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Pro-Kremlin websites use COVID19 to promote conspiracies, Russian World
Russian propaganda and coronavirus / Illustration
The coronavirus continues to "mutate" under the influence of a wide variety of propaganda. Previously, it had only conspiracy theories built around it. And now it has become part of the pro-Russian propaganda narrative in Belarus and elsewhere.
Employees of the iSANS center noticed a growing number of publications about the influence of the coronavirus pandemic on European geopolitics. The articles were published by the websites of the pro-Russian media imitating Belarusian regional editions. You can find everything there: some predict the fall of Europe, NATO and the West in general, while others write that the Belarusian opposition plans to spread the virus with the help of "nationalistic" young men.
Coronavirus is the weapon of the opposition
A certain Kiryl Vinahradau published a text entitled "The opposition is spreading coronavirus" on the Podniprovye Info website.
"The opposition wants to use coronavirus to spread panic in our society, thus destabilizing the situation in the country," he writes. As an example of destabilizing news, he uses a well-known meme that appeared on one of the anonymous image boards in 2017. "The father of an acquaintance is a professor, works in the hospital of the Department of Internal Affairs. Today he was urgently called for a meeting. He came back late and did not explain anything. Last night, 34 people died who were infected with the coronavirus." However, Google was powerless in finding the source of this information, presenting only Mr Vinogradov and his text.
The columnist is outraged that the "independent portals" publish news about the spreading of COVID-19 and asks the following questions: "Does the opposition hate its people so much that it only wants them dead? Why do they want all this panic about the coronavirus?"
Then the conspiracy begins: "If they [the opposition] need to move from information portals to real life, they will spread the coronavirus locally -- spit on the railing, infect elevator buttons, cough in the subway, trolley buses ...". He urges to stop the opposition as soon as possible: "If the authorities do not seriously deal with the opposition, "nationalists" and young people, they will spread the same virus on the streets." All of this reminds of the urban legends about HIV infected syringe needles on cinema chairs.
In another text titled "Old boat rocking", the same Kiryl Vinahradau accuses the opposition of stirring up hysteria before the presidential election:
"Why escalate the situation and rock the boat when it's difficult for all the people of the world? It is clear why... The presidential election is ahead, which means that all these fears have a purely political nature -- to push, or better yet to overthrow the government. The Belarusian opposition needs only a bloody revolution, while the world now needs order, coherence and unity".
Kirill believes that people need each other's support now more than ever, while the opposition activists are working in the opposite direction:
"Their main task is to frighten, cause panic and provoke a clash between people and government. That's why they will use everything they can: lack of groceries in shops, masks in pharmacies, medicines, absence of distance education in universities -- whatever an experienced cheater has up his sleeve!"
It is not particularly clear where the author of this opus is going when he is frightening people with insidious opposition.
“The Decline of the West”
The author of IMHO.club Alyaksandr Nasovich has published a text with the title "Coronavirus will become for NATO and EU what Chernobyl became for the Soviet Union".
"The coronavirus pandemic in Europe and the extraordinary measures taken in connection with it like the isolation of the EU member states from each other, gave rise to talks about the collapse of the European Union. The disengagement of the United States from the troubled Old World has spurred the theme of the NATO crisis. The situation in the Western world of the Coronavirus epoch is reminiscent of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which launched the mechanisms of the Soviet Union's collapse," outlines the apocalyptic picture Nasovich.
The author later concludes that the refusal of the EU and NATO countries to help each other during the crisis, the closure of borders and the ban on the supply of basic necessities is a "deadly blow to these associations", and a coronavirus-linked moral disaster triggers the process of actual collapse of the West. As for governance institutions, the author is ruthless and compares them to the CPSU.
"The EU institutions, for example, have simply been paralyzed. These institutions, by the way, remind many people of the CPSU in the last years of the Soviet system. The ideology of liberal globalism, which has long ago turned into a set of empty dogmas which has mantras, pronounced for the sake of taking the leading seat in Brussels instead of beliefs. Western leaders are exactly like the communist nomenclature of the last generation of the USSR".
The political columnist immediately shatters readers' expectations and says that all this does not mean that NATO and the EU will collapse tomorrow:
"The Soviet Union survived the moral disaster of Chernobyl for several more years. But the act of betrayal by the allies took place and the centrifugal stimulus was delivered".
In a conversation on the left-conservative Aurora radio, economist Mikhail Khazin argues that "the EU has actually collapsed, because there is no leadership there..." His words were later reprinted by Sputnik Belarus.
Khazin believes that Russia's actions over the coronavirus situatin are a preparation for a global economic collapse, when only the state can control and supply people:
"Transnational bankers, the elite of the Western global project, liberal elites around the world have realized that the situation is critical. They began to try and rock the boat. In other words, they need to remove Trump and Putin at any cost for a banal reason: under conditions of total crisis, when the state takes over the leadership, it is impossible to rule through the banking system and finances, as it has been done for decades".
In an article on the Sputnik Belarus website, the president of the Center for Political Analysis and Forecasting Rostisslau Ischanka describes that the world has fallen into a systemic crisis and the USA and the West are the most affected parties:
"Nobody knows when and in what condition the Western countries will emerge from the crisis and whether or not they will remain intact. The coronavirus epidemic is linked to it. At another time mankind would not have noticed it, surviving without much shock. And the economic losses, despite their enormity, would not have been critical".
The thesis about the "new Middle Ages", which is now found everywhere, also came in handy: "The West is sinking into the classical Middle Ages, where everyone is for themselves and everyone is against everyone. And the longer it will be shaken by the epidemic, the deeper it will sink there".
But there is also a positive moment, Rastsislau Ischanka believes: the overlapping systemic crisis, the crisis of energy prices and the coronavirus pandemic will replace the Third World War, "acting as an "orderly of the forest" and rejecting non-viable political entities.
An alternative reality
Communist Party member Mikalai Valovich has published the text "Coronavirus as actor of the political game" on the Telescope website. Mikalai wonders who benefits from the new coronavirus in the world. And he has a ready answer: the western civilization led by the USA does.
"In my opinion, the answer is obvious. Today, the western civilization led by the USA is striving to establish a new world order, when most countries and peoples are given a pathetic role as a raw materials appendage of a small group of the most developed states and transnational corporations".
But such alternatively developed states as China, India and Russia stand in the way of the Western hegemon and the new world order. To curb the rapid development of China, the United States and NATO countries are ready to do everything, even create an uncontrolled epidemic:
"The U.S. and NATO countries are seriously concerned about the problem of significant economic and political influence of China. Now the Western civilization uses not only all its traditional means of deterring competitors in order to somehow preserve their claims to world leadership, but also uses such unpredictable events as the outbreak of the virus 2019-nCoV," shares his views Mikalai Valovich.
Pro-Russian propaganda continues to accomodate a variety of narratives, after which they "mutate" into unimaginable chimeras. And they become part of the conspiracy picture of the "Russian world".