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EU Commission blamed Russia’s media for coronavirus disinformation

NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA - JANUARY 30, 2020: Flight attendants wear medical masks at Novosibirsk International Airport imposing strict health control measures, officials remotely taking temperature of passengers arriving from China in connection with the outbreak of a pneumonia-like coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. Latest reports put the total number of 2019-nCoV cases over 7,000 with 170 of them fatal. Kirill Kukhmar/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

BRUSSELS, Mar 18, 2020, Reuters. The European Union has seen a flurry of disinformation about the coronavirus outbreak spread by Russian sources over the last few weeks, a European Commission spokesman said on Tuesday (Mar 17), Reuters reported.

The EU executive’s foreign policy unit had intensified its monitoring of the issue and identified, exposed and raised awareness about the role played by Russian sources, the spokesman said.

This is not the first time that Russia has been accused of using the internet to influence public opinion in the bloc.

An EU review into elections to its parliament last year said there was evidence that both Russian and European online sources had sought to promote extreme views and polarize debate on issues such as migration and religion.

That was the latest in a string of allegations from Western governments that Russia had used online disinformation techniques, including the creation of fake social media accounts, to try to influence voters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in turn has accused foreign foes of targeting Russia by spreading fake news about the outbreak to sow panic.

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