Disinfo: Italian newspaper, NATO waging disinformation campaign against Russia’s COVID-19 aid to Italy

Summary

Activists linked to the Atlantic Council think tank, an adjunct of NATO, have launched a coordinated smear campaign targeting Russia’s dispatch of humanitarian relief to pandemic-stricken Italy.

The activists took to Twitter and falsely dismissed Russia’s aid as “80% useless,” citing a report in the La Stampa newspaper. The article relied on the testimony of an anonymous source, which means we will have to take the author’s word for it. Not surprisingly, the author himself is also linked to the Atlantic Council.

What’s most interesting here the fact that so many of the people pushing the disinformation are connected to the pro-NATO pressure group. Not to mention the fact that they used almost the same form of words. Was this coordination, or coincidence?

Disproof

Conspiracy theory.

The Atlantic Council is not a "NATO adjunct" or a "pressure group." It operates separately from NATO as a non-profit organisation and maintains both financial (pp. 83-87) and intellectual independence.

RT seeks to discredit La Stampa's report by making unfounded claims about its author's "anti-Russia" bias, and by implying that his reliance on anonymous sources somehow casts doubt on the accuracy of the story. This is not so. Like most other newspapers of record, La Stampa follows a strict policy on source anonymity. Its chief editor explains that comments from unnamed sources are to be used as a "last resort"; clearly identified as such in the news item; and only cited on the approval of the editor himself, who must first be informed of the source's identity.

La Stampa story has since been corroborated by additional sources in the Italian military.

See more examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation about the coronavirus.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue191
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 31/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Italy, Russia
  • Keywords: coronavirus, fake news, humanitarian aid, Anti-Russian, Russian superiority, Russophobia, NATO, Conspiracy

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.

see more

Georgian Lugar Lab might produce biological weapons

The next important object is the Lugar Laboratory, also known as the Georgian Research Center in Tbilisi, which is functioning at the disposal of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia and is the investment project of the USA aimed at creating a strategic military facility. The laboratory is studying especially dangerous infectious diseases, but it hides the true motives of its research, which may indicate the possibility of developing biological weapons.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative concerning the coronavirus pandemic and the Tbilisi-based Lugar Lab.

The story fits the broader set of conspiracy theories on the supposed man-made origins of various infectious diseases. There is no evidence that SARS, MERS, or avian influenzas were created in laboratories.

Europe blaming others for its problems with claims about alleged coronavirus “Russian disinformation”

Europe’s claims about alleged “Russian disinformation” concerning the coronavirus pandemic spring from its desire to blame others for its own problems with the pandemic. The preoccupation in Europe about “Russian disinformation” in the current coronavirus pandemic situation is bizarre, to say the least. This situation clearly requires uniting the forces of all peoples and countries.  A well-known Chinese proverb says: “He who directs the attention of a community towards a black cat in a dark room lacks dignity, especially if there is no cat”.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative denying that Russian media has been involved in spreading disinformation about the coronavirus. The EUvsDisinfo Database on disinformation currently (9 April 2020) contains close to 300 cases of disinformation.

Russia’s disinformation campaign on the coronavirus has been well documented by both media and governments, and some of their elements were widely reported by Russian and international publications.

Removal of Soviet Marshal Konev’s statue in Prague is immoral and illegal

The monument to the Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev, whose troops liberated the Czech capital from the Nazis in 1945, was dismantled in Prague.

The Marshal was not defeated in Prague, but he was stabbed in the back 75 years later – dismantled during an epidemic when it is forbidden to gather in groups of more than two, and everyone who could protest is at home.
The main message is here: in 1968, Konev allegedly participated in the preparation of the invasion of Czechoslovakia. This myth has been repeatedly debunked by Russian historians and representatives of the Ministry of Defense.

The agreement on cooperation between Russia and the Czech Republic contains a clause on obligations to protect and care for military monuments. Russian diplomats demanded that their Czech colleagues comply with this agreement and now the Czech Foreign Ministry is obliged to provide explanations.
Disproof

This is a recurring disinformation narrative about the statue of Marshall Konev in Prague. It is also consistent with common pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about Russophobia and the supposedly hostile anti-Russian intentions of the West, based on which Russia can cast itself as the victim.

In the dispute over the statue, Russia has argued that under the Czech-Russian mutual agreement of 1993, the Czech Republic is obliged to leave the statue in place on Prague's Interbrigade Square. However, this is an intentionally false and misleading interpretation of the terms of the agreement (full text available here). The monument is municipal property, belonging to city district Prague 6, and the 1993 agreement therefore does not apply to this case. The statue of Konev, erected in 1980, is not a military grave or memorial and therefore it was not protected by international treaties.