The COVID-19 Crisis in Europe: A Story Told by RT

Alexandra Yatsyk


[This article is part of our project “RT in Europe and beyond”]



The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing global challenges, including those that threaten to undermine democracy. At the initial phase of the pandemic many European governments acted incoherently, which made them vulnerable to criticism by their political opponents. The Russian state funded media outlet RT, formerly known as Russia Today, enthusiastically joined them. Its editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan readily admitted that she saw RT as an “information weapon” against the West that played a role similar to the Ministry of Defence.1

There is a consensus among major Western press and media, including American,2 British,3 German4 and French,5 that tend to view RT as the Kremlin’s propagandistic tool specialising in spreading disinformation. COVID-19 provided RT with an excellent opportunity to exaggerate this public health contingency and portray Europe as being mired in a deepening crisis.

This chapter examines how RT covered the COVID-19 pandemic in France, Germany, the UK and Spain. For this purpose, I analysed English, French, German and Spanish versions of the RT website as well as the content of their respective YouTube channels. I reviewed articles and video reports published from March 2020 to September 2021 containing the basic tag words – #Covid for the French and German RT websites and #CovidUK and #CovidSpain for English and Spanish ones respectively.6

The “brave” RT world

RT, founded in 2005, broadcasts the Russian government’s propaganda worldwide in the English, Arabic, Spanish, French and German languages. According to the Similarweb web analytics platform that compiles and analyses online traffic and website performance, the total number of visitors to reached 136.25 million in the month of August 2021. The views from Russia accounted for 46 percent (about 62.7 million visits) of the traffic. The number of views from France and Germany was quite modest – 4 and 8 percent or 5.6 and 10.9 million respectively. Similarweb does not provide detailed information on the countries with low traffic, which are aggregated, indicating that for the UK and Spain it was less than 2.2 percent each (or less than 3.1 million views) (see Chart 1).

Chart 1: Internet traffic of in August 2021. Source: Similarweb

According to Similarweb data, in August 2021, RT France’s website attracted 3.8 million views from France, RT DE – 4.6 million, RT en Español – 2.6 million, and RT UK – less than 3.1 million (see the Table 1).

Table 1: Visits to,,*,**. Source: Similarweb.
* Data is taken as the approximate number of visitors of from UK
** Data is taken as the number of visitors of from Spain

The duration of an average visit to the French or German editions of the RT website does not exceed 5 minutes, which typically indicates a quick glance at online content. To compare, the average visit to the French mainstream daily newspaper Le Monde website lasts 11 minutes, according to Similarweb. The noticeable brevity of visits to the French and German editions raises a question about the possibility that the visits are generated by bots rather than people.

Margarita Simonyan regularly boasted of the growing popularity of RT across the globe,7 including France,8 Germany,9 and the non-Western world.10 In her tweet from 3 August 2021, she praised RT’s YouTube account for reaching 73 million views, which, according to her, made it more popular than BBC, ABC and CNN.11

A number of investigations, including those by The Daily Beast in 201712 and Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s team in 2020, as well as revelations by former workers of the Russian “troll farms”, shed light on how RT inflates web traffic through Indian bots, Russian troll farms13 and even pornographic websites while enjoying significant financial support from the Russian state.14 European audiences do not seem to be RT’s main target group in this regard. Orttung and Nelson analyse a dataset of more than 70 thousand RT YouTube videos produced in 2015-2017 to confirm that RT’s strategic interests focus on Arab, Spanish and Russian speakers.15 As Chart 1 shows, RT’s website audience in France, UK, Germany and Spain consists of no more than 16 percent in total.

Comparison of RT’s English and Spanish content in social media shows certain disparity as the former is more heavily skewed towards disinformation than the latter. Bush’s analysis of RT Facebook pages in English and Spanish in 2020 demonstrates that RT in English is geared towards undermining lockdown measures in the US and Western Europe, spreading conspiracy theories and criticising the Western vaccines while praising COVID-19 policies conducted by the Russian and Chinese governments. In contrast, Spanish RT’s role as a purveyor of disinformation is quite limited (see Chart 2): to spread COVID-19-related disinformation, Moscow prefers to use Sputnik Mundo and News Front Spanish media platforms, rather than RT en Español.16 Taking into account that the audience of Spanish RT’s website is also numerically insignificant in Spain, it is very likely that the COVID-19 coverage by RT in Spain via YouTube or its website would follow this general trend.

Chart 2: Media channels used by the Russian government to spread disinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Source: Daniel Bush, “Two Faces of Russian Information Operations”, see Endnotes.

My analysis of the 20 most popular videos on the YouTube accounts of RT France, RT DE, RT UK and RT en Español shows that far more importance is assigned to the French and German audiences, as measured by the view counts, number of comments and video production quality, which significantly outpace RT in UK and Spain (See Chart 3).

Chart 3: Number of views of the 20 most popular COVID-19-related videos on the YouTube channels of RT France, RT DE, RT UK and RT en Español as of 20 September 2021

It should be noted that top 20 videos mostly correspond with specific events, which implies a strong interest in developing certain topics. For instance, a wave of anti-government demonstrations swept across France throughout the summer of 2021, as thousands protested against the compulsory vaccination for certain occupations and the introduction of a vaccine certificate (health pass).17 This theme was repeatedly exploited in RT’s French coverage, as reflected in the keyword cloud derived from the top 20 COVID-19-related videos18 (Picture 1).

Picture 1: The keyword cloud based on the top 20 COVID-19-related videos of RT France on YouTube on 20 September 2021

The top 20 COVID-19-related videos on RT DE’s YouTube channel refer to the first part of 2021 and focus on such issues as opposition to mass vaccination and conspiracy theories (Picture 2). The number of views and comments accompanying videos by RT DE and RT France are comparable as they are in the range between 500 and 900 thousand visits. RT DE, however, is a leader in this category with an interview by the conspiracy theorist Sucharit Bhakdi, which was viewed more than 2 million times.

Picture 2: The keyword cloud based on the top 20 COVID-19-related videos of RT DE on YouTube on 20 September 2021

The top 20 COVID-19-themed videos on RT UK’s YouTube channel cover the end of 2020 and focus on epidemiological restrictions and anti-lockdown protests (see Picture 3). The most watched video tells the story of a woman who refused to close her business during lockdown and was fined £27,000 (approximately €30,280) by the authorities for this (the video has had more than 370 thousand views).

Picture 3: The keyword cloud based on the top 20 COVID-19-related videos of RT UK on YouTube on 20 September 2021

The top 20 videos from Spanish RT differ from those produced for British, German and especially French audiences. They are less watched and elicit fewer comments. Each accrues less than 65 thousand views and 800 comments, with the average number of comments reaching 380. For comparison, the average number of comments for top 20 videos for UK is around 908; France – 3,000, and Germany – 4,000.

The most popular COVID-19-related video report produced by RT en Español is about the residents of a nursing home, who died from COVID-19 despite receiving their first vaccination dose. It stands out because it accrued 418 thousand views and generated 3,100 comments, which could have been artificially inflated by bots. As for the rest of the top 20 videos, the COVID-19 coverage of RT en Español on YouTube focuses on the same topics as the other “fellow” RT editions, but does so in a less aggressive manner (Picture 4).

Picture 4: The keyword cloud based on the top 20 COVID-19-related videos of RT en Español on YouTube on 20 September 2021

COVID-19 coverage on the website of RT en Español tends to be more neutral and less critical. While both French and German RT websites fiercely criticise their respective national governments, blaming them for purportedly hiding the medical “truth” from the general public, accusing the Western vaccine manufacturers of price fixing and expressing solidarity with far-right anti-vaxxers, reports of RT en Español tend to sympathise with left-wing forces rather than right-wing nationalists.

Anti-Health Pass Protests in France

UK, Germany, and especially France and Spain – all experienced considerable human and financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were engulfed by social unrest. France witnessed a series of large-scale protests throughout the summer of 2021, with the turnout at rallies against the mandatory vaccination and introduction of the “health pass”19 consistently reaching 200 thousand across the country.20 Similar protests took place in Germany, Spain and the UK, yet none of them were so sustained as in France. Even though relative to France’s population of 67 million, the turnout at those protests was insignificant, it did show that they were driven by a committed and vocal minority.21

Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Source

French public opinion surveys indicate that the vocal minority that persistently opposes the government’s anti-COVID-19 measures is very heterogenous, as it incorporates representatives from both ends of the political spectrum.22 For instance, it includes supporters of French left-wing politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon and members of his party, France Unbowed (La France Insoumise), as well as Florian Philippot, a Member of the European Parliament and former key figure in Marine Le Pen’s far-right party National Rally (Rassemblement national, RN), who now presides over his own party, The Patriots (Les Patriotes). Some members of the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) movement also form a part of this grand anti-vaxxer coalition.

RT France extensively covered those protests. The overall tonality of the coverage tended to present the protesters as victims of discrimination by the French authorities. In this context, the main target of RT France criticism became the introduction of the health pass, which was intended to coerce the public to vaccinate. Furthermore, RT France endeavoured to portray opposition to the health pass as being truly national and representing a wide range of social groups in France.

This effect is created through (a) in-depth coverage of all anti-vaxxer protests,23 (b) personal accounts provided by seemingly “ordinary people”, including “experts” and “professionals”, such as doctors,24 scientists, lawyers,25 journalists, politicians,26 and civil activists,27 most of whom, in fact, come from the political fringes of French society, and (c) human interest stories about individual entrepreneurs,28 municipal workers,29 artists, NGO representatives, trade union activists,30 and simply parents, who are not members of the anti-vaxxer movement, but who criticise the government’s anti-COVID-19 measures. To present France as a country in crisis caused by corrupt and incompetent government, RT France has employed intentionally vitriolic rhetoric replete with highly emotionally charged and negative word combinations such as “Macron – dictatorship”,31 “Macron – health coup”,32 “Abuse of power – health pass”,33 “Macron – country – fire and blood”,34 “health pass – alert – defender of rights”,35 “Castex – killing France”,36 etc.

The sombre picture of social instability in France painted by RT France was further aggravated by its reporting on incidents of vandalism targeting vaccination centres,37 examples of hate speech in banners carried during anti-vaxxer protests (such as racist and anti-Semitic symbols,38 including the use of a yellow star39 and a billboard depicting Macron as Hitler40).

The talking heads often invited by RT France to comment on anti-vaxxer protests usually come from the far right of French politics. Apart from the above-mentioned Florian Philippot, the most prominent far-right representatives included, in particular, Jean-Marc Chipot, a spokesperson for another far-right party Debout la France; Gilbert Collard, a MEP then representing the RN; and Maxime Thiébaut, a co-founder of the far-right Patriots party, who wrote a book about the Gilets Jaunes movement in 2019.

Didier Raoult. Source

In addition, RT France quotes scientists and doctors, who criticise the government’s COVID-19 measures. Chief among them in RT France coverage is the controversial French physician and microbiologist specialising in infectious diseases, Dr. Didier Raoult, who proposed an alternative COVID-19 treatment. RT France depicts Raoult as a French national hero who fought valiantly against the French state, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and transnational pharmaceutical corporations, who was defeated in the end but has not compromised. Disproportionate attention paid to Raoult is evident in the fact that the RT France website published 160 articles about him in 2020-21, lionising him as a prominent professional and a scientist, as well as a rebel and an “ordinary” man, who fought the corrupt global elite by allegedly proposing a cheaper and more effective treatment to save people’s lives.41 To demonstrate Raoult’s popularity among “ordinary people”, RT France collected testimonies from medical professionals,42 politicians,43 and random demonstrators.44 This was augmented by the collection of testimonials from other countries,45 where his treatment method was used, and from individuals, who have purportedly recovered from COVID-19 by applying it.46 It is not surprising then that the French mainstream newspaper Le Monde called Raoult a central figure for French conspiracy theorists.47 Although Raoult never gave an interview to RT France, the exploitation of controversy surrounding his name represents a good template of how RT produces populist anti-government narratives, with certain similarities found in its COVID-19 coverage in Germany and UK.

Vaccine sceptics and conspiracy theorists in Germany

Similar to France, Germany experienced large-scale protests against COVID-19-related lockdowns, mass vaccination and introduction of the health pass. Starting from June 2020, the majority of these rallies were organised by the German grassroots anti-lockdown movement Querdenken. Originally formed in Stuttgart, Querdenken, just like the Gilets Jaunes in France, represents a heterogeneous movement,48 which is reflected in the diversity of demonstrators at their rallies, including the members of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD), the representatives of the loose alliance of ultra-right groups Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich), who reject the legitimacy of the modern German state, the conspiracy theorist and vegan chef Attila Hildmann and his followers, as well as environmental and left-wing activists,49 families with children and retired persons. As the movement grew, Querdenken rallies attracted extremist groups50 and German followers of the American far-right conspiracy theory and movement QAnon.51

From April 2021, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency Verfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) began to monitor some of the Querdenken groups as they are being suspected of delegitimising the state and inciting extremist activities that “go beyond mere mobilisation to protest against the state’s coronavirus protection measures”.52 In summer 2021, the authorities did not allow several Querdenken rallies because the demonstrators refused to wear face masks. The AfD called the government’s decision hypocritical and politically motivated.53

A demonstration of the Reichsbuerger by the Reichstag in Berlin. Source

Social media platforms appear to be the main information and mobilisation tool of the movement, especially the cloud-based instant messaging system Telegram. Many Querdenken supporters switched to using Telegram after both Facebook54 and Twitter55 started banning them regularly.

The use of Telegram by Querdenken members is noteworthy because it is also heavily utilised by both RT DE and Sputnik to spread fake news, as regularly identified by disinformation watchdogs. Telegram stands out from the other social media platforms because it is characterised by the lax approach towards content moderation, while its setup entails no restrictions for the number of followers. These features are exploited by Kremlin outlets to cooperate with “alternative” (mostly far-right) German media for cross-referencing, gaining mutual recognition and “extending their reach” to those groups, who are sceptical towards the government’s anti-COVID-19 measures but who do not belong to radical forces.56

RT DE’s editorial policy was summed in a remarkable post on Twitter on 20 May 2017, according to which RT DE admitted to reporting on those who “come up with” conspiracy theories, in order to “give people the chance to make up their own mind”.57 It is not surprising then that German and British disinformation experts consider Germany as one of top targets of Russian disinformation.58

In contrast to RT France, which has tended to mostly concentrate its critical coverage on the introduction of the health pass, RT DE presented the issue of mass vaccination as impinging on basic human rights. This was done by the promotion of the Querdenken agenda, including anti-vaccine sentiments, and undergirding them conspiracy theories. With this purpose, RT DE employed more self-proclaimed “experts” in medicine, law and politics from the fringes than RT France.

Hubert Aiwanger. Source

Their collective criticism of the government’s COVID-19 restrictions centred on the respect for democracy and human rights. To strengthen this appeal, RT DE gave the floor to politicians from both left and right who refused to vaccinate and justified doing so by their “personal right to freedom”. In the words of the Deputy Minister-President of Bavaria Hubert Aiwanger, who is the Chairman of the centre-right Free Voters (Freie Wähler) party and who remains unvaccinated while his opinions are often quoted by RT DE, the right to decide to get vaccinated or not “has nothing to do with shamanism or lateral thinking”.59 In Aiwanger’s view, it is more about “a personal right to freedom” rather than the discussion between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, which could quickly descend into a debate about apartheid.60 Such targeted use of certain keywords – “human rights”, “lateral thinking”, “unvaccinated”, and “apartheid” – is done on purpose to create a favourable online impression of Querdenken.

There are other examples of “self-explanatory” combinations of keywords in the titles that RT DE used in its COVID-19 coverage, including “lockdown abolishes fundamental rights to the inviolability of home and body”,61 “pseudo-pandemic”,62 “an incredibly great crime”,63 “brainwashing”,64 “covidiots”, “abuse of power”,65 etc. Again, in contrast to RT France, RT DE published critics of German authorities, who come politically from both Left and Right.66

RT DE’s COVID-19 coverage also includes news from the so-called “Corona Committee”, an independent entity launched in 2020 by German lawyers, to assess the legal merits of various governments’ anti-COVID-19 measures. Since 2020, the Corona Committee held more than 70 meetings to discuss COVID-19 restrictions, vaccine safety, reliability of PCR tests, vaccination of children, home care for the elderly and other issues. Various supporters of far-right agendas also participated in these meetings.

The Committee believes that COVID-19 is a mild respiratory disease, similar to influenza in terms of basic symptoms and the percentage of lethal cases. According to the Committee, the authorities overreacted by imposing lockdowns that caused collateral economic damage, increased unemployment, undermined collective mental health and abrogated fundamental human rights. Moreover, the Committee declared that COVID-19 vaccines were the “first mass genetic engineering experiment on humans” with unforeseen and understudied side-effects.67 The views expressed on the Committee’s official website closely resonate with the opinions of Wolfgang Wodarg,68 a German internist, pulmonologist, and a former member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands), who became widely known for his controversial statements on possible harmful effects of COVID-19 vaccines.69

Sucharit Bhakdi. Screenshot

Along with other anti-vaxxers,70 who regularly question COVID-19 vaccines71 and express doubts about the origins of COVID-19,72 RT DE used statements made by Dr. Matthias Schrappe, who became well-known for his insinuations,73 such as accusing the German authorities of manipulating medical data.74 In addition, RT DE solicited opinions from Sucharit Bhakdi, a retired Thai-German microbiologist and a prominent QAnon conspiracy theorist, who is also known for espousing anti-Semitic views.75 Bhakdi claimed that the mass vaccination represented a “huge experiment”, and he argued that the entire pandemic was fake.76 RT DE’s interview with Bhakdi was the most watched COVID-19-related video on their YouTube channel, accruing more than two million views, before YouTube deleted RT DE’s channel on 28 September 2021, for spreading misinformation about COVID-19.77

“Fight for Freedom of expression” in the UK

Whereas RT DE mostly focused on pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories of COVID-19, RT UK posited that epidemiological restrictions, mandatory vaccination and the “vaccine passport” (or “health pass”) were parts of a global plot by politicians, IT-, health- and media organisations to normalise the public health emergency in order to establish closer control over the population.

In support of this warped vision, RT UK pointed out that the World Economic Forum announced a global partnership to develop vaccines when the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide “was still in the hundreds”.78 Furthermore, RT UK falsely claimed that the introduction of the “health passport” app benefitted the financial interests of IT giants. According to RT UK, Microsoft, Palantir, Facebook, Netflix and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance were all members of this plot.79

David Icke. Source

Regularly featured on RT UK columnist Neil Clark in one of his op-eds vilified ex-British PM Tony Blair by ascribing to him a central role in orchestrating the government’s campaign to purportedly restrict civil liberties under the pretext of public health, which he compared to the war on terror.80 In another missive, the same Clark asserted that COVID-19 denialists were persecuted by the British authorities and compared this practice to the witch hunts in seventeenth century England. According to Clark, the cohort of “witches” today include the anti-war Left, supporters of right-wing politician and Brexit champion Nigel Farage, Trumpists, Corbynistas, Russian media, renowned English conspiracy theorist David Icke, “5G cranks”, and “Covid denialists”.81

In Clark’s view, the latter represent scapegoats for the current regime, which persecute them for their refusal to wear masks and to obtain a vaccine passport. According to Clark, this reflects the British government’s hypocrisy, since it pursues the same public health policies to contain COVID-19 that violate the fundamental right to freedom82 as does authoritarian China, whose human rights policy UK harshly criticises.83 Similar sentiments were expressed in the op-ed written by another British author, Jani Allan, who warned of “Covid apartheid” against those who refused to get vaccinated.84 Apart from criticism of the COVID-19 measures imposed by the British government, RT UK accused the main social media platforms of discriminating against COVID dissidents.85

One batch of such stories was about health professionals who were banned by social media platforms for spreading questionable data on the coronavirus.86 For instance, Malcolm Hendrick, a doctor working for UK’s National Health Service, complained that Facebook censored his posts after he expressed doubts in the officially reported COVID-19 mortality rate.87 RT UK’s columnists contended that to hide divergent views in the context of COVID-19 debates and to repeat the talking points of the big pharmaceutical companies constituted a “shoddy journalism” and even a crime against billions of people.88

To further develop this argument, the outlet pointed out that it was social media that facilitated the proliferation of conspiracy theories when targeting public figures speaking against lockdowns and other “Covid-orthodoxies”.89 Moreover, in view of RT UK, “being right” and being against masks and vaccine passports did not automatically imply being a marginal person. Sweden’s COVID-19 policy was then brought up as an example, since it also did not support compulsory mask-wearing and vaccination.90

Russian state-controlled media extensively applied this rhetoric of “empty signifiers” in its narrative, when the concepts of one semantic system (for instance, the meanings of “human rights”, “freedom”, “conspiracy theories” as it they are understood from the perspective of the democracy paradigm) are filled with reversed or “hybrid” meanings. A good example of this is RT UK’s depiction of two key figures on the British conspiracy theory scene: Piers Corbyn, the notorious brother of former UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and David Icke, a former TV sports commentator.

Piers Corbyn is one of the faces of the anti-lockdown and anti-vax protests91 that took place across Britain in 2020-2021.92 An intelligent, peaceful-looking man and former candidate in the 2021 London mayoral election, Corbyn is known for his support of 5G conspiracy theories and arguments against Bill Gates, who in Corbyn’s view, spearheaded compulsory vaccination to control women’s fertility.93 In its articles, RT UK mentioned Corbyn as a “conspiracy theorist”, “sceptic”, “controversial campaigner”,94 and “anti-war supporter”.95 RT UK consistently emphasised the peaceful nature of his protests, as well as the peacefulness of the protests against COVID-19 measures in the UK in general, while accusing the government of a “crime against humanity” and threatening doctors critical of the measures with new “Nuremberg trials”.96

David Icke, a former football player and TV presenter, is another widely known British conspiracy theorist, who appeared for the first time on RT UK in 2013. Icke denies the Holocaust, makes anti-Semitic statements and believes that the world is ruled by a race of alien lizards called “reptilians”.97 According to him, COVID-19 simply does not exist, but was rather invented by a global “Jewish cult” and transmitted through the 5G network and vaccines. As the British Centre for Countering Digital Hate reported, Icke’s video in which he laid out his views on COVID-19 conspiracy theories were viewed over 30 million times on social media.98 Because Icke was egregiously spreading disinformation on COVID-19, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube suspended his accounts.99

RT UK predictably reacted to Icke’s ban from Facebook and YouTube in May 2020 and November 2020 respectively, calling it “an assault on free speech and free expression which needs to be forcefully resisted”, as otherwise it would result in “sleepwalking towards dictatorship”.100

In interview with RT UK, Icke declared that flagship American IT companies were “out to silence” him.101 The outlet then further developed this theme by calling media censorship of alternative opinions regarding COVID-19 unacceptable. To soften Icke’s image, in May 2020, RT UK portrayed him as a “charming, maddening and sad” person and a loving father, whom social media unjustly labelled as a monster.102 This example sheds light on RT UK’s propaganda tactics, which is based on mixing half-truths with truths: on the one hand, the outlet did not deny the dubious nature of Icke’s conspiracy theories, but on the other hand, it downplayed their negative social influence.

RT en Español: criticism of the far right

RT en Español provided coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in a manner different from other RT channels in Europe. Its coverage did not feature representatives of far-right political forces or conspiracy theorists. The only thematic commonality that can be found between RT en Español and its European brethren is related to the coverage of the Russian government’s vaccine policy and promotion of the Sputnik V vaccine. Even on this count, whereas the other three RT channels broadcast this narrative similarly to each other, RT en Español steered clear of producing obvious disinformation.

On RT en Español, commentators mostly criticised the COVID-19 measures from a left-wing perspective, pointing out, for instance, that the introduction of the health pass would not increase the mass vaccination rate nationwide,103 and that neither Pfizer-BioNTech nor AstraZeneca vaccines would address the vaccine deficit in Spain.104 One of the personalities frequently featured on RT en Español to comment on COVID-19-related matters was José Antonio Edigo, a left-wing sociologist and a president of the communist organisation “Volver a Marx”, widely known for espousing “anti-imperialist” and anti-Western views. Unlike his French and German counterparts, who blamed their national governments for “tyranny” and even “dictatorship”, Edigo took an intermediary position between Russia and the West. He recognised the importance of WHO’s policy recommendations but also reproached the West for prioritising its ideological interests over cooperation with the Russian authorities to produce a vaccine.105

Isabel Díaz Ayuso. Source

In its coverage of Spanish politics, RT en Español, staying true to its left-wing credentials, concentrated much of its criticism on the conservative political forces that experienced a comeback in the Madrid regional elections in 2021. Daniel Bernabé, one of the leading columnists of RT en Español, argued that representatives of far-right political forces tended to radicalise Spanish politics, including anti-COVID-19 policies. For Bernabé, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, one of the key figures of the conservative People’s Party (Partido Popular) who had been the President of the Community of Madrid since 2019 and during the pandemic, was “playing at a very shameless ‘Trumpism’”.106

The slogan “Communism or Freedom”, used by Díaz Ayuso in her election campaign, Bernabé wrote, “turned a regional election into a plebiscite on the management of Pedro Sánchez as head of the Government of Spain. For their part, the forces of the Left used the slogan ‘Fascism or Democracy’ to warn of the danger of letting the extreme right into the institutions”.107

Before the pandemic, RT en Español consistently criticised the far-right Vox party,108 but when the pandemic struck this criticism intensified, given the anti-vax and anti-lockdown attitudes promoted by Vox’s supporters.109 Yet another line of criticism of RT en Español focused on how COVID-19 was handled by the local governments in the regions of Spain known for harbouring separatist sentiments. In several articles, the outlet expressed concerns about the potential “mismanagement” of the pandemic by the Catalan and Valencian governments,110 but without falling into their typically severe bashing. RT en Español discussed the Western vaccine policy in a similarly “soft” manner, as it focused on how to address the side effects accompanying the Western vaccines rather than openly promoting Sputnik V.111

Sputnik V vs. the Western vaccine mismanagement

Numerous watchdogs regularly documented COVID-19-related disinformation that was circulated by RT.112 During 2021, French, German and British editions of RT systematically “informed” their audiences about dangerous “side-effects” of Western vaccines, including cases of kidney problems, lethal allergic reactions,113 menstrual disorders,114 heart muscle inflammation among young men,115 myocarditis,116 blood clots,117 cerebral vein thrombosis,118 as well as many deaths caused by vaccination with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna.119 In addition to harshly criticising the Western vaccines, RT also blamed the European Union’s vaccine policy for its purported drawbacks.120

Meanwhile, RT dedicated a significant amount of broadcast time to promoting the Sputnik V vaccine. It should be recalled that Russia was the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine in August 2020. However, due to multiple discrepancies repeatedly discovered in the scientific documentation and laboratory results accompanying Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine was not registered by key international regulatory bodies, including the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the WHO.121

Naturally, RT strove to explain Sputnik V’s failed registration as stemming from political reasons,122 Russophobia,123 “imperial hegemonism”,124 and “vaxx imperialism”.125 The “vaccine war” against Russian Sputnik V,126 RT argued, was due to Western political corruption127 and a plot by the “Big Pharma” group128 in collusion with EU governments to impose restrictions targeting the Russian vaccine across all EU member states, including Greece,129 Hungary, Slovakia,130 and Italy.131 To demonstrate the international credibility of Sputnik V, RT referred to Brazil132 and Argentina,133 where there was positive feedback from its use in respective national vaccination campaigns. RT actively solicited endorsements for Sputnik V from high-level international officials, including UN Secretary General António Guterres and EU Commissioner Thierry Breton,134 as well as the professional medical community represented by the highly reputable scientific journals Nature135 and The Lancet.136

The publication of an article praising Sputnik V in The Lancet in February 2021137 marked a watershed moment, as it gave the Russian vaccine international legitimacy. However, several months later, another article was published in The Lancet, in which a group of European researchers found data discrepancies in the third phase of Sputnik V’s trial.138 As for Argentina, even though it used Russia’s Sputnik V in its national vaccination campaign and commenced its use despite the above discoveries, RT omitted reporting on tensions between the two countries due to Russia’s failure to honour its Sputnik V supply commitments to Argentina, which threatened to break the contract.139

RT’s campaign aimed at promoting Sputnik V and tarnishing Western vaccine policies demonstrate how Russian state-sponsored media mixed factually accurate data points with disinformation to spread its messages.140


The analysis of RT’s COVID-19 coverage in France, Germany, the UK and Spain reveals common techniques for producing and spreading disinformation. At the same time, French, German and English coverage has yet another common characteristic, as it largely repeats the main themes promoted by respective national far-right movements and parties. In this regard Spanish RT stands out, as its criticism of government tends to be more moderate and it leans towards a more leftist agenda.

RT’s key strategies in its COVID-19 coverage have included the following: mixing factually accurate information with fake news to complicate any potential rebuttals, featuring representatives of local marginal communities to criticize national governments for their public health policies, and bestowing on these representatives an “expert” status to increase their credibility in front of an uninformed public.

All four RT channels endeavour to discredit the Western vaccines and promote the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. However, there are important differences between them as well. For instance, French coverage was mostly focused on COVID-19 protests, including public backlash against the introduction of lockdowns, mandatory vaccinations and health passes. German RT specialised in spreading fake news and conspiracy theories to such an extent that this led to the banning of its YouTube channel.

RT UK also prioritised spreading conspiracy theories, albeit not to the same degree as its German counterpart. This discrepancy probably has to do with the German audience being more exposed to such indoctrination, since a sizeable segment of it consists of supporters of the ultra-right AfD party. This also helps explain the fact that Germany hosts one of the largest communities of right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory believers in Europe.


1. “Question That: RT’s Military Mission”, @DFRLab, 8 January (2018),
2. Devlin Barrett, David Filipov, “RT Agrees to Register as an Agent of the Russian Government”, The Washington Post, 9 November (2017),
3. Guy Faulconbridge, Paul Sandle, “Russia’s RT Faces Seven Investigations in Britain over Broadcasts since Skripal Case”, Reuters, 18 April (2018),
4. “Luxembourg Blocks Broadcast License for RT’s German Channel”, Deutsche Welle, 14 August (2021),
5. Michel Pose, Denis Dyomkin, “Emmanuel Macron Denounces ‘Lying Propaganda’ of Some Russian Media as He Meets Vladimir Putin”, Independent, 29 May (2017),
6. On 28 September 2021, YouTube deleted the RT DE account for spreading disinformation about COVID-19. See: “YouTube Deletes RT’s German YouTube Channels after COVID Misinformation Strike”, Deutsche Welle, 18 September (2021),
7. Margarita Simonyan, “Vot takuyu krasotu prislali…”, Twitter, 3 August (2021),; Margarita Simonyan, “V cest’ nashikh…”, Twitter, 18 February (2020),
8. Margarita Simonyan, “Oni podschitali…”, Twitter, 18 March (2019),
9. Margarita Simonyan, “Sovershenno sluchayno…”, Twitter, 15 January (2019),; Margarita Simonyan, “Nashe videoagentstvo…”, Twitter, 21 May (2019),
10. Margarita Simonyan, “Vyshlo issledovanie…”, Twitter, 6 July (2021),; Margarita Simonyan, “Nash RT na frantsuzskom…”, Twitter, 14 September (2021),; Margarita Simonyan, “A u nashego ispanskogo kanala…”, Twitter, 24 September (2018),
11. Simonyan, “Vot takuyu krasotu prislali…”.
12. Katie Zavadski, “Putin’s Propaganda TV Lies About Its Popularity”, The Daily Beast, 14 April (2017),
13. Dmitriy Volchek, “Gryaznye zadaniya. Byvshiy sotrudnik RT razoblachaet telekompaniyu”, Radio Svoboda, 11 March (2021),
14. “Trebuem uvolit’ Simonyan, ili kak RT nakruchivaet prosmotry”, Navalny, 2 April (2020),
15. Robert W. Orttung, Elizabeth Nelson, “Russia Today’s Strategy and Effectiveness on YouTube”, Post-Soviet Affairs, Vol. 35, No.2 (2019), pp. 77-92.
16. Daniel Bush, “Two Faces of Russian Information Operations: Coronavirus Coverage in Spanish”, All FSI News, 30 July (2020),
17. Kim Wilsher, “Fifth Consecutive Weekend of Protests in France over Covid Pass”, The Guardian, 14 August (2021),
18. All are translated from French, German and Spanish into English.
19. The “Health Pass” (in French “le Passeport Sanitaire”) was introduces by the French government in July 2021 as a required document for visiting cultural events and other public places, including cafes, museums, etc., as well as for international and regional travelling. The “Health Pass” is not an obligatory document. In case of its absence a visitor has to demonstrate a negative PCR/antigen test no older than three days or a medical certificate that the holder recovered from COVID-19 less than 6 months ago.
20. “En Direct – Anti-pass sanitaire: près de 160.000 manifestants ce samedi, selon l’intériuer, dont 14.500 à Paris”, BFMTV, 28 August (2021),
21. “Vaccins et pass sanitaire: Emmanuel Macron a répondu aux sceptiques sur TikTok et Instagram”, La voix du Nord, 2 August (2021),
22. Jean-Philippe Dubrulle, Gautier Jardon, “Le regard des Français sur le mouvement de protestation contre le pass sanitaire”, IFOP, July (2021),
23. See, for example, “Au beau milieu de l’été, mobilisation record des opposants au pass sanitaire”, RT France, 31 July (2021),; “Nouvelles manifestations contre le pass sanitaire et l’obligation vaccinale partout en France”, RT France, 31 July (2021),; “Forte mobilisation contre le pass sanitaire, malgré une affluence moindre selon les autorités”, RT France, 14 August (2021).
24. See, for example, “Le pass sanitaire français ‘discrimine les non vaccinés’, selon l’ONG Médecins du Monde”, RT France, 5 August (2021),; “Emmanuel Macron compare les personnes sans pass sanitaire à celles qui conduisent après avoir bu”, RT France, 6 August (2021),; “Le bâton, ça ne fonctionne pas»: un médecin urgentiste critique l’extension du pass sanitaire”, RT France, 16 August (2021),
25. “Mobilisation anti-pass sanitaire: un mouvement qui cherche à durer (VIDEO)”, RT France, 17 August (2021),
26. “Marine Le Pen et Philippe de Villiers soutiennent la tribune de Bellamy contre le pass sanitaire”, RT France, 16 July (2021),
27. “Mouvement anti-pass sanitaire: redite des Gilets jaunes ou nouvelle manière de manifester?”, RT France, 29 July (2021),; “‘On ne lâchera pas’: nouvelle mobilisation à Paris contre le pass sanitaire”, RT France, 27 July (2021),
28. “‘Catastrophe industrielle’: le cinéma demande de l’aide face à la mise en place du pass sanitaire”, RT France, 18 May (2021),; “Restrictions sanitaires et restauration: ‘Il y a une baisse conséquente du chiffre d’affaires’”, RT France, 20 August (2021),
29. “Pass sanitaire: le maire de Fréjus ne souhaite pas que la police municipale ‘participe à ce flicage’”, RT France, 12 August (2021),
30. See, for example, “Le pass sanitaire ‘ne doit pas priver des patients de soins’, s’inquiète l’Ordre des médecins”, RT France, 2 August (2021),; “Obligation vaccinale pour les soignants: préavis de grève illimitée déposé dans un hôpital de Lyon”, RT France, 27 July (2021),; “Sans vaccin ni test, des pompiers ont été suspendus en Haute-Savoie”, RT France, 19 August (2021),
31. “‘Une dictature ce n’est pas ça’: Emmanuel Macron défend l’extension du pass sanitaire”, RT France, 16 July (2021),
32. “‘Coup d’Etat sanitaire’: Dupont-Aignan critique les annonces de Macron concernant le Covid-19”, RT France, 14 July (2021),
33. “‘Le pouvoir abuse de cette monarchie absolue’: François Ruffin s’insurge contre le pass sanitaire”, RT France, 16 July (2021),
34. “Alexis Poulin: ‘Emmanuel Macron a réussi à mettre ce pays à feu et à sang de manière perpétuelle’”, RT France, 25 July (2021),
35. “Pass sanitaire: des ‘points d’alerte’ pour le défenseur des droits”, RT France, 20 July (2021),
36. “‘Vous tuez la France’: Jean Castex pris à partie lors d’une visite à Carcassonne”, RT France, 11 August (2021),
37. “Une vingtaine de centres de vaccination et de dépistage dégradés depuis mi-juillet”, RT France, 11 August (2021),
38. “Manifestations anti-pass: enquête ouverte pour une pancarte antisémite brandie à Besançon”, RT France, 19 August (2021),
39. “Un centre de vaccination vandalisé et 500 doses détruites près de Toulouse”, RT France, 17 August (2021),
40. “Investigation Opened into Giant Macron-Hitler Billboard Comparing Covid Policy to Nazi Regime”, RT, 10 July (2021),
41. “Didier Raoult a-t-il recommandé la pommade Vicks pour lutter contre le Covid?”, RT France, 4 August (2021),
42. “Le face-à-face – Y a-t-il un acharnement contre Didier Raoult ?”, YouTube, 2 July (2020),; “Le face-à-face – L’hydroxychloroquine est-elle dangereuse?”, RT France, 25 March (2020),
43. “‘Avec le professeur Raoult, nous avons une sommité mondiale qui mérite considération’”, YouTube, 30 March (2020),; “Valérie Boyer: ‘Didier Raoult fait partie des personnes extrêmement compétentes sur le sujet’”, YouTube, 23 March (2020),
44. “‘Touche pas à Raoult’: des manifestants anti-pass sanitaire affichent leur soutien à l’infectiologue”, RT France, 21 August (2021),; “Devant l’AFP, l’IHU de Raoult, des mairies: nouvelles manifestations contre le pass sanitaire”, RT France, 21 August (2021),
45. “Russie, Corée du Sud, Etats-Unis, Inde…: ces pays qui misent sur la chloroquine”, RT France, 14 April (2020),
46. “Chloroquine: témoignage d’une personne atteinte du Covid-19 et traitée à la chloroquine”, YouTube, 30 March (2020),
47. Damien Leloup, Lucie Soullier, “Coronavirus: comment le professeur Didier Raoult est devenu une figure centrale des théories complotiste”, Le Monde, 29 March (2020),
48. “Germany Puts Anti-Lockdown Querdenker Group under Observation”, Deutsche Welle, 28 April (2021),
49. Nadine Frei, Oliver Nachtwey, “Demokratie im Ausnahmezustand“, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, June (2021),
50. “Germany Notes ‘Violent Potential’ among Anti-Lockdown Protesters”, Deutsche Welle, 10 December (2020),; Matt Ford, “Hooligans in 2020: How ‘Militant Neo-Nazis’ Have Spearheaded Coronavirus Protests”, Deutsche Welle, 26 December (2020),
51. “In Germany, Vaccine Fears Spark Conspiracy Theories”, Deutsche Welle, 12 May (2020),; Alessio Perrone, “How Germany Became Ground Zero for the COVID Infodemic”, openDemocracy, 31 March (2021),
52. “Germany Puts Anti-Lockdown Querdenker Group”.
53. “COVID: Berlin Court Bans Anti-Lockdown Protests”, Deutsche Welle, 31 July (2021),
54. “Facebook löscht ‘Querdenken’-Kanäle als ‘schädliches Netzwerk’”, RT DE, 16 September (2021),; “YouTube löscht Kanal der Bürgerbewegung Querdenken-711”, RT DE, 26 May (2021),
55. Darren Loucaides, “Germany’s COVID Sceptics Fuelled by Russian Media and Far-Right Conspiracies”, openDemocracy, 31 March (2021),
56. Ibid.
57. RT DE, “We Dont ‘Spread’ Conspiracy Theories…”, Twitter, 20 May (2021),
58. Maik Baumgärtner, Roman Höfner, Ann-Katrin Müller, “Germany Fears Influence of Russian Propaganda Channel”, Spiegel, 3 March (2021),; Loucaides, “Germany’s COVID sceptics”; Loucaides et al., “How Germany Became Ground Zero”.
59. A reference to the name of the Querdenken movement, which means “Lateral Thinkers”.
60. “Nach Söder nun auch Lauterbach – Aiwanger wehrt sich gegen Vorwürfe: ‘Persönliches Freiheitsrecht’”, RT DE, 31 July (2021),
61. “BMI bestätigt: “Notbremsen”-Gesetz hebt Grundrechte der Unverletzlichkeit von Wohnung und Körper auf”, RT DE, 16 April (2021),
62. “‘Keine “zweite Welle’? – Ex-Topwissenschaftler von Pfizer spricht von ‘Pseudo-Pandemie’”, RT DE, 2 december (2020),
63. “Corona-Ausschuss: ‘Ein unfassbar großes Verbrechen’ – Teil 1”, RT DE, 4 July (2021),
64. “Corona-Ausschuss: ‘Es werden Gehirnwäschen im großen Stil durchgeführt’ – Teil 1”, RT DE, 5 September (2021),
65. “Lafontaines nächste Abrissbirne: ‘Covidioten, Machtmissbrauch und Größenwahn’”, RT DE, 8 August (2021),
66. See, for example, “AfD-Antrag gegen die Einführung eines digitalen Impfpasses scheitert im Bundestag”, RT DE, 8 March 2021,; “Corona-Proteste in Deutschland und die Abstinenz der linken Parteien”, RT DE, 29 November (2020),; “Moralisieren statt Herrschaftskritik: Die Corona-Krise der Linken”, RT DE, 13 March (2021),
67. “FAQ – Fragen & Antworten”, Stiftung Corona Ausschuss,
68. “Corona Ausschuss”, Stiftung Corona Ausschuss,
69. Veronika Simon, “Wird Corona überschätzt? Faktencheck”, SWR Wissen, 19 March (2020),
70. See, for example, “Ärztin fristlos entlassen nach Kritik an Corona-Impfungen: ‘Den Dreck nicht weiter verimpfen’”, RT DE, 10 May (2021),; “57 Wissenschaftler und Ärzte fordern einen sofortigen Stopp aller Impfungen gegen COVID-19”, RT DE, 16 May (2021),; “Vorsitzende des Deutschen Ethikrats: Ungeimpfte stellen sich außerhalb der Solidargemeinschaft”, RT DE, 14 August (2021),
71. “’Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Impfpflicht durch die Hintertür einzuführen!’ Oder?”, RT DE, 3 May (2021),; “Gehirnwäsche, Zuckerbrot und Peitsche: Berliner Forscher empfehlen Strategien gegen Impfunwillige”, RT DE, 14 May (2021),
72. “Jetzt behauptet auch renommierter Hamburger Wissenschaftler: SARS-CoV-2 ist künstlichen Ursprungs”, RT DE, 19 February (2021),; “Dr. Claus Köhnlein über ‘fatale Corona-Experimente’ der WHO”, RT DE, 18 September (2020),
73. Nils Metzger, “Sind Daten zu Intensivbetten übertrieben?”, ZDF Heute, 7 May (2021),
74. See, for example, “Neue Hinweise auf Manipulation der Intensivbettenzahl – Kritik an ‘Medienkampagne’ gegen Schrappe”, RT DE, 30 June (2021),; “Infektiologe Matthias Schrappe: Der Lockdown wird scheitern”, RT DE, 18 December (2020),; “ Medizinprofessor Matthias Schrappe: ‘Die Bundesregierung ist beratungsresistent’”, RT DE, 24 November (2020),
75. Ben Cohen, “Jews ‘Learned Evil’ from Nazis: Leading COVID-19 Conspiracy Theorist in Germany Loses Publisher over Antisemitic Comments”, Algemeiner, 16 July (2021),
76. “Sucharit Bhakdi legt mit neuem Buch nach: Geimpfte sind Teil eines ‘riesigen Experiments’”, RT DE, 16 March (2021),
77. “YouTube deletes RT’’s German Channels over COVID Misinformation”, Reuters, 28 September (2021),
78. Neil Clark, “As Boris Johnson Announces Britain’s ‘Great Reset’, Were the Covid ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ Right All along?”, RT UK, 7 October (2021),
79. Neil Clark, “‘No Peasants, Please’: BoJo’s Love-in with Bill Gates on Twitter Shows Just How Broken UK Democracy Really Is”, RT UK, 30 September (2020),; Neil Clark, “Keeping Us Masked Forever? The Davos Set’s Dystopian Ambitions Are Very Clear”, RT UK, 9 April 2021,
80. “Tony Blair’s Anti-Freedom Project Continues, but ‘War on Terror’ Is Replaced by ‘War on Covid’”, RT UK, 25 February (2021),
81. Neil Clark, “Back to the 1640s: Witch-Hunt against ‘Covid Denialists’ in UK Is Just a Continuation of Previous Campaigns against Dissenters”, RT UK, 9 February (2021),
82. “Mask Mandates and Vaccine Passports Are a Performance, a Taking of the Knee to a Warped Health-and-Safety Morality”, RT UK, 15 September (2021),
83. Ashley Frawley, “The Bumbling Inefficiency of Our Elites during the Pandemic Should Dispel any Notion They Are Capable of Any Kind of ‘Conspiracy’”, RT UK, 15 September (2021),
84. Jani Allan, “I Am One of Millions Who Have Chosen Not to Have a Covid Vaccine. Does That Mean I’m to Be Banned from Planes, Buildings & Shops?”, RT UK, 8 May (2021),
85. “Twitter’s Covid-19 Trolley Problem: The Censorship Cost of Its Faulty Conspiracy Labels”, RT UK, 26 May (2021),; Norman Lewis, “The Speed at Which the British Media Became McCarthyite Authoritarians Has Been Almost as Fast as the Spread of Covid-19”, RT UK, 11 April (2020),
86. “The 1% Conundrum: How a Simple but Flawed Math Prediction by US Covid-19 Experts Caused the World to Panic and Order Lockdowns”, RT UK, 6 September (2020),; Peter Andrews, “Weird Science: Covid-19 Does NOT Cause Heart Damage, as Blockbuster Study Had Basic Calculation Errors”, RT UK, 28 August (2020),
87. “Facebook Fact Checkers CENSURED Me When I Said Covid Infection Fatality Rate Was around 0.1%. But What Do the Latest Studies Say?”, RT UK, 21 October (2021),
88. Robert Bridge, “Let the Debates Begin! Policymakers Should Engage with Covid ‘Dissidents’ in Public and Put the ‘Conspiracy Theories’ to Bed”, RT UK, 28 July (2021),
89. Frawley, “The Bumbling Inefficiency of Our Elites”.
90. Neil Clark, “The Left Used to Love Liberal Sweden: Now for Pro-Mask, Pro-Lockdown UK Progressives, It Doesn’t Exist”, RT UK, 16 July (2021),
91. “Jeremy Corbyn’s Brother Fined at London Anti-Lockdown Protest”, YouTube, 9 May (2020),; “Rebellion in Westminster? Tory MPs Say They’ll Defy Boris Johnson and Vote against ‘Illiberal’ Vaccine Passports”, RT UK, 21 July (2021),; “Freedom Rally: Thousands Protest Covid Passports in London… as Anti-Vax Speaker Threatens Doctors with ‘Nuremberg Trials’”, RT UK, 25 July (2021),
92. “A Sceptical Birmingham Protests against Basically Everything…”, YouTube, 7 December (2020),; “Anti-Vax Protesters Storm UK Drug Regulator’s London Office in Protest over Planned Covid Jab for Children”, RT UK, 3 September (2021),
93. Ruby Lott-Lavigna, “Anti-Lockdown Conspiracy Theorists March in London as New Tier 2 Rules Hit”, Vice World News, 17 October (2020),
94. “A Sceptical Birmingham Protests against Basically Everything…”.
95. Clark, “Back to the 1640s”.
96. “Freedom Rally: Thousands Protest Covid Passports in London”.
97. David Icke official website at
98. “#DeplatformIcke”, Centre for Countering Digital Hate, April (2020),, p. 3.
99. “Coronavirus: David Icke Kicked off Facebook”, BBC News, May 1 (2020),; “Twitter Permanently Suspends Conspiracy Theorist David Icke’s Account”, The Guardian, 4 November (2020),
100. Neil Clark, “Banning the Conspiracist David Icke Is WRONG & Actually Strengthens His Case that We’re Sleepwalking towards DICTATORSHIP”, RT UK, 4 May (2020),
101. “Silicon Valley Giants ‘Set out to Silence Me,’ Coronavirus Denialist David Icke Tells RT after Perma-Ban on Twitter”, RT UK, 6 November (2020),
102. Polly Boiko, “I Spent a Day Interviewing David Icke. He Was Charming, Maddening and Sad – I Can’t Believe THIS Is the Man UK Establishment Fears”, RT UK, 8 May (2020),
103. “Problemas que no resuelve el ‘pasaporte covid’ europeo”, RT en Español, 17 March (2021),
104. Ibid.; “España limita la circulación de personas, suspende eventos públicos y moviliza al Ejército por la pandemia del covid-19”, RT en Español, 14 March (2020),
105. See, for example, “La vacuna rusa Sputnik V contra el coronavirus muestra un 92 % de efectividad”, RT en Español, 11 November (2021),; “Experto: En Occidente hay una competición por las vacunas contra el covid-19”, RT en Español, 22 December (2020),; “Sputnik V será registrado en más de 25 países en las próximas dos semanas, anuncia el Fondo Ruso de Inversión Directa”, RT en Español, 26 January (2021),
106. Daniel Bernabé, “‘Ayuso representa el ‘trumpismo’ a la española’: El escritor y periodista Daniel Bernabé habla de las elecciones en Madrid”, RT en Español, 15 April (2021),
107. Ibid.
108. “España: Revelan nuevos vínculos entre el partido político Vox y la Fundación Francisco Franco”, RT en Español, 25 March (2019),
109. “‘Minimizar el clima contrario a la gestión de crisis del Gobierno’: La frase de un general de la Guardia Civil que desató la polémica en España”, RT en Español, 22 April (2020),; “‘Las vacunas nos vuelven magnéticos’: una diputada de Vox en Madrid difunde el último bulo surrealista (y la Red no la perdona)”, RT en Español, 15 May (2021),
110. See, for example, “¿Por qué en España se han cuatriplicado los contagios en tres semanas pese a que casi la mitad de la población está vacun”, RT en Español, 13 July ( 2021),; “España entra de nuevo en riesgo extremo por el aumento de la incidencia de covid-19”, RT en Español, 8 July (2021),; “6 preguntas (y respuestas) sobre el ‘pasaporte covid’ de la UE que entra en vigor con el objetivo de relanzar el turismo”, RT en Español, 1 July (2021),
111. “Científicos afirman haber resuelto el misterio de coágulos de sangre provocados por ciertas vacunas anticovid (y saben cómo mejorarlas)”, RT en Español, 27 May (2021),
112. See, for example, “Short Assessment of Narratives and Disinformation Around the COVID-19 Pandemic (Update December 2020-April 2021)”, EUsDisInfo, 28 April 2021,
113. “L’AEM examine de possibles nouveaux effets secondaires liés aux vaccins anti-Covid à ARN messager”, RT France, 12 August (2021),
114. “Vaccins contre le Covid: un «signal potentiel» de troubles menstruels pour les adolescentes”, RT France, 31 July (2021),; “‘Is It Anti-Vax to Be Concerned?’: Magazine Editor Reports Changes to Period after Covid Jab, the Latest in over 30,000 UK Women”, RT UK, 19 August (2021),
115. “Herzmuskelentzündungen bei jungen Männern nach Impfung – Israel vermutet Zusammenhang”, RT DE, 2 June (2021),; “Israel Finds ‘Likely’ Link between Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine and Cases of Heart Inflammation in Young Males”, RT UK, 2 June (2021),
116. “18-jähriger Schüler erkrankt nach BioNTech-Impfung an Herzmuskelentzündung”, RT DE, 29 April (2021),
117. “‘Keine andere Erklärung’: Impfstoff laut norwegischen Experten für Blutgerinnsel verantwortlich, RT DE, 20 March 2021,
118. “Schon 13 Fälle von Hirnvenen-Thrombosen nach AstraZeneca-Impfung in Deutschland”, RT DE, 18 March (2021),
119. See, for example, “Une présentatrice de la BBC meurt quelques jours après un vaccin AstraZeneca, une enquête ouverte”, RT France, 29 March (2021),; “Norwegen: BioNTech/Pfizer-Impfstoff “wahrscheinlich” für den Tod einiger Älterer verantwortlich”, RT DE, 2 June (2020),; Susan Bonath, “COVID-19-Impfung: Immer mehr Nebenwirkungen und Todesfälle – systematisch untersucht wird dies nicht”, RT DE, 19 February (2021),
120. “200 Germans Unsure if They Got Vaccinated or Not after Nurse Confesses to SWAPPING Vial of Pfizer Jab with Normal Saline”, RT UK, 25 April (2021),; “Covid 19: Pfizer et BioNTech dominent les ventes de vaccin au niveau mondial”, RT France, 10 August (2021),; “Kampf gegen Impfstoff-Desinformation: US-Forscher fordert ‘konfrontative Haltung gegenüber Russland’”, RT DE, 17 May (2021)
121. Paul Stronski, “What Went Wrong with Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine Rollout?”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 15 Movember (2021),
122. “‘Roulette russe’: l’EMA met en garde contre une autorisation en urgence du vaccin Spoutnik V”, RT France, 8 March (2021),
123. “La France envisage la question des vaccins russes ‘sur le plan politique’, déplore Sergueï Lavrov”, RT France, 4 August (2021),; “US-Diplomaten in Brasilien als Lobbyisten gegen russischen Impfstoff tätig”, RT DE, 16 March (2021),
124. “‘Hégémonisme impérial’: Moscou condamne des déclarations françaises hostiles au vaccin Spoutnik V”, RT France, 8 July (2021),
125. See, for example, “Vaxx Imperialism: UK Invalidates Half the World’s Covid Jabs”, RT UK, 22 September (2021),; “‘Réticence politisée’: l’ambassade de Russie fustige la non reconnaissance par Paris de Spoutnik V”, RT France, 28 July (2021),; “Entrave aux vaccins: Poutine déplore la «réticence à protéger leurs citoyens» de certains pays”, RT France, 5 June (2021),
126. “La guerre des vaccins? A peine arrivé, Spoutnik V déjà face à l’hostilité”, RT France, 12 August (2021),
127. “Russischer Auslandsgeheimdienst-Chef: Fehlende EU-Genehmigung für Sputnik V politisch motiviert”, RT DE, 20 May (2021),; “Moskau: Genehmigung von Sputnik durch EMA kommt voran – doch EU-Vertreter politisieren Prozess”, RT DE, 4 August (2021),; “‘Politics’ Prevents Highly-Effective Sputnik V’s Approval by WHO & European Regulator – Leading Australian Epidemiologist to RT”, RT UK, 11 August (2021),
128. “‘Wrong Answer’: Big Pharma Group up in Arms after Biden Signals Support for Profit-Threatening Patent Waiver on Covid Vaccines”, RT UK, 6 May (2021),; “Bericht: Pfizer und Moderna erhöhen Preise für COVID-19-Impfstoffe in der EU”, RT DE, 2 August (2021),
129. “La France déplore le choix de la Grèce d’accepter le vaccin Spoutnik V, la Russie réagit fermement”, RT France, 11 July (2021),
130. “‘Je ne suis pas un tueur’: le Premier ministre slovaque réaffirme vouloir utiliser le Spoutnik V”, RT France, 7 March (2021),; “Après la Hongrie, la Slovaquie devient le deuxième pays de l’UE à utiliser le vaccin Spoutnik V”, RT France, 7 June (2021),
131. “Le Fonds souverain russe signe un accord pour produire du Spoutnik V en Italie”, RT France, 9 March (2021),
132. “Brasilianische Gesundheitsbehörde genehmigt sechs Bundesstaaten Import von Sputnik V”, RT DE, 5 June (2021),
133. “‘Die Russen sind ziemlich gute Wissenschaftler’: EU-Kommissar wirbt für Zulassung von Sputnik V”, RT DE, 17 March (2021),
134. “UN-Generalsekretär António Guterres dankt Russland für Entwicklung von Sputnik V”, RT DE, 13 May (2021),
135. “Revista Nature: Evidencias obtenidas en Rusia y otros países sugieren que la vacuna Sputnik V es ‘segura y eficaz’”, RT en Español, 6 June (2021),
136. “Eficacia de más del 91 % y sin efectos adversos graves: The Lancet publica los datos del ensayo de fase III de la vacuna rusa Sputnik V”, RT en Español, 2 February (2021),
137. Denis Y. Logunov et al., “Safety and Efficacy of an rAd26 and rAd5 Vector-Based Heterologous Prime-Boost COVID-19 Vaccine: An Interim Analysis of a Randomised Controlled Phase 3 Trial in Russia”, The Lancet, Vol. 397, No. 10275 (2021), pp. 671-681.
138. Enrico M. Bucci et al., “Data Discrepancies and Substandard Reporting of Interim Data of Sputnik V Phase 3 Trial”, The Lancet, Vol. 397, No. 10288 (2021), pp. 1881-1883.
139. Uki Goñi, “Argentina Threatens to Cancel Deal for Sputnik Vaccine as Russia Fails to Deliver”, The Guardian, 22 July (2021),
140. “Telling Half-Truth Is Also Lying”, EUvsDisinfo, January 22 (2021),