COVID-19 As a Tool of Information Confrontation: Russia’s Approach
The School of Public Policy Publications, Volume 13:3, April 2020
11 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 1, 2020
As the rest of the world struggles to cope with COVID-19, Russia is churning out propaganda that blames the West for creating the virus. Propaganda is, of course, nothing new for Russia; such practices have a long history dating back to the Soviet era. What’s different now, though, is that with the internet and social media, Russia has many more ways to propagate fake news and conspiracy theories, and to reach susceptible audiences both inside and outside the country.
Russia is using social media accounts, fake news outlets, state-controlled global satellite media, bloggers, pseudo-scientists and supposed scholars, experts and Russians living in the West to disseminate its lies and distortions. The European Union’s External Action Service reports almost 80 incidents of disinformation since the end of January.
However, Russia has a more insidious goal than merely disseminating propaganda for the sake of it. President Vladimir Putin, who has labelled the fall of the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, is determined to show the international community that Russia is no longer the weak creature it was post-Soviet collapse.
Keywords: COVID-19, disinformation, fake news, Russia, China, information confrontation, Canada
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