Debunk EU: Kremlin-related media accuses the West for deliberately discrediting Russian vaccine

The continuous introduction of strict anti-COVID measures have spurred yet another wave of disinformation. As SOMA’s member Debunk EU has analysed, false or misleading narratives are being used to portray the Baltic countries and Poland as incapable to counter the pandemic and to diminish the importance of pandemic restrictions.

In specific, international vaccination efforts have prompted accusations of attempts to compromise Russian-made vaccine Sputnik V, and allegations that mandatory vaccination programmes abuse human rights. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland were targeted by disinformation as separate entities, as well as a part of international organizations, such as the EU and NATO.

Throughout December 2020, analysts with Debunk EU:

  • reviewed 7,091 articles with potentially harmful content.
  • identified and analysed 524 articles with false and misleading content in English, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Russian languages from 73 media outlets.

These articles had a potential reach of 434.9 million contacts.

Debunk EU’s analysis showed that two major news groups stood out in terms of both the number of hits and distribution by languages:

  • The first batch of articles was about the news that the Russian Defence Ministry had warned against a fake news campaign bankrolled from abroad and targeting the Russian COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A day later, it was the message that the toothpaste can kill 99.9% of coronavirus that triggered the second major flow of mis/disinformation.

While analysing false/misleading articles in December 2020, it became evident for SOMA’s member that the outbreak of a second wave of COVID-19 and at the same time, the introduction of stricter measures to control it, such as nation-wide lockdowns, generated articles that were classified under the narrative Country fails to fight COVID-19.

You can read Debunk EU’s full analysis here.