Disinfo: The Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine makes Putin the protector of the people, says Bloomberg


The emergence of a Russian coronavirus vaccine, able to put an end to the epidemic, was received with scepticism. They tried to discredit the medicine developed by Russian scientists, pointing to the rush to create a vaccine. However, Bloomberg says that not everything is that bad because “secondary effects in vaccines are rare”. The Russian vaccine causes a sensation, the article says. Though this development was severely criticised in the United States, US authorities felt the need to reassure its citizens by claiming that their own vaccine was already in full development. But for the Kremlin, this global race is not a priority. The coronavirus seriously ruined 2020 for Vladimir Putin, forcing him to eradicate the virus as fast as possible. “By promising a vaccine, he became again the people’s defender,” Bloomberg says.


This is a deliberate distortion of the original Bloomberg article, titled “Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine Gamble Is All About Vladimir Putin”. The article doesn’t praise Vladimir Putin as the protector of the people but rather states that the Russian president is trying to present himself as such by making this announcement. Bloomberg explicitly says:

“The rushed endorsement (…) is less an affirmation of Russian scientific prowess than it is an expression of Putin’s hankering for Soviet-era international clout. It’s a premature victory lap that suggests a worrying need for affirmation at home too”.

Another distortion is the claim on secondary effects. The Bloomberg article says: “While adverse effects from vaccines are rare, they are not unheard of,” meaning the opposite from what the disinformation message presents.

The disinformation message also introduces several pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives not mentioned in the original Bloomberg article, such as claims about “an attempt to discredit the Russian coronavirus vaccine” or the assertion that the global vaccine race is not a priority for the Kremlin. The opposite is true: there is credible evidence that the Russian government pressed Russian scientists and researchers to be the first to find a vaccine against Covid-19, and did everything at hand to shorten the process, raising concerns about the safety and efficiency of the Sputnik V vaccine. Reservations and criticism are caused by the fact that Russia hasn’t completed large trials to test the drug, and rolling out an inadequately vetted vaccine could endanger people who receive it.

Pro-Kremlin media frequently resort to this manipulative technique of quoting sentences from serious publications and then introducing a distorted message as if it was part of the original article. See other examples in our database, such as false claims that British outlet The Guardian pointed out to ruling elite as the real instigators of the racial crisis in the US or reported that the EU remained silent as the Europeans couldn’t buy food for the first time in 75 years; that Newsweek magazine explained how US coup in Iran will end; that Soros’ structures saw an opportunity in the coronavirus pandemic to attack the “bad guys”; that the US National Counterintelligence and Security Centre put Wikileaks at the same threat level as jihadist organisations in its last report; or that the US special envoy for Syria admitted that Washington’s goal was to defend terrorists from Russian attacks.


  • Reported in: Issue 208
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 14/08/2020
  • Language/target audience: Spanish, Castilian
  • Country: Russia, US
  • Keywords: coronavirus, vaccination, Mainstream media, Media, Vladimir Putin


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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Interference in Belarus follows a similar model to the one used in Venezuela

It is no coincidence that the political crisis in Belarus is happening against the background of the reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank. Foreign interference is obvious in Belarus and follows a very similar formula to the one applied in Venezuela.


This is part of an ongoing Russian disinformation campaign on Belarus based on recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, such as accusing other countries of interference and portraying popular protests against electoral fraud in the country as a Western-led colour revolution, in this case promoted by NATO. No evidence is provided to support any of the claims.

Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have been protesting against a massive vote-rigging and police violence since 9 August 2020. On 16 August 2020 Belarus witnessed the largest rallies in the city of Minsk and dozens smaller towns and localities in its history.

The EU stance on Belarus is all about geopolitics, not human rights or democracy

The statements coming from the European Parliament and European capitals, especially from Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, about the political crisis in Belarus are not about Lukashenko, human rights or democracy, but about geopolitics. It is not a secret to anybody that this is a geopolitical fight over the post-Soviet space, and we have already seen this competition in other periods after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


This is part of a Russian disinformation campaign on Belarus based on recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives, portraying European and US reactions to post-electoral events in the country as an interference attempt, and popular protests against the results as a Western-led colour revolution, all part of a competition over influence in the post-Soviet space.

Contrary to the claim, the EU policy towards Belarus is indeed based on the promotion of human rights and democracy. Presidential elections celebrated in Belarus on August 9 were not monitored by independent experts, and are largely considered fraudulent by both international observers and a big part of the Belarusian society.

The West criticises the Russian coronavirus vaccine because it can’t accept Russia’s primacy

The West fears that after Russia became the first country to offer a solution to the virus that is haunting the planet, Russian authority will project over the western in global public opinion. Of course, the richest and most powerful in the world can’t accept it. This explains the laughable and sceptic reception that the Russian vaccine Sputnik V got in the circles of the countries and pharmaceutical corporations that consider themselves the lords and keepers of global health.


This is a mix of several recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about alleged anti-Russian bias in the West and plots against Russia’s greatness. Contrary to the claim, reservations and criticism of the Sputnik V vaccine is not caused by a Western refusal to accept Russia’s alleged primacy but by the fact that Russia hasn’t completed large trials to test the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, and rolling out an inadequately vetted vaccine could endanger people who receive it.

The World Health Organisation expressed some reservations about the procedure followed by Russia, initiating talks with Russian authorities about undertaking a review of the vaccine but refusing to endorse it right away. On August 2020, the WHO published a landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines, which considered the Russian project developed by Gamaleya Research Institute as being in Phase 1 of clinical testing.