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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fueled online antisemitism, EU report says

Illustrative: A man typing on a computer keyboard, January 24, 2017. (Flash90)
Illustrative: A man typing on a computer keyboard, January 24, 2017. (Flash90)

VIENNA — Disinformation and hatred against Jews has “flourished” online throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, further aggravating a trend set in motion during the COVID-19 pandemic, an EU report says.

“The coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine further fueled” antisemitism, which “remains a serious problem in our societies,” says Michael O’Flaherty, director of the Vienna-based Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).

A working group meeting in June had already highlighted “the risks of fake narratives” and disinformation stoking up antisemitism, as Russia justified its war by misusing “terms such as ‘Nazi’ and ‘genocide'” to describe the government in Ukraine.

In its annual report, which was compiled in July, the FRA says that “Jewish communities across Europe” have been “profoundly affected” by online hate and disinformation in the context of the Russian invasion and the outbreak.

The bloc’s rights agency reiterates that “recording of anti-Semitic incidents remains poor across Europe,” with data collection and classification varying in each country.

No official data on recorded antisemitic incidents was available from two EU member states, Hungary and Portugal, making it difficult to meaningfully compare the situation across the bloc.

In some countries, such as Austria and Finland, “most recorded incidents took place online.”

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