Russia’s foreign ministry on Saturday denied a claim by US officials that Russian-linked social media accounts were making a coordinated effort to spread alarm about the new coronavirus, branding the accusation intentionally misleading.
“This is a deliberately false story,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the TASS state news agency in Russia’s first official reaction to the claims by US officials to AFP.
State Department officials tasked with combating Russian disinformation said that thousands of false personas were being used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote unfounded conspiracy theories that the US was behind the COVID-19 outbreak, writing in multiple languages.
“Russia’s intent is to sow discord and undermine US institutions and alliances from within, including through covert and coercive malign influence campaigns,” said Philip Reeker, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia.
“By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response.”