Disinfo: Twitter sanctions against Russian media is a censorship act

Summary

Twitter has removed the account of the Russian agency RIA Novosti from its search results. Previously, Twitter blocked RT and Sputnik’s profiles in the same way. Such restrictions from Twitter correspond to an act of media censorship, which is directly prohibited by the Constitution of Russia. Twitter’s management announced that it would label media accounts that are controlled by the authorities, however, this does not apply to all such media. There is no such label on the Voice of America or Radio Liberty, while the personal account of Margarita Simonyan is labelled “State edition”.

Disproof

A recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that the West imposes censorship and that Russia protects freedom of speech and the press. This is consistent with the broad pro-Kremlin narrative that seeks to discredit liberal democratic societies by claiming that the latter are totalitarian systems ruled by “globalist elites” and “shadow governments” which persecute anyone who expresses views that dissent from dominant “politically correct” liberal-globalist thinking. Twitter announced in August that it will start labelling State-affiliated media organisations "where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, political pressure or control over production and distribution". Editors and senior staff will also have their accounts labelled. However, publicly funded news organisations with editorial independence will not be labelled, including the BBC and the US network NPR. Freedom of the press in the United States is legally protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. There are media in the US that are funded by the government, but they are guaranteed from any interference. 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, Russia ranks 149th out of 180 countries, in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. See more similar disinfo narratives alleging that Western governments impose censorship and silence dissidents and that journalism is free in Russia.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 214
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 28/09/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: EU, US, Russia
  • Keywords: Twitter, Freedom of speech
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Coronavirus was created by Americans in a biolaboratory in Kazakhstan

Several years ago, American laboratories in Kazakhstan carried out experiments on bats to create a new type of coronavirus that is dangerous to humans. On the territory of the Research Institute of Biological Safety in southern Kazakhstan, the KZ-33 project was implemented, funded by the US Department of Defence.

Disproof

A recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about secret labs and development of biological weapons by the United States. There is no evidence to claim that the US is developing biological weapons. There is also no evidence to support the claim that partnering biolabs under the agreement have become epicentres for the spread of infectious diseases or have been used to attack populations. Due to the increasing cases of dissemination of false information regarding the activities of biological laboratories in Kazakhstan, Kazakh Foreign Ministry stated: "We declare responsibly that no biological weapons development is underway in Kazakhstan, no research is conducted against any other states. The CRL [Central Reference Laboratory] significantly strengthened the scientific potential of Kazakhstan and increased the safety of research. The presence of such high-tech facilities reflects the level of development of the state and its ability to respond adequately to biological threats." In the period from 2016 to 2018, coronaviruses were really studied in Kazakhstan. The project monitored the spread of coronavirus among camels and bats in several regions of Kazakhstan. Coronaviruses are a family of highly contagious respiratory pathogens. The first strains of it, dangerous to humans, were recorded by experts back in the 1960s. At the moment, according to various sources, people have studied around several dozen types of coronaviruses, seven of which are dangerous to humans. The viruses studied in bats in Kazakhstan belong to a different family of coronaviruses. The strains of the coronavirus of "Kazakhstan" bats are designated KZ3 and KZ43. They are classified as alpha coronaviruses, while SARS-CoV, MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (which causes COVID-19) belong to the beta coronavirus family.

British analyst explains in Foreign Policy why Washington needs a “Russian intervention”

While US Democrats talk of a Russian interference in the elections, Republicans talk about Chinese interference. Those statements have a very specific purpose and it has nothing to do with foreign policy, said Elisabeth Braw, analyst of the Royal Joint Institute for Defense Research. Accusations against Russia started after the 2016 election, when Democrats, having lost it, tried to accuse Donald Trump of collusion with Russia and Russia itself of meddling in the election. The investigation led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller found nothing. Now, these accusations were renewed. According to an article written by Braw in Foreign Policy magazine, this bipartisan logic is clear: if Biden loses, Democrats can talk again about Moscow intervening and support of Donald Trump. If Biden wins, Trump may say that Beijing was behind its defeat. “But it doesn’t matter at all if US rivals are actually hacking the electoral infrastructure of the country this year. What matters is that people believes that interference campaigns work”, Braw says.

Disproof

This is a deliberate manipulation of the original article of Elisabeth Braw in Foreign Policy to promote the long-discredited pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative that Russia never interfered in the US election in 2016 and that the Mueller investigation found no evidence of it. Braw’s article doesn’t say that accusations of foreign interference are a narrative promoted by both Democrats and Republicans. In fact, the affirmation that Russia and China are interfering respectively against the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties is an estimation of the US intelligence community, and Braw quotes a statement in this regard by US National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina. The claim that Braw concluded that both parties are falsely talking about these alleged interference for political reasons is a lie. Braw’s main argument is that Russia and China are indeed trying to interfere in the US election and that their main success may be not as much to sway the ballots as to convince voters that they did. The direct quote has also been altered: “It doesn’t matter whether China, Russia, or any other country in fact manages to sway the ballot. What matters is whether voters believe they did”, says the original. She also argues that if any country interferes in the electoral process, there should be a retaliatory reaction to serve as future deterrent, something vastly different from the claims in the manipulated article. Pro-Kremlin media frequently resort to this manipulative technique of quoting sentences from serious publications and then introducing a distorted message as if it was part of the original article, in this case to promote a recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russia being falsely accused of interfering in elections abroad. See other examples in our database, such as false claims that British outlet The Guardian pointed to ruling elite as the real instigators of the racial crisis in the US and reported that the EU remained silent as the Europeans couldn’t buy food for the first time in 75 years; that Newsweek magazine explained how the US coup in Iran will end; that Soros’ structures in the media and think tanks saw an opportunity in the coronavirus pandemic to attack the “bad guys”; that the US National Counterintelligence and Security Centre put Wikileaks at the same threat level as jihadist organisations in its last report; or that the US special envoy for Syria admitted that Washington’s goal was to defend terrorists from Russian attacks.

Polish Governments continue to serve the American Empire

As a result of the 30-year long process of vassalisation of Poland towards Washington, the upcoming Presidential elections in the USA can have very serious importance for this country. No one should have any doubts that the future of Poland is directly dependent on the decisions taken in the White House. By deploying American troops in Poland, we have condemned ourselves to the role of a stationary “aircraft carrier” of NATO in Eastern and Central Europe. The consent of the Polish Left and Right Governments to serve the American Empire has led to the degradation of the [international] role of Poland and today, we cannot count on any independence during the possible conflict of Great Powers.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about “lost sovereignty”. Poland is often presented as a “puppet-state” of the United States. This narrative includes a message that the United States manipulates Poland and other European allies in order to carry out its anti-Russian policies. The claims about “a 30-year long vassalisation of Poland” and the “service of the Polish Governments to the American Empire” are a conspiracy theory. Poland is an independent state, which shapes its own foreign and domestic policies. The advanced political, economic and military relations between Poland and the United States have a mutually beneficial character. The deployment of NATO troops in Poland increases the domestic security of Poland – two-thirds of the Poles have a positive opinion about NATO’s activities. See other messages promoting the statement that Poland is not a sovereign state - Poland is not a sovereign state; Poland is not perceived as a country with an independent foreign policy and Poland is governed by the US Embassy.