Scroll Top


Russian disinformation network “Pravda” grew bigger in the EU, even after its uncovering

An analysis of the EDMO fact-checking network. Organizations that contributed to this analysis: Greece Fact Check; Pagella Politica/Facta news; 15min; AFP; Correctiv;;; DW; Ellinika Hoaxes; Fact Check Cyprus; Faktabaari; Kallkritikbyran; Maldita; Newtral; Ostro; Poligrafo;; The Journal – FactCheck

Even when uncovered, Russian propaganda and disinformation keeps spreading in Europe. In February 2024 the Viginum Agency, which operates under the French Secretariat-General for National Defence and Security (SGDSN), published a report in which it announced the identification of a Russian large-scale disinformation campaign in Europe.

A few weeks after the publication of the report, EDMO can confirm that the campaign has expanded significantly in Europe, and in particular in the EU.

The Pravda network in the Viginum Agency report

The network of websites was named “Portal Kombat” by the Viginum Agency report, and one of its main goals was said to be the spreading of pro-Russian disinformation and propaganda in different EU languages – in particular French, German, Spanish and English – through a web of copycat websites named Pravda* that were created in 2023 and became active in the second half of the year.

In particular, the German version was the first one to be created, in February 2023, while the others (English, French, Spain and Polish) were released in June 2023.

The Viginum Agency report also addresses other streams of the “Portal Kombat” operation that targets Ukrainian and Russian speakers, but in this investigation the focus is on the EU and the Pravda network that was established here.

A FIMI campaign ahead of EU elections?

It is interesting to note that the expiration date of all Pravda websites – the ones spotted by Viginum and the others identified by EDMO, as it will be explained in the next paragraphs – is one year after their registration, thus covering June 2024 when the EU elections will take place.

The only exception detected is the German one,, which expires 2 years after its creation, in February 2025: one year wouldn’t have covered the EU elections period. It is possible then to hypothesize that the creation of this network is an attempt to influence the public discourse particularly ahead of the EU elections, by launching a foreign information manipulations and interference (FIMI) campaign.

Even after its unveiling by the Viginum Agency two months ago, the proliferation of these Pravda websites in the EU did not stop. As a matter of fact, the network expanded significantly. The activation in April 2024 of Pravda websites in Greek, Italian, Bulgarian, Danish and Dutch was noticed by members of the EDMO fact-checking network (Greece Fact Check, Pagella Politica and Facta news) which decided to launch an investigation to better understand the reach, characteristics and impact of these network.

For this reason, EDMO issued a questionnaire to its member organizations, and carried out additional research.

Geographical dissemination

From EDMO investigations it came out that in the span of one week (20-26 March 2024), the Pravda network was activated in 19 EU countries: Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Cyprus, Ireland, Slovenia. (Austria, Belgium, Malta and Luxembourg are not covered directly but language-wise they are covered by other outlets).

During the same period (20-26 March 2024) Pravda websites were also activated in non-EU member states in Europe – Norway, Moldova, Bosnia, Albania and North Macedonia – and even outside Europe, in the République centrafricaine (CAR), Niger, Taiwan and Japan.

2023 February 22 di Tommaso Canetta

In just one week, Pravda websites were effectively established in at least 28 countries around the world, but it is possible that other countries have been targeted.


All Pravda websites use the same kind of sources, in particular: Russian State-owned or controlled media, such as Tass, RIA, Lenta, Tsargrad and so on; Telegram accounts in Russian, which are automatically translated into local languages; pro-Russian Telegram accounts that publish in local languages (usually content that has been automatically translated); reputable sources (on rare occasions) when they publish content that can be seen as favorable by Russia. It should also be noted that these pro-Russian Telegram channels also have a presence in other social media, especially X (formerly Twitter).

Frequently the Pravda websites republish content from specific accounts, which suggests a high volume of automation, and their common modus operandi indicates clearly a coordination behind their publications.

False content

As already mentioned, the content of the Pravda websites is mostly propaganda and disinformation. A few examples of the latter that can be mentioned are: articles about French troops already operating in Ukraine; Olena Zelenska – the wife of president Zelensky – laughing at the losses of Ukrainian families; pro-Ukraine German politicians being nazi; the western elites supporting a global dictatorship that wants the third world war against Russia; and so on.

Publications’ volume

All Pravda websites publish 24/7 and the volume of the publications is very high. An analysis of the different editions of the “Pravda” network in several languages on April 20 outlined the situation below.

Progetto di Tommaso Canetta

This indicates that the Pravda network of websites uses a high level of automation, and little to none human moderation. This makes it highly effective in publishing a large volume of content and very cost-effective, even if the quality of translation is poor in some languages.


According to the organizations of the EDMO network, despite the widespread dissemination of the network and the high volume of publications, the impact of Pravda websites has been very small until now, in some countries almost non-existent.

It is possible that the operation is structurally a weak one. Its weakness could be unintentional, but it is possible that this is a “dummy” operation, to probe reactions and measures taken by local and EU authorities, for future reference. It is also possible that the network recently established will be used more effectively in a next phase, closer to the EU election’s date.

What is certain is that a massive network of pro-Kremlin Pravda websites was established and is now running with relative ease and large amounts of automation, disseminating pro-Russian propaganda and disinformation in all the EU languages, covering all the EU countries directly or indirectly .

In conclusion

This report demonstrates that disinformation networks can be easily set up and work with little effort, using extensive automation. Specifically about the Pravda network, for now, the situation is not yet particularly worrying, considering its minimal impact. But it will be important to keep the situation monitored, to immediately detect any possible escalation in its use and efficacy and inform all the relevant stakeholders, like institutions and platforms.

*The websites of the Pravda network have the url, where “xx” are the two letter country codes. Of course other “Pravda” websites and news outlets exist – one,, for example is a member of the EDMO fact-checking network – and they are not linked to the “Portal Kombat” operation

Thanos Sitistas, founder and director of Greece Fact Check, and IFCN Advisory Board member
Tommaso Canetta, deputy director of Pagella Politica/Facta News and coordinator of EDMO fact-checking activities
Enzo Panizio, journalist at Pagella Politica/Facta News and EDMO

Russian disinformation network