Fact Check: AI-Generated Text Does NOT Prove Putin Said US Was Planning To Launch 2nd Pandemic In 2024 To Disrupt US Presidential Election

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: AI-Generated Text Does NOT Prove Putin Said US Was Planning To Launch 2nd Pandemic In 2024 To Disrupt US Presidential Election Made-Up Story

Did Russian President Vladimir Putin say at a "military press conference in Russia" that the U.S. was planning to launch a second pandemic "aimed at disrupting the 2024 election" domestically? No, that's not true: Neither a viral AI-generated article making the claim nor earlier pieces speculating about it offered any proof that Putin actually said that. Lead Stories searched both the Kremlin's website and the site of Russia's Ministry of Defense as well as websites of credible media organizations and found nothing corroborating the claim.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, on June 29, 2024. It began:

A Startling Accusation

In a shocking turn of events, Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a grave warning to the world. He claims that the United States, under the control of Deep State operatives, is preparing to launch a second pandemic aimed at disrupting the 2024 election. This startling information was revealed during a military press conference in Russia, where officials outlined a supposed plot involving the release of an avian bioweapons.


This is what it looked like on X at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-07-03 at 12.38.14 PM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed Jul 3 16:38:14 2024 UTC)

The post contained a link to a website whose About tab has not been changed from the standard template language and whose registration address seen on the ICANN lookup tool appeared on Google Maps as a parking lot in a small town in Ontario, Canada (archived here).

The article (archived here) cited in the post on X, published on June 29, 2024, did not include any direct quotes from Putin or the date of the purported press conference. It did not link any sources, either.

Yet, it stated:

By declaring a state of emergency, the Biden administration could gain extraordinary powers to control the population. The introduction of a new bird flu vaccine, developed by Bill Gates, would be a key component of this strategy. The vaccine rollout would be mandatory, and those who refuse could face severe consequences, including detention in secret facilities.

According to Hive Moderation, a significant portion of the article contained AI-generated language:

Screenshot 2024-07-03 at 9.45.24 AM.png

(Source: Hive Moderation screenshot taken on Wed Jul 3 13:45:24 2024 UTC)

One day earlier, on June 28, 2024, the same claim was made in a different article (archived here) published by the People's Voice, a website with a lengthy record of publishing false stories that describes itself as a resource "comprised of various web pages operated by Fact Checked Limited," but has nothing to do with fact-checking.

As of this writing, its website contained a liability disclaimer, saying:


The article on People's Voice lacked any direct citations from Putin too. Instead, it referenced Russia's Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, the chief of radiation, chemical and biological protection troops, whose briefing, as the article emphasized, was reposted by the WarClandestine account on X.

The WarClandestine account showed a pinned post (archived here) bringing up the long-debunked bio lab conspiracy Lead Stories wrote about during the early stages of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 here, here and here as well as about its variations here and here.

In that pinned tweet, the account disclosed that it was earlier banned from the platform for spreading disinformation:

Screenshot 2024-07-03 at 10.04.03 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed Jul 3 14:04:03 2024 UTC)

On June 25, 2024, this account on X published (archived here) a video of Kirillov's briefing. In the shared clip, he incoherently ruminated about medical research allegedly involving U.S.-affiliated parties. However, he did not offer any concrete evidence of any wrongdoings and did not cite Putin purportedly "warning" the world that "the United States, under the control of Deep State operatives, is preparing to launch a second pandemic aimed at disrupting the 2024 election," as the article linked in the claim said.

A longer recording of the briefing (archived here) was published by the Russian loyalist newspaper Izvestia on the same day and by the Russian-language account of Russia's Ministry of Defense (archived here). But it still did not show anything backing the claim that is the focus of this fact check.

As seen in the English-language summary of the briefing (archived here) attached to another post of Russia's Ministry of Defense on Telegram (archived here), Kirillov did not even mention the 2024 presidential election in the United States. This Telegram post is where the WarClandestine account got the video of Kirillov from, according to its own words.

The Russian summary of the briefing (archived here) didn't corroborate the claim, either.

Even the Russian state news agency TASS, which published a short article (archived here) about the July 25, 2024, Kirillov briefing, did not say anything backing up online speculations.

A search across the Kremlin website for Russian keywords (archived here) produced two results: One transcript predated the COVID-19 pandemic by 14 years, and another one, from June 2024, discussed a variety of topics such as elections in Ukraine and Europe and the COVID-19 pandemic in broad terms.

A similar search for English keywords (archived here) only led to the same broad-term discussion lacking confirmation that Putin publicly said what was attributed to him about the "second pandemic" and the U.S.

Had Putin given a public address about purported plans to disrupt the 2024 election, the chances are that it would have been covered by credible media organizations. However, a Google search (archived here) produced no such matches, showing only a few unrelated results.

Online rumors about the purported Putin "warning" about the U.S. and the "second pandemic" are not new. Some variations of the claim circulated on the internet back in August 2023, for example, here (archived here) and here (archived here). Just like the version of the claim involving the 2024 presidential election in the United States, they lacked proof: Modeled after variations of the bio lab conspiracy, they painted any medical research of infectious diseases as some evil plot, omitting both the context of such research or any specifics proving purported sinister motives.

Lead Stories fact checks about the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here. Stories about the 2024 U.S. presidential election are here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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