As the coronavirus spreads around the world, concern and panic are spreading with it – and one controversial Maltese Facebook group has become the epicentre of it all, with some even saying it may be responsible for adding fuel to the viral fire.
The man behind the page, which was set up in recent weeks and features no contact details, goes by the name of William Hawk, though his real name is llya Vladymirovich Tretyak. Tretyak’s been accused of being everything from a fearmonger to trying to take financial advantage of the coronavirus scare by promoting a website selling overpriced gas masks.
He’s even been at the centre of an expose’ as well as countless memes.
In the face of memes, questions about his real agenda and a general belief among a segment of the population that he is nothing more than a fraud, he remains unrepentant. Indeed, he believes he is doing the country a service by setting up CoronaVirus Malta EU – Updates (William Hawk).
“I want people to be safe and prepared – even if they don’t believe that a pandemic is coming,” Tretyak told Lovin Malta.
Saying he’s been up for “two days” when doing the interview, he wanted to address his naysayers who aren’t believing a word he’s saying.
“I have banned over a thousand people from the group for deliberately obstructing the group’s performance,” Tretyak explained.
“They came together in the group Malta Coronaposting and made a cult against me,” he continued. “They concocted false material and even sent it to MaltaToday, which published their untrue speculations without verifying it.”
Worst of all, they even “believe the official statistics by WHO”.
The group’s amassed over 33,000 members, many of them looking for reliable information on the new virus. Most of the members were driven towards a website that Tretyak promoted and said could be trusted.
“Unfortunately, some short-sighted businessmen sold all the Maltese masks to China to flip a quick profit, without realising that they were leaving the population with nothing. As I said, the whole world was in Denial, nobody believed that the virus will leave China and come to our doorstep.”
“Seeing as the Maltese population was left completely unprotected, I had accepted an advert of a small company that bought some face masks from an Eastern-European country to supply them to the Maltese market,” he continued.
“It’s not my site,” he says.
And what does he make of the site selling masks for up to €140?
“I had seen it and the prices were per pack of several masks at a time, not per single piece,” he said. “Before accepting the ad, I had checked the prices of local pharmacies and hardware stores. Most were out of stock, but some were selling masks for twice as much as the site was offering.
Tretyak says the reason he even got involved in all this is because of his job as a technical analyst.
“I knew this was serious from the moment I looked at the numbers provided by the Chinese Communist Party to WHO,” he said. “It became evident to me that they were hiding something horrible, when their numbers did not line up with my analysis.”
“Seeing as the whole world was in complete denial at the time, I began writing my articles on the group – explaining step by step the events that were about to follow,” he continued. “I did not expect many people to see it, although I wanted to help whoever I could to prepare for the wave that the EU was about to get hit with.”
And when it comes to using a pseudonym, he said the name was just catchier.
“I just use a pseudonym because it’s easier for people here to remember,” Tretyak explains. “Pretty much everyone I know calls me William. I was baptized in Malta, with the name William assigned by the priest.”