Ina Allkanjari

Bombings and attacks consequences in Ukraine resulting in people lives and civilian objects have been officially denied by Russia. This came into being after the destruction of the Albanian Consulate in Kharkiv for which the Albanian Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs blamed Russia. Russia accused the Albanian MEFA of disseminating disinforming news when Putin is expected to decree the strengthening of the law on disseminating so-called ‘deliberate false information” related to Russian military operations abroad.

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“Albania strongly condemns the Russian aggression which led to the destruction of the Honorary Consulate of Albania in Kharkiv. Perpetrators must be held accountable!” Such statement was made on 7 March by the Albanian Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs through a Twitter post. Attached to the announcement, MEFA also published pictures of the destroyed building in Ukraine.

Screenshot, Albanian MEFA publication in Twitter on 7.03.2022

10 days after the Albanian Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs reaction condemning the Russian aggression on 17 March, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted  by denying the attack on the Albanian Consulate in Kharkiv.

“The Albanian Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs condemned the attacks allegedly carried out by Russian forces on 6 March as a result of which the premises of the Honorary Consulate of Albania in Kharkiv were damaged.

We resolutely dismiss such charges. From the very beginning of the special operation in Ukraine we have stated quite clearly that the Russian Army does not attack civilian infrastructure and aims to exclude the loss of lives among the civilian population. We demand impartial evaluations and truthful information for the general public” – stated the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on a news briefing.

Given this situation, Faktoje decided to officially address the Embassy of Ukraine in Albania and the Consulate of Albania in Ukraine asking for information on the truth behind the attack on the Albanian Consulate.

Screenshot, the question addressed to the Embassy of Ukraine in Albania and the Consulate of Albania in Ukraine dated 21.03.2022

In its response to Faktoje, the Embassy of Ukraine in Albania only confirms the fact that the Honorary Consulate has been completely destroyed.

Screenshot, the response of the Embassy of Ukraine in Albania dated 21.03.2022

Following the response of Embassy of Ukraine in Albania, Faktoje addressed to the Deputy Minister of Social Affairs and Technology of Ukraine, Kostiantyn Koshelenko.

In his response to Faktoje, the Deputy Minister writes that the Honorary Consulate of Albania in Kharkov was destroyed by Russia.

“Russian occupiers destroyed the Honorary Consulate of Albania in Kharkiv, as well as many other administrative and residential buildings, as well as hospitals” – wrote Koshelenko for Faktoje.

Screenshot, communication with the Deputy Minister of Social Affairs and Technology of Ukraine, Kostiantyn Koshelenko dated 24.03.2022

Recall that following the reaction of the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova denying the attacks on the Albanian Consulate in Kharkiv on March 17, the Albanian Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs reacted again. In another Twitter post, the Albanian Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs strongly condemned Russia’s statement denying the bombing of the Honorary Consulate of Albania in Kharkiv.

In the published post, the Albanian Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs added that the Consulate attacking is a blatant violation of the Convention on Consular Relations; according to MEFA, the misinformation and dissemination of false news is as serious as the attack in question.

“Albania condemns Russia’s use of fake news to deny the bombing of the Albanian Honorary Consulate in Kharkiv. The images of demolition speak for themselves. This destruction of the premises as well as of documents in the archives are a blatant violation of Article 61, Chapter III of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Disinformation and fake news on this attack are unacceptable” – was stated in the announcement.

 

Screenshot, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Twitter post

On 22 March, Russia adopted a law criminalizing the dissemination of “false information” related to the operations of state entities, including embassies abroad.

The approved law expanded an old law criminalizing the disseminating of “deliberately false information” about Russian military operations abroad.

The new law provides for up to 15 years of imprisonment for those found guilty of disseminating “false information” about the operations of Russian diplomatic missions abroad, prosecutors, the Russian National Guard, the Ministry of Emergencies and other state bodies.

The legislation is expected to be approved by the Upper House of Parliament and later by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This legislation shall be added as a clause in the previous law, which was signed on 5 March by Putin.

*This content is produced as part of the regional initiative Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub