In a quiet meeting in March of 2015, heads of European intelligence agencies gathered together to work on a new task given to them by their heads of state – to “promote EU’s views towards it’s eastern neighbors”. With that task in mind, European External Action Service East Stratcom Task Force was created. Behind that mouthful of a name hides another ‘faceless’ bureaucratic dinosaur – or it would be, if not for it’s curious history.
The ‘Task Force’ alleged goal is to “counter Russian disinformation” – a task they’ve taken to in a roundabout way, preferring to, instead, spread fake news from Ukrainian sources and drive up the anti-Russian hysterics in EU and neighboring countries.
The shadowy team behind so-called ‘task force’ is incredibly secretive – despite being setup in 2015 on the orders of EU state leaders it hasn’t, so far, have revealed any of it’s staff identities – not even in their official press-releases. The group’s website claims “14 full-time staff”, but no information is provided beyond few vague references to their linguistic ability – and certainly not their professional skills.
Despite that, the secretive team boasts of receiving up to 1.3 million euros from EU budget per year – to finance their ‘operation in countering Russian propaganda’ – so much for “Open and truthful EU”.
The question of budgeting is much more important than it seems – exactly where does the money go is virtually hidden from the public, which runs directly counter of the same ‘views’ the group claims on their website. In fact, it is one of many questions raised by members of the press related to credibility of “investigations” presented by the group – and even whether the group exists at all.
In 2016, Denmark’s top journalism paper reported on these issues in an article highlighting possible misuse of funds by an organization, demanding an investigation into it’s credibility.
This led to a scandal virtually unreported in “free mainstream media” of western countries – where StratCom Task Force claimed that Danish press is, in fact, Russian Propaganda – for simply calling attention to potential fradulent scheme. Of course no proof was provided by the group to even debunk these theories – only blind cries of “Kremlin Propaganda”. The scandal reached top levels of Danish Parliament, with deputy Marie Krarup bringing Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen into the fold – who then simply dismissed the entire issue, claiming that ‘any attempt to investigate the issue would be disinformation in support of Russia’
With such an elegant solution to their problems, StratCom started daring a bit further. In 2016, the group released a broad statement claiming that any internal criticism, or even acknowledgements of EU’s migration issues(Mind, by EU press for consumption in EU) – a fact that surely cannot be disputed with a straight face – is, in fact, also Russian Propaganda.
How, and why, an organization working to ‘promote EU’s values abroad’ can pass broad judgments on EU’s internal media to suppress any dissenting viewpoint isn’t raising even more alarm bells is a question that will remain open.
Danish top investigative newspaper Politiken also released a report on StratCom’s use of blatantly falsified information – when it published a complete nonsense “debunking” blaming Donetsk People Republic for Avdiivka Offensive – which was, in fact, initiated by Ukrainian Armed Forces – a fact acknowledged even by Ukrainian Military. In this case, StratCom East cited InformNapalm, a known Ukrainian nationalistic mouthpiece as a “true source” of information, additionally acknowledging an Ukranian ‘death list’ site Myrotvorets – infamous for listing and branding dissenting journalists and politicians as “traitors” for expressing their opinions – virtually confirming that in StratComs case – EU values include witch hunts and suppression of free speech with no regards given for human rights or laws.
As you can imagine, StratCom East was just as quick to dismiss these investigations as “russian propaganda” – and I believe we can start to see a pattern here.
Affronted with such high display of professionalism by their “colleagues”, three major Dutch media companies – GeenStijl, The Post Online and De Persgroep have responded with a suit against EU – for libel . As the court case gained attention, Dutch parliament has submitted motion to shut down StratCom competely, with overwhelming 109 votes in favour of motion to 41 against. Even Danish Prime Minister, who previously openly supported operation of StratCom has come out in support of it’s closure, creating an uproar in EU parliament. But four days later – not even a single peep in relation to the case was to be seen in EU’s media. In fact, the same week the suing newspapers have withdrew their case against Stratfor – without any announcement. And while I wont speculate on what caused that, I think it paints a very unflattering picture of how media supression and censorship works in “independent EU media”.
And so, shadowy, unaccountable propaganda mouthpiece continues to operate – under ‘wise guidance’ of EU’s intelligence services to continue it’s insidious task of both internal censorship and external russophobic propaganda.
To this day.