BelNPP related disinformation asserts a 30% price jump for electricity in the Baltics


Lithuania's strict position towards the Belarusian NPP is systematically presented in the Kremlin-supported media as causing inconvenience to the population of the country. According to DebunkEU.org analysis, in May the news was dominated by messages that the inspection of the warning and information system in Lithuania was held to cause unnecessary panic, and the plan to disconnect from the BRELL network will bear its cost – an increased price for electricity.


According to the research data, the biggest wave of disinformation was recorded on May 12, when a technical inspection of the warning and information system was carried out in Lithuania, during which sirens were turned on throughout the whole country. In the Kremlin-related media, the exercise was treated as an attempt by the Lithuanian government to cause panic and concern, and to remind about the alleged insecurity of BelNPP and thus justify its policy failures - inability to stop the construction of the plan and inability to comply with its own laws not to buy electricity from Belarus.


Dynamics of mentions by type of information, May 2021

In the analysed articles it was reiterated as well that many nuclear safety organisations and energy experts recognised BelNPP as safe, and Lithuania, instead of having a productive dialogue, keeps escalating the myth about the incidents at the plant and demonstratively discredits the image of Belarus in the international arena.


Another increase of disinformation about Lithuanian position on the BelNPP coincided with Facebook post by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda about his speech at the European Council. In the post, the head of state said that the forced landing of a commercial flight by Belarus once again shows that the safety of the BelNPP is also a matter of great concern, and that the European Commission should finalise the report on measures to prevent unsafe electricity from entering the EU market as soon as possible. However, the pro-Kremlin media interpreted this as a yet another attempt by Lithuania to interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus and discredit the power plant, which is allegedly claimed to be safe by many international experts.


Dynamics of main narratives by contact reached, May 2021

It is important to mention that the narrative, which states that the IAEA supports Belarus and has confirmed that the power plant is safe and operational, was the most widespread and frequent message in May. The second most popular narrative was that Lithuania interferes in the internal affairs of Belarus, raising the issue of the BelNPP not being secure on international level and thus damaging the image of Minsk abroad. Other popular narratives in May focused on allegedly escalated disagreements between the Baltic countries over the BelNPP and Lithuania's unjustified opposition to buy cheap electricity.


Most popular narratives by contact reach, May 2021

The analysis has also shown some attempts to escalate several reoccurring topics: the negotiations between the three Baltic countries on how to arrange the electricity import, and the agenda of disconnection from the BRELL network.


On the first topic, Kremlin-related sources tried to create an impression that all three Baltic states had already agreed on a new import strategy, however, when a party which was previously in opposition came to power in the end of 2020, Lithuania suddenly began to make new, unfounded demands and blame its neighbours for everything.


The second topic was linked to current economic situation, claiming that allegedly poor Baltic countries are now experiencing a turning point. It was said that electricity prices in all three states have already risen 30%, because of the irrational desire of the government to achieve energy independence by disconnecting from the BRELL network, which ensures cheap and reliable electricity supply from the East.


Throughout May 2021, malign information against the Lithuanian position on the BelNPP accounted for 169 (25.68% out of examined 658 that were related to the BelNPP). This shows a considerable decrease in comparison to the statistics of April (176, i.e., 40.09% out of examined 439).


Out of 169 articles identified with false and misleading content, 65.1% were written in Russian and 34.9% in Lithuanian (88.2% and 11.8% in April respectively). Sputniknews.ru, sputniknews.lt and baltnews.lt published the biggest share of articles containing a malign message about the Lithuanian position on the BelNPP (23.1%, 16% and 5.3% share of all articles respectively).


Share of mentions by sources, May 2021

During the period considered ria.ru, sutniknews.ru and rg.ru shared almost 50% of total contact reach of articles in May containing malign message about Lithuanian position on the BelNPP (25.4%, 15% and 9.5% of all articles respectively).


Share of sources by contact reach, May 2021