Messing with the Truth: Disinformation in the West Spread by Eva Karene Bartlett

Messing with the Truth: Disinformation in the West Spread by Eva Karene Bartlett

28 October 2023
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In the West, narratives that echo Russian ones continue to circulate. Their sources include not only Russian media but also so-called “experts,” “bloggers,” or “journalists.” VoxCheck and the Center for Countering Disinformation of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine talk about one of their representatives, namely, Eva Karene Bartlett.

Photo of Eva Karene Bartlett (on the left). Source: Eva Karene Bartlett’s Facebook page.

Eva Karene Bartlett is a Canadian blogger, human rights activist, and journalist. She has her own social media accounts, gives interviews for TV channels and YouTube channels (Telesur, Redacted, Shiller Institute), and has her own blog on “Russia Today.” Through all these channels, she spreads disinformation.

Bartlett gained her “popularity” in a controversial manner by becoming part of the Russian disinformation campaign created to discredit the White Helmets and support the Assad regime in Syria. She accused the White Helmets of staging the rescue of children from the rubble in Syria and claimed that the Al Quds hospital in Aleppo was not bombed in 2016.

In 2017, Eva Bartlett was among the first to receive the Serena Shim award. As stated on the website, this award is given forthe supposedly uncompromising honesty of journalists who do not belong to the mainstream. These so-called “journalists” can use the funds from it to “continue their work in an environment that punishes them for their vision and readiness to expose those in power.” Individuals such as Scott Ritter and Jackson Hinkle, whose narratives echo Russian fakes, have also received this award. Additionally, “Bellingcat” found that this award is issued by a pro-Assad lobbying group. In this way, they finance organizations and individuals who portray the Assad regime positively.

For the first time in the territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia, Bartlett arrived in 2019 for so-called documenting of Ukrainian war crimes against the peaceful population of Donbas. From her Instagram page and interviews, it is known that she has been living in Russia since 2021. The blogger systematically visited Ukrainian territories occupied by the Russian Federation both before February 24, 2022, and after, spreading Russian propaganda.

For example, in 2021, Bartlett spread the fake claim that Russian military personnel were not present on the territory of Ukraine until February 24, 2022.

“People from outside, who are far away, probably don’t read the media we read… And they have the impression that the Ukrainian army is fighting againstthe Russian military on the front line. Although in reality, these are volunteers from Donbas who have left their professions to defend their own country.”

In reality, Russian troops and equipment have been present in Donbas since 2014. For example, in 2014, NATO published satellite images of Russian military equipment crossing the Ukrainian border. According to the international investigative group “Bellingcat,” thousands of Russian military personnel participated in the fighting in eastern Ukraine in 2014-2015. Russian intervention was also confirmed by its direct participants: Strelkov-Girkin, Pavel Gubarev, or Russian political figure Sergey Kurginyan.

After the full-scale Russian invasion, Bartlett, in an interview with the Latin American channel “Telesur” on August 4, 2022, accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces of shelling a hotel in Donetsk. At that time, “independent journalists” were allegedly present there, claiming to be the only ones reporting the truth about the Russian-Ukrainian war.

“… I would not put it past them to also target this hotel intentionally. It is known that many journalists stay there, and, of course, by targeting journalists, Ukraine can keep people from documenting its war crimes. … If indeed it was intentionally targeting journalists, and they are trying to silence any voices, you know, that are reporting on their war crimes.”

In this way, Bartlett tries to convince the foreign audience that Ukraine allegedly carries out “criminal shelling of civilian objects” and attempts to “eradicate freedom of speech.” This, in turn, is presented as evidence of Ukraine’s lack of democracy. Therefore, the population of allied countries should urge their governments to stop supporting Ukraine, especially with weapons, as the Ukrainian Armed Forces supposedly use them to shell the civilian population and infrastructure.

On September 23, 2022, the human rights activist distinguished herself as an “independent observer” during the illegal referendum on the annexation of the Donetsk region to the Russian Federation. In her Telegram channel, she writes:

“Voting has started in Donetsk… Of course, western pundits have already decided this is this is sham referendum, but the people here don’t care what the west says. The west has been arming Ukraine, which is is raining bombs down on Donetsk, killing 6 people yesterday, 16 people Monday, 4 people Saturday…and thousands over the past 8 years. Enough is enough, the people are voting and don’t be surprised if the results are for the DPR to join Russia.”

Screenshot of the post

In the attached videos from the pseudo-elections, it is noticeable that there is no anonymity in voting for Ukrainian citizens in areas outside the control of the Ukrainian government. Therefore, it is easy to predict a person’s choice when armed Russian military personnel are observing them.

On December 23, 2022, Eva Bartlett gave an interview to the German political and economic analytical center “Schiller Institute.” In it, she talked about the alleged Ukrainian war crimes against the civilian population in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions:

“I am sure you are all aware that prior to February 24th of this year, Ukraine, just prior, like in the weeks prior, Ukraine had significantly increased its already routine over 8+ years shelling of the Donbas. As I mentioned, I’ve been reporting from the Donbas and the Luhansk People’s Republic this year. And I go down, I spend three weeks there, come back here to my home in the Moscow oblast, I go back returned for three weeks, etc., etc. So, I have been back, back and forth six times this year. And every time I have been there, the Ukrainian shelling has intensified. And it is no longer on the peripheries; it is in the very heart of the city. And it is striking absolutely non-military areas. It is striking completely residential, commercial, civilian areas, busy streets, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, and apartment blocks.”

The human rights activist, addressing the Western audience, mentions the reason for the so-called “special military operation” — the eight-year shelling of Donbas, which became increasingly intense. She accuses the Armed Forces of Ukraine of deliberately shelling civilian objects. By exposing such “crimes,” Bartlett justifies Russia’s aggressive actions.

One of the most brutal signs of the genocide that Russia is committing against Ukraine is the deportation of children. Eva K. Bartlett is one of those who promotes narratives aligned with the Russian agenda, justifying Russia’s actions. In December 2022, on her page on X (formerly Twitter), she wrote:

“Western MSM claim that Russia “forcibly deported” up to 1.6 million Ukrainians. In Anapa, Russia, I met refugees from the Kherson region who refuted Western media’s claims that Russia had “kidnapped” them. They said Ukrainian shelling was the reason for seeking safety in Russia.”

Screenshot of the post 

On January 25, 2023, on her YouTube channel, Bartlett published a video about the work of Russian sappers, in which, even a year after the occupation of Mariupol, they continue to find Nazi attributes and ‘guidance manuals from Western curators’ in the areas of the former Ukrainian Armed Forces’ bases:

“Russian sappers in Mariupol continue to clear the city’s areas of mines, explosives, and booby traps left by the Ukrainian forces last year. In the liberated areas where the Ukrainian forces were stationed before, many Nazi attributes and Western combat, surveillance, and sniper instructions are still found.”

The journalist once again spreads the fake narrative that Ukrainian military personnel are Nazis supported and trained by the West. Russia is portrayed as a “victim” suffering from the constant aggressive policies of NATO countries, which continue the war to weaken Russia.

Eva Karen Bartlett is also a member of the “International Public Tribunal,’ created by Russia. She joined the documenting of so-called Ukrainian war crimes. The results of this work were recently published in Moscow in a book titled “Ukrainian Crimes Against Humanity 2022-2023.” Supposedly, it depicts “all crimes of the Kyiv regime,” demonizing and discrediting the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In turn, this is intended to generate even greater support for the Kremlin regime among the public and encourage it to go to war. Additionally, the book portrays Ukraine as a neo-Nazi and non-independent state.

Screenshot of the book

Screenshot from the book

During the spread of anti-Ukrainian narratives, Eva Karene Bartlett resorts to propaganda methods such as disinformation, generalization, and appeals to authority and merit.

At first glance, Bartlett may seem like a reputable journalist with authority within the community, experience, recognition among the audience, and awards for professional achievements. However, spending just 10 minutes of one’s time, the user will discover that:

  • Bartlett resides in Russia
  • She gained popularity through work with Russian media, where she misrepresented events in Syria and Ukraine and continues to do so
  • The award she received was issued by a pro-Assad lobbying group

Therefore, to avoid falling for the tactics of such authors, users should invest a bit of their time to learn about the journalist’s or blogger’s biography: whether they are associated with any interested party, if they have been involved in scandals (and what kind), if they reference reliable sources and provide links to the data they use.

In our case, it is also important to consider whether the author generalizes information. In the case of Bartlett and the deportation of Ukrainians to Russia, communication with one person or a small group does not mean that the rest of the people were not forcibly relocated to Russia.

And, of course, attention should be paid to the information itself. If a journalist publishes false news and regularly repeats narratives aligned with Russian ones, then users should consider refraining from consuming content from that individual.

Attention

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations