The USSR in the early 1980s blamed the US for AIDS. Parallels with COVID-19?

Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president’s spokesman, tried to clear his country of the disinformation accusations by evoking the absence of a specific example or link to a particular media in the EU document while, according to Reuters, the European Service for External Action (EEAS) declined to comment directly on its report.

Reuters reported about the document published by the EU that Russia has deployed the disinformation efforts regarding COVID-19. It states that Russia disseminates disinformation on the coronavirus to sow panic in the West.

According to the document, Russia is using “contradictory, confusing and malicious” information in different languages in its disinformation campaign to “make it harder for the EU to communicate its response to the pandemic”.

Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president’s spokesman, tried to clear his country of the disinformation accusations by evoking the absence of a specific example or link to a particular media in the EU document while, according to Reuters, the European Service for External Action (EEAS) declined to comment directly on its report.

The coronavirus as an American biological weapon

Sergey Glazyev, Russian politician and economist, a full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke about COVID-19 on the Russian channel Tsargrad (12.84 million visits in February 2020 according to SimilarWeb) belonging to Konstantin Malofeev.

“Coronavirus – American biological weapon against those who got out of control – Glaziev”, March 13, 2020

In his March 13 apparition, Mr Glaziev participated in the disinformation by accusing the United States, without apparent evidence, of having produced this virus that he presents as a tool of the American hybrid war. Here is what he stated at the beginning of the video:

“[…] Everything is created by humans, starting with the coronavirus. I think we can invite the bio-engineers. They will tell you how to synthesize it. We know that this can only be done by a single country that has a network of secret bio-laboratories around the world, including under our noses. In Ukraine, the Americans are fully testing the viruses on our – we can say – compatriots. They, thus, have a full arsenal of biological weapons. What’s going on today we discussed with you a year ago, and two, three and four [years] ago. We predicted all of it with you. And in practice, it is a manifestation of the American hybrid war against sectors of the economy that they do not control, which is perfectly understandable and logical.”

The novelty of Russian media in the disinformation about the COVID-19

A few weeks before Sergey Glazyev’s remarks at the TV, the Russian site Zveda Weekly published (January 29, 2020) a rather lengthy article entitled “Coronavirus: American biological war against Russia and China.” From the beginning of the article, its author tries to imply a key idea, informing us that “Washington is taking advantage of the new atypical pneumonia, which is destabilizing its main competitors.”

Despite it’s “analytical” style, the article presents all possible and dubious arguments to explain why Americans are taking advantage of the situation in talks with China. It guides us to the idea “that the United States may be involved in this epidemic” and to support this claim the list of “American operations in the framework of biological warfare against the entire planet” is also cited towards the end of the article.

Its author does not stop there and goes as far as evoking an “ethnic, biological weapon (biogenetic)” which aims to “harm people of certain ethnic groups or genotypes (Russian, Chinese, etc.).” Former one should convince readers even more in the US responsibility and war against its adversaries, such as Russia or China.

Another Russian media composed article titled “The expert saw signs of the US bioterrorism in the spread of the coronavirus”, published on January 27, 2020, by the Russian daily newspaper Moskovski Komsomolets.

Article of Moskovski Komsomolets wrapped in the style of an interview with an expert, in this case, Igor Nikulin, a member (1998-2003) of the United Nations Commission on Biological and Chemical Weapons.

From the beginning, it has been suggesting to us that some experts do not rule out an artificial origin of the new disease. The questions are asked in the manner to stress on COVID-19 “artificial origin” and pushing discussion with Mr Nikulin in this direction.

In the article such a question as “Is it possible that the new coronavirus only affects people of Chinese nationality?” can be found with the following answer “If it turns out that this is indeed the case, then such a natural mutation, surely, cannot exist. It is a mathematical proof that it is an artificially created virus.”

Other questions further developing the subject of a virus artificially created by the Americans are also present in the article. For instance, the author, speaking of the virus, asks his guest the following: “In which laboratories can it appear?” or “How many foreign biological laboratories does the United States have?” and right away “Does the Pentagon supervise them?”

The interview ends with the evocation of the Convention on the prohibition of biological weapons, the United States, biological terrorism, the question of the activity of American biological laboratories overseas, etc. All of this should make a high probability of the US responsibility imprinted in readers’ minds on an unconscious level.

It ends with the sentence “Something must be done. Because many are already suffering from it”, indirectly suggesting to the readers to support the anti-US/West stance taken by the Russian leadership.

There are, of course, dozens of other articles and it is impossible to examine all of them here. Still, a large part of them draws an extensive line of American and sometimes Western, responsibility for COVID-19 and artificial creation of the virus.

The USSR exploited AIDS, Russia disinforms on COVID-19

This Russian narrative accusing the United States in the creation of the COVID-19 is not a new story. It has been in the same manner applied in the case of AIDS.

In the early 1980s, the Soviet KGB along with its German colleagues from the Stasi launched a disinformation campaign known as “Operation Infektion” and sometimes referred to as “Operation Denver”, creating and spreading the rumour involving the Defense Department of United States in the creation of the AIDS virus. The tale has survived in the USSR and has turned into a real conspiracy theory on what other “theories”, accusations and manipulations can be grown in Russia.

Russia’s attempts to build a disinformation “dossier”, promote an idea of ​​that an “artificial virus created by the US” is part of information efforts and serves an aim to weaken the Euro-Atlantic ties by sowing discord and distrust between the United States and countries of European Union. It is also a part of a wider Information Warfare that Russia is waging against the EU and, the West in general.

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Author

  • Denys is a political analyst specializing in defense & security issues and covers the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as well as Russia. He also follows closely the developments in France. His articles have been published in different languages by the German magazine European Security & Defense, the Middle East Eye or the Ukrainian website Evropeyska Pravda. He holds M.A. in International Relations from the Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas.

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