Is it Just a Matter of Time when Moscow Will Start Blaming the Baltic Nations for Coronavirus, too?

On March 5 the Town Hall of Moscow introduced an increased  readiness regimen because of the coronavirus (COVID- 2019) epidemic in the capital of Russia, although in its eve the President Vladimir Putin in the meeting with th…

On March 5 the Town Hall of Moscow introduced an increased  readiness regimen because of the coronavirus (COVID- 2019) epidemic in the capital of Russia, although in its eve the President Vladimir Putin in the meeting with the Government told that the situation in the country and the capital is over control and he called the information that is spreading on the Internet telling that the real situation is actually opposite (there were news that the Government was hiding the information about potentially already 20 thousand infected people) as if it has been produced abroad and posted in the Russian public domain in order to spread panic among Russians. The leader of Russia did not name the particular country that is spreading fake news; he just indicated that he had been informed about this by the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSS).
In short, although COVID-2019 is a threat to everyone (it has been diagnosed in over 100 states), according to the President V. Putin and FSS, the outsiders should be blamed for spreading this confusion in Russia.
There is nothing new when we talk about the Kremlin’s relation to information/disinformation. According to Ilya Novikov, Lawyer of Moscow, by the way, who represents the interests of the former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (in this case an important but eloquent fact), to whom pro-Kremlin followers of the President Viktor Yanukovych, who escaped to Russia, seeking revenge by all means, is trying to impose 18 cases. V. Putin likes thinking and talking about external enemies – if/when you don’t know what to say about the problem in fact, talk about hostile ‘foreign partners’ and the local public would believe in that with the greatest joy. This already turned into paranoia to the President of Russia.   
Generally, all rumours relating to COVID-2019,  faked news have been living their ‘life’ in the world not without a geopolitical element, even irrespective of intensions of those who spread them. Taiwan News quoted Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire businessman (who has to reside abroad because of harassment in his native country) on 7 February, according to whom the coronavirus has been developed in laboratories of the USA. The billionaire indicated the Chinese military news Internet portal (an equivalent of the similar Pentagon portal), as a source, whose produced details in a weird way contradict reports of official health care services of China.    
A well-known report of the USA Republican Senator Tom Cotton on January 31, where a presumption was made that the virus might have been artificially developed in Chinese ‘super laboratory’ (we cannot ignore the fact that the politician had on mind Wuhan Institute of Virusology, where COVID-2019 started spreading).     
The Internet daily published a text ‘In spreading of coronavirus the expert identified some signs of American bioterrorism. 400 bio laboratories are suspected’, (mk.ru/science/2020/01/27/ekspert-uvidel-priznaki-amerikanskogo-bioterrorizma-v-rasprostranenii-koronavirusa.html), where Igor Nikulin, a former member of the United Nations (UN) Biological and Chemical Weapon Supervisory Committee in 1998-2003, announced that China, same as Russia, is surrounded by American bio laboratories controlled by the Pentagon, as if everywhere where they are, outbreaks of unknown diseases are arising. Or the title: ‘Chinese are sure that the fatal coronavirus was developed by Americans’ (kp.ru/daily/27083.7/4154508/), although not a single word was written under the published text.
‘Hypothesis’ is spreading on the Internet about the Chinese woman spy, who allegedly stole a coronavirus from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg (Canada) and took it to the already mentioned Institute in Wuhan, where local researchers accidentally ‘spread’ it. The fact is that the Chinese scholar Xiangguo Qiu was really deported from Canada for violation of migration regulations. However, establisher and editor of the Internet portal (it has been known because it published news that the British Intelligence was responsible for shooting down the Malaysia Airlines in 2014 when all 298 passengers and all members of the crew were killed), according to information available by Foreign policy, it cooperates with the Centre of Globalisation Researches in Montreal, which was identified by NATO as a distributor of Russian and Syrian propaganda.       
 
Version of  BBC Russia on 23 February quoted  a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia Maria Zaharova, who produced a firm disagreement of Moscow with accusations in regards to spreading disinformation about COVID-2019 when (AFP) announced that thousands of Internet pages relating to Russia starting publishing in English, Spanish, Italian, German and French on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as if the USA and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in particular was standing behind the coronavirus named as a biological weapon and that this was as if a part of Washington’s trade war with China. Most Internet pages previously were used for spreading news favourable to Russia about the war in Syria and biased information about protests of the Yellow Vests in France.      
In comment to this, Philip T. Reeker, Assistant State Secretary of the USA on the matters of Europe and Eurasia on 22 February told that Moscow in this way sows distrust and seeks to destroy American institutions from the inside; once again it has attempts to security and trying to distract people from global attempts to control the virus. The British after this news established a special department for fighting with the conspiracy theory and disinformation about COVID-2019.
Even Bill Gates, founder of , who is accused of spreading coronavirus, although the fund Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, promised Chinese to assign 100 million US dollars for fighting the coronavirus.   
Lithuanians are not an exception in ‘spreading’ of conspiracy theories, let’s say the Internet portal  has informed about the record of the businessman Ugnius Kiguolis on the Internet social network about the vaccine from the coronavirus ‘developed’ by the biotechnology company Inovio Pharmaceuticals as if in two hours (15min.lt/naujiena/aktualu/lietuva/samokslo-teorijos-apie-koronavirusa-jau-lietuvoje-jas-platina-u-kiguolis-56-1267990?copied). Actually, Kate Broderick, Chief of the Department of Research and Experimental Development of the company told media that the company just used the sequence of coronavirus genes transferred by the Chinese institutions to the World Health Organization (WHO), which enabled them to develop a theoretical mechanism of action of the vaccine, but not the vaccine. 
Of course, everything what has been described here (just a small part of the information, which will be supplemented from time to time) could be assigned to the intermedia genre of fake news, although under drastic circumstances.  It should not be forgotten that the motherland of fake news and a consistent nurturer of this genre is the current government of Russia and structures connected to special services (for instance, Internet research agency, operating in Saint Petersburg, better known as ‘troll factory’ and linked to the businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin who is titled as ‘V. Putin’s chef’.
Thus, talking about potential precedents relating to coronavirus in the eastern Baltic side, the plot that almost finished ‘soughing’ is acceptable in Lithuania as an association (or associated sample) that has been based on assumptions as if the State Security Department (SSD) intruded into the process of president elections when it was gathering information about former diplomat Vygaudas Ušackas and the environment of yet a candidate to the president Gitanas Nausėda. The plot has become extremely relevant when two months to the end of the Head of SSD cadence were left and half a year until election to the Seimas (Parliament). In this respect we go to the territory ‘Who can deny…’, when actually an assumption that there are interested parties in not necessarily friendly to Lithuania countries who would like a more convenient person to be in charge of the SSD during elections. What has been called a scandal in the public domain in a part of Lithuania has arisen when the global order tottered once again for the mentioned reasons and affected almost all structures that have to perform functions of security of the state, not just the SSD. 
It is most probable that this scandal is not the last and there will actually be some place for coronavirus in the list of potential ‘topics’. It is obvious that Russia is one of these ‘third countries’ at least from the time when our country became a full member of Euro-Atlantic organizations (NATO and EU). It would not be a surprise if in the nearest future any member of the Baltic States would be attacked with a disinformation ‘bomb’ relating to coronavirus. Political technologists of the Kremlin have had a lot of experience in such ‘projects’ – nothing personal…  
Without going deeper into generalization, a comment of Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia told to The Washington Post publication of 3 March ‘V.Putin’s virus’ is acceptable. According to the diplomat, entry of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to NATO just   strengthens the persuasion of the Russian president and finally CSA seeks changes in the regimen in Russia and abuse the influence trying to overturn anybody whom they don’t like. As if Washington is fighting with Russia and with him, in particular. Being unable to resist the West openly, President V. Putin – the opportunist and tending to improvisation goes to non-traditional and often unexpected weapons. After annexation of the Crimea he revealed lack of readiness of the West to stop him, got involved in the terrible chaos of Syrian conflict, the leader of Russia was right anticipating that the United States, being tired of the war, would not start scrounging him from there.  
According to the diplomat, V. Putin is not afraid – or maybe pretends not to be – to pay the price for his actions that make the West weaker. This is very dangerous. By the way, V. Putin probably involuntarily could take over such a style from young Mark Zukerberg, who at the beginning of when he was still wearing a hood typical to young people, was following the motto ‘Move fast and break things’.
Surely, the Baltic nations do not dispose of such a geopolitical ‘weight’ for the Kremlin to go vabanque for it. Nevertheless, and ‘trolls’ that ‘go wild’ at any occasion, also coronavirus, too – are quite good tactical allies to Moscow, because they also bring chaos in the Baltic region, that the Kremlin has not forgotten forever and which in this sense could eventually become very ‘expensive’.   
Arūnas Spraunius

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