The three former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia—long beset by ethnic and regional tensions—now face a new and growing threat: the steady stream of propaganda related to how and why COVID-19 is spreading throughout the Caucasus.
Much of this disinformation is flowing directly from Moscow, warned experts speaking from Yerevan, Baku, Tbilisi, and Washington as part of a 360/Virtual discussion hosted May 19 by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab).
According to official statistics, Armenia as of May 19 had 5,041 coronavirus infections and sixty-four deaths, followed by Azerbaijan, with 3,387 cases and forty deaths. Georgia appears to be doing far better than its two Caucasus neighbors, with 702 cases and only twelve deaths.
Yet Eto Buziashvili, a research associate with the DFRLab, warned that various Russia-backed individuals have impersonated trusted Georgian health authorities in order to discredit pro-democracy activists and foment unrest.