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U.S. officials say Russia has spread because of coronavirus misinformation



Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English websites to spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit the crisis America is trying to contain before the November presidential election, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Two Russian-recognized Russians, known as the GRU, were responsible for disinformation efforts reaching American and other 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 are doing it now to excite certain sites and reveal what they say is a clear link between the sites and Russian intelligence.

According to one official, about 1

50 articles on responding to the pandemic were published on websites published between Tuesday in late May and early July, including information on Russia’s reconstruction or U.S. condemnation.

Among the headlines that caught the attention of US officials were “Russia’s assistance to America in the fight against COVID-19 over an advance on detentives,” which states that Russia provided urgent and substantial assistance to the United States in the fight against the pandemic, and “Beijing considers COVID-19 to be biological weapon ’, which reinforced Chinese statements.

This report is revealed when the spread of disinformation, including in Russia, becomes an urgent concern in November. In the presidential election. U.S. officials seek to avoid a repeat of 2016. The contest, when Russia launched a covert social media campaign to divide American public opinion and favor then-candidate Donald Trump against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. The U.S. chief counter-intelligence executive warned in a public statement on Friday that Russia continues to use online trolls to achieve its goals.

Aside from politics, the dual crisis that has plagued the United States and much of the world – pandemic-racial relations and protests – has offered a fertile area where there may be misinformation or outright lies. In videos taken by Trump and Facebook, Trump was tested for sharing misinformation about an unapproved drug that treats coronavirus.

Officials described Russia’s misinformation as part of a constant and ongoing effort to spread false stories and cause confusion. They did not say whether the efforts of these sites were directly related to the November election, although some publications seem to condemn Trump’s Democratic challenge to Joe Biden, and still recall Russia’s 2016 election. Efforts to inflate racing relations in America and to incite corruption allegations against U.S. political figures.

Although U.S. officials had previously warned of the spread of pandemic-related misinformation, they went even further on Tuesday, singling out a specific Russian-registered information agency, InfoRos, which operates a number of websites – InfoRos.ru, Infobrics.org and OneWorld. .press has sparked a pandemic to promote anti-Western goals and spread misinformation.

El. The InfoRos email was not returned immediately on Tuesday.

The sites promote their stories as an intricate but insidious effort that U.S. officials see as money laundering, when stories in well-written English – often with pro-Russian sentiment and anti-US sentiment – are passed on through other news sources to disguise their origins. and strengthen the legitimacy of information.

The sites are also full of stories from elsewhere, government officials said.

In addition to the coronavirus, the focus is on America, global politics, and current stories.

Tuesday’s headline on InfoRos.ru about the unrest in America’s major cities read “Chaos in Blue Cities,” accompanied by a story deploring how New Yorkers grew up following the harsh attitude of Mayor Rudolf W. Giuliani and Michael. Mr Bloomberg “must adapt to life in criminal cities”.

Another story called the “Ukrainian Trap for Biden” headline and claimed that Ukrainegate, a reference to stories about former Biden’s son Hunter’s relationship with the Ukrainian gas company, “continues to expand with updated spiders.”

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.”




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