The analysis of Russia-linked Telegram channels paints an alarming picture of a full -scale anti-vaccine disinformation campaign seeding distrust among Ukrainians to the Covid vaccination.
The revelations came from the report by Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation, a state agency set up by Kyiv in early 2021.
According to its findings, the anti-vaxx narratives are span and boosted on social media and Russia-linked Telegram channels. The agency report outlined the key misleading messages.
The most common are claims that
- vaccination is a ‘murder’;
- the vaccine is ‘extremely dangerous’;
- the Ukrainian authorities are trying to harm children with vaccines;
- vaccination is ‘coercion’ and violation of human rights;
- people should ‘think twice”tand not to be vaccinated;
- it is a conspiracy
Notably, such disinformation effort comes in stark contrast to the agenda advanced on Telegram channels reaching out Donbas and Crimea with most of messages there highlighting the importance of vaccination and dispelling myths of its allegedly negative impact.
The key messaging in the occupied territories says that
- vaccination is a necessary measure to prevent the spread of the virus;
- the vaccine is absolutely safe, and Sputnik M will be made for children;
- people should be urged to be vaccinated at all levels of public communication;
- Russia offers vaccines to different parts of the world, saving millions of lives.
The state agency report also addressed mixed inconsistent messaging coming from some Ukrainian orthodox churches that use the same divisive policy – staging a rally against vaccination in Kyiv but promoting vaccines in the occupied territories of Ukraine.