Context

Stories in the ‘Context” section are not fakes. We publish them in order to provide greater insight for our readers about the techniques, methods and practices used by the Russian government in its information war.

Coronavirus: BBC challenges Pro-Kremlin reporting from Italy

By EU vs Disinfo Moscow’s help to Italy in connection with the coronavirus has been covered extensively, both in international and in Russian media. In Russia, domestic pro-Kremlin outlets have reported from Italy with stories about EU flags being replaced with Russian flags and the Russian anthem sounding in the streets. On 31 March, the BBC looked into the facts behind some of these stories with an investigative article titled,

Throwing coronavirus disinfo at the wall to see what sticks

By EU vs Disinfo The EUvsDisinfo database has been accumulating coronavirus-related disinformation cases for more than two months – it’s time to take a look and see what’s hiding in plain sight. Comparing the cases on the coronavirus published between January 22 and March 25 with the caseload from this week alone, it appears that the anti-American vibe is still going strong. In total, we have collected 39 cases claiming

Disinformation, opportunism, and gaslighting: COVID-19 as a vector for Chinese influence in Central Europe

By Louis Cox-Brusseau, for CEPA The outbreak of COVID-19 has starkly exposed most countries’ unpreparedness for combating a global pandemic. Geopolitical weaknesses, too, are laid bare, and China’s revisionist approach to handling the pandemic adds fuel to an increasingly volatile situation in Europe. Previously, trade routes, shipping lanes, and air corridors out of China were means for the virus to spread worldwide. Now, the virus has itself become a vector

Figure of the week: 203

By EU vs Disinfo Facebook and Instagram have removed a total of 203 accounts linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency that were operating out of Ghana and Nigeria and targeted the United States. Earlier this month, a cross-platform social media influence operation linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) but run from Africa was exposed through a joint investigation involving CNN, Facebook, Twitter, social media analytics firm Graphika, and researchers

Kremlin Watch Briefing: How is the Chinese Communist Party manipulating the global pandemic?

Topics of the Week Putin’s Chef threatens to the U.S. with a lawsuit while the U.S. senators urge the EU to put him on a sanctions list. Tech companies attempt to coordinate the fight against misinformation amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Kremlin’s Current Narrative: Russia’s aid to Italy as foreign policy in the guise of humanitarian assistance Good Old Soviet Joke An old man is dying in a deserted hut. Suddenly, there

Coronavirus in Russia: Independent journalists call the bluff

By EU vs Disinfo For good reasons, independent Russian journalists are in a better position than many others to see through the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns. What has been the response of Russian fact-checking journalists to recent messages about the coronavirus in Kremlin-controlled media? And are we beginning to see changes in the way the disinformation is perceived in Russia? Scientists, Putin, the EU and sanctions The Insider is a Russian

Are universities punishing students ‘over common cold’?

By Polygraph Dominic Gregoriosenior, University of Pennsylvania“I wish the economy and the academy were not so easily incapacitated by the common cold. I wish (U. Penn) President Gutmann had heard the COVID-19 mortality rates in the U.S. were just above 0.1 percent, very similar to the seasonal flu, and acted like it.” Source: The UPENN Statesman, March 18, 2020 False COVID-19 is no common cold In a blog written for

Russian senator falsely claims poles closed airspace to virus aid

By Polygraph Alexey PushkovChairman of the commission on information policy of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament“Poland did not let Russian aircraft carrying aid to Italy pass through its airspace. This is meanness at the level of public policy. Moreover, the help was for an ally of Poland in the EU and NATO. From now on, Russia should not meet Poland half-way, on any issue.” Source: Sputnik,

The community of collapse

By EU vs Disinfo The Kremlin, the conspiracy theorists and the coronavirus In an article last year, EUvsDisinfo described the dialogue of disinformation. Disinformation outlets need to adopt to the audience, carefully map and understand sentiments, prejudice and ideals. Lies are best if they resonate with the worldviews, superstitions and archetypes of the intended audience. The COVID-19 outbreak illustrates this dialogue of disinformation very clearly. Take for instance the trope

Sputnik: Coronavirus could be designed to kill elderly Italians

By EU vs Disinfo In a time that calls for international cooperation to fight a common threat, Kremlin mouthpiece Sputnik chooses to spread disinformation about COVID-19.  A Sputnik article published on 15 March promoted an entire catalogue of unfounded theories about the origin of the coronavirus: from the idea that COVID-19 could originate in Latvia to the suggestion that it could have been created as a means to reduce the number of elderly people in Italy. What makes Sputnik want to misinform audiences about the origin of the

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