Disinfo: Discredited conspiracy theories about Russian meddling in US elections are back

Summary

Conspiracy theories against Russia are back. US TV station MSNBC is doing its best yet to spread the theory that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. “Do you think that the president is afraid to make Putin mad because maybe Putin did help him win the election and he doesn’t want to make him mad for 2020?”, anchorman Chuck Todd asked former National Security Advisor John Bolton in an interview in the show Meet the Press. This caused commotion in social media, since the Democrats’ affirmation that Trump colluded with Russia to somehow ‘steal’ the presidency seemed to have been put to rest after an attempt to impeach the president that came to nowhere. Bolton avoided Todd’s bait and said that there was “no evidence” that the president colluded with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Todd tried to put some distance and clarified several times that he wasn’t talking about “collusion”, without explaining what he was talking about if it wasn’t of “collusion”.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russia’s innocence of meddling in US elections.

The article deliberately merges the accusations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin with those of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. While the investigation of US special counsel Robert Mueller found no conclusive evidence of collusion -of which president Trump immediately claimed to have been exonerated-, there is massive proof of Russian meddling in the elections through social media, hackings and interested leaks, as the US intelligence community unanimously concluded.

The mentioned impeachment process against Donald Trump was not related to any of this. Trump was impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice, and the procedure was motivated by the US president's alleged attempt to use his leverage on Ukraine's president against his political rival Joe Biden.

See other examples of this disinformation narratives in our database, such as claims about the supposed anti-Russian bias of international institutions - be it the OPCW, the World Anti-Doping Agency or the United Nations - which always falsely accuse Russia; the alleged Russophobia of the EU; the affirmation that it is NATO and not the Kremlin who is involved in the Donbas conflict; or denials that Russia had any role in the poisoning of Sergey Skripal or the downing of MH17, that it interfered in other countries’ elections or that it waged a disinformation campaign on COVID-19.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 203
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 29/06/2020
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: Russia, US
  • Keywords: Conspiracy theory, election meddling, Anti-Russian, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin

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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Facebook will start hunting Russians

Soon Facebook will follow the example of colleagues on Twitter and begin to flag potentially harmful posts. Mark Zuckerberg is violating freedom of speech and is preparing to introduce an actual censorship of Facebook. Russia should immediately start defending itself against this censorship or otherwise Russian users will be persecuted and every pro-Russian, i.e. problematic opinion will be hushed.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin conspiracies on social media and the West's alleged  censorship. Also consistent with the narrative that Western media are anti-Russian and promote Russophobia.

This disinformation narrative is a reaction to Mark Zuckerberg's recent statement, that Facebook will label harmful content. This possible change to Facebook policy is not directed against any particular country. Zuckerberg said that the company will ban ads and remove content, even from a politician, if Facebook determines that it incites violence or suppresses voting.

Bill Gates warns of an ineffective coronavirus vaccine

Microsoft founder Bill Gates warns that any vaccine against the emerging coronavirus could be ineffective.

Disproof

A misquote - wrong translation - of Bill Gates' words and in this case promoting anti-vaccine messaging, which is a recurring element of pro-Kremlin disinformation.  

In fact, Gates explained that there are two characteristics being evaluated in developing a vaccine. Firstly, that the vaccine prevents you from getting sick and secondly, that it prevents you from spreading it to others.

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were incorporated into the USSR legally

In autumn 1939, the Soviet Union, pursuing its strategic military and defensive goals, started the process of incorporating Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Their accession to the USSR was implemented on a contractual basis, with the consent of the elected authorities. This was in line with international and state law of that time.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation message, a part of the historical revisionism campaign which denies that the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states ever happened.

The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which had been independent between the two world wars, were not incorporated into the Soviet Union in a legal way and with the consent of the elected authorities of these states: the Kremlin conducted a forced annexation of the Baltic states in June of 1940 following Soviet military occupation and the forced installation of “people’s governments”.