Disinfo: Media spreading panic about coronavirus to divert attention from unpopular issues like Brexit

Summary

International media are seizing the opportunity provided by the new coronavirus outbreak to criticize China, spreading panic to divert attention from many unpopular decisions in their own countries. For example, the focus isn’t on Brexit as much as before.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory. No evidence is provided to support the claim.

This is part of pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts on coronavirus aiming to put some blame on the West for allegedly exploiting this outbreak for their own purposes, namely isolating China. While many baseless conspiracy theories emerged all over the world amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, there is no proof that Western media are deliberately promoting them. On the other hand, there is mounting evidence that pro-Kremlin media are spreading disinformation on the disease for political purposes in a coordinated campaign.

You can see other examples of Kremlin-led disinformation narratives on the coronavirus outbreak in our database, such as claims that Bill Gates and George Soros are sponsoring it, that it is a UKUS or NATO creation and Americans have its cure, that it is an artificial disease which specifically targets Chinese DNA, that it was created with economic goals while big pharma companies are spreading panic for their own profits, that it is a biological weapon against Russia and China, that it will wipe out Ukraine’s population in a few days or that it was predicted by Nostradamus and others.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 184
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 06/02/2020
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: China, Russia
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Conspiracy theory, Brexit
  • Outlet: Sputnik Mundo
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“Berkut” soldiers did not commit any crimes during coup d’etat in Ukraine

“Berkut” soldiers did not commit any crimes during coup d’etat in Ukraine.

The ex-“Berkut” soldiers insist on their innocence: “We have nothing to hide – we have committed no crimes. We want to restore the honest name of the ‘Berkut’ Special Forces and we want those who are actually responsible for the murder of law enforcement officers and protesters to be punished.” (…) They describe the Ukrainian revolution in 2014 (also known as “Euromaidan”) as a “coup d’état”.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Euromaidan protests and a coup d'etat in Ukraine.

According to a 2015 report of International Advisory Panel on Maidan investigations, “--- the PGO investigation found evidence relatively quickly to the effect that a Berkut unit had killed 39 protesters with AKS 7.62mm calibre weapons on 20February 2014.”

Russia was excluded from MH17 investigation, Russian evidence was ignored

The Russian side was excluded from participating in the investigation, despite important data that had been transferred confirming that the missile belonged to Ukraine. The evidence was ignored in every way; it is useless to wait for an objective investigation.

Disproof

One of the many recurring, and occasionally conflicting, disinformation narratives around the downing of flight MH17 which appear again due to the imminent trial of the suspects (see below).

Russia's interest in aiding the JIT investigation is not a relevant condition of its membership. The crash did not take place over Russian territory and claimed no Russian lives, which precludes any basis for Moscow to be represented in the JIT. Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke told a Russian newspaper that "if MH17 were shot down over Russia, I would have suggested that Russia be made a member of the JIT group."

A small group of EU countries reinforces historical phobias about Russia

There is a small group of countries in the EU that reinforces historical phobias about Russia and constantly calls for Russia to be contained and for sanctions not to be reduced.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russophobia in the EU.

EU sanctions against Russia were imposed after illegal actions by the Russian Federation, including the annexation of Crimea, and against persons that have been involved in the violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity. In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of economic restrictions to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements. The EU remains ready to ease sanctions when Russia starts contributing actively to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.