WASHINGTON (Guardian) — The US government is funding a website in Armenia which is spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, including warnings that Armenians ought to “refuse” future vaccine programs.
The website, Medmedia.am, was launched with the help of a US State Department grant meant to promote democracy, but instead has been used to promote false information about Covid-19, according to an investigation by the British news website openDemocracy.
Among Medmedia’s most popular articles are pieces that have called Covid-19 a “fake pandemic” and falsely reported that a morgue offered to pay hundreds of dollars to a dead patient’s family if they claimed the death had been caused by the coronavirus.
The grant was awarded by the State Department to a group called the Armenian Association of Young Doctors, which launched the website last year and is led by a controversial physician Gevorg Grigoryan.
He has been known for his strong criticism of the government’s health ministry and its vaccine programs, and has a history of anti-LGBT statements, including remarks posted on Facebook in 2014 in which he called for gay people to be burned.
Grigoryan, who has claimed that he is not opposed to vaccinations, has teamed up with a prominent journalist and lawyer, both with reported ties to a far-right party called Veto, to create what they called a public fact-finding group on the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.