The Russian foreign ministry this week announced a new part of its website dedicated to flagging media reports that it considers to be “fake news,” in a bid to counter accusations that the Kremlin has been spreading its own disinformation online to meddle with politics in the US and Europe.
The web page, unveiled Wednesday, includes links to five English-language news stories about Russia, including articles from Bloomberg, NBC, and The New York Times. The site includes screenshots of the articles with a red “FAKE” stamp on each one. A caption under each screenshot simply claims that the article in question “does not correspond to reality,” without providing any further evidence.
“We will publish examples of propaganda hoaxes from various media outlets and give links to sources,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, according to The New York Times. “The aim is to demonstrate the main trends in fake news publications about our country and do everything to stop their dissemination.” She added that news would be considered fake if it fails to account for Russia’s position, or if it includes unnamed sources and unverified facts, the Times reports. The ministry will not assess Russian articles, Zakharova added.
Officials in Europe and the US have said that Russia is behind a widespread disinformation campaign aimed at destabilizing elections in the West. Kremlin-affiliated media outlets also spread propaganda aimed at countering news reports considered unfavorable to the government. The European Union has created its own task force, known as East Stratcom, to combat “Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns.” More than a year since its creation, the 11-person team has identified and debunked 2,500 false stories, the Times reported this week, many of which have been linked to Russia.
The Bloomberg article identified as “fake” by the Russian foreign ministry details accusations that Russia has carried out cyberattacks against the campaign of French presidential candidate Emanuel Macron. The flagged Times article reports on US unease over Russia’s recent deployment of a cruise missile, which officials said was in violation of an arms control treaty.
“It’s a dangerous and troubling situation for governments or individuals to simply assign the label of fake news to a story they don’t like, instead of challenging specific facts or offering counter evidence,” Eileen Murphy, a New York Times spokeswoman, tells the Times. “We stand by our reporting.”