With the spread of COVID-19 impacting the world, the United States Agency for Global Media and its networks have remained committed to providing accurate and unbiased information about the coronavirus, clarifying any misinformation, and exposing disinformation related to the pandemic.
Civil Rights and COVID
Current Time’s Real Talk host Andrei Korolev interviewed prominent political and human rights activists about the ways the Azerbaijani government is using the pandemic to justify political repression.
In Kazakhstan, RFE/RL reported on the detention of over 100 activists demanding democratic reforms supposedly for their violation of social-distancing rules.
In Russia, Current Time covered the jailing and the release of journalist Ilya Azar, who staged a one-person protest against the detention of an ex-policeman campaigning against police corruption. Current Time provided live reporting from Moscow and St. Petersburg, catching some detentions live on-air, and interviewed political analysts and prominent opposition member Dmitry Gudkov.
RFA reported that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced alarm over the increasing curbs on freedom of expression in 12 Asia-Pacific countries during the pandemic, with dictatorships and democracies alike stifling legitimate speech and public debate in the name of fighting fake news.
VOA Georgian produced an in-depth look at some of the main disinformation themes present in the country and how they are spreading online as well as beyond, in the South Caucasus region, which was aired as part of the Georgian Service’s weekly View from Washington show.
VOA’s Polygraph fact- checked and debunked the claims made in a report published by Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper, attempting to connect the coronavirus outbreak to the U.S. Army biological laboratory in Fort Detrick, MD.
Current Time covered Russia’s renewed false claims that the U.S.-funded Lugar Lab in Georgia is involved in research on diseases that are particularly dangerous to the public, and emphasized the Lab’s response debunking these claims and clarifying its work and mission.
Meanwhile in Iran, Radio Farda interviewed doctors and experts to get a sense of the true COVID-19 situation in Iran in the absence of factual information from officials.