In the process of preparing the publication of the list of Belarusian political actors for March 2023, an increase in mentions of Valery Tsepkalo was noted.
The analysis conducted points to a connection between this fact and the publication, which contains information that Polish taxpayers are paying Valery a rent of 1500 euros per month for an apartment in Warsaw.”
The next step was to find the original source of this publication:
In an attempt to locate the author of the article, Hanna Kramer, an investigation conducted by Polish fact-checkers was found. Information about a journalist with such a name is absent on the Internet, except for mentions on the website of the publication Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny and in the context of warnings about Russian propaganda.
The Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny itself has been the subject of a detailed analysis on the MediaIQ website in an article titled: “Mechanisms of Russian disinformation: ‘NATO supplies scrap metal to Ukraine’ and ‘clears warehouses’,” published on January 13, 2023.
Among other things, the article states that a study conducted by the Polish portal True Story found that most of the articles on the Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny website were borrowed from other publications, creating the appearance of a functioning media outlet. The assumption that the site is a conduit for Russian disinformation is supported by the portal Oko.press. In 2019 and 2020, the site posted a fake letter from Polish generals demanding President Duda to dismiss Minister Błaszczak. Despite the Ministry’s denial, the text went viral on social media.
The authors of True Story note that the texts of the Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny are written in poor Polish, with Russian grammatical constructions, which may indicate a failed machine translation. Editor Adam Kaminski is a fictional character, and the picture in his Twitter and Facebook profiles (now deleted) actually depicts Lithuanian traumatologist Andrius Žukauskas. No real Polish journalists associated with this site, or people familiar with them, could be found.
After this, we analyzed the frequency of mentions of this publication in Belarusian online media and social media:
The peak occurred on March 17, when the article “NDP: Poland spent $6 billion on attempted coup in Belarus” was published.
This date also marked the peak mention of the Polish publication in Belarusian Telegram channels, based on TGStat data:
The Polish site is most often mentioned on Belarusian toxic Telegram channels:
Additional intriguing facts related to the article about the mythical six billion dollars from the Polish government:
- publication date;
- mention of Belarusian opposition politicians.
The social and online media monitoring systems we use recorded the first publications in regional state media on March 16, 2023, at 11:00 PM, citing BelTA.
For example, somehow, the material was posted deep into the night:
The material on the BELTA news agency website was published at 10:15 on March 17.
It can be assumed that the article was prepared for publication on March 16, 2023, and sent out for posting on websites and in print publications.
Some publications have removed the phrase: “There are basic structures in our country, leaders of the Belarusian opposition live and work, including Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Valeriy Tsepkalo, Pavel Latushko,” replacing it with: “There are basic structures in our country, leaders of the Belarusian opposition live and work, – notes the journalist”.
However, as can be seen from the publications of SB. Belarus Today, ZS Premium, ONT News, the use of the names of Belarusian opposition political leaders is allowed.
Russian propaganda actively exploits the materials of the Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny, presenting them as a source of “independent” Polish analytics, and translates them into Russian for distribution within the Cyrillic information space:
Even a simple look at the headlines of the materials shows that all of them are disinformation, spreading Russian narratives regarding the military invasion of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.
All the examples provided allow us to formulate our prebunking: if you see references to the Polish publication Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny, you should understand that you are facing unreliable information (disinformation).