The novel coronavirus outbreak in China has given birth to several conspiracy theories and Russian media has been at the forefront in propagating it for days. Russian news channels have been consistent in pinning the blame on western countries for various crises in the past, calling it a “Western conspiracy”.
As China saw a steep rise in the death toll due to coronavirus, COVID-19, Russian media gave primetime space for baseless conspiracy theories and misinformation propagated on the internet. Channel One, a major Russian Television network, launched a separate show devoted for conspiracy theories around coronavirus with the name ‘Vremya’ (Time).
Though the show claims to debunk the theories, the ambiguous reporting leaves room for misinterpretation and doubts in viewers’ mind, making them wonder if there can be a possibility of a conspiracy. The channel, in one of its programmes, speculated over the word ‘corona’ which means crown in Russian and Latin.
While the name emerged from the crown-like shape of coronavirus, the presenter hinted that US President Donald Trump’s used to preside over beauty pageants and handed crowns to the winners, and somehow it was all related. An “expert” even went on to claim that the novel coronavirus is an artificially created strain and that the US intelligence agencies and pharmaceutical companies are behind it.
During the show, a correspondent quoted an online conspiracy theory which claimed the novel strain affects only Asians and has been created by the US as an “ethnic bioweapon”. He admits that there is conclusive evidence against such claim but made a suggestive remark, quoting “experts”, that nothing can be ruled out.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that it is too early to predict the end of the novel coronavirus after a drop in new cases. Speaking at agency's daily news conference, Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme, opined that it is way too early to predict the beginning, middle and end of the pandemic. At least 1,359 people have died of the epidemic and more than 60,000 cases have been detected globally till date.