Russia uses coronavirus disinformation to spread panic in the West20.03.2020
Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document seen by Reuters.
The EU document said the Russian campaign, pushing fake news online in English, Spanish, Italian, German and French, uses contradictory, confusing and malicious reports to make it harder for the EU to communicate its response to the pandemic.
“The overarching aim of Kremlin disinformation is to aggravate the public health crisis in Western countries in line with the Kremlin’s broader strategy of attempting to subvert European societies.”
An EU database has recorded almost 80 cases of disinformation about coronavirus since Jan. 22, it said, noting Russian efforts to amplify Iranian accusations online, cited without evidence, that coronavirus was a U.S. biological weapon.
The EU document cited examples from Lithuania to Ukraine, including false claims that a U.S. soldier deployed to Lithuania was infected and hospitalized. It said that on social media, Russian state-funded, Spanish-language RT Spanish was the 12th most popular news source on coronavirus between January and mid-March, based on the amount of news shared on social media.
The European Commission said it was in contact with Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft. An EU spokesman accused Moscow of “playing with people’s lives” and appealed to EU citizens to “be very careful” and only use news sources they trust.