A debate on the influence of Russian propaganda on EU countries has drawn heavy criticism from GUE/NGL MEPs who took part in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, with calls that the EU media obsession's with Kremlin-orchestrated fake news and disinformation has gone too far and must stop.

Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli was particularly scathing:

“Expressions such as 'fake news' or 'post-truth' must be handled with extreme caution because they are ambiguous and there is a risk that they can be used for political propaganda and then dished out as a way of discrediting and censoring political opponents.

“Let me be clear: I do not intend to defend the Russian political regime. However, I would like to express my scepticism about the tendency to attribute systematic interferences in electoral campaigns in the United States and Europe to the Kremlin.”

“There is no evidence of such interference – the only denial of this coming from the states of Wisconsin, of California, and from the French Agency for Cybersecurity or the Digital Society Institute of Berlin,” she added.

“Moreover, fake news cannot be attributed solely to the internet. In the war in Iraq, it was the mainstream press that spread devastating lies about weapons of mass destruction.”

“We cannot ignore the fact that those who more vehemently denounce today the fake news, demanding censorship of the internet, are the same ones who are spreading in their turn fake news. Their aim is to restart a dangerous cold war with Russia.”

Spanish MEP Javier Couso described the so-called Russian threat as heavy on propaganda but devoid of substance. He said that paranoia is to blame for this and that the west is looking for a confrontation:

“Albert Einstein once said that two things are infinite: human stupidity and the universe….but I'm not sure about the second one.”

“The European right-wing media’s obsession with the alleged Russian interference has been so pathetic that it’s now reached such degrees of stupidity that even Einstein would feel embarrassed,” he said.

“Last November, the Spanish Foreign Minister told the European Union of his disgust at the levels of Russian and Venezuelan interference on the Catalonia debate, and claimed to have the evidence for it. Well, we are still waiting for that because there is none! And the media used the most pathetic examples to ram home their points: Twitter accounts ‘based in St. Petersburg’ as well as false news.”

“Last November, the head of cybersecurity at the National Intelligence Center (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, CNI) affirmed that the CNI had not, and I repeat, not detected any cyber-attack by the Russian government. Neither German nor French organisations found significant Russian activities to back up this pathetic paranoia. Behind all these is a clear political strategy to scupper good, friendly relations with Russia. So I say: quit this paranoia, folks!” he concluded.

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