Disinfo: European Commission and European Parliament wish to censor corona-scepticism

Summary

The next step appears to be the criminalisation of “lies” related to the coronavirus and parallel censorship of corona-scepticism in the media, including on social network. The European Commission and the European Parliament are moving in this direction.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about Western governments deliberately exaggerating the coronavirus pandemic in order to advance the interests of “globalist élites” and multinational corporations.

The article also contains the recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that EU efforts to counter coronavirus-related disinformation are attempting to censor dissenting views and/or are motivated by Russophobia.

The European Union's commitment to respect the freedom and pluralism of the media as well as the right to freedom of expression - which includes the right to receive and impart information without interference by public authority - are enshrined in Article 11 of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The proliferation of disinformation and misinformation around COVID-19 throughout the world has potentially harmful consequences for public health and effective crisis communication. Therefore, the EU has been trying to counter disinformation, including through detection, analysis and exposure of disinformation campaigns related to the pandemic. The EU does not plan to "criminalise" nor censor coronavirus lies.

In the EU and elsewhere, coordinated disinformation messaging seeks to frame vulnerable minorities as the cause of the pandemic and to fuel distrust in the ability of democratic institutions to deliver effective responses.

Many disinformation messages are specifically targeting the EU by claiming that the EU is failing to deal with the pandemic, that the EU is about to collapse and that EU is selfish and betrays its own values.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 07/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Italian
  • Country: EU
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Conspiracy theory, European Parliament, European Commission, Censorship

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

The main task of Kyiv is the return of Donbas territory but without its people

“First – the territory, then – the rest,” is how Zelenskyy announced the plan regarding Donbas. The main task for official Kyiv is the return of Donbas territory but not people.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Kyiv is sabotaging peace in the Donbas region.

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has never said that the return of territories of Donbas is more important for Kyiv than the local population. Russian media took out of the context a phrase from Zelenskyy's speech, which was given on the programme "Freedom of Speech by Savik Shuster". In fact, Zelenskyy said that without returning territories, Ukrainian citizens cannot be returned too.

Douma chemical attack never took place

It is now clear that the April 2018 chemical attack in Douma never happened. The management of OPCW has suppressed the findings of its own inspectors and is simply covering up for the criminal elements who staged the Douma incident.

A group of witnesses to the alleged attack, who were invited by the Russian delegation to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague, said on 28 April 2018 that they did not notice any signs of a poison gas attack.

Then, in May 2019, a leaked OPCW document concluded that the two chlorine cylinders which were allegedly dropped onto the Douma site from aircraft had actually been manually placed on the ground.

The OPCW noted in its interim report that “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties.” The inspectors furthermore noted that the dead people in the photos and videos didn’t look like victims from “chlorine-containing choking or blood agents such as chlorine gas, phosgene or cyanogen chloride”.

How, then, did the 35 victims of the Douma incident die? Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, told Reuters he pinpointed their burial place to OPCW. Nevertheless, the chemical watchdog chose not to conduct exhumations.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives attacking the independence and integrity of the OPCW; lending credence to the claim that the 2018 Douma attack was staged; and absolving the Syrian regime of responsibility for chemical attacks in general.

The OPCW's supposed complicity in "suppressing" the truth about the Douma incident is a standard talking point in pro-Kremlin reporting on Syria. See e.g. here, here, here, and here for our previous debunking of this narrative.

Only Russia, Cuba and China helped Italy, EU didn’t

Italy and Spain got hit the hardest with COVID-19. Italy has one of the oldest populations in the world, but they got no help from their rich neighbors, EU countries like Germany and the Netherlands, but from Russia, Cuba and China.

Disproof

Recurring Pro-Kremlin narrative that the EU left Italy alone to fight coronavirus.

The European Commission has approved a €50 million Italian aid scheme to support the production and supply of medical devices, as well as to help Italy provide the necessary medical treatment to those infected.