Russian intelligence operators are using a trio of English websites to spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic to exploit the crisis the U.S. is seeking to overcome ahead of the November presidential election, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
Two Russians who held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service, known as the GRU, have been held responsible for disinformation efforts directed at U.S. and Western audiences, U.S. government officials said. They spoke to the Associated Press about anonymity because they were not allowed to speak in public.
The information had previously been classified, but officials said it had been downgraded to allow it to discuss it more freely. Officials said they were doing so now to excite certain sites and reveal a link between the sites and Russian intelligence.
According to one official, between late May and early July, the troika published about 150 articles on responding to the pandemic, including manifestations aimed at helping Russia and condemning the United States.
Among the headlines brought to the attention of US officials are “Russia’s assistance to America in the fight against COVID-19 over an advance on the detentive,” which states that Russia provided urgent and significant assistance to the United States in the fight against the pandemic, and “Beijing believes that COVID-19 is a biological weapon “.
The report is being revealed as a spread of disinformation, including against Russia, which is an urgent concern in November. In the ongoing presidential election, as U.S. officials seek to avoid the 2016 A repeat of the contest, when Russia launched a secret social media campaign to divide U.S. public opinion favorably. then-candidate Donald Trump. A U.S. chief counter-intelligence official warned in a public statement on Friday that Russia continues to use online trolls to achieve its goals.
Even without politics, the dual crisis that has plagued the country and much of the world – pandemic and racial relations and protests – has offered fertile territory to overcome misinformation or false lies.
Officials described the misinformation as part of Russia’s ongoing and persistent efforts to cause confusion. They did not say whether these efforts were directly related to the November election, although some content on the websites showed condemnation of Trump Democrat rival Joe Biden. Thoughts are told that since 2016. Russia’s efforts to exacerbate racial relations in the U.S. and encourage U.S. political figures to blame corruption.
U.S. officials on Tuesday broke up with the news agency InfoRos.ru, which runs a trio of websites, InfoRos.ru, Infobrics.org and OneWorld.press, which they said took advantage of the pandemic to promote anti-Western goals and spread misinformation. .
The sites promote their stories through intricate but insidious efforts, which officials see as money laundering, when stories in well-written English – often with pro-Russian sentiment and anti-US sentiment – are transmitted through other news sources to disguise their origins and enhance the legitimacy of the information.
The sites are also full of stories from elsewhere, government officials said.
The sites also focus on modern politics. Tuesday’s headline on InfoRos.ru about the unrest in major U.S. cities was read as “Chaos in Blue Cities,” adding a story deploring how grown New Yorkers survived the harsh attitude of Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. must adapt to life in urban crime zones “.
Another story called the headline “Ukraine’s Trap for Biden” and claimed that Ukrainegate, a reference to stories about the former son Biden’s relationship with the Ukrainian gas company, “continues to expand with renewed vigilance.”
Two individuals who also held leadership roles at InfoRos, named Denis Valerijevičius Tyurin and Alexander Gennadyjevičius Starunskis on Tuesday, previously served in the GRU unit, which specializes in military psychological intelligence, and maintain deep ties there, officials said.
InfoRos and One World’s ties to the Russian state have attracted the attention of European disinformation analysts in the past.
2019 The European Union’s task force investigating disinformation campaigns described “One World” as “a new addition to the Moscow disinformation unit in the pantheon”. The task force noted that the content of One World is often a parrot on issues on Russia’s state agenda, including the war in Syria.
A report published last month by the second NGO, Brussels-based EU DisinfoLab, examined the links between InfoRos and One World and Russia’s military intelligence. The researchers identified technical evidence linking their sites to Russia and identified some financial links between InfoRos and the government.
“InfoRos is developing in a shady gray area, where regular outreach activities are mixed with controversial actions that may be linked to Russia’s state information operations,” the report’s authors concluded.
On its English-language Facebook page, InfoRos describes itself as an “information agency: a world through Russia’s eyes.”