzs.gov.me/naslovna/programi/osnovno

The author pointed out that, back then, the curriculum could not be imagined without St. Sava, Desanka Maksimovic, Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, Aleksa Santic, implying that these authors are no longer present in the textbooks. Nevertheless, the name Desanka Maksimovic or Aleksa Santic can still be found in the elementary school textbooks, which can be confirmed by reviewing the curriculum.

Also, a detailed analysis of the Montenegrin-Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian language and literature curriculum, led us to the conclusion that the number of Serbian writers presented in Montenegrin textbooks is almost equal to Montenegrin, which may confute the author’s information that Serbian writers were cut out.

There are several topics that have being recycled for years, and certain media will see to provide some of them with the never-ending shelf life. Considerable share of conspiracy theories, spins, unverified and disinformation narratives on the territory of Montenegro, concerns not as much Montenegro, as the NATO Alliance. Such narratives, playing the emotional card, due to the unpleasant events from 90s, have their target audience, all with the task to further polarize the Montenegrin society and divert the course from relevant and crucial issues for future of our country, but also of the region.

A number of regional media have reported the statement of a NATO official, who said for Pobjeda newspapers the following: “The mission is open for members and partners and we already have Australia, Finland and Sweden participating in it. We would like to compliment participation of Montenegro, since we have excellent relations with your country, although our process of introducing a member may sometimes take a while”, during a briefing at NATO Headquarters, which dealt with the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI). However, partial reporting is utmost unprofessional, all with a view to deceive and provide disinformation to the public, as well as to further discredit NATO Alliance.

What has actually happened?

At NATO Summit in Brussels this July, on the requirements of the Iraqi government, allied leaders launched new training mission in Iraq, named NATO Mission Iraq (NMI). The new mission is based on trainings and efforts with the aim of building capacities, that has already been carried out in Iraq through NATO Training and Capacity Building Activity in Iraq.

The Mission was launched in the end of October and consists of 500 members. Apart from member states, soldiers from Australia, Finland and Sweden have taken part.

source: nato.int

Thus, this is a non-combat mission with the aim of building more efficient, inclusive, sustainable and responsible defense and security structures. Also, it will strive to improve professionalism of Iraq forces and security institutions, by helping Iraq build capacities for preventing ISIS reemerging.

However, unlike Pobjeda, a number of portals, while reporting, has decided to omit crucial part, i.e. non-combat character of the mission, with a view to train people. On the other hand, the emphasis of the narrative was that Montenegrin soldiers are going to fight in Iraq, which caused strong reactions and disapproval expressed through numerous comments posted on portals, knowing that it is a high-risk area of crisis, where the fight against ISIS continues.

Additionally, they referred to the recent statement of the Minister of Defense, Boskovic saying that Montenegro was interested in participating in the mission at logistics positions at the airport in Bagdad, as well as to the statement of the President Djukanovic after the Summit in Brussels, stating that Montenegro Intends to send its soldiers to this venture.

Through headlines such as “Cannon Fodder: The Army of Montenegro – a part of the NATO structures on battlefields in Iraq, Milo’s Army Fighting for American Interests” and selective reporting of the facts, portals, such as in4s.net, b92.net, srbijadanas.com, standard.rs, novosti.rs, kurir.rs, aspire to deceive public when it comes to this sensitive issue.

Spreading disinformation and propaganda through the Internet, especially via social media has been in the center of debates in the last years, due to the severity of the issue, but also because of the urging need to counter that issue, particularly after the US elections in 2016. It should be emphasized that portals b92.netand kurir.rs are the most visited in Serbia, with 36 million views on monthly basis, hence, they not only do harm to their reputation by partial reporting, but also contribute to general level of (dis)information of the society.

[1]https://shape.nato.int/resources/3/images/website/factsheet%20nato%20mission%20iraq_oct18.pdf