Analysts warn Russia is spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic

The Millennial Source
5 min readApr 18, 2020

New analysts are alleging that Russia is once again engaged in a disinformation campaign, this time related to COVID-19.

Despite repeated denials from the Russian government, the nation’s government has been repeatedly accused of actively spreading disinformation online, particularly during the 2016 US presidential election.

These reports come at a time when much of the world is under lockdown due to the deadly spread of the coronavirus. In America, a conspiracy theory that China intentionally developed the virus in a lab is now widely believed by 30% of the population.

Disinformation on COVID-19

According to a report by The New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin is actively working to sow disinformation about the disease to “portray American officials as downplaying the health alarms and thus posing serious threats to public safety.” This has been done through social media posts and official reports on Russia’s English-language news channel, RT.

If true, the coronavirus disinformation campaign bears resemblance to other campaigns Russia has been alleged to be behind. Intelligence agencies have said the purported goal of these campaigns is not about convincing people of a certain point of view, but rather to muddy the waters in an effort to create discord, uncertainty and distrust among populations towards their governments.

Putin has repeatedly disputed claims that Russia is engaged in any such disinformation campaigns, including claims specifically related to COVID-19. Others have suggested that such campaigns, even if real, have a minimal impact on people’s behavior.

Nevertheless, experts warn that Russian efforts are part of a long-term strategy on the part of the Kremlin.

If reports that Russia has targeted Spain, the United Kingdom and many of its neighboring countries are also true, it would suggest that Putin believes that disinformation campaigns are effective.

The Times’ report alleges that the coronavirus campaign is fostering a range of conspiracies, including the theory that the United States developed the virus. The Chinese government has also pushed…

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