Disinfo: Ukrainian Russophobes behind La Stampa’s anti-Russian disinformation campaign

Summary

The Italian newspaper La Stampa says, on behalf of all Russophobes, that “80% of the equipment” provided was of little or no use. In fact, the Russian Federation, at the request of the Italian government, had sent 15 transport aircraft with medicine, medical equipment and doctors to Italy. This aid helped Lombardy stem the uncontrollable spread of the Coronavirus in the region.

Such behaviour is predatory, especially so when such libel is published at the behest of Russophobes from “across the pond” who pay for such reports. In addition, individuals with anti-Russia views who have already “proven their worth” are being used in the current information war. That [sic] admissions made to Ukrainian internet publication Obozrevatel lend further evidence to the fact that Ukrainian Russophobes in Italy, among others, are behind La Stampa’s disinformation campaign.

Disproof

The story advances a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative which frames any criticism of Moscow's foreign-policy decisions as a symptom of Western Russophobia.

On 25 March 2020, the Italian daily newspaper La Stampa reported, citing unnamed high-ranking Italian officials, that the Russian aid was mostly of limited value to Italy’s efforts in fighting the epidemic. Another La Stampa piece later reported the concerns of some military and security experts that Russia’s aid operation in Italy could be used for intelligence purposes by the GRU (Russian military intelligence).

The murky reference to "Russophobes 'across the pond'" falsely implies that La Stampa's editorial stance is influenced by Washington. See our debunk of an earlier claim which has the paper's "attack on Russian doctors" ordered by its "Anglo-Saxon owners."

Still less plausible is the notion that La Stampa coordinated its reporting with a network of "Ukrainian Russophobes" which, as it turns out, consists of just one person. The Obozrevatel article, cited here as "further evidence" of coordination, is a brief interview with an Italian woman of Ukrainian descent who launched a Change.org petition demanding that the Italian government answer the questions originally posed by La Stampa. The timeline of this supposed conspiracy begs the question of how a petition launched in April could have retroactively manipulated news reports published in March.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 15/04/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Italy, Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: coronavirus, fake news, humanitarian aid, Anti-Russian, Russophobia

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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