July 18, 2023

Laughter Amid Tears


Laughter Amid Tears
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis opening the summit of the North Atlantic Fellas Organization (NAFO) in Vilnius. Kvist.P, Twitter.

On July 11 and 12, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) held a historic summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. But, the Lithuanian capital also hosted a summit for the North Atlantic Fellas Organization (NAFO), a social media movement dedicated to combatting Russian propaganda and disinformation on the war in Ukraine.

Know Your Meme explains that NAFO’s main arsenal is it’s s***posting of Shiba Inu and Cheems, which helps fundraise for war-relief efforts. Since their emergence on March 24, 2022, the collective has engaged in viral Twitter warfare with Russia Today and Russian Foreign Service Agent Mikhail Ulyanov, who wound up retreating from the Twittersphere temporarily.

On July 8, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis delivered the opening speech to the Twitter activists' two-day summit with the words “NAFO is about laughter, but you are not just a joke.” Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Callas graced the conference with a video for attendees. In her address, she said “NAFO is a living example of how to disarm Russian disinformation with humor, intelligence, and enthusiasm.“ The summit also served as a fundraiser for the Ukrainian Army.

NAFO has been criticized by Alexei Navalny’s camp as well as by the Press Secretary for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, for making a series of memes about the death of a Russian citizen in Egypt after a shark attack. NAFO included an inflatable shark on stage at the conference.

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