According to The Guardian, the European Parliament would allocate 1.1 million euros annually for the work of an EU anti-propaganda unit targeting alleged “Russian fake news.” A senior Russian lawmaker has commented on the issue.
Moscow will take political and diplomatic measures in response to the allocation of over 1 million euros (over $1 million) to counter Russian media, senior Russian upper house lawmaker Vladimir Dzhabarov has told Sputnik.
“The European media in Russia may also become subject to the law [on foreign agents]. Its application will begin with US media, but if Europeans will resort to the same practices against Russian media as the US does, they will receive a similar answer,” Dzhabarov, the Russian first deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs, said.
The statement comes in the wake of The Guardian report citing sources, saying that the European Parliament would allocate 1.1 million euros annually for the work of an EU anti-propaganda unit to “counter disinformation and fake news from Russia.” The East StratCom taskforce will receive money directly from the EU budget for the first time since it was set up in 2015, according to the newspaper.
In November 2016, the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution to counter alleged Russian anti-EU propaganda, that compares particularily RT and Sputnik with propaganda disseminated by the Daesh terrorist group. According to the document, such media as Sputnik and RT allegedly pose a danger to European unity and thus, extra European Commission funding is needed for counter-propaganda projects. Russian President Vladimir Putin, commenting on the adoption of the resolution, congratulated RT and Sputnik journalists on their effective work and stressed that it indicated the apparent degradation of the concept of democracy in Western society.
Separately, Russian media outlets have been suffering from extreme pressure in the USamid a probe into Moscow’s alleged meddling in the November 2016 presidential election, with Moscow preparing symmetrical measures.
Moscow’s Alleged Interference
Media speculations came after European Council President Donald Tusk claimed, following Friday’s Eastern Partnership summit, that “cyber-attacks, fake news, hybrid war” were the bloc’s main problem. In his statement Tusk reportedly referred to a major foreign speech made by UK Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this month, in which she had accused Moscow of interfering in other states’ affairs, spreading “fake stories” in media, aggressive policies “to sow discord in the West,” claims slammed by Moscow as “irresponsible” and “groundless.” However, a day later, May said that her accusations were not related to the UK.
Commenting on the claims, Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that “hysteria is being incited in order to divert the attention of their voters away from the inability to solve these domestic issues.”
Previously, Lavrov has called the allegations of Russia’s interference in EU affairs that had arisen in several European states, including Britain, France and Germany, amid the probe into the alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election “ridiculous.”