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Concerns over propaganda from Russian Embassy

Luka Forman
Russian Embassy NZ
Embassy of the Russian Federation in Wellingon  Gennady Notchway, Russian Consul to New Zealand.

Experts and politicians have raised concerns around the Russian Embassy in New Zealand spreading misinformation on its website and social media platforms.

National's head of foreign affairs Gerry Brownlee, said the Russian ambassador should be sent packing. 

Brownlee said the embassy is spreading propaganda about what's happening in Ukraine. 

The embassy's website and Facebook page include claims that the invasion is just a "special military operation" and that the Ukrainian military is carrying out attacks on its own people.

Brownlee said the government is committed to removing hate speech related to terrorism through the Christchurch Call, and it should do the same with Russian propaganda. 

"You've got to say this action is beyond terrorism, it's just unbelievable what's happening in Ukraine."

Brownlee said the government has already cut diplomatic ties with Russia, so there's no reason for the embassy to still be here. 

"The so called diplomatic niceties, the cup of tea and cucumber sandwich sort of stuff that's so prevalent in diplomatic circles, needs to be dispensed with. 

He said the ambassador has already refused to meet with the foreign affairs committee, so there's no benefit in keeping them here to communicate.

Ukrainian honorary consul, Oleksandr Kirichuk shares this sentiment.

He warns if the ambassador remains we could see demonstrations like those which happened outside the Russian embassy in Sydney.  He said those taking part were supporting the Russian invasion, and the protests were organised by a Russian consul. 

"Do you want something like this to happen in New Zealand?" he asked. 

Kirichuk also pointed out that New Zealand has far more diplomatic relations with Russia than it does with Ukraine, and he said this should change.

He said there are 17 Russian diplomats in New Zealand and no Ukrainian ones - he is the only honorary consul. 

The same goes for our representation abroad. There are a number of our diplomats in Russia, and only one consul in Ukraine, he said. 

He'd like to see New Zealand's diplomats moved to Ukraine or a friendly neighbouring country, where they can help out those fleeing.

James Headley is a professor of Russian foreign policy at Otago University.

He pointed out that Russian propaganda websites like "war on fakes" could be a problem if they got more traction.  A link to the site is currently on the Russian Embassy website. 

Headley said the site is almost a mirror image of another website "EU vs Disinformation" which fact checks Russian propaganda.

According to Headley, Russia isn't trying to win a war of information, but instead create a general lack of trust in information. 

"When people say, there must be another side to it, we don't know what to believe anymore...once you get that, Russia's winning."

He said identifying misinformation is crucial.

"It matters, because people are dying."

When asked for comment, the Russian Embassy referred Metronews to their website and social media, saying information will be posted when available.




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