On March 16th 2020, the European External Action Service published a report namely accusing Russia of spreading disinformation, to lower the confidence of Western citizens in their state and public health system. The report did not include a single example of disinformation and was published for internal political goals. Since the EU and national state failed to address the health crisis caused by the coronavirus, Russia was used as a scapegoat to distract the attention of Europeans. Russia is used as a scapegoat in the West for many issues such as elections, climate change, coronavirus….
The European report points to a record “80 cases of Russian disinformation” that attacked the performance of national systems for monitoring and eliminating epidemics in Europe, according to the Financial Times. Likewise, the suspicions “published by Russia” about America’s role in the Corona issue can only be considered a campaign of misleading public opinion, as is understood from the report. However, a question arises here: Why have not all the 80 such cases been widely published, especially as Russia is “trying to spread the atmosphere of terror among European societies” and “spreading division” as the European Union claims? Do not such matters affect European national security in the eyes of Europeans?
It is always possible to invent anything when facts are not available. In this case the evidence is not necessary, but it is sufficient to put a “highly confidential” stamp and refer to high-level sources. Those who practice this will keep it a secret if they have nothing to offer. The reason is the absence of evidence and facts, that is, they have nothing to say … so simply.
This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative denying that Russian media had been involved in spreading disinformation about the coronavirus.
It is simply not true that the EU has not published the Russian media cases of disinformation. As of 19 March, our database has collected and published over 110 corona-related disinformation cases in the public EUvsDisinfo database since 22 January 2020. These messages are characteristic of the Kremlin’s well-established strategy of using disinformation to amplify divisions, sow distrust and chaos, and exacerbate crisis situations and issues of public concern.
Here is a summary of the main disinformation messages Russian media (including official media) has been spreading about the coronavirus:
• Messages targeting domestic Russian audiences describe the virus as a form of foreign aggression, for instance claiming that the coronavirus originates in secret US or Western laboratories and emphasising that challenges coping with the virus mainly affect foreign and democratic countries, while Russia is fighting the outbreak. • Messages targeting international audiences (in English, Italian, Spanish and Arabic, among other languages) follow a different approach: they focus primarily on conspiracy theories about “global elites” deliberately weaponising or exploiting the virus for their own ends. Here the aim is to induce distrust in national and European authorities and healthcare systems, international institutions, and scientific experts, among others. • Narratives describing the virus as man-made is present in disinformation targeting all audiences.