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Announcement regarding the accusations from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sofija Tovarović

A post on the official Facebook page of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in which Raskrinkavanje is accused of “media spin”, “spreading false information” and “receiving money for anti-Russian propaganda” is an attempt to discredit and intimidate the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina and a continuation of spreading disinformation and war propaganda, which is absolutely reprehensible.

The last time the Embassy used its official accounts on social networks to discuss “media spins” and “anti-Russian propaganda from the West” was on February 17, 2022. The claims of alleged anti-Russian disinformation referred to media reports about the anticipated Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Embassy stated back then that “the idea spreading in the media about the alleged possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine (…) has no basis”. As in many other cases of wartime propaganda by the Russian Federation, the words were proven wrong by the actions – this time just seven days later, when Russia indeed invaded Ukraine.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation offered no evidence for its claims this time as well. Instead, they repeated the same falsehoods about the “development and modification of viruses in the American military laboratories” in Ukraine, which we have already looked into on four occasions (1, 2, 3, 4). Such claims have been rated by numerous fact-checking organizations in the world since 2015, when Russian state propaganda began to spread them. To date, no evidence was offered for any of the nonsensical claims about the work of “military biolaboratories” in Ukraine. Such claims were spread by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in BiH as well, including the stories about the development of an alleged biological weapon that would target “Russian DNA” (a concept unknown to biology) and those about the alleged development or modification of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which were added to the old anti-Ukrainian propaganda recently.

In a particularly absurd manner, the Embassy found alleged confirmation of its lies in the statements of Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who explicitly denied the allegations about development of biological weapons and military laboratories back in March 2022, calling them absurd and ridiculous, which he also did when responding to such accusations recently repeated in Russia.

The official program of cooperation between the United States Department of Defense and the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, which Kirby talked about, and through which technical support was provided to the Ukrainian Ministry for the improvement of public health laboratories, has existed since 2005 and information about it has always been public, which we pointed out several times in our fact-checking analyses.

It is particularly worrying that the Embassy of the Russian Federation in BiH contributes in this way not only to the spread of disinformation about the war in Ukraine but also about the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to the support of ideologically and politically close media, the Embassy’s announcements gain visibility and reach many citizens who can get the impression that nonsense about the “intentional spread of Covid-19” is true.

In this way, the trust in science about the virus and protection against the virus, already damaged by numerous pieces of disinformation and conspiracy theories that spread during the pandemic, is further undermined. Therefore, with such announcements, the Embassy directly encourages the spread of erroneous and harmful ideas about an infectious disease that has taken tens of thousands of lives in BiH and the region. This kind of action is unacceptable and irresponsible towards BiH society, and we call on the Embassy to stop it immediately.

Finally, as we have pointed out countless times, information on the sources of Raskrinkavanje’s funding has been published on our website since the very beginning of our work, in accordance to the Code of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), to which we have been a signatory since 2019. Therefore, the Embassy does not have to bother to search for “our media reports” about this, because this information is continuously available on our website, in the section “About Raskrinkavanje”. Additionally, the quality of our work is not determined by the sources of our funding, but rather by our strict adherence to professional standards and methodology, as well as the regular evaluations we undergo every year to maintain the IFCN membership.

If the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has any evidence for the absurd claims it makes, as well as for insinuations about the unreliability of us as a “source”, we invite them to immediately make it available to the Bosnian and international public.