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Russian Propaganda about Bogus ‘Bioweapons” in Ukraine Copy-Pasted from Similar Campaigns in Georgia and Kazakhstan

March 18th, 2022 15:20

US media is report­ing that Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da about bogus ‘bioweapon’ labs in Ukraine is copy-past­ed almost direct­ly from years of sim­i­lar fake sto­ries that Krem­lin trolls have used to try and dis­cred­it legit­i­mate bio­log­i­cal research in Geor­gia and Kaza­khstan. Accord­ing to a report by the Dai­ly Beast:

March 18, 2022 Since it launched a new inva­sion of Ukraine, Rus­sia has scram­bled to come up with a bet­ter nar­ra­tive to jus­ti­fy its aggres­sion than the “denaz­i­fi­ca­tion” of a gov­ern­ment run by the Jew­ish descen­dant of Holo­caust sur­vivors.  The sto­ry Rus­sia has set­tled on—Ukraine is cook­ing up secret bio­log­i­cal weapons—is worse than non­sense. It’s a rerun. The pro­pa­gan­da about bogus bio­lab work put out by the Krem­lin over the past few days is copy-past­ed almost direct­ly from years of sim­i­lar non­sense sto­ries that covert Krem­lin trolls have used to try and dis­cred­it legit­i­mate bio­log­i­cal research in oth­er for­mer Sovi­et republics. Before Russia’s inva­sion, the objects of Moscow’s bio­lab ire were the so-called Lugar Labs in Geor­gia and Kaza­khstan. The labs, named for the Nunn-Lugar Coop­er­a­tive Threat Reduc­tion leg­is­la­tion passed with the help of for­mer Repub­li­can Sen. Richard Lugar, were part of an effort to give steady, reward­ing work to for­mer Sovi­et sci­en­tists with expe­ri­ence in weapons of mass destruc­tion-adja­cent fields, so they wouldn’t be forced to offer their ser­vices to poten­tial weapons pro­grams in rogue states.  Inso­far as the labs kept sci­en­tists work­ing on things oth­er than weapons pro­grams, they were a suc­cess in the Defense Department’s eyes. The Krem­lin, how­ev­er, looked at them dif­fer­ent­ly. Rather than a wel­come non­pro­lif­er­a­tion effort, the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment has treat­ed them as a hos­tile source of Amer­i­can influ­ence in what Moscow con­sid­ers its own sphere of influence.

Read the rest here.

The Dai­ly Beast report notes that the Kremlin’s pro­pa­gan­da has long lever­aged data alleged­ly stolen in hacks to serve its inter­ests. In most cas­es, dis­in­for­ma­tion trolls have cit­ed nonex­is­tent hacks from fake hack­tivist groups to spread lies.

Rus­sia, and the Sovi­et Union before it, have a long his­to­ry of bioweapons-relat­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion. Accord­ing to a recent study, the out­break of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic in Chi­na in Jan­u­ary 2020 prompt­ed a  great­ly expand­ed Russ­ian-gov­ern­ment bioweapons-relat­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion effort. Accord­ing to the paper’s extract:

Octo­ber 21, 2021 From 1949 until 1988, the Sovi­et Union con­duct­ed a near­ly con­tin­u­ous cam­paign of false alle­ga­tions of bio­log­i­cal-weapon (BW) use by the Unit­ed States. In 1995, senior Russ­ian mil­i­tary offi­cials revived this pat­tern of false alle­ga­tions, which con­tin­ues to the present day. Russ­ian offi­cials ampli­fied the cam­paign after the US gov­ern­ment fund­ed the trans­for­ma­tion of for­mer Sovi­et BW facil­i­ties in the Com­mon­wealth of Inde­pen­dent States under the Nunn–Lugar pro­gram. The out­break of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic in Chi­na in Jan­u­ary 2020 prompt­ed a very great­ly expand­ed Russ­ian-gov­ern­ment BW-relat­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion effort. This paper aims to present a rea­son­ably com­pre­hen­sive account of these activ­i­ties and to assess their sig­nif­i­cance. The Russ­ian gov­ern­ment under Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has demon­strat­ed open dis­dain for both the Bio­log­i­cal and Tox­in Weapons Con­ven­tion and the Chem­i­cal Weapons Convention.

Read the full paper here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report recent­ly report­ed on Russ­ian claims that the Unit­ed States was devel­op­ing bio­log­i­cal weapons in a net­work of labs in Ukraine. These claims have been echoed not only by Chi­nese offi­cials but also ampli­fied by QAnon con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists and con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­can polit­i­cal fig­ures, includ­ing Fox News host Tuck­er Carl­son and Don­ald Trump Jr., A recent report by the Dai­ly Beast high­lights how US con­ser­v­a­tive and con­spir­a­to­r­i­al influ­encers have con­tributed to this Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion campaign.