One of Eastern Europe’s Biggest Media Spreads Fake News, Now Explosive Report Suggests It’s Sponsored by Warsaw
Chances are, any active Twitter user in the past year has seen a tweet or two from an account called Visegrad24 and, most likely, the information contained in these tweets will have been false. Now an investigation by a leading Polish news site has revealed that the outfit appears to be funded by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s office.
Founded in 2020, Visegrad24 publishes news about Central and Eastern Europe around the clock. Completely opaque, its website is just one page, with links to its various social media accounts, PayPal, and text asking visitors to “please be patient” as their team “brings you currently 24/7 updates from Ukraine on social media.” Who or what runs and funds it is not stated, and a generic email address is the only means of contact.
Visegrad24’s subscriber base and visibility skyrocketed after the start of the Russian military offensive in Ukraine and it has generally posted several times a day about the conflict ever since. His Twitter account had nearly 320,000 followers at the time of this article’s publication, possibly due to a clear anti-Russian bias, with his posts almost always generating hundreds or even thousands of likes and retweets. and being frequently quoted by mainstream politicians, pundits, and journalists, and other media.
However, this rise to prominence was not without controversy. Many users have drawn attention to Visegrad24’s frequent tendency to publish false information, which often paints a far more positive picture of Kiev’s war effort than the reality on the ground. The example linked here shows a debunking of a typical Visegrad tall tale24.
The fake news spread by the account includes completely false information about actor Leonardo DiCaprio sending $10 million to Ukraine, Warsaw politicians’ support for the creation of a Poland-Ukraine union, and photos allegedly from the Ukrainian conflict which in fact date back several years. Old.
As such, Morawiecki now has serious questions to answer about whether his office is indeed behind Visegrad24, as a new investigation by Wiadomości strongly suggests.
Wiadomości discovered that on November 23, the Polish Ministry of Finance published budget allocation documents showing that Prime Minister Morawiecki had allocated 1,396,800 zlotys ($313,475) to an entity called Action-Life Foundation, to “fund the implementation of a public task under the name “Visegrad24”. ”
It seems that there is no other organization in the region, or even in the world, with this name, except for the well-known social media initiative. Seeking clarity, Wiadomości contacted the Prime Minister’s Office, asking if it was one and the same person and the justification for funding the project. We asked the same questions at Action Life Foundation.
Initially, the Polish Government Information Center claimed that the Prime Minister’s grant award was issued in response to a bid submitted by Action Life Foundation in September, although it did not provide the contract. nor any other details, because the agreements “have not yet been concluded” and “the procedures are underway to sign the contract for the realization of this project”. They also did not specify whether it was the even Visegrad24 and ignored follow-up requests on this issue.
Wiadomości also had difficulty verifying the facts with the Action-Life Foundation. Founded in 2014, the organization officially deals with “the promotion of health protection in all its aspects”, “to support and initiate the development of sport, culture, education, ‘art, science, medicine, physiotherapy and overall promotion of optimism in life’, and ‘charitable activity’.
Wiadomości called the number listed on the Foundation’s website. Curiously, the individual who responded did not want to identify himself, although his statements suggest that he was the one who led discussions with the Prime Minister’s Office about the Visegrad grant24. However, they were apparently informed on November 21 and 25, just as the funds were officially granted, that “there are no more funds in the budget” and that the organization would not receive any more money. of State.
However, the anonymous did not want to say who had relayed this information, and whether the decision to immediately withdraw the grant awarded had been given in writing. When asked if the Foundation had carried out geopolitical activities before being awarded the Visegrad24 project, he mentioned the Polish-Czech Culture and Song Festival, and when asked about the site itself, he said said: “there is no project, therefore there is no website. He then hung up.
Poland’s prime minister’s office also ignored inquiries about whether its grant for the Foundation had been withdrawn and whether that had happened after Wiadomości asked about the Visegrad24 project. Stefan Tompson, video creator, public relations manager and associate of Polish public TV channel Telewizja Polska linked to social media operation Visegrad24, did not respond to a call from Wiadomości, but read messages from his journalists on these subjects.
Their collective silence speaks volumes. Since the start of the conflict, an information war has been waged online, which Australian researchers say is strongly in favor of Ukraine. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if Visegrad24 was actually funded by the Polish state. What else could explain the reluctance of every individual and official involved to raise their hand?