The omnipresent Ruptly: video news agency, or Russian 'agent provocateurs'?​

Not for the first time, the presence on the scene of Ruptly, an international video news agency headquartered in Berlin but funded "in whole or in part by the Russian government" at a major disturbance is being questioned, writes Gary Cartwright.

Whether it be the London Black Lives Matter riots, French anti-immigration rallies, demonstrations against COVID measures, the storming of the Capitol in Washington D.C., or last week's shocking events in Brussels in which stones were hurled at a car carrying the Belgian king, it appears that Ruptly are always the first on the scene. "Its almost as if they know about it in advance..." one Brussels police officer told EUToday.

It could certainly be argued that a disproportionate amount of Ruptly's coverage appears dedicated to violent events surrounding controversial and divisive issues, as is the case with its sister organisation RT( formerly Russia Today).

It was also the case that when Julian Assange, a Russian cause célèbre, was arrested on November 4th 2020 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London shortly after Ecuador revoked his political asylum status: Ruptly's was the only film crew present.

"Its almost as if they know about it in advance..."

Screenshot 2021 01 17 At 12 31 11

Traditionally Russian propaganda outlets, such as RT, have targeted left-leaning youth. However it appears to be the case that the focus is now shifting. The Ruptly coverage of events in Brussels on January 13th may be likely not only add to the discontent among the largely immigrant communities in the affected parts of the city, but also to create anger among the far-right in Belgium, particularly in Flanders.

The break-up of Belgium - which always is a possibility - would suit the Russian agenda of dividing the west very well, and and this agenda is reflected in Ruptly's output.

“I'm telling you right now, if it comes from something tied back to the Kremlin, like RT or Sputnik or Ruptly, question the intent,” Christopher Krebs, the former director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told a summit in September 2020. “What are they trying to get you to do? Odds are, it's not a good thing.”

Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem is the collection of official, proxy, and unattributed communication channels and platforms that Russia uses to create and amplify false narratives. The ecosystem consists of five main pillars: official government communications, state-funded global messaging, cultivation of proxy sources, weaponization of social media, and cyber-enabled disinformation. The Kremlin bears direct responsibility for cultivating these tactics and platforms as part of its approach to using information as a weapon. It invests massively in its propaganda channels, its intelligence services and its proxies to conduct malicious cyber activity to support their disinformation efforts, and it leverages outlets that masquerade as news sites or research institutions to spread these false and misleading narratives.

U.S. State Dept. GEC Special Report: Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem (August 2020)

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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