Disinfo: Coronavirus has destroyed the European Union

Summary

Coronavirus has destroyed the European Union. The EU only remembered about coordination now when the coronavirus crisis in Europe has already been partially overcome. The pandemic showed the union’s inability to take coordinated action and left the countries most affected by it, including Italy, alone with the terrible virus.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative that the EU is collapsing as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Coronavirus did challenge the EU's crisis response mechanisms. However, to cushion the blow to people’s livelihoods and the economy, the European Commission has managed to adopt a comprehensive economic response to the outbreak, applied the full flexibility of the EU fiscal rules, has revised its State Aid rules and proposed to set up a €37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector. The EU also created the first-ever stockpile of medical equipment. Read more on EU response to the COVID-19 outbreak here and here. As for Italy, there are numerous examples of solidarity among the EU and the individual Member States. For example, German hospitals have offered to treat critical coronavirus patients from France as well as taking in patients from Italy and the Czech Republic has sent masks to Italy. On March 18th, the European Union also received a Chinese aid package, including masks and 50,000 testing kits that were fully allocated to Italy, as Rome faced the most urgent needs among member states in the coronavirus crisis. On March 13th, the European Union proposed a Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, envisaging EUR 835 million for Italy. On March 26th, the European Parliament unanimously approved the initiative. European leaders said they would spend hundreds of billions of euros to prevent the coronavirus outbreak from provoking a deep recession or financial crisis. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that the European Union would allocate up to €100 billion ($109.62 billion) to the hardest-hit countries, starting with Italy, to help cover the cost of lost wages and to preserve jobs. Read the similar cases: Response measures to coronavirus demonstrate the decline of the US and EU, Coronavirus will cause the dissolution of the EU and NATO and The myth about "European unity" is destroyed.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 200
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 19/05/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: EU, Italy
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Euro-scepticism, European Commission, EU disintegration

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Crimean Tatars in Crimea receive great support from Russia

Muslims and Crimean Tatars in Crimea receive great support from Russia. All Muslims are free to perform their religious rite, wear traditional clothes and celebrate holidays. Russia does not oppress the rights of Crimean Tatars.

Disproof

Pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Crimea. Ukrainian human rights organisation Crimea SOS emphasises that in 2019, the largest number of criminal cases against the Crimean Tatars were recorded since the beginning of Crimea's occupation. The number of violations of the right to freedom of religion and the right to peaceful assembly is increasing. Russian security forces detain activists and the occupation authorities deprived Crimeans of the right to receive education in Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar. According to human rights defenders, in just one year, hundreds of illegal searches, detentions and arrests and dozens of cases for political reasons were recorded in Crimea. 70% of all Crimean prisoners for political reasons are Crimean Tatars. In total, from 2014 to 2018, Crimea SOS recorded at least 144 cases of politically motivated criminal prosecution of Crimeans: at least 66 people are in places of detention; at least 15 people abducted by security forces have not yet been found; at least 20 people were killed; at least 290 people were tortured; at least 349 people became victims of politically motivated administrative prosecution. The authors of the report recorded at least 372 cases of illegal detentions, as well as at least 340 politically motivated searches, the Crimea SOS report says (page 8-9). In December 2019, the Office of the Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Court published a report on the preliminary investigation activities for 2019, which relates to the situation in the occupied Ukrainian territories. International investigators qualify the situation in Crimea as “the situation of occupation” and “international armed conflict” (paragraph 270 of the report). The report also lists the crimes committed by Russia against Crimeans. Among them, torture, abduction, murder, arrests and other egregious cases of violation of human rights by Russian invaders were recorded (paragraphs 272, 273 of the report). According to Freedom House, Russia used coercion to increase the participation of Crimeans in Russian elections; the Crimean Tatars are being repressed and the Mejlis - an organisation representing the Crimean Tatars - was banned; the Russian FSB use intimidation and harassment to eliminate opposition to Russian occupation; a forced Russification is ongoing (including making anything connected to Ukraine a taboo), and rights to freedom of association are severely restricted. Read similar cases claiming that Crimean Tatars in Simferopol enjoy the freedom of speech and that leader of the Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev is a terrorist.

The US wishes to destabilise Belarus and provoke a war, Polish ruling elites dream of military intervention

Poland does not consider Belarus a political subject and treats it as part of its lost eastern lands. The Polish political establishment dreams of Polish troops entering Minsk. To make this dream true, the Poles rely on NATO and the US. Some Polish nationalists wish to start a military attack against Belarus as soon as possible, assisted by NATO military. At the same time, they do not need the Belarusian people. The views of Polish nationalists coincide with Hitler’s. Given such views, Polish authorities do not wish to strengthen the Belarusian statehood. Ukraine in its present borders is not acceptable for Poland. The worse the situation in Ukraine, the more chance that Poland will shoot in Ukraine’s back. Belarus is part of the Russian civilisation. Moscow sees no difference between the Belarusian people and state. Russia supports the Belarusian state until it follows the will of its people. If it goes against the people’s will, Russia will contribute to the extinction of the Belarusian state and Poles will witness the changed borders. Foreign financial speculators believe that Belarus’s destruction is developing too slowly. They actively prepare an “orange revolution” in Belarus, and the leading political role here will belong to Americans. The US, in its present state, is only capable of existing amid global uncertainty, and Belarus is a good chance to increase it. If the US’s plan to destabilise Belarus works out, a war will break out and Poland will become an arena of military actions. In this case, due to modern military technologies, the Polish state will inevitably cease to exist just as most of its population. The only way for Polish ruling elites to prevent this scenario is to do their best for nothing to happen in Belarus. However, contrary to common sense, Polish authorities seem to follow the opposite course. The history of Polish statehood is somewhat schizoid as Polish political elites repeatedly follow the course of the state’s destruction.

Disproof

This message contains a number of unfounded speculations and conspiracy theories, aimed at discrediting Poland, the US and NATO. It is consistent with recurring disinformation narratives about Poland's ''imperial dreams'', Western attempts to organise a colour revolution in Belarus and to disrupt Belarusian-Russian relations. The disinformation message involves a link between present-time Poland and Nazi Germany. It also promotes the concept of Russian civilisation / world and implicitly justifies Russia's aggressive actions towards Belarus in case the latter wishes to embark on pro-Western course. Poland, a NATO state, respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbouring countries. At times pro-Kremlin media outlets refer to the concept of the IV Rzeczpospolita, or Fourth Republic, as a manifestation of Poland's imperial intentions. However, this concept has nothing to do with establishing a Polish empire at the expense of Poland's eastern neighbours, including Belarus and Ukraine. Read more about the use of conspiracy here. Neither the US, the West and NATO are preparing a colour revolution in Belarus as alleged. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that Poland and the Baltic states are the Western world's jackals who can produce a global catastrophe, that Poland may attack four European countries including Belarus, that Poland wants to dismember Ukraine and re-establish a Polish empire, and that the Polish doctrine of IV Rzeczpospolita is part of the US doctrine of global dominance.

Lithuanian authorities criticise the Belarusian NPP to divert public attention from the catastrophic state of economy

The Lithuanian economy is in a catastrophic state, it resembles a sinking Titanic. Against the background of total economic and political insolvency, Lithuania has found a universal lifesaver, which diverts public attention, that is the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The Belarusian NPP, which is constructed in close cooperation with Russia, is an ideal target for the Lithuanian political establishment, because it hates Belarus and Russia to the extent that is hard to describe. Astravets NPP also reminds Lithuania of its scandalous energy failures. Generally, Lithuania is a an absolute energy loser. Lithuania will concentrate all efforts on discrediting not just the Astravets NPP, but also Belarus and Russia.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russophobic, economically degrading of the Baltic states. Lithuania opposes the construction of the Astravets Nuclear power Plant (NPP) based on the position that the project does not comply with the international standards of environmental protection and nuclear safety, and is built on the site that was not duly justified over alternatives. On 7 June 2011, Lithuania lodged a complaint with the Implementing Committee of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment (the Espoo Convention) on the Astravets nuclear power plant case. The February 2019 draft decision of the Meeting of the Parties of the Espoo Convention acknowledged that Belarus had failed to comply with some Convention provisions and encouraged Belarus and Lithuania to continue bilateral expert consultations. On 20 April 2017, the Lithuanian parliament passed a bill imposing a ban on import of electricity from Belarus' nuclear power plant in Astravets. One 5 May 2020, the Lithuanian parliament passed a resolution tasking the government to take even more active steps to ensure that electricity generated by Astravets NPP has no access to the Lithuanian market.

See earlier disinformation cases alleging that Lithuania fights against Belarusian NPP on the orders of Sweden and Finland, Dalia Grybauskaitė's opposition to the NPP is an attempt to hide Lithuania's own failures in nuclear power, that the "Chernobyl" series aimed to discredit the Belarusian power plant and Belarus-Russia relations, and that Lithuania opposes Belarusian NPP out of jealousy for Pompeo's visit to Belarus.