The EU support to Ukraine is coordinated by the European Commission’s Support Group for Ukraine (SGUA) and is based on shared values and allegiance to democratic principles, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Which is why it looks reasonable that Ukrainians are expecting the continuance of European support. Even so, it is essential to consider the political profile of each particular country taking in consideration some heterogeneity of the European Union that could be faced. In this article, Helena Sofia da Costa, InformNapalm’s volunteer from Portugal, comments on the political system of Portugal and on certain episodes that could be alarming. Ukrainians should be aware of those challenges in order to prevent or to minimise the negative aspects of Russian propaganda and to fight the consequences of anti-Ukrainian information operations deployment.
Hybrid warfare, which is widely mentioned nowadays in military and political discourse, includes a variety of instruments and activities to weaken and destabilise a country. Disinformation and false news, and of course, financial influence, are among the strongest hybrid warfare tools.
The Lusophone world (Mundo Lusófono) seems to be facing certain underhanded activities as well.
Lusophones (Portuguese: Lusófonos) are peoples that recognise Portuguese
as an official language that comprise an estimated 290 million people according to 2019 data.
A part of the Iberian peninsula (including modern Portugal territory) was once called Lusitânia, which formed the basis of the name “lusófonos”.
Portugal has a multi-party system, among which 5 are currently being considered dominant:
- Socialist Party (Partido Socialista, PS), guided by the principles of social democracy;
- Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata, PSD), the party of social democrats but despite the name, is a mixture of liberalism and conservatism;
- Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda, abbreviated to BE), far-left;
- CDS – PP (Centro Democrático e Social – Partido Popular), Christian Democratic;
- The Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português, PCP) is a communist, Marxist–Leninist political party based upon democratic centralism.
Yet another party, smaller in terms of number and influence, is eco-socialist party (Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes”, PEV).
The PEV has a close relationship with the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP). In 1987 entered the legislative and municipal elections as part of Unitary Democratic Coalition, which also includes PCP. Between 1983 and 1987, PEV was part of the United People Alliance, to which the PCP also belonged. PEV is often criticised for being an “appendage” of the PCP, and fairly so. Since the beginning of the coalition (Coligação Democrática Unitária, CDU), the member parties have never participated separately in any election.
The dominance of the leftists began in 1974. About 300 officers calling themselves the Armed Forces Movement (Movimento das Forças Armadas; MFA), planned and implemented the coup of April 25, 1974, which came to be known as the Revolution of the Carnations. As a consequence of those events, the dictatorial regime of Salazar fell, the Estado Novo (New State) stopped existing, and an early moderate-conservative phase (May 1974–March 1975) was followed by a radical-leftist phase. The Communists came to power.
The Socialists first came to power in 1976, and they are still in power, but since there were never enough votes to get into parliament, the Socialists are always paired with the Communists (that is, in a coalition).
Obviously, Ukraine cannot count on the support of the left-wing, especially of the Communists.
As an example, let’s bring to note the following fact. After the Ukraine’s Communist Party had been banned by court order, the Portuguese Parliament during a Parliament sitting on February 17, 2017 condemned the actions of the Ukrainian authorities.
The vote against the Ukrainian decision was presented by the PCP parliamentary group and approved by the following groups: PS, PCP, BE, and PEV.
Two Portuguese parties, namely PSD and CDS, supported the aforementioned implemented ban on Communist party’s activity in Ukraine, but they are still forming the Opposition.
It is being stated in the condemnation vote, that “the Social Democrats defend the end of the clashes in eastern Ukraine, condemn the violation of human rights and individual freedoms, and call for a peaceful solution to “establish peace and security” for the populations.”
A quotation from the condemnation vote:
- “The law approved in Ukraine in 2015, which allowed the illegalization of communists, is undemocratic and contravenes norms and conventions of international law.”
The left-wing, especially the far-left, BE, Bloco de Esquerda, has repeatedly been vilifying Ukraine. This includes both Ukrainians living in Portugal and those outside the country.
Volunteers of the International Community InformNapalm have already written about inadmissible statements addressed to Ukrainians:
- “Attention! Be careful while you are walking in the city! Owing to the Portugal-Ukraine football match, Lisbon became infected with Ukrainian Nazis and Portuguese racists. Don’t walk alone, don’t get into potentially dangerous places.”
A screenshot of the Facebook page
At the time, the person who wrote and made public via Facebook his words, Mr. Mamadou Ba, was a member of Parliament, being one of the far-left BE, Bloco de Esquerda, representing the Portuguese legislative branch.
An open letter to Portuguese Parliament on the insinuations made by
MP Mr. Mamadou Ba
As a matter of fact, Mr. Mamadou Ba “suddenly” terminated his mandate in November of the same year, in 2019, also quitting his activity as a member of BE, Bloco de Esquerda.
InformNapalm also wrote about a blatant disinformation campaign that erupted in Portugal in 2020. Such campaigns were also detected to appear simultaneously in several European countries, which is probably not a sign of a spontaneous process at all, but rather of a “vertical policy-making”.
One might ask, what does this have to do with the Russian Federation?
To find a probable answer, one needs to merely open the official website of the institution, called “Russkiy Mir Foundation” and check the list of the countries where it has its centres, or agents, whose actions are definitely coordinated from Moscow.
After numerous world-wide precedents of such occurrences, a person capable of critical thinking ought to have very little doubt that the embassies of the Russian Federation in various countries are nothing more than the headquarters of spies and saboteurs.
The distasteful events that occurred in Lisbon in June 2020 could be also analysed from that particular perspective. All central mass media in Portugal discussed the outrageous fact: there happened a data leak, release of sensitive and confidential information such as personal data of the oppositionists to the Putin regime living in Lisbon, to an untrusted environment, namely, to the Russian embassy in Portugal, of which Сâmara Municipal de Lisboa (Lisbon City Hall) is to blame.
For an average European, especially considering the Law regulations implemented in the European Union, personal data is a sacred matter, not to mention that it should be such for an official of high level. There is a kind of an unspoken rule: whoever runs the capital, has the potential to run the country.
Fernando Medina, the president of Lisbon City Hall, (presidente da Câmara Municipal de Lisboa), a person in the spotlight, acknowledged that the data of public activists taking part in protests against the Kremlin regime, had been passed to Moscow. Moreover, one of the protesters is already a holder of a Portuguese passport, i.e. the mayor’s office, among others, handed over Russia the personal data of a Portuguese citizen. In his public comment, Medina stated that he, the mayor, of course, knew nothing about the data breach.
But an internal audit of Lisbon City Hall indicated that the office of Medina was aware of data transmission since 2018.
In violation of the law, the Medina-led City Hall informed the Russian embassy of all demonstrations against the Kremlin not only in Lisbon but also in other cities, which is not even the prerogative of any city council by default.
According to the audit results, “Difficulties in interpreting the internal protocol forced the City Hall of Lisbon to send information about the particular organisers of the political protests to the Russian embassy at least 27 times.” The most recent information provided by the requested audit found that the Lisbon City Hall shared personal data of protesters in 52 cases after the entry into force of the European data protection law.
- In addition to the Russian embassy, the Lisbon City Hall shared data on protesters with the embassies of Israel, China and Venezuela.
Why should a mayor, who is entrusted with the responsibility on behalf of the citizens, a member of the ruling Socialist Party (PS), let things go uncontrolled? Yet, this is a rhetorical question.
By the way, Mr. Medina doesn’t seem to have any remorses and is going to stand as a candidate for a mayor position again, in the municipal elections in September 2021.
The next rhetorical question is, why did the Portuguese authorities not reject Medina’s candidacy, on the basis of the audit results?
Furthermore, there is yet another disturbing fact. According to the statistics of protests in Lisbon since 2013, the majority of political protests’ participants are not Russian, they are, actually, Ukrainian. Moreover, the wide majority of the protests, held by Ukrainian, took place right in front of the embassy of the aggressor country in Lisbon.
Quote: audit results. Screenshot.
Quote from the screenshot:
- “The Lisbon City Hall has not been able yet to ascertain the reasons for the persistence of this practice (*of disclosing personal data), despite the Law changes made in 2013. Meanwhile the practice remains “valid and in effect and was applied to the various requests for manifestation.”
Interestingly, in 2013, an instruction signed by the then mayor of the capital, Antonio Costa, was issued, that the city of Lisbon would provide data on manifestations only to the Ministry of Internal Administration (Portuguese: Ministério da Administração Interna or MAI) and to the local police service. Under no circumstances, embassies should have received such information. This axiom does not evidently apply to the Russian embassy which receives information first hand.
InformNapalm volunteers cannot help but notice yet another detail, namely, a tweet from a prominent MP, representative of the left-wing in Brazil, Alencar Santana Braga, whose words came “right out of the Russian playbook*”.
(*”Russian playbook” is a metaphor for the guidelines given to the Russian Troll Factory.)
Screenshot of the tweet: “Very symbolic! A black Brazilian, a left-wing “Crusader” from Salvador da Bahia gets over a fighter from Ukraine, a country ruled by far-right neo-Nazis who are idols of the Bolsonaro family. ”
The Embassy of Ukraine in the Federative Republic of Brazil responded to this tweet. Tweet of Fabiana Tronenko, ambassador’s spouse:
“Mr. MP, you should be ashamed of what you wrote. Don’t make innuendos when it comes to a serious matter. Respect Brazilian and Ukrainian sports! Have respect for Ukraine! The Ukrainian president, a Jew, does not support and has never supported such a way of thinking, which is basic and primitive and at the same time murderously inhuman.”
All of the above is the sort of precedent that must have been the focus of
not only the average people, but also, law enforcement agencies of developed democracies, international judicial institutions, and diplomacy missions.
We would like to kindly ask you to note that InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community also has a version of the site in Portuguese, therefore, the information about the facts of hybrid aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and other countries could be read and shared in several languages.
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- Special investigation: what does Berkut defend in Belarus? Part I
- Mathematical Models of Information Operations
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- The influence operation run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was just added to the FBI Most Wanted list, has new targets right in the heart of Europe
- NATO targeted with false narratives about ‘offensive’ exercises and stirring protests in Russia