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In the unruly and frequently unpredictable way of the web, Jakub Janda’s “Czech intelligence alarmed by Russian ‘threat'” (Sept. 2) showed up on the desktop unaccompanied by other recent or breaking “influence news” and was simply passed along by BackChannels.

Not thirty minutes later (and published just six hours ago):

Priest, Dana, Ellen Nakashima, and Tom Hamburger.  “Intelligence community investigating covert Russian influence operations in the United States.”  The Washington Post, September 5, 2016:

U.S. intelligence officials described the covert influence campaign here as “ambitious” and said it is also designed to counter U.S. leadership and influence in international affairs.

Related in The Washington Post: “Russia’s anti-American fever goes beyond the Soviet era’s” (Michael Birnbaum, March 8, 2015).

Related in Defense Onehttp://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/07/how-putin-weaponized-wikileaks-influence-election-american-president/130163/ (Patrick Tucker, July 24, 2016).

With even a little looking into “Russian influence operations”, one finds gems.

Here’s one from France:

The French Coordination Council of Compatriots is a subsidiary of the International Council of Russian Compatriots established in October 2003, the Putin equivalent of the Ausland Organization (AO) created by the Nazi Party in 1931 in order to mobilize the German diasporas to serve the Reich. This network now relies on the “Russian world” (Russkiy mir), an organization founded in 2007, which signed a collaboration agreement with the Orthodox Church in November 2009.[2] The first Forum of Russian Compatriots was held in France in September 2011 at the Russian Embassy. At the 3rd Forum organized in October 2013, French citizens of Russian origin were explicitly invited by the attending representatives of the Russian authorities to become vectors of the Kremlin’s policy in France.[3] In France the role of the Moscow Patriarchate in the seduction of the conservative right should not be underestimated. Since 2000 the Moscow Patriarchate has been taking over Russian Orthodox parishes formerly in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, reportedly with the occasional help of the Russian special services.

http://www.statecraft.org.uk/research/russian-party-france (Francoise Thom, June 15, 2016).  The Thom’s article is rich with information on Moscow’s infiltration of France’s cultural and political machinery.

From UK Scotland comes an account of “framing”, a technique that takes a given reality but sets out to cast the same in a disparaging manner:

It was a moment in which the people of Scotland were vulnerable, says independence campaigner Douglas Daniel, who was present at the vote count and wrote about it for the political website Wings Over Scotland.

At the time, he says, he knew nothing about the ROIIP team.

“It wasn’t until the articles speaking about ‘Russia’ and saying the process was flawed [appeared] that I became aware of their existence,” says Daniel.

Sure enough, by the end of the day after the vote, the ROIIP delegation’s damning verdict was all over the British and Russian press.

The vote in Scotland “[did] not conform to generally accepted international principles of referendums,” said Borisov, the delegation’s head.

https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/5368-brexit-how-russian-influence-undermines-public-trust-in-referendums – June 20, 2016 by Iggy Ostanin and Eleanor Rose for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which is supported by “grants by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the United States Department of State, the Swiss Confederation, the Open Society Foundations (OSF), Google Ideas and the Knight Foundation, i.e., Moscow’s opposition, including George Soros, whose own organization may have taken on some life of its own through staffers now associated with Black Lives Matter and other “western critics” (to put it very mildly).

In the above cited quotation and article, the “ROIIP” was Russia’s “election monitoring” organization that ended up predictably devising and promoting criticism certain to cause dissension in the Scottish electorate.

Again (if you’re a BackChannels regular, you seen this point made many times), the purpose of the spin appears to be that of sowing discord and conflict in Moscow’s target states.

The point was writ large with the January 2016 announcement of a Congressionally-backed mission to review of clandestine Russian funding of European parties over the last decade:

A dossier of “Russian influence activity” seen by The Sunday Telegraph identified Russian influence operations running in France, the Netherlands, Hungary as well as Austria and the Czech Republic, which has been identified by Russian agents as an entry-point into the Schengen free movement zone.

The US intelligence review will examine whether Russian security services are funding parties and charities with the intent of “undermining political cohesion”, fostering agitation against the Nato missile defence programme and undermining attempts to find alternatives to Russian energy.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/12103602/America-to-investigate-Russian-meddling-in-EU.html (Peter Foster, Matthew Holehouse, January 16, 2016).

Related (possibly): Bertrand, Natasha.  “America’s top spy just hinted at how much leverage Russia truly has over Washington.”  Business Insider, Military & Defense, July 29, 2016.

Additional Reference


http://www.fpri.org/article/2015/10/russian-propaganda-disinformation-and-estonias-experience/ – 10/4/2015

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/russians-estonia-twenty-years-after – 7-8/2014 (Backgrounder involving Russophone relationships in Russia’s “near abroad”):

As I remember it, the first signs of danger started appearing close to ten years ago, when, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, many people in Russia and in former Soviet republics started expressing their discontent about the poor economic situation, social inequality, and political chaos. The post-Soviet emphasis on developing democracy gradually started to fade, replaced with other concerns, above all a critical attitude toward the United States and the West in general, which was considered to be responsible for the decline of Russia. The message of the Russian powers had changed, and everything from television and large-scale events to daily interactions and personal attitudes reflected this. The Soviet Union and its World War II victory became more hallowed; red flags, red stars, and portraits of Lenin and Stalin reappeared. So too did the glorification of the Russian Empire. Drivers in Ida-Viru County, for example, decorated their cars with the orange-and-black Ribbon of St. George, a symbol of military valor in czarist Russia. In an attempt to show pride in their Russian heritage by supporting both czarist and Soviet imperialism, these patriots seemed to forget that the Bolsheviks oppressed recipients of the Order of St. George and executed many of them.

Works by energy consultant Agnia Grigas always prove enlightening as regards Russian influence and policy in its foreign relations.

https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/public/Research/Russia%20and%20Eurasia/0812bp_grigas.pdf (Agnia Grigas, August 2012): “Legacies, Coercion and Soft Power: Russian Influence in the Baltic States.

Ragozin, Leonid.  “Putin’s Hand Grows Stronger as Right-Wing Parties Advance in Europe.”  Bloomberg, March 15, 2016:

Ten days ago, yet another far-right party supporting Russia gained a foothold in an EU country, this time Slovakia. People’s Party, Our Slovakia won 8% of the vote in national elections, joining a burgeoning club including Hungary’s Jobbik, Greece’s Golden Dawn and Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.

The far-right parties, which often stem from neo-Nazi groups and sport crypto-fascist insignia, are the most visible layer of the pro-Russia camp in Europe. With Europe engulfed in a migrant crisis sparked by the war in Syria, their anti-immigrant and anti-EU rhetoric is in hot demand across the continent, particularly in the east. Party leaders are frequent guests in Moscow, and many of them are closely linked to Russia’s own reactionary networks. Together, they are nudging the political mainstream toward radical nationalism, which these days often comes hand in hand with pro-Russian sentiment.