Kremlin Spreads Disinformation about PACE Report

The Kremlin and its propagandists continue to spin information and spread disinformation. The Kremlin spun commentary on a recent report by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) covering the upcoming Ukrainian presidential election.

From March 6-7, the PACE delegation visited Kyiv to assess Ukraine’s pre-election climate before the first round of the presidential election scheduled for March 31. After its visit, the delegation concluded that “the general environment was appropriate for the holding of democratic elections.” It acknowledged “the efforts made by the Ukrainian authorities to have a genuine election process.” Moreover, the delegation praised the country’s legal framework for the elections, saying that it, “if applied in good faith, should lead to democratic elections.”

The PACE representatives also highlighted the issues in the election lead-up that constitute “room for improvement” including the following: the significantly large pool of candidates, the biased reporting by oligarch-owned media, underrepresentation of women in the voting list, poor engagement of civil society, the campaigns’ lack of financial transparency, the risk of interference by paramilitaries, and more. These concerns mirror many of the findings of Ukrainian electoral watchdogs that report regularly about widespread manipulation in the Ukrainian media and violations of electoral legislation.

The Kremlin-controlled propaganda ecosystem, as usual, distorted the report ad absurdum. Pulling from their disinformation toolbox, the “journalists” ignored the delegation’s generally positive conclusion and emphasized the negative aspects of the report. “PACE Calls for Transparency in Financing of the Election Campaign in Ukraine” appeared as the headline of a TASS article on the delegation’s assessment. The TASS article at least mentioned the delegation’s positive remarks in its conclusion; the Kremlin’s primary international disinformation outlet, Russia Today (RT), failed to even mention the positive dimensions of the PACE report. “PACE criticized the electoral campaign in Ukraine,” RT reported. Both outlets paid special attention to the report’s acknowledgement of far-right elements in Ukraine, and that candidates resort to dirty tricks in their campaigning.

As we have already reported, the Kremlin’s main narrative on Ukraine’s elections is that they will be rigged and their results not trustworthy.

We have debunked these accusations before. We must highlight that the PACE delegation mentions neither of these concerns regarding potential provocations and the closing of certain polling stations in occupied territories of Ukraine in their report. While the Kremlin puts forth artificial arguments in an effort to sow doubt about the legitimacy of Ukraine’s presidential election, international organizations like PACE, which specialize in election monitoring, continue to objectively assess the positives and negatives of Ukraine’s pre-election landscape.