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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Russia stepping up disinformation amid coronavirus pandemic: Polish official

27.03.2020 12:00
Russia is spreading fake news en masse and stepping up disinformation operations amid the global coronavirus pandemic, a Polish security official has said.
Stanisław Żaryn
Stanisław ŻarynPAP/Marcin Obara

On Thursday, Poland’s foreign ministry summoned Russia's ambassador to protest at an “absurd” claim that Warsaw had refused to let Russian planes carrying aid to virus-struck Italy pass through Polish airspace, a news agency reported.

Stanisław Żaryn, spokesman for Poland’s security services chief, said in an interview with the wpolityce.pl website that Russia was seeking to destabilise other countries while trying to boost its own international profile amid the virus crisis.

Poland was earlier this month "attacked for destabilising Europe” and described as "a source of major diplomatic problems in Europe" after it closed its borders to non-residents amid the spread of the coronavirus, Żaryn said.

“We have also had a deluge of fake news about virus cases among US soldiers," he added. "American units in Poland are constantly in the crosshairs of the Kremlin’s propaganda.”

According to Żaryn, Poland has been the target of Russian “information attacks and propaganda” for years.

The Kremlin has in recent years been waging a “hybrid war, using various types of instruments, including information tools,” Żaryn said.

The aim is to “destabilise other countries,” he told wpolityce.pl.

Żaryn also argued in the interview that Russia was using the coronavirus crisis to shake off its international isolation and trick the West into lifting economic sanctions.

“At the moment, amid the pandemic crisis, we have been dealing with a strong intensification of Russian activities,” Żaryn said.

He was quoted as saying by the website that Polish security services were monitoring and analysing "disinformation activities targeted at Poland” and identifying especially harmful and dangerous "narratives and fake news."

According to Żaryn, "a new trend" in Moscow's information policy is to portray Russia as a country that is coping well with the coronavirus outbreak and wants to help other nations fight the epidemic.

“It is clear that Russia is using this pandemic to break free from international isolation,” Żaryn said.

He added that one "strongly publicised” claim is that Russia is able to help other countries battle the coronavirus, but it could do more “if not for the international sanctions" that remain in place.

(gs/pk)

Source: wpolityce.pl