Coronavirus-related HOAX in the Czech language alleges USA is moving troops to Europe
The Romani community and others in the Czech Republic are sharing a hoax associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic by e-mail and social media. The main article being shared is entitled "In the shadow of the coronavirus: USA transfers enormous number of troops, airplanes and tanks to Europe" ("Ve stínu koronaviru: USA přesouvá do Evropy obrovské množství vojáků, letadel a tanků").
The article containing various false insinuations was published by the Arfa.cz disinformation website. The manipulatori.cz news server, which monitors such content in the Czech environment, has reported on the hoax.
List of the main Czech disinformation themes about the COVID-19 pandemic:
- allegations that it is associated with the "elites" supposed need to "reformat" the world
- allegations that the "rotten" EU is "intentionally" inactive at this time
- accusations that the Government of the Czech Republic and the public broadcasters Czech Radio and Czech Television are causing an "artificial" panic
- speculation that the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with migration
- speculation that the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with the introduction of 5G networks
- speculation that the COVID-19 pandemic is a biological weapon developed in the West
- speculation that the COVID-19 pandemic is being disseminated by allied soldiers from the USA during their movements as part of military exercises
A similarly false report has also been published by the Communist Youth Union (KSM) in the Czech Republic, deceptively alleging that "Tens of thousands of American soldiers are disembarking in Europe, including in Italy and Germany, and planning to march through Europe without face masks, but governments are not protesting." The reality is that NATO's "Defender-Europe 20" military exercises, which were announced by the authorities in advance, are what is being deceptively misidentified as somehow alarming by these manipulative communications.
Because of the situation around the dissemination of the COVID-19 infection, U.S. European Command had actually announced that it would be reducing the number of those participating in the exercise, and just today the Stars and Stripes newspaper reported that The Pentagon has ordered a halt to the deployment of forces for the NATO exercise. The Czech Army and Czech Defense Ministry are also cancelling all of their public events for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus, including events commemorating the anniversary of the Czech Republic joining NATO, and military schools in the Czech Republic are also closed along with all other educational institutions.
The Arfa.cz disinformation website, run by Ondřej Höppner, and the KSM's disinformation website are presenting photographs that are at least three weeks old as "evidence" of their claims. At the time the photographs were taken, naturally, the US Army could not have suspected to what extent the situation in Europe would deteriorate.
The photographs are of military bases in the USA. It is not, therefore, certain that most of the technical equipment in the photos was ever intended to be unloaded in Europe in the first place.
In the Czech context, another "star" in the disinformation media scene to be aware of is a "military expert" named Martin Koller. The civic association "Czech Elves" (Čeští elfové) has also published a review of other online hoaxes being disseminated throughout the Czech Republic in association with the COVID-19 pandemic.
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