U.S. officials say Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English websites to spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic to exploit the crisis America is struggling to manage ahead of the November presidential election.
Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service, known as the GRU, have been found responsible for disinformation efforts reaching American and Western audiences, U.S. government officials said Tuesday. 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.
May. At the end of July. Initially, according to one official, about 150 articles on the response to the pandemic were posted on websites, including information about Russia’s reconstruction or U.S. condemnation.
Among the headlines that caught the attention of U.S. officials were “Russia’s Counter Covid-19 aid to America provides an advance on Détente,” which states that Russia has provided urgent and substantial U.S. aid to combat the pandemic. “Beijing believes the Covid-19 is a biological weapon,” which added to the Chinese statements.
The report is being revealed as a spread of disinformation, including to Russia, and it is an urgent concern in November. In the upcoming presidential election. U.S. officials are trying to avoid 2016. A repeat of the race when Russia launched a covert social media campaign to dismantle American public opinion and favor then-candidate Donald Trump against his 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.
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. Trump himself was checked for misinformation about an unapproved drug treating coronavirus in videos taken from Twitter and Facebook.
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 November. In the election, though, some publications condemned Joe Biden, and they are reminiscent of Russia’s 2016 election. Efforts to deepen racing relations in America and to promote corruption allegations in U.S. political figures.
Although U.S. officials had previously warned of the spread of pandemic-related misinformation, they went 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 – which sparked the pandemic. promoting anti-Western goals and disseminating misinformation.
El. The email from InfoRos 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 affairs.
Tuesday’s headline on the InfoRos.ru portal about the unrest in America’s major cities was read as “Chaos in the Blue Cities,” adding a story deploring how New Yorkers grew up with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg’s approach to harsh crime. must adapt to life in urban crime ”.
Another story called the Ukrainian Trap for Biden and said 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.”