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‘RT’ accuses ‘Meduza’ of publishing fake news about the scale of Russia's coronavirus outbreak. Turns out, they reported the exact same news.

Source: Meduza

In a post on Twitter, the Russian state-funded international TV network RT (formerly known as Russia Today), accused Meduza of spreading false information about Russia’s COVID-19 statistics.

After Meduza reported that Russia had now become the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, RT hit back in a tweet, calling the claims fake news.

“Meduza’s news about ‘Russia taking second place in the world for the number of infected people’ is fake,” RT says on its Russian language Twitter account.

On the morning of May 12, however, Russian officials had announced that the country had recorded 232,243 confirmed cases of COVID-19. As such, Russia had surpassed Spain, where the official number of confirmed cases stands at 227,436.

These numbers were confirmed by data from John Hopkins University (JHU), which the global media uses as its main sources for statistical information on the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of this writing, JHU also ranked Russia second in the world in terms of having the most confirmed cases of the coronavirus, after the United States. 

A May 12 headline from RT that reads “Russia took second place in the world for the number of coronavirus cases.”

Funnily enough, news briefs reporting this very same information can be found on RT’s website, in both Russian and English. Russia’s three largest news agencies, TASS, RIA Novosti, and Interfax, also reported the news.

That said, a number of media outlets rely on data from the site Worldometer for their coronavirus statistics. And this could be a source of confusion. There, Spain is still holding second place, with 268,143 cases of COVID-19. However, these figures are not only based on the results of coronavirus testing, but also include positive antibody tests.

“Today many media broadcast news that Russia took second place for the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus. This is not true,” RT says in a later tweet.

RT later wrote another tweet, citing the Spanish Health Ministry’s claims that Russia being ranked second place in world coronavirus statistics is incorrect. However, the TV channel has yet to change the headlines of its own news briefs. 

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