How Russian Media Reported the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Public opinion polls show that although the TV audience is shrinking – dramatically so among younger generations – 73 percent of Russians still say they tune in to broadcast news. As the pandemic grew globally in early spring, those who only watched TV may have seen little reason for concern about COVID-19.

As for where the coronavirus came from, Channel 1’s nightly Vremya program offered a February 5 roundup of conspiracy theories: the virus originated in a Chinese bioweapons lab; or it was developed by American pharmaceutical companies “that simply wanted to make money;” or it was manmade to target only Asian populations. Anchor Kirill Kleimenov stopped short of endorsing any of these theories but concluded: “Even experts who are cautious in their assessments say that nothing can be ruled out.”

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