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Kremlin Watch Monitor November 1, 2016

Weekly monitor of pro-Kremlin disinformation effort in Europe. We follow best European analysts, best counter-measures and trends.

Another proof of Russian involvement in Ukraine

A group of Ukrainian hackers under the name of CyberHunta released emails sent by former Vladimir Putin’s chief domestic political adviser, Vladislav Surkov, which allegedly show a direct Russian role in creating and directing the rebel uprising in Ukraine in 2014. The Atlantic Council analysed the e-mails and confirms their authenticity, as well as several correspondents of Mr Surkov; unlike the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov, who denied it.

The Russian state media supervision agency, Roskonadzor, is planning to block LinkedIn; according to the InterpretMag, for not placing its servers with Russian customers’ data on Russian soil. Speculations occurred that LinkedIn has been chosen first as retaliation for the arrest of the Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin.

How the Czech perception of the US foreign policy changed

The Sociological Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences conducted a poll to find out what does the Czech public think about the United States and its foreign policy. Compared to 2012, there was an obvious increase of respondents who agreed with the following statements:

  • The current US foreign policy represents a threat to the contemporary world.
  • The US behaviour within international politics does not take the world community opinion into consideration.
  • The US prefers its own power and economic interests in its foreign policy.

Furthermore, a significantly smaller portion of people agreed with the statements that the United States protect freedom, democracy, and human rights within their foreign policy, and that the United States strive to ensure stability and peaceful world order. The Czech public opinion considering the US foreign policy seems to be getting back to the years 2003 – 2006, when the responses were very similar.

After the Polish conservative MEP, Anna Fotyga, called for the EEAS East Stratcom Task Force to be upgraded, Estonian Prime Minister made a proposal at the EU Summit to ensure permanent funding and Lithuania and Sweden sent two more diplomats to the group. With currently 11 members, the anti-disinformation cell could get a €1 million budget.

Putinversteher of the Week

We use this weekly opportunity to award the Putinversteher of the Week to highlight the most obvious attempts, intentional or not, to go on Kremlin‘s hand and assist it with spreading its view all over Europe. We believe it is necessary to appreciate in this ceremonial way that without these little helpers, Russian disinformation campaign could never reach its present lengths.

This week you decided that the most suitable Putinversteher of the Week should be the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. In the Twitter poll, he got 73 % of your votes.

He managed to block the effort of the leaders at the European summit to impose new sanctions against Russia following its activities in Syria. Especially those in Aleppo, the besieged city with around 275, 000 people trapped in it, while the Russian forces attack them, including children, aid convoys, and hospitals. But according to Matteo Renzi, “to refer in the text to sanctions makes no sense”.

Euroatlantic experts on disinformation warfare

In this article from the Hungarian Spectrum, you can read about the Hungarian far-right paramilitary group, Hungarian National Front, which organizes military camps for youngsters. In addition, it has connections to pro-Kremlin disinformation websites in Hungary and the Russian military intelligence.

Andrew Fink argues in his article for the USNI News that the deployment of Admiral Kuznetsov, the Russian aircraft carrier, is not really going to be helpful for Russia in Syria, but could serve as a propaganda tool.

Peter Pomerantsev discusses in The Times how figuring out what the truth is has become difficult in the “post-fact world” enhanced by the Russian disinformation campaign.

Kremlin Watch Reading Suggestion

The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Easter Europe; published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies

Via economical activities and the attempts to influence public opinion, Russia is continually trying to obtain its lost influence in countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which could potentially serve for a future redraw of current geopolitical map of Europe.

One of the main tools used by the Kremlin is the so called un-virtuous cycle. It is a process of economic infiltration of particular economic spheres or state apparatus through investments, provisions, and bribery, which will get bigger over time and hence, Russia will gain a large amount of influence over certain economic areas. When a particular economic sector is sufficiently infiltrated, it will directly affect concrete political decision-making.

If the democratic system is strong enough to resist, alternative approach is put to use. The Kremlin or its subjects can make a public announcement of corruption between certain politicians and Russian-held companies which will subsequently result in decrease of support of mainstream politicians and their parties. One of the temporary consequences is also an interruption of future Russian investing, nonetheless it is an exchange for the fact that people will tend to support extreme political parties that might potentially work with the Kremlin as well.

For effective defence against these efforts, Western countries should change and redefine their approach and long-term strategies at their very basis. For example, politicians should encourage the reinforcement of “financial intelligence agencies”, which would systematically focus on non-transparent investments of foreign subjects and potential corruption related to these activities.

Czech Disinformation Corner

Conflict between NATO and Russia: According to last week’s reports, the United States intend to play a dirty game:

  • They prepare for bombing missions “under [a] false flag” in Syria and they want to use aircrafts in Russian camouflage.
  • They are preparing aprovocation on their own soil in order to create a pretext for a military conflict.
  • During the following “eastern haul”, the West, allegedly together with George Soros, plans to unleash anti-government uprising in Kaliningrad.

Specific plans to attack Russia have been revealed:

  • The US invisible bombers will destroy all the military objects in Russia and then there will be communication disabled by electro-magnetic weapons.
  • Two waves of massive nuclear missile attacks will disable significant part of Russian nuclear retaliation potential, and then the prepared coup in Moscow will take place.

The war is inevitable especially in the case Hillary Clinton wins the presidential elections.

The pro-Kremlin websites notice all kinds of declarations and actions of the hawks in the US political or military sphere. Each combative speech of a high official of a NATO member state is presented as another step towards the military conflict. The influence of these people is depicted as much higher than it actually is. The US generals allegedly lead the US foreign policy and they are prepared to wage war with Russia individually.

Apparently, the time has come to start preparing supplies for survival in our homes.

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