EU reports that Russia has launched a disinformation campaign about COVID-19
Reuters reports that Russian media have launched a "significant disinformation campaign" against the West in order to worsen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and spark distrust and panic, according to a European Union document. "A significant disinformation campaign is being waged by Russian state media and pro-Kremlin media about the COVID-19 disease," the internal document, dated Monday, reads.
The increase in activity by disinformation peddlers from Russia was confirmed today by a European Commission spokesperson. The Kremlin has denied the allegations.
"The main aim of the Kremlin disinformation is to intensify the crisis in public health care in Western countries ... in accordance with their broader strategy of attempting to disrupt European society," reads the document, which was created inside the European External Action Service, the EU's diplomatic service and combined foreign and defense ministry. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov called the allegations unfounded and lacking in common sense.
"We're talking about unsubstantiated accusations that are most probably, under the current situation, the result of anti-Russian obsession," Reuters quoted Peskov as saying. According to European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano, Brussels is registering growth in the number of disinformation communications being disseminated in association with COVID-19, including from "sources in Russia or sources identified in the past as pro-Kremlin."
The Commission has beefed up its monitoring of social media and is doing its best to trace those who first post untruths, the spokesperson said, adding that Brussels has also contacted Moscow about the issue, without result. "Whoever disseminates this ... is playing with human lives," Stano warned.
News of the nine-page document analyzing the attempt by the Kremlin to exploit the pandemic in order to disrupt the West from within, aided by the dissemination of chaos and fear, has also appeared in other media outlets. According to Russian news server Inosmi.ru, the document warns, among other things, that the effectiveness of how social media platforms are clearing content about COVID-19 for posting and sharing is not yet certain.
An EU database has recorded almost 80 different cases of disinformation points online about COVID-19 since 22 January. The document also warns that people and Internet accounts associated with the Russian state have moved away from subjects such as Syria, or the protests by the "yellow vests" in France, to disseminating disinformation about the novel coronavirus.
One example is the idea that the COVID-19 virus was engineered by human beings and that "the West" has transformed it into a weapon. The disinformation targeting Italy is concentrating on casting doubt on the ability of the authorities to cope with the infection.
In the Spanish-language disinformation, apocalyptic stories are being disseminated accusing capitalists of attempting to exploit the virus to enrich themselves. Praise for how brilliantly Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin are allegedly coping with the infection is also part of the disinformation.
According to the analysis, between 1 January and 12 March there were more than 6.8 million shares of "news" reports from the pro-Kremlin RT television channel in Spanish on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter, making it the twelfth most-popular information source online, overtaking several Western media outlets. Russia has rejected previous accusations by Western governments and secret services that it has been conducting disinformation campaigns and influencing public opinion, especially with regard to the election of Donald Trump during the US presidential elections in 2016.
The British Government one week ago established a special team of experts to combat deceptive, misleading information about the novel coronavirus that is being sent through the Internet. A similar team to combat disinformation was created there in 2018 aiming to curb the impact of Russian propaganda associated with the poisoning of the former British spy inside of Russian intelligence, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia in the southern English town of Salisbury.
- Czech and Slovak extremists do their best to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic, attacking the EU and public broadcast media
- Coronavirus-related HOAX in the Czech language alleges USA is moving troops to Europe
- Russia designates Czech aid group People in Need an "undesirable organization"
- Czech counter-intelligence disrupted Russian hacker spies and Hezbollah network, warns ultra-right targeting of Muslims could contribute to radicalization
- Russia: Mayor says 900 Romani residents relocated after fatal conflict - but were they forced to?
- VIDEO: Attacks on Roma in Russia apparently continued with arson
- Russia: Youth conflict sparks bloodshed, attempted pogrom against Roma has fatal outcome
- Commentary: Czech ultra-right politicians singing in harmony, and Russia likes it
- Russian military television grossly exaggerates Czech turnout for anti-EU demonstration
- Facebook closes some disinformation pages covertly associated with Russia
- Russian social network blocks "Miss Hitler" beauty contest after Israeli media contact
- Russia: The World Cup begins with concerns about homophobia, racism, and violence
- Controversial Czech housing estate in the hands of foreign nationals: Russians big fans of trafficking in poverty there
- Sweden: Three neo-Nazis charged with committing bomb attacks after training in Russia
- Czech Republic: ROMEA calls for boycott of performances by Romani group and Russian military ensemble, rejects Russian propaganda
- American Ambassador to Czech Republic Cites Roma Causes, Russian Threat in Final Press Conference
- Russian news servers spread hoax that "Western media" are faking reports of civilians rescuing children in Aleppo
- Russia: Massacre of Romani people in the Urals, two dead, six injured, media reporting is biased
- Russia: Mass demolition of homes in one of the biggest Romani settlements
- Russia: Romani residents of Tula rebel over gas supplies
- Mayor and police in Czech town correct the record about assault incident to make clear Romani people were not involved as first alleged
- Czech mobile vaccination teams revisit socially excluded localities where COVID-19 disinformation has had more of an impact
- Austria's Die Presse: Covert racism is why Europe's Roma are worse off after COVID-19 pandemic
- Czech mobile team has vaccinated about 100 people against COVID-19 at the Mojžíř housing estate and will visit other excluded localities
- Czech mobile vaccination teams visit excluded localities in Ostrava-Přívoz, Regional Authority working with Romani NGOs on outreach
- Romani-inhabited housing estate Luník IX in Slovakia sees start of local vaccinations against COVID-19
- In the Czech Republic, mobile teams have begun vaccinating people against COVID-19 in socially excluded localities
- Czech social media response to tornado includes antigypsyist rushes to judgment about Romani workers
- Online response to Stanislav Tomáš's death includes hoaxes shared in the Czech Romani community
- Jaroslav Miko: Vaccination doesn't just protect you, it protects us all
- Commentary: Czech PM fishing for votes in a racist/xenophobic pond
- Czech extremists move from inciting anti-Romani hatred to railing against "COVID terror" ahead of fall elections