Kremlin disinformation to blame for ‘outrageous’ move against Browder?



A critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly had his visa revoked by the State Department, according to multiple reports, The Hill reports. British citizen Bill Browder [left] tweeted about the situation this weekend, saying: “Not only did Putin add me to the Interpol list, but the US simultaneously revoked my visa.”

The 2012 U.S. law is aimed at punishing Russian officials believed responsible for the death in a Moscow prison of Sergei Magnitsky, who was allegedly beaten and denied medical care, NPR adds:

The cancelling of Browder’s visa came on the same day that the Kremlin issued yet another international arrest warrant for him via Interpol…..The move has angered defenders of Browder, including Michael McFaul, the ambassador to Russia under President Obama from 2012-2014. McFaul tweeted “this is outrageous,” and called on President Trump and the State Department to “fix this now.”

Russian authorities are claiming that Magnitsky [right] was actually murdered by Browder, a hedge fund manager who was once the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia, The New York Times reports:

The theory was first floated in a documentary broadcast on Russian state television last year, but widely brushed off as crude propaganda. It seemed aimed, as with many Russian disinformation campaigns, at muddying the waters around the issue without necessarily claiming to be credible.

Canada last week passed a Global Magnitsky bill targeting foreign nationals committed human rights violations.

Democracy is being undermined by deep data and dark money, analysts suggest.

A policy brief by the National Endowment for Democracy talks about a “4D” offensive of disinformation, notes one observer: “dismiss an opponent’s claims or allegations, distort events to serve political purposes, distract from one’s own activities, and dismay those who might otherwise oppose one’s goals.”

“If an information campaign uses falsehoods and emotional appeals not to persuade or attract but to disrupt, divide, confuse, or otherwise damage target audiences’ understanding or political cohesion, it more closely aligns with disinformation and its undermining function,” adds the brief.

Moscow’s motive for amplifying pro-Kremlin views on geopolitics is transparent: they want to weaken opposition to their geopolitical agenda, says Bret Schafer from the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States:

In terms of the content that is promoted to connect with foreign audiences, I think “chosen” is probably the wrong word. That implies that there is a coordinated effort by the Kremlin to select themes that might resonate with audiences abroad. In reality, the pattern we see is far less structured and could best be described as a trial-and-error approach.

The hope is that if they throw enough mud at the wall that something will stick, he tells Geopolitical Monitor.

Disinformation is a relatively new word, writes Dean Jackson of the NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies:

Most observers trace it back to the Russian word dezinformatsiya, which Soviet planners in the 1950s defined as “dissemination (in the press, on the radio, etc.) of false reports intended to mislead public opinion.” Others suggest that the earliest use of the term originated in 1930s Nazi Germany. In either case, it is much younger (and less commonly used) than ‘propaganda,’ which originated in the 1600s and generally connotes the selective use of information for political effect, he adds:

Whether and to what degree these terms overlap is subject to debate. Some define propaganda as the use of non-rational arguments to either advance or undermine a political ideal, and use disinformation as an alternative name for undermining propaganda. Others consider them to be separate concepts altogether. One popular distinction holds that disinformation also describes politically motivated messaging designed explicitly to engender public cynicism, uncertainty, apathy, distrust, and paranoia, all of which disincentivize citizen engagement and mobilization for social or political change. “Misinformation,” meanwhile, generally refers to the inadvertent sharing of false information.

Russian state controlled media sheds light on our understanding of how the Kremlin seeks to influence the Russian-speaking audience in Russia and beyond, adds StopFake. Org. RTWT

An initiative by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Bob Kolasky and his colleagues aims to set up a similar coordinating council by the end of the year to share information with representatives of companies that manufacture and sell election equipment. It’s one of several such efforts, NPR reports:

Harvard University’s Belfer Center has also launched a project called ‘”Defending Digital Democracy.” It held a tabletop exercise last month with election officials that simulated an Election Day attack. The group plans to issue a “playbook” to help election administrators and others respond to such threats. A coalition that includes the Center for Internet Security and the Atlantic Council is working on a similar handbook of election cybersecurity “best practices.” Also last month, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, announced an overhaul of voluntary guidelines to be used by states when purchasing new voting equipment. RTWT

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