Disinfo: The EU left Italy face to face with an invisible and terrible enemy

Summary

Fifteen thousands Italian victims of COVID-19 is a factor that European officials must reckon with. Yes, and to repent for the fact that, in the midst of a virus attack, they left their ally face to face with an invisible and even more terrible enemy.

Many European capitals are not at all eager to truly help the decimated Italian economy. Here, even the apologies of Ursula von der Leyen won’t help. EU flags are migrating from the offices of Italian deputies into closets.

Disproof

Speculative claim about "abandoned Italy" and that the EU left Italy alone to fight coronavirus. This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the West's crumbling solidarity. While Russia has sent a military team to Italy, there are numerous examples of solidarity in the Western world, including among the EU and individual Member States as follows.

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. On March 18th, the European Union also received a Chinese aid package, including masks and 50,000 testing kits that were fully allocated to Italy, as Rome faced the most urgent needs among member states in the coronavirus crisis. On March 13th, the European Union proposed a Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, envisaging EUR 835 million for Italy. On March 26th, the European Parliament unanimously approved the initiative.

Furthermore, the European Central Bank announced a 750 billion euro ($820 billion) asset purchase programme in an effort to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, as the death toll in Europe continues to rise. As part of the programme, investors will purchase Italian securities to help the country counter the serious risks of the coronavirus. Since the hospitals are overcrowded in Italy, Germany has started to accept coronavirus patients from this harder-hit country.The report on the comprehensive economic policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here. Read more about the EU's response here and here. 

The claim about EU flags is often being used in Russian Media. For a more detailed report see the BBC's Russian service, where it is explained that one Italian MP removed the EU flag from his office.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 192
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: EU, Italy
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Ursula von der Leyen, Euro-scepticism, EU disintegration, European Union
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Coronavirus pandemic is exaggerated in order to turn countries into fascist hygiene dictatorships

The coronavirus pandemic is exaggerated in order to turn countries into fascist hygiene dictatorships.

No one is surprised why neither doctors in private practice nor the pneumological and intensive care units of our hospitals continue to report any worrying increase in serious respiratory diseases. No one wonders why throughout Europe, even in Italy and Spain, death rates are not soaring but are actually lower than in previous years. Hardly anyone listens to the well-founded, factual concerns of many doctors and scientists, who are alienated, even horrified, by the corona hype – and if they are, they seem to lack the courage to make a big deal out of what they have heard.

What incompetent, expert, hyperactive governments worldwide are doing with disproportionate protection against epidemics is turning whole countries into prisons, liberal democracies into fascist hygiene dictatorships.

The WHO has long been on the receiving end of the pharmaceutical industry, 85 percent of which is financed through grants from big pharmaceutical companies and related foundations, in particular the Gates Foundation.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about governments and big pharmaceutical companies using coronavirus in order to establish dictatorships and to expand profits. This is part of Russia’s disinformation campaign on coronavirus, well documented by both media and governments. Elements of this campaign were widely reported by Russian and international publications, and by the European External Action Service.

The coronavirus pandemic is not exaggerated. When on 11 March 2020 the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, there were more than 118,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in 114 countries. An updated situation report from WHO on the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

Liberal democracies collapse because of coronavirus, replaced with military-medical dictatorships

In order to fight the coronavirus pandemic governments around the world, including in Western countries, have been forced to declare a state of emergency. Quarantines and social distancing have been imposed, with severe penalties for violations. Freedom of movement and of assembly have been suppressed, along with political rights and democratic procedures. Total surveillance of the population is being introduced. These measures are formally temporary, but will gradually become permanent. This means the end of liberal democracies and the establishments of dictatorships throughout the world.

A new kind of dictatorship, whose top priority will be to fight  the coronavirus and other pandemics, is emerging: harsh, radical political regimes led by military and medical elites (virologists), perhaps even harsher than Nazi and Soviet concentration camps.

Disproof

No evidence is given to support the article’s claims that  emergency measures introduced to fight the coronavirus pandemic have brought about the collapse of liberal democracies and the establishment of dictatorships.  These claims are consistent with the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign around the coronavirus, implying that the COVID-19 pandemic represents the end of democracy and open societies and will lead to authoritarian takeover.

This case also plays into the idea of "imminent collapse", one of the master narratives used in pro-Kremlin disinformation. It is used to spread demoralisation and self-doubt among target audiences, as well as to sow discord, panic, and diminish trust in national authorities, the EU and international institutions.

There is no coronavirus in India and Africa

Coronavirus will not affect the African continent due to the fact that Africa has a wide variety of mammals that can infect humans, but the population density is lower than in China and there are no means of quickly moving huge masses of people. In India, too, there is no coronavirus, because Indians have immunity against a conspiracy of mass hysteria.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory about the coronavirus.

The first cases of coronavirus on the African continent were recorded in February in Egypt. On 3 April, an outbreak of coronavirus was recorded in Malawi, one of the last African countries which had avoided the infection until that time. As of 13 April, 14,524 confirmed cases of the disease were recorded across the continent.