Disinfo: The Europeans can’t even buy food for the first time in 75 years, but the EU prefers to remain silent

Summary

For the first time in 75 years, the Europeans can’t even buy food but the EU prefers to remain silent. If one EU member country faces problems, the rest gets away from it, hoping for the situation to solve itself. This approach has become a regular one. In Italy, for example, the system to deliver cash to the poor has failed, which led to the fact that for the first time in 75 years, a large number of Europeans can’t simply buy food, but bureaucrats in Brussels simply stick to the policy of ignoring the problems.

Disproof

This is a deliberate distortion of the words of BBC and The Guardian commentator Simon Jenkins, who wrote a critical op-ed about the role of the European Union during the economic crisis caused by coronavirus. The NewsFront article pretends to report on this op-ed, but whole paragraphs were added to the original, such as mentions about the EU preferring to “remain silent” and “stick to the policy of ignoring the problems”, “hoping for the situation to solve itself”. Besides, the headline was misleading, adding “the” to the word “Europeans” to imply that the whole of Europe was finding it difficult to purchase food. In reality, though significant, those concerned were actually a minority in southern Italy. Indeed, by the end of March 2020 the Italian government started a programme of aid for those most in need [see the original decree here in Italian]. This is part of a recurrent Kremlin-led disinformation narrative to portray the European Union as a dysfunctional entity, especially during the coronavirus crisis. You can see other examples in our database, such as claims that the European project is dead because the EU is unable to handle the Covid-19 crisis, which will lead also to the end of the euro; that Brussels tried to finish Italy off because it opposed sanctions against Russia; that the Italian Parliament lowered the European flag; that the European Union is ruled by an American NATO general; or that the EU is trying to blame Russia for its internal problems.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 11/04/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish, Castilian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: EU, Italy
  • Keywords: coronavirus, EU disintegration, European Union
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EU demonises Russia, attributing all its problems to it

[…] There is such a profession in the European Union – to demonise Russia, blaming it for any of the European problems. The EU has enough problems of its own creation, especially after a weak first response in the fight against coronavirus. How could they avoid spinning the Russian topic?

Disproof

This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged Russphobia. See previous disinformation claims alleging that EU claims about a Russian coronavirus disinformation campaign are Russophobia, that Russia is groundlessly accused in spreading disinformation about coronavirus and attacked by the West.

COVID-19 epidemic is fake, it is manufactured by media

We do not have a coronavirus epidemic. It does not exist anywhere in the world. This is a fake produced by WHO the fourth time in the last 20 years. The first fake epidemic was with SARS, which was also caused by the coronavirus. The second fake pandemic was bird flu. The third fake pandemic was swine flu. Now we are dealing with the fourth fake pandemic, which has no justification from a medical point of view. This is a media epidemic.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about the COVID-19 outbreak. It also aims to discredit actions taken by the WHO and individual countries to stop the spread of the new disease. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11 March, acknowledging that the virus had become a global phenomenon. Before that date, the situation was being described as an epidemic, illustrating that the virus had already spread to many people, and many communities, at the same time. As of 14 April, the total number of COVID-19 cases had passed 1.7 million. COVID-19 comes from a family of viruses originating in animals that include other viruses such as SARS and MERS. It was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in central China and has been rapidly spreading across the world, with cases being reported in over 190 countries, territories and areas. The number of COVID-19 global deaths has now passed 90,000. See similar disinformation narrative alleging that the COVID-19 crisis is manufactured by media.

Dismantling of Soviet monument in Prague violates the Czech Republic's international obligations

By these cynical actions [“public desecration of symbols of Russian military glory” after the statue of a Soviet marshal was unbolted last week in Prague] the Prague municipal authorities have seriously breached the obligations contracted by the Czech Republic. A Czech-Russian treaty of 1993 obliges the Czech Republic to take care of Russian military monuments on its territory. The Committee also denounces the “contempt for the common memory and the history of the struggle of the Soviet people against fascism” on the part of those who had the statue removed. This is an act of vandalism, mockery and violation of all international obligations of the Czech Republic.

Disproof

This is a recurring disinformation narrative about the statue of Marshall Konev in Prague, seeking to obfuscate the statue's legal status and the grounds for its removal. In the dispute over the statue, Russia has argued that under the Czech-Russian mutual agreement of 1993, Czechia is obliged to leave the statue in place on Prague's Interbrigade Square. However, this is an intentionally false and misleading interpretation of the terms of the agreement (full text available here). The monument is municipal property, belonging to city district Prague 6, and the 1993 agreement therefore does not apply to this case. The statue of Konev, erected in 1980, is not a military grave or memorial and therefore it was not protected by international treaties. The democratically elected municipal council of Prague 6 voted for the removal of the statue. Using the protocol of the Politbureau's assembly, Czech historians established that on 8-14 May 1968 Konev chaired the Soviet military delegation sent to Prague to prepare the military invasion of Czechoslovakia. Konev was also chief of the Soviet troops in East Germany during the Berlin wall crisis in 1961. In other words, the Red Army brought not only liberation, but also terror to Czech Republic, as the mayor of Prague 6, Ondřej Kolář, reminded. Kolář said that he respects the role of Konev-led forces in liberating Prague, and the sacrifice of Soviet armies liberating Europe from Nazism. "We will strive for an art competition for a memorial to the liberators of Prague at the end of World War Two instead of the marshal Konev statue," he said before the vote. "At the same time we will secure a dignified - and let me stress that, dignified - placement of this art piece (Konev) in a memorial institution. I think this is a consensual solution we have called for a number of years.". The removal of the statue was planned for April 2020 in advance and is not due to coronavirus quarantine. The monument to Marshall Konev was erected in 1980 during the "normalisation" period in communist Czechoslovakia. The leadership of Prague's Municipal District 6, which retains legal ownership of the statue, has voted to move the monument to a museum and replace it with a memorial commemorating Soviet sacrifices in the fight against Hitler in general, and the liberation of Prague in particular. More information available here.