Bearing the brunt of Russia’s disinformation strategy


As the US and the EU imposed sanctions on Russia over the MH17 downing that was by then accepted as mass murder, Moscow responded by claiming that documents purporting to show that the culprits were Ukrainian separatists armed by Russia were forgeries downloaded from social media sites – fakes, The Irish Times reports:

As far as the Russian public at least was concerned, the disinformation worked. A survey by the independent Levada Centre polling agency at the end of July 2014 showed that 46 per cent of respondents believed the jet had been hit by a Ukrainian missile, while 36 per cent believed it had been shot down by a Ukrainian air force jet.

Czech public opinion shows weakened support for core transatlantic institutions and vulnerabilities to Russian influence, according to a poll of residents of the Czech Republic (above) released today by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI – a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy) Center for Insights in Survey Research:

Fifty-one percent of respondents think that NATO is no longer as important to European security as it once was, and say that the Czech Republic’s approach to security should be “rethought.” Similarly, 62 percent feel that the European project needs to be “rethought,” compared to just 34 percent who expressed unqualified support.   

Respondents were split on the extent to which Russia can be an ally of the Czech Republic: 38 percent say “Russia and Putin can be allies against an EU that is pushing us to abandon our values,” while another 38 percent would like Russia to be an ally, but “don’t trust Putin.” Just 22 percent do not think Russia should have any influence over EU policies.

The poll also indicates that Czechs may be vulnerable to Russian disinformation. Among respondents who consume alternative media, 33 percent don’t believe that Russia funds “alternative news sources,” and attribute such a charge to “anti-Russian interests.” Additionally, 35 percent “don’t care” if such sources are funded by Russia because “they tell the truth.”

“Although not surprising, it is worrying to see Czech public opinion veer so strongly against key components of the European Project,” said IRI Regional Director for Europe Jan Surotchak. “With the threat posed by the revanchist Putin regime, regional entities like NATO are arguably more important today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. It is vital that political leaders in the Czech Republic make a robust case for the importance of transatlantic institutions to the stability and prosperity of their country.”

Battling fake news, hate speech and violent extremism online

The dissemination of false news in the political arena has been around for as long as democracy. But the sources of disinformation, their rapid and widespread proliferation, and their influence on voters during the US and European election season, have given rise to a new, more urgent focus on the issue, notes the Center for Transatlantic Relations. “Fake news” and hate speech/violent extremism are different issues, as are the methods to address them. In separate panels, we will examine best practices for dealing with dis-information and with hate speech and violent extremism online, and how they impact freedom of expression and a vibrant, global Internet.

Sofitel – Lafayette Square 806 15th Street NW Washington, DC 20005   Thursday, July 20, 2017   8:30 am registration and breakfast 9:00 am – 11:30 am program

Speakers Ambassador David O’Sullivan, head, Delegation of the European Union to the United States Ambassador Daniel Fried, (retired); Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council Joelle Attinger, President, European Institute MEP Tanja Fajon (S&D Slovenia) Benjamin Haddad, Research Fellow, Hudson Institute MEP Danuta Huebner (EPP-Poland) Nico Lange, Head, Washington Office, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Susan Ness, Senior Fellow, SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations Andy O’Connell, Manager, Global Policy Development, Facebook Nuala O’Connor, President & CEO, Center for Democracy & Technology Courtney Radsch, Advocacy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists


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