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EU Parliament Urges Fight Against Russia's 'Fake News'

  • RFE/RL

The Kremlin with its palaces and churches is reflected in the Moskva River waters in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 30, 2016. Russia has entered a second year of its military operation in Syria.

The Kremlin with its palaces and churches is reflected in the Moskva River waters in Moscow, Russia, Sept. 30, 2016. Russia has entered a second year of its military operation in Syria.

The European Parliament has warned that "hostile propaganda" by Russia against the EU is growing, while urging member states to increase their efforts to counter disinformation.

The move drew an angry response from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who lashed out at the European Parliament for lecturing Russia on democracy.

Lawmakers voted on November 23 in favor of a motion condemning Russian state media outlets like the television channel Russia Today (RT) and the news agency Sputnik for disseminating "absolutely fake" news.

They said the Kremlin was using "a wide range of tools and instruments", including think tanks, multilingual TV stations, "pseudo news agencies", and social media to spread fake information, challenge democratic values, and divide Europe.

The resolution says the Kremlin has stepped up its propaganda efforts against the EU since Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea territory in 2014.

Lawmakers urged the European Union to boost its "tiny" communication force and invest more in "awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism, and information literacy."

They said they were "seriously concerned by the rapid expansion of Kremlin-inspired activities in Europe, including disinformation and propaganda seeking to maintain or increase Russia's influence to weaken and split the EU."

Putin told reporters in Moscow that the resolution signaled a "political degradation of democratic ideas in Western society."

The motion was approved by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions.

The EU Parliament also warned against propaganda from the extremist group Islamic State (IS), Al-Qaeda, and other nonstate actors.

This article contains material from AFP and Reuters.

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