Russia denies US coronavirus fake-news claims 

Russia denies US coronavirus fake-news claims 

Thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have launched a coordinated effort to spread panic and disruption about the coronavirus, according to the US.

The fake-news campaign has claimed that Washington is behind the coronavirus.

The US State Department said fake accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook were advancing Russian misinformation in numerous languages, including English, Spanish, Italian, German and French.

The Kremlin mouthpiece Tass reported that Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the US allegations.

“It is a deliberate fake,” she said.

The State Department’s Global Engagement Centre reported that thousands of online accounts had “near-identical” posts about the coronavirus.

The same accounts had posted pro-Russian messages about the Syrian civil war, France’s yellow vest protests and demonstrations in Chile that forced the UN climate conference to relocate to Madrid.

The Global Engagement Centre said: “In the Russian doctrine of information confrontation, this is classic.

“The number of coronavirus cases globally hasn’t reached its apex, so the Russian strategy is to very cheaply but very effectively take advantage of the information environment to sow discord between us and China, or for economic purposes.”

Philip Reeker, the Europe and Eurasia chief at the ministry, said: “Russia’s intent is to sow discord and undermine US institutions and alliances from within, including through covert and coercive malign influence campaign,

“By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response,” the assistant secretary of state added.

The US was trying to “wage economic war on China” with a biological weapon manufactured by the CIA or “to push anti-China messages”, the government report said.

It drew parallels with a KGB disinformation campaign in the 1980s claiming that the HIV virus was engineered in US clinics. 

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who has spent billions on global health programmes, has also been falsely accused of coronavirus involvement.

Based on unreliable Chinese figures, 2,340 people have died, mostly in China. There are no figures about how many of the victims were over-70. 

There are more than 76,000 infections across 25 countries with only a tiny proportion of otherwise healthy people dying from the disease. Iran yesterday (Saturday) ordered the closure of schools and universities in two cities after five deaths.




Russian President Vladimir Putin discusses the coronavirus. Picture credit: Kremlin 

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