The pro-Kremlin media continues to target Poland, while the newly identified respiratory virus brings new opportunities for disinformation.
As the news about a previously unknown respiratory virus – which has already claimed over 100 lives – spreads around the world, so do the conspiracy theories.
A mysterious disease that jumped the species barrier from animals to humans with potentially lethal consequences ticks all the “fit-for-conspiracy” boxes: the subject is alarming, highly complex and so far entails more questions than answers. For the pro-Kremlin media, the coronavirus is beginning to look like a disinformation gold-mine.
“It’s an American weapon of mass destruction, aimed against China, coming from one of the US military labs that surround Russia and China, for the benefit of Big Pharma and American corporations”: the pro-Kremlin disinformation machine follows its usual outlandish yet familiar logic. After all, one of the most famous and successful examples of Soviet disinformation was the HIV hoax planted by the KGB in the 1980s, which claimed that the HIV virus was created by the CIA as a biological weapon.
More recently, in 2016, pro-Kremlin outlets alleged that the Zika virus was owned by American and British corporations. Cancer, syphilis, and Spanish flu have also been labelled American biological weapons. Ukraine has been accused of spreading Ebola on behalf of the US military among pro-Russian separatists. And the narrative about secret US military labs in Russia’s neighbourhood spreading all sorts of diseases is so prevalent that around 20% of Georgians believe it to be true in case of the Lugar lab in Tbilisi. (It is not).
As the coronavirus continues to spread and authorities race against time to contain it, watch out for the proliferation of disinformation stories, which have all the potential to go viral, with horrifying consequences.
The attack against Poland continues
This week, the systematic pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign against Poland continued, painting the country in starkly anti-Semitic colours.
Poland was accused of trying to obsessively whitewash Hitler’s history, justify Nazism and provide a model for building Auschwitz. As horrid as they are, especially in light of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, such disinformation messages are hardly surprising.
As EUvsDisinfo wrote previously, Poland is a carefully chosen target of a broad disinformation campaign. It was launched as a reaction to the resolution of the European Parliament “On the importance of European Remembrance for the future of Europe”.
It appears that the resolution, which expressed concern at “the efforts of the current Russian leadership to whitewash crimes committed by the Soviet totalitarian regime” was taken as an insult by pro-Kremlin circles. Since mid-September, when the resolution was adopted, the pro-Kremlin media has aggressively engaged in historical revisionism, smearing Poland and the European Parliament.
This week was no exception, with pundits on Russian state-controlled TV suggesting that if it weren’t for the activism of American Jews, the European Parliament would adopt a resolution blaming Jews for the start of the WWII.
With over a dozen of new disinformation cases targeting Poland this week, it seems that the Kremlin’s instrumentalization of history is continuing in full force, with no signs of stopping.
This week’s weirdest disinformation cases:
- Nostradamus predicted the coronavirus
- The coronavirus targets exclusively one race
- The European Parliament attacks Christian values in Romania