As the novel coronavirus spread from China to the rest of the world, dealing body blows to countries in Europe and roiling the U.S. economy, a state-owned Russian news site floated some theories on the virus’ origin: It may be the creation of the U.S. military, the site speculated; or perhaps George Soros, Bill Gates, or American pharmaceutical companies.
The article this month on the website of the publication Zvezda claimed, bizarrely, that the coronavirus “affects only members of the Mongol race,” and “such suspicious selectivity raises questions from experts.” Among the theories it floated were that Soros, a frequent Russian propaganda bogeyman, helped finance a lab in Wuhan, China, that developed and released the virus. “11 million people, and China to blame if the virus spreads,” Zvezda quotes one “expert” as saying. “The U.S. and Soros will be off the hook completely. This is a really great plan.”
These sorts of claims are standard fare for viral conspiracy theories and disinformation amid a high-profile crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, such conspiracy theorists also blamed Soros, and an oddly similar-sounding bioweapons lab in Sierra Leone, for the outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014.