EEAS Special Report update: short assessment of narratives and disinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic (update 23 April – 18 May)

EEAS Special Report update: short assessment of narratives and disinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic (update 23 April – 18 May)

By EU vs Disinfo Note: The objective of this report is to provide a snapshot overview of the current trends and insights into disinformation activities related to COVID-19/Coronavirus. It does not provide a comprehensive or complete overview and focusses primarily on the external dimension, in line with the European External Action Service (eeas) mandate. The report was authored by the EEAS Strategic Communications and Information Analysis Division, which contributes to

“Not funny at all”

By EU vs Disinfo Bill Gates-bashing is back in the COVID-19 narrative on Russian state-controlled TV, paired with anti-vaccine messaging. One would have hoped that the recent scandal following Russian celebrity film director Nikita Mikhalkov’s attack on Bill Gates had successfully sidelined conspiracy theories about COVID-19 from Russia’s dominating TV channels. However, Bill Gates popped up again on 13 May; this time, in a talkshow on state-controlled Channel One Russia (Pervy Kanal). Here, a

Boosted by Russia, a viral video falsely claims Italy wants Bill Gates arrested

By Polygraph YouTube/Social media video“Italian Government call for arrest of Bill Gates.”Source: YouTube, May 14, 2020FALSE On May 14, the YouTube channel “prisoners0fprogress” posted a video captioned “Italian Government call for arrest of Bill Gates.” The video is in Italian with English subtitles. The video gained nearly a million views and close to 2,000 comments over a weekend and has been shared on other social networks. The arrest claim is false. The

Fake: Survey Shows Ukrainians Liked Living in the USSR

Russian propaganda has found a new source of fakes, now informal polls from Telegram accounts are presented as insightful news that portrays a real picture of events. Kremlin faithful site Ukraina.ru asked followers of its Telegram account to answer a poll which asked “Ukraine as part of the USSR was… good or bad”. 92% responded with good and Ukraina.ru triumphantly concluded: Concise vote, revealing answer. Polls on social media serve

Secret labs and George Soros: COVID-19 disinformation in the EU Eastern Partnership countries

By EU vs Disinfo As COVID-19 spread across the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood, conspiracy theories, misleading information and disinformation followed in its wake. For pro-Kremlin media, the pandemic offers new opportunities to build on existing disinformation narratives and spin new ones. Secret labs For years, pro-Kremlin disinformation sources have been exploiting the false trope of secret Western-sponsored military laboratories “in Russia’s neighbourhood”. Of these, the most significant is the case of

Fake: Crimean Tatars “Owe Stalin”

While Ukraine and Crimean Tatar Diasporas throughout the world commemorated Crimean Tatar Deportation Remembrance Day on May 18, Russian bots and trolls launched yet another fake about the reasons for the forcible ethnic cleansing of Crimean Tatars from their homes in Crimea in 1944. In posts absolutely seething with enmity and hatred, the criminal actions of the then Soviet government and its leader Joseph Stalin were completely whitewashed. “By deporting

Fake: Ukraine May Lose Several Regions

The collapse of Ukraine and the disintegration of the country into various regions is the ultimate dream of Russian propaganda which has been successfully advancing this narrative over the last years. The mantra that some Ukrainian regions are poised to secede once again reared its head in the Russian Federation Council and was made news by all the main Kremlin media. There is absolutely no evidence to justify secession claims

Nigerian pastor spreads COVID-19 conspiracies and disinformation

By Nwachukwu Egbunike, for Global Voices Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19. When it comes to spurious information and the coronavirus, it has been an open season with some Nigerian evangelical pastors. As purveyors of disinformation, several pastors have pushed back against government lockdowns that would impact church closures.  As of May 13, Nigeria has 4,971 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 164 deaths and 1,070  recoveries.  Conspiracy

In Georgia, clerics use anti-vaxx rhetoric, call pandemic a “bluff”

By Polygraph Archibishop AntonArchibishop of the Vani and Bagdati Eparchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church“It has been transpiring that the current pandemic – as I have been told and also, I watched some programs I was sent via WhatsApp yesterday – is, after all, a bluff. If this pandemic turns out to be a bluff, what would you say then? If it becomes established that this pandemic is a trick,

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