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War in Ukraine. 70,000 Poles “escaped from forced mobilization”? MON: absurd fake news

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“The escape of men of military age from Poland has already taken on a mass character” – we read in the text sent on social media. This is another false message that came from a Russian-language network. The Ministry of National Defense denies that “we have not recorded mass departures of persons subject to military qualifications” or “mass refusal to participate in military exercises”.

On Polish Facebook and Twitter, a screenshot of the article was published with the title: “Men are fleeing Poland en masse, trying to avoid service in the reserve.” The text was published on the website Independent Political Journal dated December 28, 2022. “Recently, as I wrote this on this account, I was told that I was spreading Russian propaganda. I can also bet that those who shouted the loudest for Poland to fight for Ukraine fled first. BTW, what beautiful helmets. These new ones went to the Ukrainians” – he wrote Twitter user in post on December 29 (original spelling of all entries). A day later, a post appeared on Facebook with a screenshot of the same article. “It’s not a fejk. Where are the heroes who called us Russian drummers who went to fight Putin … They look like a civilian band came from haymaking … Benny Hill show” – sounded comment.

Recall: The Independent Political Journal is a website that has repeatedly provided false information, about what we wrote in Concrete24.

Fake posts published in December 2022Twitter.com, Facebook.com

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Alleged entries of a local politician and vice-chancellor of the university

In the material published on the Independent Political Journal website, he argues that “the escape of men of military age from Poland has already acquired a mass character.” This is evidenced by the alleged information that “in the last few weeks, over 70,000 Poles have left for EU countries and the UK, trying to escape forced mobilization.” However, the source of the data was not given. As we read further, “Polish society is increasingly rebelling against the plans of the Ministry of National Defense”; “calls to sabotage mobilization have become popular among Poles” (original spelling).

The author of the text cites entries published on two Facebook accounts allegedly belonging to Poles. “I fully support thousands of people who are already fleeing conscription and I’m not surprised that a huge queue of cars was created on the Polish side of the border with Germany,” Wojciech Lesiuk allegedly wrote on his profile, deputy mayor of the Warsaw Wola district.

On the other hand vice-chancellor of the Academy of Applied Sciences them. of Prince Mieszko I in Poznań Branch in Warsaw, dr. Eng. Andrzej Bolewski, allegedly had the opposite opinion and allegedly wrote: “I do not understand these men who flee the country en masse to the EU and Great Britain, avoiding military service and the defense of Poland. They behave like rats, like cowardly rats, they want to avoid war.” According to the biography on the Facebook account, Bolewski was to work in the Ministry of National Defense in the years 1965-2005.

We checked whether information about alleged widespread escapes abroad men of military age have any confirmation – they don’t.

200 thousand reservists may receive call-ups for exercises

At the beginning of December 2022, he raised many doubts and questions a draft regulation of the Council of Ministers on determining the number of people who in 2023 may perform military service in the reserve as part of military exercises (after: tvn24.pl). Adopted by the government on December 28 ordinance specifies the number of persons who may be called up for active military service in 2023 and the number of persons who may perform military service in the reserve as part of military exercises. Up to 200,000 may receive summons to military units. reservists.

Accordance with the law on defense of the homeland of March 11, 2022, everyone who passed the military qualification became a passive reserve soldier at the same time. Thus, he may be called up for military exercises. “During the COVID pandemic, military qualifications were not carried out and reserve exercises were also very limited” – reminded Central Military Recruitment Center in early December on Twitter.

“More than 70,000 Poles have left, trying to escape forced mobilization”? There is no confirmation

In the text quoted above, we read that “in the last few weeks, over 70,000 Poles have left for EU countries and the UK, trying to escape forced mobilization.” We have not reached reliable sources and reports from the Polish media that would confirm this information. Moreover, the number of 70,000 turns out to be almost impossible to quantify. Poland is located in the Schengen area together with the other 26 Member States of the European Union. The provisions of this area abolish border controls at the EU’s internal borders. This means that anyone, regardless of nationality, can cross the EU’s internal borders without border control. No data is collected on the number of people crossing, for example, Polish-German or Polish-Czech borders. Therefore, a reliable number of men of military age who allegedly left Poland for EU countries cannot be given.

What about going to the UK, which is outside the EU and has never been part of the Schengen area? The editors of Konkret24 asked the Border Guard for information on the number of men of military age who left Poland for Great Britain between December 1, 2022 and January 2, 2023 and have not returned to the country to this day. “We do not collect data on the number of passengers checked in at air crossings due to the country of destination, and we do not verify who returned and who did not” – replied Lieutenant Anna Michalska, spokeswoman for the Border Guard. “From the data at our disposal, we can collect the number of men checked in at air crossings, but without a breakdown by country of destination” – she explained.

Thus, the information that “more than 70,000 Poles have left for EU countries and Great Britain trying to escape forced mobilization” is unbelievable.

Building blocks for disinformation messages in other languages

The material of the Independent Political Journal attracted the attention of Dr. Michał Marek from the Jagiellonian University, the founder of the Center for Research on the Contemporary Security Environment. He is an anti-disinformation expert. “There is also a Polish-language variant of earlier Russian-language messages about the ‘mass escape of Poles’ from reserve exercises” – he wrote on Twitter on December 28. “The message is a bit late, but it’s worth watching the development of a given narrative and the people who will resonate with it in social networks” – added.

Doctor Marek noticed that the NDP material was very quickly used to build Russian-language disinformation messages. In next entry gave two examples of Russian-language texts referring to the NDP. December 28 on the site Sputnik Radio there was a text entitled “Reservists disrupt mobilization in Poland, hiding abroad”, and on Eurasia Daily another, entitled “‘Cowardly rats’: Polish reservists sabotage the mobilization by fleeing to Great Britain”.

We found posts on social media in several languages ​​other than Russian that referenced and linked to the NDP material. These were posts in languages English, Japanese, Slovak and Finnish. We also reached Italian entrieswhich referred to the discussion of the article from the NDP website published on the website Maurizioblondet.it. This one belongs to the Italian journalist Maurizio Blondet, who promotes far-right views, conspiracy theories and content that fits into pro-Kremlin narratives (after: newsguardtech.com).

MON: “this is another typical and absurd fake news”

We asked the Ministry of National Defense (MON) to refer to the message from the NPD website. We also asked if The Ministry of National Defense or other entities involved and responsible for military appointments have observed a high number of revocations from military service since the beginning of December.

“We have not recorded mass departures – alleged ‘escape’ – of people subject to military qualifications. We have also not recorded mass evasions from participating in military exercises as part of the service of passive reserve soldiers. And, equally important, no general or partial mobilization has been ordered in the country.” – the Ministry of Defense replied to us on January 3. He continues: “Currently, the vast majority of young people subject to the Military Qualifications (military qualification – ed.) study in secondary schools. We have not recorded mass departures and school drop-outs by people over 18 years of age. When it comes to appearing for exercises military service as part of the service by passive reserve soldiers, we did not record an increased increase in evasion from serving them.

According to the Ministry of National Defense, the quoted text “is another, typical and absurd fake news appearing on the daily-political.com portal, known for posting disinformation materials”. “For years, we have been observing his high activity in line with Russia’s disinformation activities in the media environment” – emphasizes the Ministry of National Defense.

Hacking into the profile of the deputy mayor of the Warsaw Wola district

In addition, the Ministry of National Defense explains that the deputy mayor of the Warsaw Wola district, Wojciech Lesiuk, is not the author of the social media entry cited in the NDP material. “This is a post fabricated by hackers after his private FB account and private e-mail were hacked,” the ministry said. The CERT Polska team (Computer Emergency Response Team) was informed about the incident. It is a team for responding to incidents in cyberspace, which operates within the structures of the Scientific and Academic Computer Network (NASK).

Currently, there is no post quoted by the NDP on the Facebook profile of the deputy mayor of the Warsaw Wola district. However, the entry published from the account that is supposed to belong to the vice-chancellor of the Poznań university is still available. However, the activity of this account raises doubts. Apart from the December 27 entry cited by the NDP, the last public activity dates back to 2011. The profile picture and cover photo were changed on the day the NDP quoted post was published. We tried to contact Dr. Eng. Andrzej Bolewski to confirm whether he is the owner of this profile and whether he is the author of the entry, but we have not yet received a response.

Author:Gabriela Sieczkowska

Main photo source: twitter.com

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