3 January 2023

Information Laundering via Baltnews on Telegram: How Russian State-Sponsored Media Evade Sanctions and Narrate the War

Martha Stolze

Information has long been used as a foreign policy tool by the Kremlin. Most recently, the Russian attack on Ukraine has prompted a new wave of research into the way pro-Kremlin messaging is spread in Western countries and to what effect. This study uncovers a specific form of information influence campaigns: Information Laundering (IL) and reveals that apart from increasingly amplifying Kremlin-official media since February 2022, like Sputnik, RT or RIA Novosti, the Baltnews Telegram channel has also increasingly spread cases of IL, by nature a more covert technique of audience manipulation. In the process of IL, information of Western news articles was manipulated and spread on Russian-domain websites, later reaching Nordic-Baltic websites and the Baltnews Telegram channel. The study thus demonstrates how Russian-domain and Kremlin-official media systematically draw from and amplify content published in the Western press that can be made to align with their own messaging as part of information influence campaigns.

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