Cheap Russian Propaganda Against Bulgaria and the European Union

Here’s how the propaganda against the European Union is working. A day after the speech of Donald Tusk in Sofia, the Bulgarian Facebook suddenly discovered and is spreading a lie, made in Russia. Here it is, as shown on the wall of some Yana Miteva. The text says more or less the following, “Since I’ve been reading all morning… tearful headlines, let me remind you of some facts: ‘Donald Tusk, historian by education, has been saying in his election campaign about his family and how his Grandfathers were sent to concentration camp for opposing the Nazis. Including his Grandpa Jozef Tusk. The reality, however, is slightly different. As it is known from the Berlin archives, the Grandpa of today’s’ EU chairman, Jozef Tusk, in 1944 served in the SS reserves. He even enlisted in Heinrich Himmler’s punitive squads voluntarily, for ideological reasons. And judging by photography, he was also a member of the SD, which was engaged in search and arrest of Jews in Poland and sending them to concentration camps. The image is provided by the Deutsches Bundesarchiv, its name is “Verhaftung von Juden”, arrest of Jews. The group probably searched for Jews in Gdansk and its surroundings and sent them to concentration camps.”

Picture from Yana Miteva’s FB page


The truth, of course, is far, far away from the quoted by Ms. Miteva text, but it’s interesting to see how trolls mix facts with lies, so that we better understand why the danger from fake news and disinformation is so big.

First, about the picture.
Anyone can see the original  in Wikimedia and it indeed is from the German archives. What is important to know is that its description is “Poland September 1939, near Ustronie/Opatowice ; road transport of arrested Jews under surveyance of Police force and SD. Four SD men are sitting in a cabriolet : from left to right, a Oberscharführer (UK:Staff sergeant; US:Sergeant first class), a Rottenführer (UK:Lance corporal; US:Corporal), a Untersturmführer (UK and US:Second lieutenant), a Oberscharführer.

In other words, the man on the picture, who allegedly is Mr. Tusk’s Grandfather, is a corporal from the German army, but he cannot be Mr. Tusk, because, as descibed in the point below, in September he could not be in the German army. Also, Ms. Miteva claims in her posting that Mr. Tusk was part of the SS, and in the next sentence she claims he was in SD.

Second, let’s see what he has done during the war as it is well documented in his official Wikipedia page,  and the sources, listed there.

“On 1 September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, the Free City of Danzig was incorporated into the German Reich and the citizens of the Free City became German nationals. Tusk was assaulted in his house in the morning, and later witnessed German arrests of Poles at the railway station, and the Defence of the Polish Post in Danzig.
Józef Tusk reported the assault to Danzig police, and was subsequently arrested as a Polish activist, described as a “Polish fanatic, dangerous to the security of the German State”; his family on the same day was evicted from their house. Tusk was a forced laborer working in the construction of the Stutthof concentration camp. In 1941 he was interviewed by Gestapo and imprisoned in Neuengamme concentration camp.On 26 August 1942 he was released from Neuengamme.
On 2 August 1944 Tusk was conscripted into Wehrmacht, into the 328. Grenadier-Ersatz- und Ausbildungsbatallion (328th Grenadier Replacement and Training Battalion).[7][8][9] After about four months, around 24 November 1944 or soon afterward, he either deserted, defecting to the Polish Armed Forces in the West, or was imprisoned in an Allied prisoners-of-war camp.

So, the logical questions:

Yana Miteva’s FB page

Where’s the fake story coming from on Ms. Miteva’s wall?
From a Russian language web site, Politforums. The author of the original story is Oleg Lurie, who published it in Live Journal. If you wondeer why Ms. Miteva republished this fake story, don’t wonder too much – on her wall (see picture on the left) you can see that she’s a big fan of Russia (the flags of Russia and Bulgaria on the cover photo, some profile pictures with signs of (nostalgia?) the Soviet “revolution” of 1917 are enough to give you some ideas. Plus, of course,  pictures with  obvious Russian propaganda. Of course, what she wrote in her status are not her claims, she has just translated what’s written in the Russian original. But she has not changed or questioned anything from the written in the original.

Who is the original author?
If you are asking yourself who is Mr. Lurie, the answer, in short – a convicted felon, who spent years in jail. What his intention might have been, when writing his Live Journal story, is perhaps answered best by the chosen tags: Gdansk, Himmler, Hitler, Donald Tusk, EU, European Union, Jozef Tusk, Kiev, SD, SS, Ukraine, Jews, european values, police, concentration camps, fascism (Гданьск, Гиммлер, Гитлер, Дональд Туск, ЕС, Евросоюз, Иосиф Туск, Киев, СД, СС, Украина, евреи, европейские ценности, каратели, концлагеря, фашизм). You can’t miss the Hitler, Himmler, Kiev and Ukraine tags, right, which are “quite relevant” for this article…

Was this an old story, recycled today?
Yes, it was. It was first used in the Polish presidential elections in 2005, and back then it was dealt with swiftly and decisevly – the person, who used the picture to claim the connection, was a politician from the opposition party, Law and Justice, and he was expelled from the party for his role in the accusations, and the politician, who won the election, Mr. Kaczyński, issued an apology in the name of his political party to Tusk. The question is not if Mr. Tusk’s Grandfather served in the German army, of course, because it has nothing to do with the politician Donald Tusk, who hasn’t been even born there.

Why the fake, why now?
Clearly because of the extremely positive reaction of the Bulgarian media and society to Mr Tusk’s speech on January 11th in Sofia. Anti-Bulgarian and anti-European propaganda cannot leave such a positive reaction without an answer. The text is written long time ago in Live Journal, but whether it was just translated in Bulgaria, when it was needed to undermine Mr. Tusk’s authority – that’s a question with no easy answer.


By the way, it will be interesting to see who will click on the bait of cheap anti-Bulgarian and anti-European propaganda, and will continue to share the fake news. And who will find out that they are being victims of this propaganda. And, of course, who will stand up against it.

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5 Responses to Cheap Russian Propaganda Against Bulgaria and the European Union

  1. Plamen says:

    Could you elaborate on how the whole thing is Anti-Bulgarian, since it is in the title and but nowhere discussed in the text? And why Russian? Because a random delusional “big fan of Russia” person reposted it on their Facebook page from a random Russian-language blog? It doesn’t take much to dismiss it as nonsense, but taking it seriously and calling it a cheap Russian propaganda itself actually sounds like a propaganda. Shall we also call all the alt-right posts about the Las Vegas shooting saying that Paddock converted to Islam a cheap American anti-Muslim propaganda? You know, since it would also fit the current administration’s narrative?
    It’s annoying when people talking about propaganda resort to implications, assumptions, appeal to authority, straw man arguments and not just stick to the facts and the rational discussion. The one thing this achieves is further dividing people.

    • Very simple – it was published immediately after Mr. Tusk’s speech, when everyone was recognizing it touched the hearts of the Bulgarian people. It is Russian, because it was translated from Russian, and not from Polish. It wasn’t a “random Russian-language blog”, but a well known author. I don’t know why you would mix this case with American issues, unless, of course, you have an issue with the US. As for the division of the Bulgarian people, clearly the publication of the fake story had that in mind, too.
      As anohter reader of this blog pointed out:
      It was an old story, debunked long ago! But even today a lot of enemies of Donald Tusk, of Bulgaria and its European choice are not ashamed of multiplying Moscow’s disinformation about Tusk’s Nazi-grandfather etc. Here is an exposure of the fake:

  2. Plamen says:

    “Touched the hearts of the Bulgarian people” is a stretch and ignoring the fact that there is a significant part of the Bulgarian people that are pro-Russia and anti-EU. Why it happened now is simple indeed – it’s just an example reaction of the anti-EU oriented part of the Bulgarian people, where the confirmation bias is strong and no one would look for facts, not that they are not ashamed. However that doesn’t make it Anti-Bulgarian in its intentions, nor it makes it Russian.
    So when you said “cheap Russian propaganda” what you really meant was “cheap Russian-language propaganda” and you didn’t want to imply that it was somehow related to the nation or governmet? It does seem to carry general anti-Russian sentiment.
    The digression with whether or not I have issues with the US is not relevant to the discussion and only helps to avoid the question. The question was sufficiently clear – in the example I gave you would you use the term American the same way you use the term Russian? The obvious anti-parallel here is what I have an issue with. Is it a bias or a propaganda? I have issues with this rhetoric, which unless intended to divide and maintain confrontation between people, is counter-productive. Anything other than verifiable facts and unbiased supply of information is counter-productive, when fighting propaganda.
    Since you made some assumptions, let me clarify – no, I don’t have issues with the US, and I am pro-EU (although I’m not one of the touched ones – Tusks’s speech was just a vacuous PR).

    • Sir, would you elaborate on your opinion that “there is a significant part of the Bulgarian people that are pro-Russia and anti-EU”? I have not seen any such data, so, please, share it with my readers.

      • Plamen says:

        I would have thought anyone reading the comments section thus far would be more interested to see your thoughts on the points I made… However, since you asked – There is plenty of data if you search for it, but please take a look at the results of the last parliamentary election. The socialist party (BSP) and the nationalists coalition took about 28% and 9% of the vote respectively. BSP are somewhat pro-Russian, while the nationalists are explicitly pro-Russian and eurosceptic (and now part of the government), which I am sure you wouldn’t question. That is a significant part of the Bulgarian people.

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