US accuses Russia of whipping up fears over coronavirus
UK accuses Russia of trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research – BBC News
US officials say Moscow is conducting a coordinated media and social media propaganda campaign
WASHINGTON – The United States accuses Russia of using disinformation to fuel fears over the spread of coronavirus.
The effort has been going on for weeks, according to US authorities, with government media, news sites and numerous fake social media accounts spreading fabricated information in at least five languages..
«The coronavirus is an example of how US rivals are taking advantage of the health crisis in an attempt to advance their interests. We monitor what materials are distributed – notes the coordinator of the Center for Global Engagement at the State Department Lea Gabriel. – We see the entire ecosystem of Russian propaganda in action. Many sources are associated with Russia. One of the best practices for countering propaganda and disinformation is exposing it. If you look at the full spectrum of Russian disinformation, including Russian state media, official accounts, and so on, they are actively promoting various conspiracy theories under the guise of journalism.».
Gabrielle did not go into details so as not to give credibility to the disseminated false information.
However, other sources point out that the disinformation campaign revolves around three main theories: that the coronavirus is actually a biological weapon, that the CIA created the virus with the intention of wreaking havoc on China, and that the virus is the creation of Microsoft founder Bill Gates..
Numerous requests for comment sent to the Russian embassy in Washington went unanswered. Previously, Russia has repeatedly denied other US misinformation accusations..
At the same time, two days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused foreign countries of information stuffing. Who exactly is their organizer and from which countries the disinformation comes – the president did not specify.
«As for these provocative stuffing. The FSB reports that they are mainly organized from abroad. But this, unfortunately, always accompanies us. The purpose of such stuffing is clear – to sow panic among the population. There is only one thing to counter this – timely, comprehensive and reliable information for the citizens of the country.», – said Vladimir Putin.
Gabriel said the Center for Global Engagement, in collaboration with other departments of the State Department, is trying to expose Moscow’s efforts, but it is not easy..
«A lot of misinformation is spreading, – she explained to legislators. – It’s not just about individual platforms. It’s about the big picture that is taking shape now and how our opponents are using the social media landscape.… I hope everyone will act responsibly to support frightened people around the world amid this crisis.».
Meanwhile, social media say they have yet to reveal evidence that Russia is conducting a massive propaganda campaign in connection with the coronavirus..
«At the moment we do not see any coordinated manipulations on our platform., – the administration wrote on the blog on Wednesday «Twitter». – However, we remain vigilant and invest heavily in prevention.».
Representatives «Twitter» confirmed «Voice of America», what they received from the Center for Global Engagement with a summary of its findings.
According to Lea Gabriel, Russia and China are using disinformation to advance their own interests..
«Moscow seeks to weaken its opponents by manipulating the information environment in various ways, polarizing political dialogue and trying to destroy public confidence in government, independent media and democratic principles. Our center also supports diplomatic missions abroad and our international partners in a wide range of efforts to counter Kremlin disinformation. Beijing, in turn, is pursuing a comprehensive and coordinated influence campaign to advance its interests and undermine the interests of the United States. Our anti-advocacy efforts include raising awareness of the problematic aspects of the Initiative «One belt and one road», raising awareness of human rights violations, as well as abuses by Beijing of open research and information from the academic environment to achieve its military objectives», – emphasized Lea Gabrielle.
The US authorities believe that Russia is achieving the desired effect.
«Many people around the world believe this lie, – noted the director of the Center for Analytics and Research Jani Vujica, speaking last month in Washington. – This strengthens some even more in their opinion about the West. It pushes others to form such an opinion.».