Yesterday, information started to circulate that through an SMS campaign someone is trying to set people against minorities living in Ukraine. Especially ethnic Hungarians living in the Zakarpattia province and mainly centred around the Berehove region were targeted in the hate campaign.
This is what the messages said: “Ukraine for Ukrainians! Glory to Ukraine! Death to Enemies! To the knife with Hungarians!”
Yesterday András Rácz, an expert on Russia, has shared a post in which Dmytro Tuzhanskyi, IFAT’s Think Visegrad fellow from Ukraine was talking about an SMS campaign which has been ongoing for around two days on the date of posting. His post said the following:
“There is a Russian information operation actually going in Ukraine’s Zakarpattia region. The objective is to create the impression that ethnic Hungarians are severely threatened by Ukrainian nationalists.
Yesterday and today a targeted SMS campaign was launched, and messages were sent to plenty of Ukrainian phone numbers in the Zakarpattia region, mostly (but not only) in the Beregove region.”
“How do we know, that this one is a Russian campaign? Of course, there is no absolute certainty at the moment. However, there are two indicators which make it quite likely that this is a disinformation operation connected to Russia.”
The original post listed the reasons as follows:
“First. Such methods with such statements were already used in a number of earlier disinformation campaigns launched through the network of Russian propaganda outlets like Regnum, News-Front, etc.
Second. This information campaign is simultaneously complemented with another one, spreading from Russia, promoting the narrative that Hungarians of Zakarpattia want to secede from Ukraine and join Hungary. This is a very old Russian narrative to provoke and exploit Hungarians and Ukrainians since 2014.
Third. This information campaign is coincided with current debates at EU and NATO level regarding new Russian sanctions and support to Ukraine, especially regarding sanctions of energy supply, “closing sky” and NATO peacekeeping mission.”
The Hungarian expert also added a few points:
“This particular call “To the knife with Hungarians!” was already used in a number of earlier disinformation campaigns that could be attributed to Russia. […] It is clear that serious resources were necessary to execute such action: not only a database was needed, but also the ability to define the location of the given phone numbers.”
Connected to the case, a Hungarian historian, Miklós Mitrovits who is also a member of the public body of the Hungarian Academy of Science has translated a recent analysis and report of the Polish Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW).
According to his translation, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has reported 1271 criminal cases which have been prosecuted for suspected crimes against the state since 24th February, when Russia launched an attack on Ukraine.
From the aforementioned cases, 922 involved the undermining of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, while 244 cases were considered treason for crimes such as the release of classified information to Russian services and/or military, for sabotage in 48 cases and 57 other criminal cases.
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine underlined that many of the detained individuals came from territories that are temporarily under occupation within Ukraine or from other countries altogether.
According to the report, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has disrupted an operation by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) that aimed at provoking the local Hungarian minority to tear the region away from Ukraine.
The ministries have highlighted that most of the information about Russian activity was provided to them via the leaders of the Hungarian community.
Source: From profiles of an expert on Russia and a historian