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The EU uses Covid-19 geopolitically

There is nothing that does not exist. There are, for example, the “East StratCom Task Force” for 2015. It is part of the “European External Action Service (EEAS)”, has an annual budget of 3 million euros and employs 16 people full-time.

A “Task Force” is a task force. “StratCom “is the abbreviation for"Strategic Communication”. “East” shows against whom this strategic communication is directed: against the East, that is: against Russia.

And what exactly does the “East StratCom Task Force"do?

“The Task Force develops communication products (!) and campaigns aimed at better explaining EU policy in the countries of the “Eastern Partnership” (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). It works closely with the EU institutions and the EU delegations in the Eastern Partnership countries. The Task force, in close cooperation with other EU actors, supports the EU’s wider efforts to strengthen the media environment in the Eastern Partnership region. The Task Force reports and analyses disinformation trends, explains and debunks disinformation reports and raises awareness of disinformation coming from the Russian state, Russian sources and the media space of the eastern neighborhood.“The Text on the Website “euvsdisinfo.eu”, but in English.

This could also be formulated in a shorter and simpler way: the “East StratCom Task Force” does everything it can to monitor and control political Information in those countries that border Russia but are not (yet) in the EU.

The Covid-19-crisis as an example

Everyone has read, heard or seen it in the media in the last three weeks: opinions about the Covid-19 crisis vary widely, even among renowned doctors, virology and epidemic specialists. Many warn against the Virus and demand even tougher measures, such as Zurich University Hospital doctor Adriano Aguzzi. Others warn against panic and call for more prudence and restraint, for example Dr. Rolf Kron from Bavaria or Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, a specialist trained in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. The free media and not least the Social Media spread all conceivable assessment variants. Opinions differ widely, Information within the EU is diverse.

… and in Russia?

Anyone who watches Russian television or listens to Russian Radio knows it: even in Russia, opinions about the dangers of Covid-19 differ widely. There are experts who warn against the danger of the Virus, and there are experts who warn against panic. In Russia, too, the range of assessments is wide. Not unlike within the EU.

The “East StratCom Task Force” obviously saw this. But what does it conclude? In a special article on the Covid-19 crisis, she writes, among other things: “the most important task for any kind of message sent by Kremlin-friendly media to an international audience is to sow discord. Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets flood the target audience with dozens of different statements, versions, statements, “Leaks,” “sensational revelations,” and conspiracy theories. All this is aimed at reducing trust in the efforts of the health system, authorities, national and international institutions. Sowing panic and distrust, creating an image of an imminent collapse, hinting at a collapse of institutions. One source of Information claims that the information about the Coronavirus is exaggerated, the other that we are facing the apocalypse.”

Different opinions: in the West a sign of democracy, in Russia targeted disinformation

In the same article, the “East StratCom Task Force” explains why different opinions on the Covid-19 crisis in the EU and Russia are quite different. :

The Kremlin-friendly disinformation agencies are not trying to” sell an idea”, but to confuse the audience. While the journalists of reputable news agencies carefully check sources and data, the disinformation agencies spread “alternative facts”. The information is filled with lies; a fog of fakes obscures the facts. Information gaps are abused. Information has a very different function in an authoritarian state or organization than in a democratic society. In a democratic discourse, a statement or an opinion can and will be called into question. Criticism and dissent are the core of democracy. In authoritarian society, every statement is about loyalty. Loyalty to a leader, a cause, a brand, an ideology, a Faith … Whether the statement is based on facts or not is irrelevant. To question the statement would mean to question the leader, the thing, the brand.

This is how it is: the EU allows different opinions as proof of democratic conditions. In Russia, however, different opinions, for example, the warning of the dangerous Virus on the one hand and the warning of panic on the other, have the goal of disinformation.

What comes from Russia is only “Propaganda anyway”

The EU employs a special task force, the “East StratCom Task Force”, with an annual budget of 3 million euros and 16 multilingual specialists, who are tasked with making political use of an international crisis such as the current Covid-19 crisis and in particular to provide the approximately 72 million inhabitants in six countries outside the EU that border Russia with the “right” Information. Because what comes from Russia is only “Propaganda"anyway.

However, this” correct " Information is always the same. It corresponds to the political mandate of the “East StratCom Task Force”: what comes from Russia comes from the Kremlin, is implausible and primarily serves disinformation.

Yes, also in Russia, as everywhere and in all countries, many things are said and written that would be better not said and written. And there is political Propaganda, as everywhere and in all countries, also in Russia. The question is still allowed: does a pandemic that claims countless innocent victims around the world really need to be abused in order to incite hatred for Russia? Wouldn’t the Covid-19 pandemic be an occasion to reflect on common problems and threats?