Disinfo: Thousands of Belgian medics demand to stop the COVID-19 hysteria

Summary

Belgian scientists and doctors wrote an open letter to the government, asking to stop the COVID-19 hysteria. The Belgian doctors asked their government to investigate the role of the WHO in causing the “infodemic” – informational epidemics.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory based on recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about COVID-19. The alleged letter of the Belgian doctors was published on the ru-an.info website, and later reprinted in Lithuanian sources. Neither of the outlets provide an original link to the alleged letter. Several dozen of Belgian medics, lawyers and economists indeed wrote an open letter to the Belgian government in August, calling among other things for a multidisciplinary approach to handle the pandemic, scientifically sound, rational and proportional crisis management, ensuring that all the measures correspond to the Belgian Constitution. The actual letter did not call the COVID-19 pandemic a hysteria, nor put the position of the World Health Organisation in question. See related examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation, alleging that the coronavirus is a global scam designed by the WHO; that social distancing is globalism's latest attempt to destroy the family; that the WHO has no right to call COVID-19 a pandemic.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 215
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 07/10/2020
  • Language/target audience: Lithuanian, Russian
  • Country: Belgium
  • Keywords: coronavirus
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EU funds the protests in Kyrgyzstan in exchange for valuable minerals

The head of the EU representation’s in Kyrgyzstan political press and information section in open text awaits the beginning of mass disturbances in the country, right after the election. The video [on the internet] reveals that. The head of the opposition party reports: “we have been preparing for this, good sir, everything is going according to plan. Only the money is missing”. The foreign guest asks in a business-like manner, “how much”? And gives the oppositioner his phone – “type in the sum”. The price of the coup: 200,000 US dollars, but it is only the advance. The oppositioner typed the final sum into the smartphone of the good envoy from Europe. The sum was not voiced, however there was a promise after the victory to give the West the access to valuable minerals. The EU envoy said: “we will give money, if there are protests like in Belarus”.

Disproof

Disinformation about the EU and Kyrgyzstan. The disinformation claim appeared after a video was released on the internet of a meeting between an EU diplomat and a leader of an opposition Chon Kazat party in Kyrgyzstan. The grainy video was taped in secret without the audio, subtitles were later added to it. There is no evidence to support any claims made in the video. The Kyrgyz politician stressed to the local media, that the video was fake. In fact, two doctored videos are circulating on the internet - one allegedly showing the meeting of the politician and the EU diplomat, another - the meeting of the politician and a Russian political scientist. EU bilateral development cooperation with Kyrgyzstan amounts to €174 million for the period 2014-2020. The cooperation supports the national priorities set by the Kyrgyz Government and focuses mainly on the rule of law, education, rural development and investments. The EU has never financed protests in any country. The claim that external actors, including the EU and the US are stirring up protests in Russia's neighborhood is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative.

Western governments are censoring Russian media while criticising censorship in Russia

Media material published in Russia is openly censored in Western countries. It is strange that such overt censorship is carried out with the silent endorsement of the governments of the most prominent Western powers and non-governmental human rights organisations, who at the same time amplify myths about tight censorship and widespread violations of freedom of expression in Russia.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that the West censors Russian media. The claim has been neither critically challenged nor counterbalanced in the article. The West does not impose censorship. The European Union as a whole is committed to respecting 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. This commitment is enshrined in Article 11 of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. According to Reporters Without Borders, the freest countries in the world in terms of press freedom are predominantly the United States, Canada and European countries, including Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, etc. Russia takes 149th place out of 180 countries, as of the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. Reporters Without Borders writes in its report on Russia's media landscape:

"What with draconian laws, website blocking and Internet cuts, the pressure on independent media has grown steadily since the big anti-government protests in 2011 and 2012. Leading independent news outlets have either been brought under control or throttled out of existence. As TV channels continue to inundate viewers with propaganda, the climate has become very oppressive for those who question the new patriotic and neo-conservative discourse, or just try to maintain quality journalism. (...) Murders and physical attacks against journalists continue to go unpunished – even if campaigns can achieve victories in the face of absurd accusations by the authorities, as in the case of Ivan Golunov, an investigative journalist released in June 2019 after being arrested on a trumped-up drug trafficking charge."

According to Freedom House, all western European and North American countries are "free" with a rating over 90 out of 100 on the index. All EU countries have a score of 70 or higher. On the other hand, with an index score of 20 out of 100, Russian Global Freedom Status was marked as 'not free'. Read similar cases alleging that Western governments impose censorship and silence dissidents and that the West cannot cope with freedom of opinion.

Ukraine violates the Ottawa Convention

The 36th brigade of the Ukrainian marines violates the Ottawa Convention. Fresh photographs on the internet from the mine-explosive charges held by the 36th brigade, completely refute denials of the non-use of antipersonnel mines. In these photographs, we can perfectly distinguish the land mines. These mines explode not only at the training ground of the 36th brigade but also cause tragedies among civilians in Donbas.

Disproof

A recurring narrative about the war in Ukraine. Similar publications appeared in Russian media after Ukrainian marines took part in a routine mine safety exercise for young commanders. During the training, the officers were reminded of the basic rules for handling explosive objects, and they conducted practical exercises with examples of the performance of combat missions by a demining group. There was no "mining with anti-personnel mines" of the territories of Donbas during the classes - these were military exercises for young officers. The Ottawa Convention, adopted in September 1997, prohibits the production and use of anti-personnel mines and also obliges signatories to dispose of accumulated stocks of these weapons. Ukraine signed the document in February 1999 and ratified the convention on May 18, 2005. Since then, as part of fulfilling its obligations under the Ottawa Convention, Ukraine has destroyed more than 3 million banned anti-personnel mines. Moreover, Ukraine has not been producing or using anti-personnel mines for a long time, and all the mines inherited from Soviet times are kept under national and international control. At the moment, Ukraine has already destroyed all anti-personnel mines such as PMN, POM-2, POMZ, PMD-6. At the same time, it is Russia and the militants of the "LPNR" groups that actively use prohibited weapons, mining the territory of Donbas. This fact was repeatedly recorded by observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.