Analysis of the News: “Simonyan: The terrorist attack in Crocus is a monstrous and brutal operation under a false flag”

Published on:

March 2024.

As part of the program Regional Initiative for combating disinformation “Western Balkans Combatting disinformation Center: Exposing malicious influences through fact-checking and Analytical Journalism“, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

Simonyan: The terrorist attack in Crocus is a monstrous and brutal operation under a false flag

On Friday, March 22, more than 130 people died in a terrorist attack at the “Crocus City Hall” in Moscow. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, but Russia is trying to involve Ukraine in the entire attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “the attack was carried out by the hands of radical Islamists, against whose ideology the Islamic world has been fighting for centuries”, but that “they are looking for answers as to who ordered” that crime and reiterated the possibility that there are connections with Ukraine.

As early as March, the United States warned the authorities in Moscow that there was an “unquestionable” threat of a terrorist attack in Russia that could take place at mass gatherings. On March 8, US authorities publicly advised US citizens in Russia to avoid large gatherings. As “The Conversation” magazine wrote, the Russian authorities ignored the warnings of the CIA due to the fact that the same service was involved in providing intelligence to Ukraine.

One of the still unanswered questions is why the Russian authorities and the Russian intelligence services ignored the US warnings, given how closely the US intelligence services monitor the Islamic State. It suggests that Russian services have made severe security lapses, and instead, blame is being placed on Ukraine, as the regime in Moscow is believed to want to use the attack as justification and further support for aggression against Ukraine, although Kyiv strongly denies any involvement.

Regime media in Moscow, marked as a propagandistic machine of the Kremlin, supports the narrative that Ukraine is behind all of this. The narrative about Ukraine’s involvement spreads through Russian state channels in Serbian, such as RT Balkan and Sputnik.

One such news is the news published on the RT Balkan website on March 25, in which the editor-in-chief of this media, Margarita Simonyan, claims that the ISIS organization was chosen precisely because it has carried out many terrorist attacks all over the world and is not connected to Ukraine. She assessed that the attack was carried out under a false flag (of ISIS) and that Ukraine was actually behind everything.

“It is absolutely obvious that a monstrous, cruel, unimaginable operation was invented under a ‘false flag’… And they knew in advance that it was about ISIS because it was necessary for the world public opinion not to look at Ukraine.” At this moment, the world media is spreading the belief that Kyiv is not involved in the terrorist attack, and the words of sympathy of all Western leaders are directed towards this. This is not ISIS. It’s them, there’s no doubt about it,” said Simonyan.

The fact that the West organized the attack is the dominant narrative in Serbian pro-government tabloids. In this event, there is no difference in the reporting of Russian state media and Serbian tabloids close to the authorities in Belgrade.

The Informer writes on the front page of March 26 that the CIA is behind the attack. Without reporting on the security failures, Informer reports the statement of the spokeswoman of the Kremlin, Maria Zakharova, that the regime in Kyiv and Washington, through ISIS, want to “wash their hands of the attack”. The Informer also states that the stronghold of ISIS is in Syria, which is under American control, which leads this media to the conclusion that America is behind the attack.

On the front page of March 26, Večernje Novosti also wrote that Ukraine was responsible for the attack, which claims that there is a “secret connection between Islamists and Ukraine.” For such a claim, Novosti found the statement of Russian journalist Ruslan Ostashko, who stated that Tajik volunteers are fighting on the side of Ukraine.

“Tajikists regularly become targets for recruitment by Ukrainian intelligence services, and one of them was caught photographing objects in a military unit near Moksva. “Now that the order has been completed, the request to find the killers has been deleted, but the Internet remembers everything,” Ostashko said.

Although there are many unknowns about the terrorist attack, Kremlin propaganda narratives dominate Serbian pro-government mainstream media. Such texts do not question the responsibility of Russian state officials but instead put the ball in the court of Kyiv and the West.

Author: Sofija Popović