“Russia has used the anxiety around the coronavirus pandemic to undermine Western democracies by spreading disinformation online,” Australia’s foreign minister said
The disinformation contributed to a “climate of fear and division” when the world needed cooperation and understanding, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a speech at Australian National University, a text of which was released by her office late Tuesday.
“Concerningly, we have seen disinformation pushed and promoted around the coronavirus pandemic and around some of the social pressures that have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” Payne said.
“It is troubling that some countries are using the pandemic to undermine liberal democracy to promote their own more authoritarian models,” she added.
Payne referred to a European Union commission report last week that said “foreign actors and certain third countries, in particular Russia,” are flooding Europe with “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns.” It cited dangerous misinformation like claims that drinking bleach can cure the disease and that washing hands does not help prevent its spread.
“There are times to pursue quiet diplomacy behind the scenes. But there are also times to voice our concerns and persuade others of the need for a course of action,” she added.