Disinfo: No coronavirus cases in former Soviet countries

Summary

It is remarkable that the former Soviet countries have not announced any coronavirus infections.

Disproof

An unfounded claim to depict former USSR countries as more immune to the 2019-nCoV coronavirus than other countries.

The current coronavirus (2019-nCoV) comes from a family of viruses that include other viruses such as SARS and MERS. It was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in central China and has been rapidly spreading around the world. According to WHO, 693,282 cases and 33,106 deaths were reported as of 30 March 2020.

As stated by the same WHO report published on 30 March, former USSR countries have also suffered from the Coronavirus, counting 3727 cases in total.

See related disinformation cases alleging that the coronavirus is a plot against China, that the West has a cure for the coronavirus, that it is an artificial disease which specifically targets Chinese DNA, that it was created by American secret labs with economic goals, that some American movies have revealed what is happening behind “the secret American doors”.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 190
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 30/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: USSR
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Virus / bacteria threat, Russian superiority
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Greta Thunberg claimed to contract the coronavirus to attract media attention

The coronavirus has been such a dominant theme over the last few weeks that many people who were used to being in the spotlight are suddenly miserable about another topic forcing them into the background.

We can also expect to see desperate moves from environmental activist Greta Thunberg to attract media attention. In case that her star falls, we may hear not only that she suffered from the coronavirus, but also that she has undergone a gender change or similar, because it will be harder and harder for her to draw media attention to herself.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory and baseless accusations with no evidence given. This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative targeting environmental activist Greta Thunberg, which exploits the topic of the coronavirus crisis to make its point. The pro-Kremlin media often use crisis situations to spread disinformation about a variety of topics and to push certain pro-Kremlin narratives, with the COVID-19 pandemic being no exception to this rule.

Pro-Kremlin outlets frequently spread disinformation about climate change and, in this context, have targeted the international youth climate protests started by the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. In August 2018, the Greta Thunberg staged a "School Strike for Climate" in front of the Swedish parliament. Later, her strikes inspired youth from all over the world to join a global #FridaysForFuture campaign. The first international school strike was held on Friday, 15 March 2019. Ever since Greta Thunberg has been the target of derogatory commentary from pro-Kremlin media. Read our analysis here.

25th anniversary of Schengen seems like its funeral

The 25th anniversary of Schengen seems more like its funeral. This is a painful farewell to the dream of a united Europe without borders. The utopia did not last long. Now every man is for himself. And everyone is angry at each other. Mutual assistance, common values and human rights, freedom of speech and freedom of movement have faded away in the EU. What is Europe without the Schengen?

Disproof

Baseless speculation; no evidence given. Consistent with earlier pro-Kremlin disinformation message that the Schengen zone has collapsed and more broadly, with the disinformation narrative that the EU is collapsing as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

The Schengen border code provides Member States with the capability of temporarily reintroducing border control at the internal borders in the event that a serious threat to public policy or internal security has been established:

A third world war because of North Macedonia

A third world war because of North Macedonia:
After Montenegro became NATO’s newest member in 2018, a journalist asked President Trump, “why should my son go to Montenegro to protect it from an attack?” Now the same will need to be explained about North Macedonia.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative attacking NATO, on the one hand trying to paint it as a warmongering, aggressive organisation and on the other hand attempting to undermine NATO's mutual security guarantee. It is also part of a longstanding pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign aimed at preventing North Macedonia and other Balkan countries from joining NATO. For example, pro-Kremlin media have spread false claims like that NATO needs Macedonia and Montenegro to test radioactive ammunition, that NATO is a real danger in the Western Balkans and has destroyed Montenegro’s army, and that Macedonians have rejected the agreement to rename the country and erase their national identity.

North Macedonia officially joined NATO as its 30th member on 27 March 2020. NATO is a defensive alliance whose purpose is the protection of its member states. NATO member states make sovereign decisions about their own security. The Alliance considers the applications of candidate countries who want to join the alliance based on their own national will. NATO's "Open Door Policy" is based on Article 10 of the Alliance's founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty (1949). The Treaty states that NATO membership is open to any "European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area". Every sovereign nation has the right to choose its own security arrangements. This is a fundamental principle of European security and one to which Russia has also subscribed.