Russia is launching a service to debunk "fake news" — an attention-grabbing move for a nation that has itself been accused of spreading misleading information via state-run news outlets.
Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday began posting to its website “examples of publications, retranslating false information about Russia.”
The effort is not as thorough as traditional fact-checking websites. In lieu of an explanation of why a story is incorrect, each entry shows a picture of an article with a red stamp reading “FAKE” above the single line of text “This article puts forward information that does not correspond to reality," and no further information.
The topics of the stories include Russia considering handing over NSA leaker Edward Snowden to the U.S., a plot to assassinate Montenegro’s prime minister and the death of five diplomats under suspicious circumstances in three months.
Russia funds the television news network RT, which U.S. intelligence agencies singled out in a report detailing Russia's interference in last year's presidential election. Officials concluded that Russia worked to favor Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBill Kristol: Trump praising China's leader ‘embarrassing’ Trump stands to win big on tax reform, but a trade war with Canada could change everything Tillerson on North Korea: 'Our goal is not regime change' MORE's presidential victory and that RT actively repackaged news to support Russian propagandist goals.
The report quotes RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan from an interview in the magazine Afisha explaining RT's benefits to Russia: "It is important to have a channel that people get used to, and then, when needed, you show them what you need to show. In some sense, not having our own foreign broadcasting is the same as not having a ministry of defense. When there is no war, it looks like we don't need it. However, when there is a war, it is critical."
In the U.S., President Trump has turned his focus to the media, railing against negative coverage of his administration as "fake news." Trump has particularly attacked reports that link his campaign to the Russian government.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded the Kremlin hacked into Democratic Party computer systems in its effort to boost Trump. Russia has denied being behind the cyberattacks, which led to damaging leaks, and Trump has sought to downplay Moscow's role, blaming the Democratic groups for lax security.