US think tank’s ‘Kremlin researcher’ cites fake report by satirical website

A self-styled “Kremlin-focused” analyst has fallen victim to actual Russian fake news

A senior fellow with the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) think-tank Olga Lautman, who describes herself as a “Kremlin-focused” analyst and researcher, has fallen for a piece by the Russian satirical website Panorama.

Panorama published a short piece on its social media on Monday, claiming that Russia’s leading TV Channel One aired a large feature on supposed “rampaging fascist gangs in Kazakhstan.”

“The militants profess the ideas of neo-Nazism and the genocide of the non-indigenous population, support the ban on the Russian language, the Bologna process and the satanist group BTS,” the original message read.

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This piece of ‘news’ was illustrated by an old photo, taken in the early 2010s and featuring members of the Mongolian neo-Nazi group Tsagaan Khas (meaning White Swastika).

Panorama’s message spread on social media, with some users picking it up as a legit piece of news. The satirical shortie ultimately made it to Lautman – who boasts a vast army of over 260,000 subscribers – when she re-tweeted a message based on Panorama’s piece of ‘news’ and provided some in-depth ‘analysis’ of her own to the news that never happened.

“Russia’s Channel One aired a 30-minute special on fascist gangs in Kazakhstan. This after [Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart] Tokayev insulted [Russian President Vladimir] Putin by not agreeing with his propaganda. Russia should really focus on their domestic Nazi groups and the Russian Nazi paramilitaries fighting in Ukraine,” Lautman asserted.

While Lautman apparently promptly realized her mistake, quietly deleting the offending tweet, the expert’s failure did not escape Panorama. The satirical outlet did not miss the opportunity to mock her, questioning her level of expertise in the Kremlin and Eastern European affairs.