Disinfo: Pope Francis gets coronavirus

Summary

Pope Francis and two of his assistants revealed they have coronavirus. All three are in quarantine. Analysis of samples for the COVID-19 virus produced a positive result.

Disproof

The statement has no evidence; this is speculation. This is a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the coronavirus. The reason behind this disinformation was the fact that the Pope cancelled official events and audiences for several days. However, on March 1, the Pope held the morning Mass. Pope Francis also explained that he cancelled his participation in certain events due to the common cold. It also became known that the Pope was tested for the coronavirus but the results were negative. Read a similar case that Bill Gates is sponsoring the coronavirus.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 187
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 01/03/2020
  • Outlet language(s)
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Vatican
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Pope Francis
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Coronavirus epidemic turned into an information warfare tool

Using the coronavirus epidemic as an information weapon is not only an element of the external, but also of the internal political struggle of Western partners. This problem is directly related to Russia, as Russia is part of the global economy. American and European politicians are now mainly engaged in rescuing stock markets and finding the culprits, rather than fighting the infection.

Disproof

Fear over the coronavirus has indeed affected China's stock markets, but suggesting that the virus has been weaponised by Western states or governments is part of the recurring pro-Kremlin narrative on secret labs and biological weapons. It is also consistent with the narrative that the spread of coronavirus is in the interest of the US to weaken China and Russia economically. Stock markets globally have been impacted by the virus, not just in China. There is no evidence to suggest that the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV is used as a weapon against other states. Many countries have so far been affected by the new virus. The World Health Organisation is working with global experts to combat the virus. To boost global preparedness, prevention and containment of the virus the EU announced an aid package worth €232 million. US companies are working on a vaccine and an experimental coronavirus vaccine has already been shipped to US government researchers for testing. Read previous disinformation narratives alleging that the Emergence of coronavirus is not accidental and has economic goals, Coronavirus is a US provocation against China, The coronavirus is a biological weapon created by the UK, and A new Chinese coronavirus was likely elaborated in NATO's biolabs.

The coup in Ukraine resulted in destroyed economy

During the last six years, Ukraine has not only rolled back economically, the country managed to lose competence in a number of industries, lost millions of workers, accumulated debts and perhaps even passed the point of no return in the economic sense. Economic catastrophe as a result of a coup and reorientation of the economy to the West is fully confirmed by the whole set of economic indicators.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative to undermine Ukraine's economy. Also consistent with the narrative depicting the 2013-14 protests in Kyiv as a coup d’état orchestrated by the West. There was no coup d’état in Ukraine. The onset of the Euromaidan protests was a spontaneous and endogenous reaction by numerous segments of the Ukrainian population to former President Yanukovych’s sudden withdrawal from the promised Association Agreement with the European Union in November 2013. The protesters’ demands included constitutional reform, a stronger role for parliament, the formation of a government of national unity, an end to corruption, early presidential elections and an end to violence. See the full debunk of this disinformation claim here. Regarding the claim about Ukraine's economy being disastrous, according to the World Bank, the GDP of Ukraine grew by 3.5% in the first half of 2019, compared to 3.3% in 2018. The solid growth was driven by a strong agricultural harvest, as well as sectors dependent on domestic demand, including services (domestic trade, transport, and the financial sector) and construction. In 2019, the GDP of Ukraine was US$130.832 billion. Thirty years ago it was $82.709 billion, an increase of over 50 percent. You can find similar cases of the Kremlin trying to undermine Ukraine's economy here.

Activists claimed hundreds of thousands participating in march in memory of Boris Nemtsov

A march took place in Moscow, gathering those who remember Boris Nemtsov. But that was not all. It was not like a commemorative event from the very beginning. Western media filmed a completely different thing – loud slogans and successful camera angles. How can one doubt in this case that there are tens of thousands? In fact, just over eight thousand people passed the metal detector that stood in front of the starting point of the procession. But opposition activists thought in their own way: “I think we’ll count tonight, you’ll see the act on my Facebook, there should have been two hundred thousand.”

Disproof

The report is ridiculing opposition march in memory of the murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, presenting its participants as people who don't really know what they were there for and what signs they carried. The organizers did not claim they were 200 000. Over 22,000 people rallied for Saturday’s march in a square around 2 kilometres (1.24 miles) from the Kremlin, according to White Counter, a monitoring organization that tallies up participants at rallies using metal detector frames, reports Reuters.