Ruptly, Russian international news agency spreading biased reports

Ruptly is a Russian state video news agency specializing in video-on-demand. We will explain how this organization, based in Berlin, Germany, is used by the Kremlin regime to push its narratives to foreign media.

Ruptly is a subsidiary of the Russian state-controlled television network RT, banned in the EU for spreading disinformation. 

Employees exodus from Ruptly after the start of Russia’s war

Last year, many Ruptly employees, including senior journalists and editors, resigned in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine after the Russian authorities restricted this news agency from describing Russia’s war as an invasion.

Ruptly employees complained that they were being prevented from describing the Russian invasion as such, amongst other editorial objections, according to Reuters. Moscow claims its war against Ukraine is a “special military operation” and has forced all state media to use this terminology.

Ruptly has been blocked on YouTube

In March 2022, YouTube blocked Ruptly. The Google-owned video platform has pledged to block all channels linked to ‘Russian state-funded media.’ Google blocked Russian international state media RT and Sputnik throughout Europe.

Previously, Ruptly pretended that traditional news agencies were offering “biased” content and positioned itself as “an alternative solution.” 

In 2021, Ruptly had over 1,700 media customers from over 100 countries. In February 2021, it signed a deal with Chinese state-owned CCTV+ to open up access to China news coverage.

LinkedIn listed 208 people whose current employer is Ruptly on February 2, 2023.

Ruptly has a team of 80 journalists from 42 countries at its Berlin newsroom. The Kremlin-funded agency has offices in Moscow and Beijing. Along with its full-time video journalists, it employs freelance video journalists, or stringers, to capture on-demand content at the scene of events.

Testimonial by former Ruptly journalist

One former Rutply journalist told how the agency works in the program “National Security Council” on the “Iceland” channel, presented by Tatiana Popova, according to the article on Ukrainska Pravda, a leading Ukrainian media. We quote it here below:

“I think Ruptly, in many ways, doesn’t just work with protesters, with sources of information like all the normal mainstream media. I think they have clearer instructions from their governing centers and more from the intelligence services. Because they get too many events before the events have started and something scandalous has happened”, a journalist said, who preferred not to disclose the identity. 

“It is no secret that members of special services, members of special services of the Russian Federation are employed by all Russian TV channels, and Ruptly and Russia Today are no exception to this. I am sure that such people work both in the field and in some representative offices, and they may also exist in Berlin, ” the journalist added. 

RT banned in Europe from March 2022

In March 2022, the EU imposed sanctions on RT English, RT UK, RT Germany, RT France, and RT Spanish and stopped their broadcasts in EU countries.

RT is a state-owned Russian propaganda outlet whose true role is to be the Kremlin’s mouthpiece for foreign audiences. The media outlet broadcasts in Russian, English, Arabic, Spanish, French, German, and Serbian.

However, RT, and the Kremlin propaganda in general, spread fakes, manipulations, disinformation, and propaganda campaigns long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

The messages disseminated by this resource discredited the Ukrainian state and the entire democratic world, incited hostility towards Western countries and international organizations, and undermined trust in the healthcare system during the Pandemic.

According to a new report, Russian state media content is still being spread on social media, despite sanctions introduced by the EU. Content produced by Kremlin-backed news outlets RT and Sputnik is still reaching audiences in the EU.

This is the main finding of a report produced by the Disinformation Situation Center, a recently-formed coalition of civil society organizations, including HateAid and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, focused on combating Russian disinformation linked to the war in Ukraine. 

Sputnik and RT’s closure hasn’t stopped pro-Kremlin propaganda from spreading in Europe. Pro-Russia propagandists, and even some journalists from RT, have disguised themselves in global media and published their stories on new platforms, such as Omerta and Reseau International.

In 2022, Russia designed methods to get around the ban, and the number of dubious websites promoting the same pro-Russian information has multiplied. To cover it up, the Russia-funded resources changed the brand of their work. And they copied and pasted the content from “Russia Today” and Sputnik onto brand-new websites with no apparent links to Moscow. 

Ruptly as a tool to push Kremlin propaganda to foreign media

The Russian news agency Ruptly still serves as a tool for Moscow to push Kremlin narratives in the media in different countries. The reports filmed by Ruptly correspondents with biased information are distributed to TV channels that are subscribers of the agency. 

Thus, local media in different countries use video materials and information from Ruptly to create their media products. As a result, the Kremlin’s narratives may end up on independent media websites. 

First, this can happen if the journalists or editors in the media who order reports from Ruptly are not qualified or lack competence in Russian matters. 

Because Ruptly spreads biased materials and disinformation, this organization, dependent on the Russian government, does not belong on the list of news organizations. Ruptly’s correspondents should be stripped of their accreditation since they are biased propagandists to prevent their materials from deceiving readers abroad.

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